John Armstrong
O Scale Hall of Fame Marlboro – 1998

John Armstrong is a unique member of the O Scale Hall of Fame, as his fame extends far beyond the borders of the O scale community. He is respected in the model railroading world as the “Dean of Track Planning,” as well as in the railroad industry for such works as his introductory text, “The Railroad: What It Is, What it Does,” published by Simmons Boardman. Many of his other writings dealing with 12 inches to the foot scale, the only scale he considers superior to O, have been featured in Railway Age, and Trains.

John is probably the foremost advocate of the thesis that layout design should reflect actual railroad operations. Although he gently demurs when the word “inventor” is used, such concepts as walk-around control, staging, and multiple level construction were and are popularized by his writings, all in support of the original thesis.

He has the ability to connect, not only with the advanced modeler, but with the beginner. With Thaddeus Stepek (my personal pick for the next Hall of Fame nomination; vote early and Get Started in 2-Rail Scale Realistic • Accurate • Affordable Come Discover Modern O-Scale Models at These 2-Rail O-Scale Meets vote often!), he created the little Atlas trackplan pamphlets that many of us started with. For intermediate and advanced modelers, his several Kalmbach books, such as Track Planning for Realistic Operation, and numerous articles in Model Railroader over the years, are real treasures of ideas and techniques. For those who want to avail themselves of his services, he has created some 200 custom layout designs, based on the individual’s “givens and druthers,” and available space.

John is one of the founders of our O Scale group in the DC area, has been very active with the NMRA for some 50 years, especially with the Layout Design Special Interest Group, and his clinics pack ’em in for miles. He taught me that association with your peers makes you a better modeler. The social aspects of the modeling community allow people to share ideas, results, and many stories ending with the oft used phrase, “...and I never tried THAT again!”

Through it all, John maintains a lively sense of humor and (running the risk of embarrassing him with this flowery prose) is that rarest of humans, a true gentleman. If you want to know the definitions of some of the popular Armstrong- isms, such as a “blob,” a “reverted loop”, or whether something is “sincere,” read one of his books or take in one of his clinics. Don’t forget to come to DC for the National in 2004 (a shameless plug!) and visit his Canandaigua Southern, justifiably famed as the only model railroad featured in a painting by the late Ted Rose. You won’t wonder why he’s a member of the O Scale Hall of Fame.

Brian Scace OST


Bill J. Lenoir
O Scale Hall of Fame Marlboro – 1998

He built his first scale model locomotive in 1932 and after that time he had an active interest in one-quarter inch scale railroading. The first engine built for a customer, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, who had just been enhancing the operating layout and displaying the highly detailed historic models of the Chicago Great Western Railroad.

From 1935-1936 he worked for W .K. Walthers, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Walthers’ first O-gauge material was marketed. Then in 1936-1937 he went to the Scale Model Railways, Huntington, Indiana. In 1940-1941 he developed the Saginaw line of Pennsylvania Railroad engines for the Saginaw Pattern & Manufacturing Company, Saginaw, Michigan.

From a beginning in the late 1940’s, Bill was president, mechanical draftsman, superintendent, and the entire labor force of the Lenoir Locomotive Works, located in Tampa, Florida. Bill continued building locomotives until his retirement in 1987. All of his locomotives were built from the same blueprints used to build the real locomotives by such companies as Baldwin, Lima, Alco and other locomotive builders. At his peak, Bill could turn out a locomotive in five or six weeks. In his early years, Bill scratch built all of the parts needed for an engine. Later, as good quality castings became available, he used commercial parts to speed construction. He could machine anything he needed in his well-equipped shop, often supplying parts to other manufacturers such as Lobaugh or Athearn.

It has been said the Bill Lenoir was a true gentleman. Very quiet and unassuming to the point of being shy, Bill never bragged. He didn’t have to—his work did it for him. He had a lot of friends around the country and many of the Scalers were sorry when he retired, but that time comes for everyone. In Bill’s case, his legacy will always remain in the wonderful historic models he created. Today his models can be found in both private collections and in museums.

Cedar Falls Historical Society
Photo by Brian Scace, OST

William K Walthers
O Scale Hall of Fame Marlboro – 1998

Manufacturer and distributor of model railroad kits, accessories, and products beginning in 1931 with O scale and now encompassing all popular scales. Published his first Walthers Catalog in 1932. Introduced his first O scale car kits in 1933. Added an O scale steam locomotive in 1934. Walthers was known for a number of “firsts,” such as: accurate lettering data, twin solenoid switch machines, two-rail signalling circuits and much more.

Walthers was well-known for his humorous ads run during World War II. Some feel he personally kept model railroading alive despite the wartime restrictions on materials used in model railroading. After the war, Walthers introduced his “Polydrive” system for powering steam locomotives. It made every axle a geared driver. It never really caught on and was gone by the late 1950’s. However, Walthers extensive line of O scale passengers are still sought after today. Bill retired from the business in 1958 and turned it over to his son Bruce.

Bill Walthers was also a prolific author, writing for the Model Railroader, The Modelmaker Corp., and finally publishing under the Walthers name. He was also a co-founder of the National Model Railroad Association in 1935 and was NMRA Life Member #1, as well as Master Model Railroader #6. Bill Walthers was inducted into the Model Railroad Industry Hall of Fame in 1985 and the O Scale Hall of Fame in 1998 in Marlboro, North Carolina. Joe Gianovario - OST