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@Andrew B. posted:

This article from the TCA which seems to cite your book has the dates I quoted for Sager Place.

There's also numerous sources that state that the Lionel Corporation's first bankruptcy filing was August 7, 1967. What is the source of that date if that's incorrect?

The TCA article quoted was a review of my book "Inside The Lionel Trains Fun Factory", graciously written by Dr. Joseph Lechner in 2008.  I am not aware of numerous sources stating that Lionel went bankrupt in 1967, but that is not factual.  October 7 was the first day of the Lionel auction in Hillside, NJ, at which time the primary factory office and manufacturing assets were sold.  The auction ran from October 7-10, 1967.

Lionel in fact avoided bankruptcy at all costs and turned to finance company Walter E. Heller & Co. to obtain a $3 million line of credit to survive.  In return there was factoring of the train receivables and the Lionel factory and patents were used as collateral.  Lionel even agreed to sell some of the A. C. Gilbert assets "as a favor" for Heller.  This $3 million amount was later reimbursed by the Heller firm to Lionel in 1969.  The factory in Hillside was still occupied by Lionel through 1974 and early 1975 before being finally sold in 1977.  There was great difficulty selling the property which included sales contracts that were attempted to be renegotiated.

In conducting research for my book, I was able to review original legal and office documents from Lionel corporate and factory archives, including the Walter Heller contracts, as well as Lionel Board of Director minutes and other factual documentation. 

With the uncertainty of financial sustainability of The Lionel Toy Corporation and its parent The Lionel Corporation in 1966 and 1967, it is no wonder that a focus was not placed on developing products such as Super O track.  The priority was staying solvent, which the officers of Lionel successfully did not through the stigma of bankruptcy but through alternative legal means.  Indeed, the history of Lionel remains a fascinating case study in the annals of business.

Welcome back to Super O Big John.  I also started off with Super O in the 1960s.  I started buying O again starting in the mid-1980s and soon thereafter I stumbled on two stashes of Super O that dealers were trying to unload.  At that point, except for switches I was probably set.  I tried Atlas briefly on Around the Christmas Tree setups since, but it failed to win me over.

@joe krasko posted:

The roller issue was and still is an urban legend...all the roller wear indicated was high mileage..and the groove was almost always shaped like tubular rail....

Not really. The softer metal Lionel used for rollers were affected by Super O, but later rollers were not, at least according to forumites here. Undoubtedly, that did affect sales and built a reputation for the track.

Thank you to all that have posted!

Thank you for the additional information on the closing of the Sager Place Plant and downturn in business.

I was looking at the Lionel Operating Manual from 1965 and it mentioned O72 was no longer being manufactured but was still available from Dealers.  Sure enough looking at the earlier post of the 1957 Catalog it is available but not in the 1966 Catalog.  So Super O was not the only Lionel Track casualty during this period.

In a previous post I mentioned that in 1957 in addition to adding Super O track Lionel also added HO Scale.  A mention was made that Slot Cars also were part of the demise of Model Railroading.  During this period Lionel also entered that market in both HO and 1/32 scale.  I am not sure of the actual years.  I am going to start a topic requesting that information.

@Joe Connor posted:

The natural market for Super O would have been adult operators, but how many were there back then? I don't remember many adults with train layouts, and the few that had them had gravitated to HO.

As a kid, the only time I saw Super O was in the Lionel catalog. It caught my eye because it looked so good. I don't remember, however, any  of my local hobby stores displaying Super O for sale. Maybe they had it behind the counter, but I never saw it.

When I finally saw Super O at train shows decades later, it looked just as good as it did in the old catalog always wondered what would have happened if Lionel had introduced it in the early '50s.

Hi Joe,  I had the same experiece, had only seen Super O in the catalogs.  I thought it was so cool looking.  Eventually, when I was at the University of Washington,  I stopped by French's Lionel Train House in Midway Wa,  and purchased enough to make a full oval.

I think a lot of the adult O scale modelers would have bought the Gargraves track, which go back to 1940 and the phantom line that had the dark center rails, started in the 1950s.  I think a lot of O scale  modelers prefer the Gargraves track with Ross Switches.

Best, Dave

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