John Anderson (Cal Scale)

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John S. Anderson
Born John Schow Anderson
8 August 1925
Alameda County, California
Died 6 November 2000
Hayward, California
Nationality American
Occupation Design engineer and entrepreneur
Known for Associated Brass Products, Inc.

John Schow Anderson (8 August 1925 Alameda County, California – 6 November 2000 Hayward, California) was a design engineer and entrepreneur in the model railroading industry.

Anderson was one of three co-founders of Associated Brass Products, Inc., a California corporation based in Pinedale, Fresno County, California.

Early life, combat, and education[edit]

Anderson attended schools in Berkeley, California. Upon graduation (age 18), he was drafted into the U.S. Army[1] and sent into combat during World War II. He served in Special Forces under General Bernard Montgomery, behind the lines and in British uniform. He was eventually captured by the Germans. They cured his trench foot, healed his wounds and returned him to the American Forces. He remained in Bath, England, for the rest of the war and, according to his obituary, witnessed lights of Bath going back on V-E Day.

After the war, Anderson returned to Berkeley to study design engineering at California College of the Arts; whereupon, in January 1950, he graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Arts.


Early on[edit]

Shortly after graduating CCA, he settled in Medford, Oregon, where he developed the model railroad line for Red Ball Ltd.

Anderson moved to Fresno, California, in the early 1950s to work for Kemtron Corporation, developing their line of model railroad equipment.

In addition to model railroading, Anderson was active in photography and authored articles for Trains Magazine, the most recent of which (1999) was about West Side Lumber Company railway narrow gauge logging operation in Tuolumne City, California.

Professional history
  • Enlisted after World War II by M. Dale Newton (1898–1989) to design for Red Ball Ltd. (founded 1939)
  • Worked for Kemtron ... credited for putting Kemtron on the map
  • Left Kemtron to start Cal-Scale with partner, Harry Parker.

Associated Brass[edit]

The following three partners founded Associated Brass on June 2, 1959, organizing it as a California corporation:

  • John Schow Anderson
  • Bruce Charles Bechtold (30 July 1929 – November 1967)
  • Harry T. Parker (16 March 1914 – 31 July 2001)

The firm owned a foundry that manufactured model railroading products under the "Cal-Scale" brand. Bruce Bechtold was the grandson of the Bechtold Stage Line family. He grew up living in the Denver home built by his grandparents about 1933. He was an Air Force veteran, having spent time at Castle Air Force Base, Merced, California. Because of his model railroading interest, Oscar Neubert III (27 November 1925 Fresno, California – 27 October 1991 Fresno, California), also an Air Force veteran,[2] introduced Bruce to Anderson and Parker. Bechtold went to work as an engineer for Kemtron after his release from the military.[3] Parker worked for Kemtron as production foreman.[3]

Anderson, Bechtold, and Parker formed Associated Brass Products to be more in control of the use of their talents. Anderson was a master die maker, Bechtold a pattern maker, and Parker supervised the plant.

The Associated Brass facility was located in Pinedale, Fresno County, California. The company manufactured some of the finest lost wax brass castings ever produced for model railroading, many of which are still in production today.[4]

Bowser Manufacturing, a Pennsylvania corporation based in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, purchased the Cal-Scale line from Anderson and Parker in June 1985. Anderson and Parker subsequently sold their commercial casting operation—foundry, which included the property and physical plant at 7070 N. Harrison Ave, Pinedale, to David Sciacca, who operates the plant today under the name "Valley Brass & Bronze". Valley Brass does not produce model railroading products. Anderson and Parker never sold the corporate shell, Associated Brass Products, Inc.


  • 1998 — Hall of Fame inductee, Hobby Manufacturers Association, Model Railroad Division[5]


In 1958, he married Barbara LeFevre Dodd (b. 1932–2010),[6][7][8] daughter of David Dodd, a professor at Columbia Business School.


  1. ^ U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946
  2. ^ City News in Brief: Sergent Retires, The Fresno Bee, pg. 7B, col. 1, March 24, 1965
  3. ^ a b Polk's Fresno City Directory, R.L. Polk & Co. (1960) OCLC 11845810
  4. ^ Interview with Paul Budzik, International Plastic Modelers Society, United States Branch, Journal, Vol 2, Issue I, December 1989 ISSN 1083-7981
  5. ^ New Hall of Famers, Hobby Manufacturers Association, Model Railroad Division
  6. ^ Sam Dillon, Alumna Gives $128 Million to High School, The New York Times, September 19, 2007
  7. ^ Marriage Held for Miss Dodd, John Anderson; St. Lawrence Alumna Wed in Beach Haven to Design Engineer, The New York Times, August 22, 1958
  8. ^ Obituary: Barbara Dodd Anderson, The Fresno Bee, January 14, 2011