(See the bottom of this page for links to BUCO Catalogue Pages)
Synopsis of Company History
Some facts about Buco (originally Bucherer). Started manufacturing clock work 0-gauge trains 1944, added electric trains 0-gauge since 1947. Production of 0-gauge was ceased in 1958, stocks sold 1961/1962. Since then several private owners continued the production based upon the remaining stocks and completed with some new materials. This production is known to have stopped 1991, but continued until at least mid nineties. Swiss sources state the production of 0-gauge trains is being continued since 2009 by Buco Spur 0 GmbH in Bauma, Canton of Zürich. No web site data known to me.
(Courtesy of Willem JJ Boot)
BUCO was, with WESA, the largest Swiss manufacturer of toys and especially toy railroads in the period after the Second World War. For the origins of the company, which are not well known, you need to go back to the early twenties, after the First World War, and only a few years after the disappearance of Lowenstein's railways - the period when for only a short time there had been a toy train of Swiss production.
In September 1919, August Bucher, a native of Basel and a skilled machinist, moved to the town of Amriswil in the canton of Thurgau and together with his son, August Eugene, founded the company Bucherer AG. Bucher senior worked from 1907 to 1911 as a pattern maker at MARKLIN in Göppingen and from 1912 to 1918 as technical director of the Bruno Ulbricht toy factory in Nuremberg.
In 1923, the company A. BUCHERER & Co. was founded as published in the Official Gazette on 9 February 1923. Among other things, wooden toys were produced, but also - in metal - the then very popular SABA figures, nearly 20 cm long, articulated dolls with spherical joints They modeled film stars (including the already famous at that time Charlie Chaplin, also Harold Lloyd), colorful characters and finally also "ordinary people" There are even nativity figures and Basel carnival-cliques have been created! The clothing of the figures was developed by a gang led by the wife of the founder of the fabric department while the actual sewing was done by out-based workers. The young, then export-oriented, company was however in its early years badly affected by a massive increase in import duty on the part of the United States. The production of the SABA figures had to be adjusted
>Looking for new opportunities, the company launched with little success, the garden system DEF (DEF = Die Eisenbah fur den Garten, in English - The Garden Railway), with tracks using a gauge of about 86 mm. This would correspond to about G V. Rails used ordinary flat sleepers of steel on which were mounted sturdy metal strip rails (no rail section).
The vehicles had bodies made of wood, and chassis of angle iron and were so large that a child could easily find a place in it (Trans comment, I think author means get in it, but sounds a bit small for that??). Each wheel was made of two discs of different diameters. The locomotive was equipped with a powerful but unregulated clockwork movement, which could be wound with a key. Unfortunately the motor started rapidly and if the locomotive was set in motion without standing on the track or the ground the danger was great that the gear teeth broke off by the dozen. This large toy was from the outset quite expensive and if only for price reasons was not widespread.
This failure and the export problems brought the company into trouble. In a probate proceeding (trans I think means Swiss receivership or section 12, not a will!), the original limited partnership cleared and transferred the assets and liabilities to a new company - A. Bucherer AG & Co. (Official Gazette on 15 and 17/07/1926). In the summer of 1930 the company moved its headquarters to Diepoldsau in St. Galler Rheintal (Official Gazette dated 03.08.1930).
In the thirties, the firm produced 8 and 16 mm films reels, and developed an original solution to the problem of loading the film with a resilient tongue on the reel.
The range also included promotional items such as wooden pretzel baskets for the ERNST restaurant chain, chests for pasta and containers for MAGGI products, but also wooden toys as well as the promotional items. Mention should also be a car made of wood, in which a child could sit inside. It used a company-owned 1925 Ford as a model, which had a detachable tail structure so could serve as a light commercial as well as a passenger car. For a while BUCHER also made the Wakouwa game patented in 1929 by a Walter K(o)urt Walss It was a parlor game, in which not only did the characters move on a glass plate, but also underneath was an interchangeable game board.
The next stage in the development of BUCO trains was in 1937 when a competent man joined the company. He had previously produced on his own initiative, a small series ofparts from which modelers could build a Red Arrow - a then cutting-edge high-speed railcars for the SBB. This was the period of the founding of the first railroad and model clubs in Switzerland.
As it had been difficult to obtain imported toys during the later part end of World War II, it seems the suggestion was made that the company increased (started?) production of such items. The first products were wooden railway crossing keepers houses. From 1943, perhaps a year earlier, were added to the BUCO-builder-kit, from which a station building, goods shed with a crane or an engine shed could be produced and away from the railway sector, the Meccano-like BUCO Ingenieur (engineer kit).
Family history placed the actual production of BUCO railways began in 1944. Interpreting existing toy trade catalogues of the period BUCO began not with rolling stock, but with track material. The rails were first made in Anticorodal, an aluminum alloy. (Brass rail followed in 1946).
BUCO’s first train in these early years was a clockwork set from for which the manufacturer used its experience with wooden toys. In the box there was an oval of track, a two-axle streamlined steam outline locomotive, a baggage car and a passenger coach. The vehicle bodies were made of solid (?trans lit: square) timber, the locomotive boiler was hollow. In the Franz Carl Weber catalogue of Christmas 1945, such a train was shown: The locomotive and tender were green, the cars and vans dark red and purple. The white pinstripes on the car windows were reminiscent of some famous cars from MÄRKLIN.
In the FREUCT Christmas 1946 catalogue this train was still mentioned. In 1947 it was replaced by the first train set with the #212 clockwork locomotive It was not initially supplied with coaches but, as already practiced by ERKO, goods wagons were offered: an open high-sided vehicle in green and brown and a long (with two separate trucks) lumber car. As early as Christmas 1947 there was a much larger wagon range.
Inaddition the extremely wide range of wooden toys from BUCO were featured. There were shops full pf goods, dolls furniture, dolls houses, wooden animals, children's phones, lovely mosaic games in which a so-called junior landscape particularly stood out: This had a basic board with a number of right angles with rows of holes into which wooden houses, towers, trees, animals, etc. were plugged. As learning games and school items there were multi-colored baby-cubes, ABC and multiplication dice, abacus, pen boxes and wall plaques. Other items that were lovingly produced included Domino, and Tivoli small cone (ball) games, cube-assembling games and even a lovely bell tower, in which different xylophone slats were heard when a ball is dropped down. In addition there were solid trucks, wagons and trains, some with concomitant use of numerous metal parts - an exception for wooden toys. For example an electrical outline wooden locomotive had as a special feature a pantograph formed from a single piece of wire artfully bent together. Keeping up to date BUCO had even brought out even atrolley-bus. This form of transport was then new in St. Galler Rheintal, where the company headquarters was located. Also very contemporary was that among the assortment of wooden sailing boats offered was added a simple replica of the Kon-Tiki. Larger wooden sheds and garages are among the other objects that deserve a mention.
The wooden building blocks in three versions were particularly nice products. The term "Kleincaliber" for the most elegant of them may have been taken from the legendary Richter's Anchor Stone Building Set, with had also used the concept of several modular parallel rows. (Table of dimensions omitted) The BUCO wood kit showed an unusual variety of parts for this kind of toy, with which extremely delicate structures could be created. As for RICHTER BUCO offered some metal parts to be used in combination with the bricks and supplemented these with some wooden trains or cars as construction kits. This wide range of wooden toys have been offered in recent years,
The BUCO-Ingenieur-Baukasten was reverse-engineered from the systems of MECCANO and MÄRKLIN, but with rods, plates and some of the wheels of wood. That those parts did not turn was a certain disadvantage. In addition there was a whole assortment of different length bolts. The hole pitch was larger than the aforementioned metal construction systems (metric instead of inches). One original concept were special brackets made of steel - they existed in four different forms - with which the rods may be connected with each other not only at the screw holes, but at any point.
From these components three large scale models (a ship, a swing bridge or an almost 1 meter long suspension bridge) could be built but using almost every part of the biggest box set #3. Smaller boxes could be increased by two complementary (accessory) boxes. There was a special, three-story additional box #101 for a railway, allowing a (non-motorized) steam locomotive boiler with a rectangular cross section and four freight cars to be built. The instructions with this special box showed how to combine it with the ordinary basic box sets with several examples. Among these, a properly functioning bridge crane trolley is picked out as the best model. The instructions for this box were added in five languages, namely German, French, English, Italian and Spanish. After the SecondWorld War, this modular system was competing with the established systems of MECCANO and MÄRKLIN which were now available again, and also with the successfully launched Stokys Swiss metal construction system. The BUCO system disappeared from the market around 1950.
The Endof Gauge O Production
(As already mentioned) BUCO were around 1952 developing a steam outline locomotive, an Ae6/6 and 40 cm long express passenger coaches, all vehicles that would have been to higher standards than the majority of the current vehicle program. There is no doubt that these vehicles would have been a deserved success, especially thanks to the well-known, solid construction and good running qualities of the range.
These developments were initially postponed from May 1954 in connection with the preparation of HO-gauge program and eventually all were brought to a standstill. The last BUCO catalogue of 1956/57 showed a small G O new item - the dumper 8678 – but otherwise the remaining 0 gauge articles were sold from stock, as was the case after 1958 by the successor company.
(Courtesy of Rudolf W. Butz
BUCO Catalogue Pages
(As republished in Schweizerische Spielzeugeisenbahnen, published by Fachpresse Goldach of Zurich.)
Bucherer Catalogue - 301 & 304 Locomotives plus 8590 & 8591 Transformers
Bucherer Catalogue pages 10 & 39 - Freight Cars
Bucherer Catalogue - Passenger Cars