0n30 first layout ideas and plan for 1.80m x 0.40 m station

Discussion in 'On30 Forum' started by thomasTC, May 20, 2006.

  1. thomasTC

    thomasTC New Member

    Hello together,

    I am new in this forum and new to 0n30. I've always had H0 trains to German prototype, later moved in a small apartment and considered N scale... then I begun to set up a small H0e (=H0n30) Austrian railroad but it was all too small somehow... and now I am hooked to the Bachmann 0n30 offers and consider to model US narrow gauge. I am sorry this is somewhat of a long post.

    I've got little space and future moves are likely at some point in my life so I would like to set up something of a "modular" layout so that I have it in small units that can be easily transported.

    Because of the confined space I will just try to set up some RR track plan that gives good operational possibilities, and not model to a special prototype regarding track plans and operations. So at this point it does not really matter where I will set up the whole thing. It could also be a European prototype.

    I also really like switching games like Inglenooks and Tyme Savers.

    Really confined space means I have something of an L shape that is 2.15 x 0.40 metres + 3.00 x 0.25 metres or 7x1.2' plus 10x0.8' so that the complete L will be 2.40 x 3.00 metres on the outside. (8x10")

    The 7x1.2' leg can be normally built but the 10x0.8' is to go on a long window sill and at least on one 5' half of it, all buildings and structures that are higher than the track itself must be removable in case I would like open the window. The 10x0.8' leg can also really not be made a single cm wider. It would even make things simpler if I can cut that down to 0.7' or even 0.6' at least in some spaces.

    However, I am absolutely hooked on "big" narrow gauge motive power such like the Bachmann 2-8-0 and that means that my layout, no matter how small it be, has to be able to give one or two 2-8-0s a "satisfactory" space for operation !!

    The whole thing is to be set up in my kitchen, by the way :)

    So to start things I designed a 1.80x0.40 metre (6x1.2') RR station that would be the "big" or "Lower" station of the RR. Trains would leave station on the left-hand side of the track heading to the "Upper" station which is on the aforementioned 10x0.8' leg.

    The current idea of my track plan is visible in the attachment.

    The confined space and the wish to operate 2-8-0s forbids anything like a running-around loop. I also have found out from previous projects that I do not like to work on "deep" structures i.e. I really like much more to model on a "handy" 40 cm-deep layout than one that is 1 metre deep!

    From my H0e time I also know that narrow gauge track does look different to standard gauge and thus, very sadly I can NOT live with using H0 track (although I have quite a lot of old H0 track) but rather get new 0n30 track. However I feel comfortable to tackle the task of self-building track and thus the track plan does use turnouts that are about 20 cms long, these are based on plans for turnout kits that are offered by WENZ in Germany (wenz-modellbau.eshop.t-online.de). It uses both standard and Y turnouts. In case that I should change my mind I have to adjust the trackplan for Peco 0n30 gauge but this should not really change too much things I hope.

    The track plan was designed such that

    1. adding a simple head shunt on the left side, I can use it for Inglenook and Tyme Saver games by simply positioning something like a few "TRACK WORK IN PROGRESS" items on the track plan that effectively block the tracks that do not belong to these particular games

    2. I want some basic facility to house the 2-8-0 and also a small shunter engine

    3. I want enough space to handle a 4-car goods train that after arrival in the station can be switched to the goods facilities on the upper track

    4. the other head shunt (right end of the track plan) is the end of line. While I could extend the line further in future, this is not planned at the moment. This head shunt is long enough for a 2-8-0 runaround and also for a little switcher engine plus 1 or 2 cars (depending on which track is used for the runaroung).

    5. I am not so much into passenger operation and I realise that most US narrow-gauge railways were not running much passenger trains in their later times so I'd place my prototype somewhere in the 30s-early 50s. However I probably find some rail car prototype or so that I could use for some basic passenger transport. I'd be willing to scratchbuild this if I don't find a model at some point.

    6. I have read the "Pacific Coast Air Line" website (http://www.pacificcoastairlinerr.com/) and I love that "empties in/loadeds out" operation scheme so I thought it could be a good idea to incorporate some provision to add such a feature. e.g. loaded cars would be delivered to the goods #1 facility (see track plan) on the top left of the plan and running through a curved tunnel would appear e.g. in a mine entry tunnel on the future 10x0.8' leg. Probably I could set up something that moves the loaded/empty cars automatically through that tunnel like in a rollercoaster which would allow for a longer tunnel and also might look "realistic" when the cars are disappearing or reappearing in the facility automatically. But this is for future ideas, not for now!

    7. however what I have not found out so far is if the 2-8-0s were ever operated tender-first i.e. hauling trains with the tender first? Some European railroads did use their steam locos tender-first on a regular basis. If the US narrow gauges do not, I have to find some space to incorporate turntables. So I hope this is not necessary (?)

    8. I love 1:43 old-timer car models, btw ... probably will find some space for something like a parking space to show off a few on the curve extension left to the station in the future. :)

    I wanted to keep things small and simple :) but somehow I have squeezed-in 10 switches in this layout!!

    However I feel that every switch that I remove takes away important possibilities. I somehow think at this point, that this is the minimum track plan to handle an incoming goods train and to provide sufficient traffic so that I can have 2 engines on the layout at this point.

    As there is not much space left for scenery I am happy to concentrate on the handlaying tracks and apart from the two main structures in the plan (goods facility and loco shed) just add 1-2 other relief structures on the backdrop. Also if the Bachmann stuff is good I could just go out and buy all the running stock, it won't be THAT much money (like i.e. on a H0 layout with much more tracks where you buy like 10 engines and 100 cars...) so little scenery + available rolling stock again means I could concentrate on the handlaying rails.

    So after this long post, any input and ideas are greatly appreciated !!

    In particular I am wondering if the style of the station layout is "okay" for US prototypes or if there is probably too much "European" thinking in all this. It is the first time I am trying to design a US station. :)

    Also I am wondering how much clearance do I need between tracks as I do not have any 0n30 models so far. Are 6 cms between parallel tracks sufficient?

    Many regards,

    Attached Files:

  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    On30 is US O scale (1/48) using HO gauge track, which represents pretty close to 30" prototype gauge. In U.S. prototype practice, primarily 3ft and secondarily 2ft gauges were the dominant narrow gauges; there was very little 30" gauge track used. So On30 locomotive and car manufacturers generally have to choose between a 3 ft gauge or a 2ft gauge prototype, and then adjust the gauge. Western U.S. 3ft railroads were pretty much the only ones (there are exceptions like EBT and Tweetsie) to survive long enough to upgrade to larger and more modern engines in the early 1900s.

    That was a long paragraph to discuss your issue of loading gauge (horizontal and vertical clearances). The Bachmann 2-8-0 is from a 3ft gauge prototype, which has a larger loading gauge than 2ft prototypes or free-lance models. The K-27s are even bigger. If you are going to use 3ft prototypes, you really should consider using close to an On3 loading gauge. On3 information is available on the NMRA site. In any case, 3ft gauge prototypes were sometimes 8ft wide. This means at least 2.25" between parallel straight track centers. Less is asking for side-swipes; more is needed if you need to put your fingers in to operate couplers or rerail stock. So your 6cm (absolute minimum) parallel track spacing appears reasonable.

    My rule of thumb for On30 planning is that it takes every bit of the space that US modern-era (1980 or later) HO does, with slightly wider track spacing, and significantly more room for scenery and structures. The latter was the issue for me with On30 - the space structures, and even trees take. A small 16ft x 24ft building (on the small side but found in 19th century Colorado) takes up 10cm x 15cm in On30.

    On30 does not yet have an established set of standards, althought track uses HO NMRA standards and couplers are generally set at HO standard gauge height. The coupler height is wrong for scale appearance.

    I would strongly recommend buying a few pieces of Atlas sectional track and the biggest lomotive and cars you intend to have for hands-on measurement and experimentation before settling on your final track configuration.

    As for running steam locomotives in reverse, American practice was to do it when you had to. Of course it had to be done for switching, but it was also done when the economics didn't justify turning facilities at the end of a branch. Some locomotives were deliberately designed to run equally well in both directions - geared locos and the logging 2-6-2s come to mind. Tank locomotives and trailing trucks were preferred (but weren't always available, and weren't really developed until 1900) when the locomotive would be operated extensively in reverse. Many tourist steam railways today operate their locomotives in a push-pull, or at best, a run-around and reverse running from the far end back to the start site. So you are not out of line there.

    yours in planning
  3. thomasTC

    thomasTC New Member

    Hello Fred,

    many thanks for the infos regarding loading gauge. I did not think yet that 9 cms are necessary, and this means I have to replan considerably.

    Also I am not yet sure if e.g. a 80 cm track (length between turnouts) will hold a 70 cm train or if I rather need 90 or even 100 cms between the turnouts to make sure that the loco will run around without hitting the cars.

    I have a lot of Fleischmann sectional track from my H0 time and should probably use this for trials with the 2-8-0 and box cars that I intend to use.

    So far I have no experience whatsoever with the couplers used by Bachmann because it seems they are a type that is not used in European model railroading.

    Are these going to work well with automatic decoupler tracks? Or is it more adviseable to always decouple with a hand-held decoupler?

  4. thomasTC

    thomasTC New Member

    New Plan

    ...this is another track plan idea for my little 6 1/2' (2 metres) long 0n30 station. It features a turntable, the idea being that a turntable would reduce the length needed for runaround tracks on the dead end of the station. Now I have sufficient space for a short 4-car goods train with some inches spare space on the track.

    Short goods trains, yet still rather big 2-8-0 engines could probably be explained in the 1930s for a once-bigger railroad that now has only little freight to move, still using their trusty old engines from better times.

    The station with the turntable is inspired by a prototype (standard gauge) situation I found here at the site of Frank Neubauer: http://www.frankneubauer.de/gfe_dam/gfee.htm in the net. The prototype is an old German station where the turntable is located directly in front of the passenger station building. I also found another standard gauge Swedish prototype with a similar setup.

    I am wondering if this setup might look just to un-prototypically for American railroads regarding the position of the turntable but from an operations point of view it seems a good idea. Also reduces number of switches to just 5 switches which I consider as an advantage, I'd like to keep the project as simple as possible.

    The new plan also has minimum 8 cm between parallel tracks. Still has two runaround tracks so that I can switch some cars from an incoming train on the second track and still have the third track for the switcher engine to run around.

    The outline of the baseboard giving a layout width between 30-48 cm is the minimum configuration, depending on how much space I'll find I would of course like to add additional inches and use them for at least some very basic scenery.

    But as I said before, I am quite happy if the whole layout basically just contains tracks and a painted or photographic backboard. One or two buildings might also be added as extremely low-relief models on the backdrop.


    Attached Files:

  5. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    I edited my post but you had apparently read it first. Your first plan may work - 6 cm track spacing may be enough. Please reread my 1st post. I just messed up the metric to inches conversion in my head. Usually, I remember 10cm = 4 inches as a quick and dirty guide. But for some reason, I seem to get these senior moments and start using 4 cm to the inch - which is wrong! I'm sorry for the confusion.

    However, the western narrow gauge prototypes that I am familiar with tended (not always!) to minimize the number of tracks in a yard or terminal area. But these tracks would not normally be closely spaced. For that reason, your second plan looks much more "US narrow gauge" than your first. Using the turntable as a runaround instead of turnouts is not really prototypical, but you have it fairly well disguised by putting the engine house and servicing in front. And the extra length of train you gain will be worth it.

    I am not familiar with the specific couplers Bachmann uses on their On30. I assume that it's the same knuckle coupler as on their HO, which is a Kadee clone. Most US modelers prefer the real Kadees as more reliable and durable, and I'm sure Kadee has a drop-in replacement coupler for Bachmann. Kadee and its clones uncouple when over a properly polarized magnet that draws the uncoupling pins towards the rails - and there has to be slack in the train for the couplers to release.

    Uncoupling magnets can be mounted between the rails, or under the ties, or electromagnets can be used. Due to the expense, hassle, and sometimes unsightliness of the uncoupling magnets, many modelers use bamboo skewers to uncouple knuckle couplers. Simply insert the skewer in the coupled set and twist. There are commercial variants that also perform manual uncoupling.

    Kadee couplers (and clones) have 2 "advantages" over the prototype - automatic coupling and delayed uncoupling. Automatic coupling allows 2 couplers - if they line up - to couple without having to ensure the knuckle is "open" like the prototype. Delayed action allows you to uncouple over a magnet, and then push back together with the couplers locking in the uncoupled position. From here you can push the cars as far as you want without recoupling, provided the couplers don't separate for even a fraction of a second. This is easier said than done in smaller scales, where differences in rolling qualities and ability of a switcher to push cars at switching speeds without stumbling cause problems with delayed uncoupling. In On30, delayed uncoupling should be more reliable.

    Your idea to run some trials with the Fleishman track is a good one.

    Hope this helps
  6. thomasTC

    thomasTC New Member

    Few tracks

    Hello Fred, (and others in case they are still reading :))

    thanks for your input again. It's a great help to me. I have somehow to learn "feel" the US railroading... so that I can come up with something that, although it's more a "toy" layout and not one depicting a real prototype, it will clearly look like a US railroad and not like one that would equally well feel German, or British, or whatever else there might be.

    It's just two days after I started real planning of the layout and when I now look at my two track plans (and all the other variations I did not show here) I alread do understand that the second one looks at least a bit more "American" than the first one does while the first plan rather feels like a German or Austrian prototype.

    I've stumbled across several examples of US narrow gauge prototypes and model railroads while surfing for more informations and I am still wondering about how goods trains were handled on the US NG railroads when there were so few tracks in a lot of the minor stations. Was it common practice to e.g. block the main line for, I assume, several minutes if on an intermediary station a goods car has to be delivered to an adjacent factory or facility or whatever?

    For example, apart from the trick with the two-sided layout operation, the "loads in-empties out" operation scheme that is shown on the Pacific Coast 0n30 RR website involves a lot of "main line" switching (what I mean is that the main line is totally blocked while switching trains out and into the facility takes place.)

    Is this just because it's a model or would prototype operations also block the main line? Or would prototype RR always provide a proper long passing/shunting track so that the mainline is free during all switching operations? You mentioned that while there often was a lot of space available so that facilities and stations were designed rather wide-spread, the railroad companies still tended to keep the number of turnouts to a minimum.

    I have found several other model railroads such as Dave Burroughs' D&RGW where, although clearly it is not a problem of model space available, there are VERY few runaround / passing tracks. (On this plan, e.g. the facilities at Ojito in the upper right of the track plan can only be served with cars from a passing goods train when the main line is completely blocked.)

  7. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    I had never been west of the Mississippi until I joined the military. The topography out West is completely different, and probably has to be seen to be fully appreciated. I've only visited Britain, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden - and then only for a few days. So I have no real points of comparison.

    Western U.S. narrow gauge railroads were primarily built around serving extractive industries - mining and lumber - in the most rugged terrain. Rugged terrain and non-permanent industries emphasized the cost savings of using narrow gauge track and rolling stock; although in the long run this proved to be a mostly false economy. Narrow stream and river valleys were the methods to access the mountain ranges where the resources were located. Terminals would be built where the valleys widened enough to provide some flat land, or an upper plateau could provide similar land for a terminal/town. Single track would link the towns/terminals.

    The large wide agricultural valleys, such as California's Central Valley and Oregon's Willamette Valley, were pretty much occuppied with standard gauge - narrow gauge didn't save very much in those locations.

    Remembering that because keeping costs down was very important for a narrow gauge line, train dispatching systems were most primitive. A train would be assigned a section of main line and any associated spurs and sidings for a given period of time. They would have to meet other trains at a specified location and time. At their busiest, a given stretch of narrow gauge main would seldom see more than 10 trains daily - 5 each direction. 40 MPH (65 Km/hour) would be the fastest any of these trains would travel) and 40 Km/hour would be more typical. More trains would require a significant infrastructure upgrade for signaling and dispatching. If that kind of money was going to be spent, then spending on widening the track to standard gauge was often the 1st priority.

    A long answer to say yes, that due to the nature of the topography and operations, tying up the main for switching was accepted practice in narrow gauge (and standard gauge where traffic was/is light).

    Hope this helps
  8. thomasTC

    thomasTC New Member

    Hi Fred,

    again many thanks - this clears up things for me ! A long time ago (12 years ago) I was in Colorado, Utah, and driving up north through the Rocky Mountains and I have a lot of photos from that wonderful holiday trip although we only had 3 weeks.

    But sadly we did not visit any railway locations apart from taking a few pictures of modern standard gauge trains (which are also very impressive, by the way) so that's why I have at least a faint picture of this great land and area, but don't know much about the former narrow-gauge railways.

    Now I am thinking of a name for my project. I thought of getting a 2-8-0, a smaller steamer and a railcar or a "Galloping Goose" as a start and it seems I can either chose an existing old RR company such like D&RGW or RGS or what else but that's where the trouble already starts because all the Gooses were operated by RGS, but RGS did not operate any outside frame 2-8-0s?

    So either I have models from different operators mixed together (not nice) or have to invent a RR company.

    Well I decided for the start it does not matter that much because changing the lettering of the models can later be done at any stage.

  9. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    I'm planning a shelf layout in HOn3 (see my post "no more 4x8s" in the track planning forum). The prototype is an imaginary "might have been" line linking a dog hole port in Southern Oregon to lumbering (and maybe some mining) and extending to meet a standard gauge short line in the coastal mountains. The dog hole ports were very small (and not very safe or secure) indentations in the rugged northern California and Oregon coasts where the dog hole schooners would tie up or anchor (in good weather only) to receive lumber for San Francisco and points south, and provide supplies for the town and logging camps. Steam ships and the destruction of the redwood forests ended the dog hole days by the start of World War I.

    My initial shelf (240cm by 60cm) will be based on the famous Gum Stump and Snowshoe plan. Somebody on this forum posted an example that used a turntable to provide a runaround track at the lower terminal. I widened my shelf to use that idea (you are already doing that in your second plan). That way I can sensibly choose to use the runaround track or not (turntable is for engines only) in the lower terminal. I will adjust the spur lengths in the lower terminal to given an Inglenook puzzle if I choose.

    The front spur of the lower terminal will be the schooner loading/unloading track. The switchback will reach into the hills immediately behind the harbor. The upper terminal will be a logging camp, with eventual expansion eastward to the standard gauge line.
  10. thomasTC

    thomasTC New Member

    Hello Fred,

    the GUM STUMP & SNOWSHOE layout is also featured on this list of famouse small layout ideas at: Carl Arendt's Micro Layouts Page

    When I started planning, I just had the simple classic Tyme Saver in mind but I realised that if I would build an 0n30 Tyme Saver on my 1.80 or 2.00 m initial layout section, I could never add an extension to make it a "proper" station layout because I would just run out of length in my room. That's why I ended up planning a station, if I wish to run it as a Tyme Saver, I just add a non-permanent track on the left to be later replaced by additional sections of the layout.

    I'm right now trying to find a few additional inches in available depth so that I need not to restrict the layout board THAT much in depth as my plan suggests. However, I want to use any additional inch that I can find, for scenery only. I probably find time to begin with the basic benchwork tomorrow :) even if I don't have the tracks nor the turntable nor any rolling stock yet... the dimensions of the board itself can't be changed any more because of my space restrictions anyway. However I was at least able to get from 1.80 metres to 2.00 metres length. Even if I'd have more space, I would not want the individual sections to be any bigger than this, because the smaller the project, the more realistic, regarding time and everything...


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