Discussion in 'On30 Forum' started by TrainGuyRom, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. TrainGuyRom

    TrainGuyRom Member


    I have been a model railroader my whole life. I have built N scale, HO scale, and LEGO, and tried an HOn3 railroad (The HOn3 attempt was badly done. a total failure.) But then a few years ago I discovered On30 at a train show in Millwaukee, WI. I saw a static display I had seen before, but never looked carefully at. I thought "What the hey!" and looked at it. I liked it, so I started asking questions and found out that is On30. That opened my eyes. I have all three issues of On30 Annual, but want more advise. can I have some help?
  2. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Taking the above in consideration, can you be a bit more specific, as to what you need advise on? You have been involved with multiple scales, and gauges, so I could only guess that perhaps manufacturers, market availability, or prototypes?
  3. TrainGuyRom

    TrainGuyRom Member

    I am on a budget, so it would be nice for things on that. I already know about bachmannn & a good place to get good prices on On30 stuff(St. Aubin).
    Another thing would be just what I need for a layout that includes switching, continous run, small enough to get most of the scenery done in an okay amount of time, and space for scenery.
    the layout railroad would mainly be mining, with some other freight, and a passenger train or two. perhaps 4'x8'? Something not needing special equipment such as: a table saw, soldering iron, dremel tool etc.
    if you have over all advise that would be good.

    Thank you!
  4. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    All that, on a budget....well, I think step one should be to go to the top of the page and click on "search", enter the topic...continuous run, or scenery, or switching, and see what has already been discussed here. I think you will find a considerable number of choices. You will also find other key words to search that might help. There are a number of tutorials in archives that may give you some valuable information, and help to narrow ( On30....ah, no pun intended )the range of topics you need answers to. Searches on those topics, should help you reach a decision.
    The first thought that came to me was, perhaps a switchback, with a small yard, or interchange point on both the lower, and upper levels, or a mine at the upper, and a trans shipment point on the lower.
    The two levels could be connected by a helix at each end of the switchback for "continuous running" ie. run across the lower level, helix up to the upper level, across, and helix back down. Then again, you may have the space for a much larger loop, or dogbone type layout, you didn't indicate where the layout would be, and how much space there would be for it.
    At any rate, there is a ton of information already posted here, and the search function would be the best starting point.
    Train show in Milwaukee??? would that have been Trainfest?
  5. RonP

    RonP Member of the WMRC

    On30 usually is laid out as a point to point design as apposed to continuous run. This is because the Narrow gauge lines usually went up the mountain and back down. With an interchange at the bottom.

    What is your interest in era and industry ?
  6. TrainGuyRom

    TrainGuyRom Member

    Yes that was trainfest. Do you exibit there?
    I have been thinking & thought it could be modular(portable). it would probobly be a few pieces of foam or ply wood that would be set down & connected. It would probobly be made in 3'X3' sections, & 3-5 sections (including a curve perhaps?) . If I find the money I would get a Bachmann DCC/Sound Shay & Forney(I don't like forneys, but I read an article in On30 Annual on converting a forney to a porter... much better) with
    scratch-built, and/or kit-bashed rolling stock. I'm getting away from myself. It would be two track main, a small yard(like a small town yard) a few sidings, & scenery space(as stated above)
    I hope this is enough info for more advice

    Thank you
  7. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    If this is the display I'm thinking of, it was mostly unscenicked, and was originally HOn3. It's been two, maybe three years since the guy made the move from HO, to On30.
    Yes, I display there, with the Lake County Society of Modular Engineers. I have three modules, HO, with HOn3 on an upper level, with vertical lift bridges on the mainline, on the center module.
    The last four years I have been at the "company booth", as well as setting up my modules.
    My first posts on The-Gauge, included photos of the modules.
  8. TrainGuyRom

    TrainGuyRom Member

    :eek:Cool! anothe Zealot member who exibits at Trainfest. I exibit with
    Capital City 'N' gineers. and yes that does discribe the exibit I was thinking of.
  9. MidnightRR

    MidnightRR Member

    Not many prototype standard-gauge railroads went in a circle, yet lots of model railroads do!

    There is no reason On30 must be a point-to-point design; mine sure isn't.
  10. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    A "circle", that has an automatic reversing loop built in so that the train alternates direction through the scene would be a thing worth having. Might be easier with DCC. Simpler even yet would be two trains alternating in opposite directions. All this with the "reverse", or the "change" hidden from view.
  11. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I thought that was the one.
    This last Trainfest, in addition to my standard three HO modules, I also had a N module set up with the Milwaukee Area N trak group. It was the one with the drydock, and the two track bascule lift bridge.
    Getting all that taken down, and off the floor, and then getting back to help take down the booth, was about all this old _a_t (no! it's SaLt, not what you were thinking :mrgreen:) could take in one dose.
  12. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Most narrow gauges most certainly didn't just go up a mountain and back. Very few did. Well into the 20th century, the D&RGW and RGS formed an enourmous loop...the Narrow Gauge Circle. Most of the narrow gauges that survived where quite similar to standard gauge railroads...complete with standard gauge style equipment.

    Bachmann has made porters, and they are far cheaper than the Forney. Nice little things. Grant Line still offers an 8ton porter, but it ain't cheap...and they did offer an On30 18t porter (I think).

    Perhaps a 4x8 as you suggested...and if you limit yourself to the small stuff, and the mogul, you can get away with 12" radius curves...or so I have heard. To do it cheap, atlas code 100 track. To avoid having to cut stuff, use foam sheets and woodland scenic's risers. With the really small locomotives, 4% or steeper would be fine. For passenger cars, There are various kits. I'd suggest starting with a Bachmann flat car, adding a roof, and calling it an excursion car. You could also have a Bachmann combine (they can be had for $25 if you look around). If it is a mining road, have a continuous loop around the bottom, and then a switchback up to the mine. Their can be the edges of two towns down below...with an engine terminal at one. There the switchback takes off...up the mountain as RonP said. At the top is a mining town with a post office. Perhaps a stamp mill down below. Everyday, a miner's special runs from the town with the engine terminal up to the mine...hauling commuters. Ore is hauled from the mine in gondolas or ore cars down to a stamp mill at the town. The processed ore is then loaded into boxcars and shipped over the mainline to the other town and off the layout. Mainline passenger trains visit each town. 3 days per week the mail operates over the entire line. Primary power on the switchback is the shay. A porter works the mine, and another works the yards at the junction. A mogul works the mainline. Since the line is a scenic wonder, the excursion cars are sometimes attached to the usual passenger train and become a special up to the mine.

    This would be a classic mining line from around 1900.
  13. TrainGuyRom

    TrainGuyRom Member

    That's awsome! I love geared locos, so the ability to run one really apeals to me. I like the idea. Sounds relitively easy.
    Who makes DCC/Sound decoders at a reasonable price? If there arn't any I may just have to go DC untill I find the time, skill, & money. I love the excursion car idea. I may also scratch build some cars on bachmann's underframe using some of my old HO trains' (I really don't see much advantage to HO that I don't get from my current N scale trains) trucks.
    I love kit-bashing & scratch building, so that can possibly save me hundreds. Thank you. keep the advice coming please, and also please throw in things you did wrong so I am less likly to too.

    Thank you.
  14. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Glad you like it.

    If you look around, you can probably find the Spectrum 2-truck shay with a Tsunami installed for under $300. I think I've seen the non-dcc equipped version for $160.

    I think I managed to pick up my On30 porter for around $30...a special at my LHS. The moguls aren't too expensive on ebay (I once saw them new for $56...but typically around $90).

    I don't know if you are familiar with either the Gilpin Gold Tram or the Silverton Railroad, they are great examples of this type of railroad. (and Grandt Line offers Gilpin cars!) The Gilpin Gold Tram was a 2' gauge railroad which operated all over the hills around Blackhawk, Co. They typically operated 3 shays, a few excursion cars, a caboose, a fleet of ore cars, and a gazillion switchbacks.

    The Silverton Railroad funded the construction of the Rio Grande Southern. It was a 20-odd mile long railroad north of Silverton, Co (the northern terminus of the Durango & Silverton tourist train). The best section of the line was the northern half: Chattonoga Loop (a model railroad tight curve), the town of Red Mountain, a series of switchbacks to the Yankee Mine, and a switchback on the mainline with a turntable on the 5% grade leading into Ironton (Corkscrew Gulch). The Silverton purchased a shay for the Yankee mine switchback and used second hand 2-8-0s for the mainline. The most classic book on this road is The Rainbow Route (there were two other Silvertong lines, the Silverton Northern and the Silverton, Gladstone, & Northerly...the SRR was by far the best).

    Here are some links to help with inspiration:

    The beauty of combining a switchback with a loop around the base (even if it is hidden for part of the journey), is that you can have both point to point and continuous running on the same layout.

    Foothill makes some cars that may be of interest...

    I'm planning to build some excursion cars based on the Colorado Central's flat car conversions. I'm using plans from Ron Rudnick for most of my cars...which are specific to the South Park & Colorado Central...but may be useful to you as well; they are specific to prototypes, but they are small cars which would look great in On30...and give some good ideas about the sizes of lumber to use (4"x8" sills, 6-7' wide, 23-26' long, 4"x6" int sills, 4"x6" end sills, etc...).

    Let's see...things I've done wrong...
    -Never attempt to use heat to form a passenger car roof when it is partially attached to the frame (imagine that, the roof supports deform too!).
    -new hobby knife blades are sharp
    -new razor blades are sharp
    -car weights do matter...especially on tight curves.
  15. MidnightRR

    MidnightRR Member

    If you drop a knife, don't try to catch it.

    Don't solder while wearing short pants.
  16. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    :mrgreen: I've never done anything "wrong". :mrgreen:
    No, I'm not bragging, I've made mistakes, I've trashed kits, I've had to go out and buy another. I've broken drill bits, dinged the cutting edge of my rail nippers, broken jewelers saw blades, and for that matter, a number of #11 Xacto blades, and other mistakes too numerable to mention. But, I have never done anything wrong, because I learned something from each of my mistakes.
    For me, creating a scene, or a distinctive looking structure.....scratch building, or a process of trial and error. OK maybe trial by error.
    Many times I have reached a point where the work I have done, makes the rest, hard to accomplish, and I've had to go back and undo some part of what I have already done, to get back to where I want to go.
    I still won't spend days designing, drawing plans, or anything beyond maybe a preliminary sketch. I simply "make it fit", "make it work", and go from there. In a real sense, every choice I make, not only leads to, but determines the next choice.
    When I lay track, I already have a vision of what the terrain is, that the track will run through, and lay the track accordingly. I will even build the topography, and then lay the track into it.
    Laying track perfectly, according to someone's track plan, or computer designed track plan, where every step is clearly predetermined?....that's easy.
    Laying track that looks natural in the scene, while not having any "operational problems"?....that's difficult. Very effective, but difficult.
    When all is said and done, I practice, "you learn far more from your mistakes, than you can ever learn from another's advise". Is it expensive, when you trash a kit? Yes. Is it more expensive than a formal education? More often it is not.
    Build, bash, mess it up big time!, learn!!!:wave:
  17. TrainGuyRom

    TrainGuyRom Member

    I like to do could-have-been railroads. sometimes I think it would be loosly based on real railroads. I like to be creative, so modeling an exact replica of a railroad really isn't as fun.
    The catching of knifes... well it's an instinct... but possible to not try
    I rarly think about the clothes I wear, outside of "is this project going to be messy? Yes. I should change into old clothes" occasionally I get recomendations on what to wear, but that is almost always at a clinic or a make-and-take.

    Thank you, TGR
  18. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    My advice would be to go to the many websites online such as mine that have On30 information and just pop around and look at what is out there. Especially go to the links section of my website and you will find tons of pictures and information from guys that have been doing this for a lot longer then I have even. I have only been into narrow gauge since about the mid 90's really. So I am a newbie :D LOL

    Anyhow, I am not trying to blow my own horn, but I do have a lot of links to OTHERS that have been doing this longer and much better then myself, so have a gander at them.

    I hope it all helps :)

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