ARGH! HOn3 woes...

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Model Railroading' started by inqzitr, Nov 7, 2007.

  1. inqzitr

    inqzitr Member

    Hello all;

    In pondering on my next modeling project, I wanted to start a layout in HOn3. While I don't mind working on scenery, structures, rolling stock, locos or the like, I really wanted to avoid hand laying my rail or building turnouts (I haven't done this alot, and I wanted to spend the limited time that I have on other things besides this...). I'm planning on building a couple small modules at first, so I figured this would be rather easy, just need to get some track and give it a go.

    To my dismay, it seems almost IMPOSSIBLE to find any pre-manufactured track from any supplier. Mail order? Nope. Local BMHS? Nada. Walthers. Bzzt.

    Additionally, even what is technically "available" from manufacturers like shinohara or ME seems very limited.

    Does anyone have suggestions on where to find some decent track/turnouts? Any info on why it is so hard to find/obtain shinohara stuff currently? (I noticed the same thing with the new walthers track made by shinohara, which is also difficult to get right now...)

    Thanks for the info!
  2. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    look in precision scale company,they sell,HO,HOn3,HOn30 and all the above in O as well.i think they make turnouts also,ill try to post a link.--josh
  3. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    heres the link,i knew they had some.go into misc. and then clik HOn30 track and voila,there she blows :D
    Precision Scale Co., Inc.
  4. inqzitr

    inqzitr Member

    Thanks. Checked them out, and still the same problem- lack of premade turnouts. Any other suggestions from the community?
  5. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Give this place a call....

    Coronado Scale Models
    1544 E Cypress St
    Phoenix, AZ 85006
    (602) 254-9656

    He deals pretty much exclusively in narrow gauge stuff. I went to visit him after I purchased my Blackstone HOn3 and he said he could get me pretty much whatever I needed. I, however, have yet to follow that path.

    I thought I'd seen something else along these lines on here not too far back.... see what I can find...
  6. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    The shinohara stuff gets imported only intermittently. Seems like it won't be available for 2 years, then it will be available again until the current run runs out. Micro engineering also makes premade turnouts, but the only other commercial turnouts are kits. Handlaying track isn't that difficult, but turnouts can be tricky. Unfortunatley, turnouts are what is scarce. You may also want to check ebay. There are usually several hon3 track listings, but be prepared to pay 15-25$ per turnout.

  7. inqzitr

    inqzitr Member

    Alas, I think my ventures into hon3 will likely be curtailed by this, at least for the time being. I guess I don't mind laying track, it's just that I didn't want to take all my time to do this. Anyone make any turnout 'kits' that are reasonably priced?
  8. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    The ones I am aware of are the BKenterprises kits, the Stephen Hatch railway engineering kits, and then the "fasttracks" jigs. the first two will run you 25-30 bucks per turnout, and the fasttracks jig costs a bunch up front, but the cost per turnout is cheap. How big of a layout are you planning?

    I do hear "rumbings" of another HOn3 track line coming out sometime in the next year or so. I am not sure who the manufacturer will be, but I wouldn't be surprised to see more HOn3 entering the market now that the door has been opened by blackstone and micro-trains.

  9. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Here is the biggest hobby shop...Caboose Hobbies in Denver...
    Caboose Hobbies, The best place to enjoy the hobby of model trains, Toy Trains, Model Railroading!

    I'd highly recommend Coronado...they're practically the Gold Standard for me as I'm a DSP&P modeler.

    Jay's is currently out... - HOn3 Track

    I can't remember the other big one.

    Some turnout kits are little more than spiking (or gluing) pref-formed turnouts...I have an old On3 Turnout which, still in the packaging, was just missing the ties.
  10. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I'll second coronado. They are just a few miles from me and they only deal with narrow gauge. If there is a narrow auge product available, they will know about it and be able to tell you how to get it.

  11. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Not fair that you're so close to them. The only Narrow Gauge specialty shop near me closed up :cry: But they were more HOn3 than On3...I've still got a good hobby shop with scratch building supplies and a shop, which is horribly over priced...but run by a master of chasing down rare things.
  12. inqzitr

    inqzitr Member


    :curse: Why do I have to like the stuff that you can't get?!?!?! Not that price is a problem, but lack of availability just sucks.

    When I'm ready, I'll give these guys a call. Thanks for the info everyone!
  13. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    It could be could be interested in Fn2, or some other obscure scale with very little commercial support.

    Besides...once you get the track you need...less is of the best things about narrow gauge. A 2-car C&S passenger train is prototypical...while a NYC fan needs a 15-car train.
  14. inqzitr

    inqzitr Member


    This is why I wanted to do narrow gauge. I could have less and it would still retain enough prototypic feel, enough to satisfy me.


    I'm going to have to learn to lay track, aren't I? :cry:
  15. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    You'll be able to get some commercial track...but hand laying is not difficult. It actually doesn't take as much time as you'd think. I did some of it last week...although be weary of 3-way turnouts. I spent hours working on a 3-way stub switch this past looks great and cost me around $0.50...but it took some time as I messed up a bunch (my first 3-way switch). Normal turnouts are around 10x easier...especially stub switches.

    You might as well try it as you wait for commercial might find it enjoyable. I enjoy laying my own track and find that it gives far more satisfaction to see trains running over it than pre-fab stuff.

    There are three basic approaches:
    soldering the rail to circuit board ties (common in Nn3)
    spiking the rail to wood ties (the most popular way...great for On3)
    gluing the rails to wood ties (the approach I'd try if I was you)

    I'd compare the bulk rail prices to stealing rail from N-scale code 55 flex track. You also could harvest parts from N-scale turnouts and recycle the frogs (the most difficult part of a turnout to build)...
  16. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Because, that is the unwritten law of model railroading! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
    Ummmm, in a word?, yes. :| wall1

    Track laying isn't hard, it just takes a bit to get started. Lay out centerlines first, make sure the subroadbed is smooth and level, and where ever possible, use flextrack. I know it can be expensive, but there are really only two major expenses you should never go without. Good track, and quality locomotives. The most expensive rolling stock will still never get anywhere if the track isn't laid right, or the locos don't run.
  17. inqzitr

    inqzitr Member

    Thanks everyone for the pointers...

    Well, this is good to know, and when I'm ready to do some narrow gauge, I suppose this is what I'll have to do. I think if I had a good support group that could walk me through a couple of times of laying rail, it wouldn't be a problem.

    I have come to the conclusion that I just want to 'play with my trains', and not spend all my time building everything to do so. What this means is that I'm likely going to veer off and start an HO shortline to hone my skills back up (after a substantial hiatus...)

    The more I think about it, I'm probably going to shelf my HOn3 plans right now and see what happens in the future. If I keep the narrow gauge bug, perhaps I'll dabble in On30...:mrgreen:

    Thanks again everyone. I'll likely be picking everyone's brains again to help with layout design next!
  18. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Support groups are great things for dealing with "issues", personal problems, dependancies etc. They can also be good sources of information. What they are not especially good at is perfecting skills, here, the old addage "practice makes perfect", genuinely applies. Yes, the only sure way to learn how to lay to lay track. There's another "old addage" Easy come easy go. Truly, the things we learn by making our own mistakes, are the things we learn the best, and keep the longest.
    My "spare parts box" is testament to all the mistakes of my learning process. You will find that most of the best modelers, have large spare parts boxes! wall1 :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
  19. inqzitr

    inqzitr Member

    What I meant was...

    ... showing me how to do it, watching me while I ask some questions. Then I'd practice. However, I've heard over and over, from many ppl, that it can be tricky, I mean to learn the basic technique. After that, it's not bad from everybody that I've spoken to and things that I've read. This is what I mean. From a support group standpoing, I was referring to having something like a narrow gauge group, or someone who'd put on a workshop or something, so I could observe how to do it, then I could just practice.

    So, I agree with you. But, It'd still be useful to watch someone doing it.
  20. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Hey, I am planning a new HOn3 layout that I will hopefully begin in the next few months. I plan on handlaying all the track, and I will document everything and post it here. I have very little handlaying experience myself, so it will be a learning experience for me, too.


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