Beginner HOn30 layout

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Model Railroading' started by Justin, Apr 6, 2007.

  1. Justin

    Justin Member

    Does anybody know of any good beginner HOn30 layouts?
  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    HOn30 and HOn3 are not commonly thought of as beginner scale/gauges. There is not a lot of RTR in either one.

    The most common way that one gets started in narrow gauge is to add a small amount of narrow gauge track to a standard gauge layout. Then as the narrow gauge bug captures your soul, you start to focus more and more on the narrow gauge. Finally, you realize that you no longer have any interest in the "standard" world and rip up that excessively wide track to make room for more normal (as in narrow) track. :D

    A lot of very fine, very small HOn30 layouts are featured on Carl Arendt's site,

    If you are looking for table top-sized plans (door, 4x6, 4x8, etc), any HO or HOn3 plan can be successfully done in HOn30.

    N scale layouts can often be adapted, particularly if the track is not crammed in. To adapt an N scale layout, don't pick a plan with 9" radius curves, those are likely going to cause problems. Use plans that feature bigger radius curves. Parallel track spacing will likely have to be widened a little, and vertical clearances also have to be increased. Structures will take more space than in N.

    Just like any other scale/gauge, the track plan that suits you depends on your theme, region of country, prototype (if any), era, and operating preferences. I have not seen or heard of many large HOn30 layouts because of the time required to build and kitbash locomotives and rolling stock. Frary's C&DR is the best example of a good-sized HOn30 layout I know of.

    Hope this helps you walk the narrow way....
  3. Justin

    Justin Member

    Ok. I better build up a roster of HOn30 which would be easier right?
  4. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Yet there is no reason why HOn3 cannot be a "beginer's scale, is there? My own feelings are that HOn3, which usally models old narrow gauge lines, involves far less wiring, signal systems and other non-beginner-friendly stuff than does modeling a modern, standard HO gauge railroad. I do agree that HOn30 is an entirely different breed of critter, however.

    it's what I am starting out in, and I'm glad I chose it!
  5. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    I dabble in HOn3 a bit and there is a fair amount of craftsmanship involed in it. Up until recently all motive power was either brass or kits, same with rolling stock. There is flextrack but the turnouts may need special wiring. Normally with an HO layout you can have the track slaped down in a matter of hours where as it'll take a bit more time with HOn3, something a beginner might not be intrested in.
  6. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Some things to consider: HOn3 turnouts are currently scarce. The shinohara turnouts are currently out of production. There are now RTR hon3 cars made by micro trains and soon some cars will be offered from a company called blackstone models. Blackstone has come out with a RTR 2-8-2 in HOn3 for about 300 bucks, and plans on producing other locos in the future. Other Hon3 locos that can be bought rather cheaply are: FED "spartan" 2-6-0 or 4-4-0 in brass can be found for less than 200$ on ebay. Same with the ken kidder 0-4-0 plantation locomotives. The grandt boxcab and 23 ton diesel switchers, both kits. MDC roundhouse 2-8-0 and shay kits are out of production but can still be found on ebay and swap meets. The shay was offered RTR.

    there is really nothing available in HOn30 that is ready to run. There are some obscure kits, but mostly everything is kitbashed using N scale mechanisms. N scale track can be used. Kitbashing HOn30 stuff wouldn't be that hard. Several people here have made some great conversions.

    I have both HOn3 and HOn30 on my layout.

  7. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    I don't think the Roundhouse shay was offered in ready to run HOn3. I've built the MDC 2-8-0 engine for my layout and am about halfway through building an HOn3 shay by the same company. I wouldn't mind latching onto one of the grandtline engines even though I've been told that they need work on both wieght and electrical pickup issues. The plantation engines would be neat to have as well.
  8. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Mountain Man and Nachomand pretty much hit it. The MicroTrains line of HOn3 line of RTR cars is steadily expanding. The non-decoder Blackstone K-27s are here. Their cars and sound-equipped K-27s should be here in the next month. MMI has promised. more die-cast HOn3 locomotives in the future.

    Shinohara turnouts are in short supply, but I have seen Micro Engineering code 55 turnouts (#6 only) in my LHS. ME flex track is readily available. Basically, everything is there in HOn3 for somebody who has progressed beyond the train set stage. Prices are closer to 3 rail O rather than mainstream HO.

    Most of the HOn3 suppliers advertise in Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette rather than Model Railroader. And most of the on-line discounters (there are exceptions like Flying Scotsman Hobbies) don't carry HOn3, so it takes a little more effort to buy.

    Whatever gauge/scale you pick, enjoy!
  9. The MDC Shay was offered RTR. I know cuz I gots one.sign1
    Unfortunately, they run like crud. Usual culprit, bad gear towers.
  10. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    MDC Shay

    We have a thread on these over in the logging section. as is out of the box, yes they are crud, with NWSL re gearing, careful tweaking and a good motor, they can run extraordinarily well. I have two that I would not let go for anything.

    That said the locomotive is a midsize standard gauge Shay, and is humongous in Hon3. In my Hon3 locomotive shops thread I cover some of the reasonable brass , and the Loco-dock re motor kits that make them awesome runners. The Con-Coor Goose is an awesome running critter as well. Hon3 requires more building and modifying than Ho standard or On30. the Blackstone Mikados are awesome, but they are big for my taste. Blacksone is producing a C-19, and I have one on order. these should fill a nitch as a locomotive that would be at home anywhere in the US, as it is pretty much like a catalog Baldwin. with sound and dual mode DCC it is about expensive than a Westside C-16 and a remotor kit. Blackstone does a grat job with detail, and their customer service gets great marks, so when those show up, the Hon3 locomotive market will have another excellent option.

    Bill Nelson

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