Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Model Railroading' started by R. MARTIN, Sep 22, 2006.

  1. R. MARTIN

    R. MARTIN Member

    Anyone out there into or interested in HOn3? Let's talk.:wave:
  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    A lot of HOn3 guys hang out at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HOn3/ Tends to be a little Colorado-focused, and more towards the "rivet counter" end of the spectrum, but still fun to me.

    Here on The Gauge, there are some regular contributors in the logging section, and some fine HOn30 and On30 modelers. The HOn30 guys are just like us, except their track gauges were shorted by 1.5mm, and they secretly run their N gauge modern era diesel stinkpots on their track when nobody is looking. Meanwhile, the On30 guys are the ones who couldn't resist the beautiful but very tempting Porters, Shays, and Climaxes at the LHS, while at the same time refusing to give up their HO standard gauge diesel stinkpots when nobody is looking. :)

    Again, the logging info on The Gauge - and not just Western logging - has been very helpful to me in planning my HOn3 logging and general freight line, the Tillamook Head and Bethel Railway.
  3. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I think, if you do a search here for HOn3, you'll come up with quite a bit of info. I've done a couple of MDC kits, and posted the results here, on the gauge.
  4. R. MARTIN

    R. MARTIN Member

    Thanks Fred! I will look into that sight. I tend to be a bit of a rivet counter myself now days. (I've actually started putting brake rods on all my cars).
  5. R. MARTIN

    R. MARTIN Member

    Thanks Pete! I'll try that search.
  6. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I've been reading this board for a while and finally decided to register. I dabble a little in HOn3 (I've built a few Grandt Line kits, an MDC 2-8-0, and converted 2 MDC 36' passenger cars to 3' gauge). My primary interests are in building On3 DSP&P passenger cars and HO passenger cars to match my NKP 4-6-4.
  7. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    Switched from HOn30 to On30. I liked the larger size :D
  8. Bucks Owin

    Bucks Owin New Member

    Yep, I do some "multi scaling"....(0n30, HO and HOn3)



  9. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    hey, I am into HOn3. I havent been around much lately, but hope to be around more in the near future!

  10. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    I've got a very short 3' 6" logging line on my layout in HOn3. I've currently built an MDC 2-8-0 and I'm working on a shay. I've also scratched a couple cars. I plan to scratch a bobber caboose sometime.
  11. Bunch of newbe questions

    Guys, I have a 12'x15' N layout, fully lanscaped, with 140' of track.
    I know absolutely nothing about HOn3, but the opportunity to include more detail in my layout intrigues me.
    Would it be impractical, or a sacrilge to convert the existing layout to HOn3?
    How wide and high are HOn3 rolling stock? (Never even held one in my hand...)
    Will they really run properly on N track?
    Does N track look so ridiculous that I would I have to lay new track wherever they are visible?
    Thank you in advance for your help!
    PS: You can see photos of my layout in the Gallery under Pond Junction and Rocky Creek RR.
  12. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    I think you mean HOn30 rather than HOn3. HOn3 track is 10.5mm gauge (3 times 3.5mm/ft) which is correct HO scale for 3ft gauge prototype.

    N track has a 9mm gauge, which scales out to just over 30" in HO scale, and is used for HOn30. So both N and HOn30 equipment run on N gauge track. The real issue is horizontal and vertical clearances, as you pointed out. By the way, all these same issues apply when converting from HO to On30. This is called "loading" gauge on the prototype.

    The difficulty in telling you how wide and high the HOn30 rolling stock will be is that it depends very much on what prototype you follow or don't follow. Keep in mind that was very little 30" gauge track in the U.S., and almost none of it was common carrier. The 30" prototypes that did exist were built to serve (and usually owned by) a particular lumber company or mine. 3ft gauge was the dominant narrow gauge in the U.S., and 2ft was second - a distant second.

    In the early days of HOn30, HOn3 was already well established. At the time, true HOn2 (7mm gauge) was deemed to be too small to make working loco mechanisms. So modelers of 2ft gauge prototypes used HOn30 as a way to obtain working loco mechanisms, track, and wheel sets. The gauge was considered "close enough" for HOn2. So a lot of HOn30 superstructures were built to the 2ft prototype loading gauges, with some allowances for the widened track gauge. Such cars and locos are typically 7ft wide or so, I don't know about height.

    HOn30 can also be used to model 3ft gauge prototypes (the track gauge error is the same as for HOn2, but in the opposite direction), or even free-lance (might have been) prototypes. But even within 3ft gauge, the later prototype lines were built for wider, higher, and longer cars than the earlier ones were. Compare tunnel portals on the early 3ft Colorado railroads with the White Pass and Yukon in Alaska - there is a marked difference. Interchange standards never really played any role in the narrow gauge world - there was hardly any to speak of outside of Colorado.

    Your safest bet would be to use the NMRA HOn3 gauge as your clearance guide, but this would probably require a lot of unnecessary modifications to your existing layout.

    Another, perhaps less painful option would be to go through some issues of Short Line and Narrow Gauge Gazette, and look at scale plans for 30" and 2ft prototypes. Use some typical measurements until you have built some rolling stock to use as a test. Please report back your results so we can learn from your errors instead of our own! :)

    yours in tea kettles through the woods...
  13. Thank you for your detailed explanation, Fred! HOn3 vs. HOn30 was always a mystery to me...
    So, what do you think about the std. N gauge track -- are the ties unacceptably too small and too many? Would I have to commit to lay new HOn30 trac?
    Thanks again for taking your time to help me. I promise, I will make mistakes that I will share with you... :)
  14. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Yep, I do some sneaky On30 running on the club layout. That is until my Bachmann Climax gets stuck in an HO scale tunnel entrance or hooks a building as it goes by.
  15. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    If you bury the track in ballast or dirt ballast, you might not even see the ties. There are plenty of HOn30 guys who do this.

    Prototype ties varied in length from 6ft on most 2ft lines to 6ft or 6.5 ft on the 3ft lines. Typical cross sections were 5" x 7" or 6" x 6"; tie spacing was generally around 24" on center. Rail was typically 40-65 lbs initially. Later track upgrades never exceeded 100lb rail, with 80lb rail being common. Therefore code 40 or code 55 track with correctly spaced and sized ties would look best.

    I don't know how your N track compares to these dimensions; you'd have to measure the ties with an HO scale rule. I believe some of the HOn30 guys remove every other tie on flex track and turnouts to get a more realistic appearance. And there is commercial HOn30 track available.

    But remember, the real reason for HOn30 in the first place is to make maximum use of readily available N commercial components rather than insisting on rivet-counting accuracy in all details. If the "reasonable" compromises on track gauge and appearance, wheels, and other details in HOn30 bother you, I would welcome you to the land of true HOn3.

    The other advantage of HOn30 is that you can still run your N rolling stock any time you like - you just have to accept your scenery and structures will be out of scale for one or the other. This is what Jim Krause was referring to for HO/On30 in his post.

    There is a lot of discussion and examples of HOn30 at the following site: http://www.all-model-railroading.co.uk/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=70
    HOn30 or OO9 is quite popular with in England. Also Glen and some other Gauge members do wonderful work in HOn30.

    yours in teakettles in the woods
  16. Bucks Owin

    Bucks Owin New Member


    Typical narrow gauge RGS, CS etc boxcars are about "halfway" between your N scale cars and, for instance, an HO 40' to 50' boxcar visually....


    Shingletown, CA.
  17. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    The comment about an On30 loco "getting stuck in an HO tunnel, or snagging a building", is of signifigance. HOn30 equipment is just large enough that the N scale clearances will cause problems. If you decide to go HOn30, you will have to move anything that was OK for N scale, but is in the way for HOn30.
    By the way, Microscale, is now offering RTR HOn3 rolling stock.
  18. Thanks for your thoughts

    Thank you Dennis and Sumter for your kind and thoughtful help!

    Looks like I could live with the N gauge track I have by hiding most of the ties, redo the tunnel portals, replace the structures, and I might have a nice HOn30 layout!
    am sure I will have to add larger trees and widen the roads and vehicular bridges -- but, none of that should be a big problem.

    Unfortunately, the parallel tracks in the two existing yards will not work or make any sense. What do you think? Should I pull them or bury them? (Switches leading nowhere might look strange...) I am tempted to just lay new track in those areas and turn them into forests.

    I am excited about extending the layout all the way to the floor to service a major mining operation there!

    Thanks again, you helped me clear my mind!

  19. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I haven't seen a mention of it, but don't forget about curve radii. Commonly N-scale sectional track will have curves with a less than 12" radius. If you are using N-scale mechanisms you're fine, but it's not necessarily a good idea for everything. An HOn3 Spartan series 4-4-0 is supposed to have a 12" minimum radius. I believe the MDC 2-8-0s were an 18" minimum radius...the same as HO standard gauge.
  20. jon6516

    jon6516 New Member

    Has the MDC hon3 engine kits been re-isued yet?

Share This Page