Introduction to HOn21/2 (or "I need some help")

Discussion in 'Narrow Gauge Model Railroading' started by CharlesH., Sep 23, 2004.

  1. CharlesH.

    CharlesH. Member

    Recently I've been toying with the idea of expanding my layout - vertically. I somehow felt that a towering snow-capped mountain wasn't enough to impress myself, so I wanted to add a dummy narrow gauge line just for show (and as a preview of what's to come when I find a bigger room).
    The only problem I have is...well, they're actually many - The nearest hobby shop is a 4 hour drive away and the funds are tight, which means that I can't get any track or equipment. First, I have some HO gauge flextrack and I'd like to handlay some 2 1/2 foot gauge track - any tips? (note- I don't have spikes and a guage). Second, I have some old time equipment that I'd like to re-gauge, what do you suggest?
    (plans for a climax are being drawn)
  2. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Track gauge is 9mm. If you're careful, a simple loop done with at least two homemade gauges wouldn't be difficult. For your climax, I built this some time back, my first "frame up" locomotive kitbash;
  3. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Charles - most folks use N scale track to epresent 2 1/2 ft ga. in HO. Why not just mail order some flextrack and maybe a turnout or 2? Snip every other tie and it looks great. Leave all the ties in and it looks like n scale track on an HO layout. Peco makes HOe (2 1/2 - same gauge as atlas N), but it's spensif and looks no better than atlas treated as described.

    If the old time stuff is standard HO it's probably too wide to look good for NG. 7 or 8 ft is about as wide as it gets even on a 3 ft gauge and standard gauge rollin' stock is usually about 10 ft.
  4. SteamerFan

    SteamerFan Member

    if i'm not mistaken, HOn21/2 is the same as HOn30, of which there is plenty of track in production.
  5. gcodori

    gcodori Member


    As a modeller of HOn30, it is basically N scale mechs and track, with HO structures and bodies.

    So get yourself started by buying n scale track and snipping the ties or leaving just a few here and there to keep it in gauge and slip under new (larger) ties to improve the looks.

    Now purchase yourself an n scale locomotive and replace the cab with an HO cab...voila! Very similar to On30 (O scale using HO mechs). Several people make shells and cabs for common conversions to get you started...check out B&F hobby below -

    Here are some helpful links...

    Yahoo groups has several HOn30 groups, I suggest saying HI and checking out the fine modelling going on there.

    If you have more questions, feel free to ask!

  6. CharlesH.

    CharlesH. Member

    Well... the budget is tight even for N scale flextrack, besides, I want to learn how to handlay track.

    That means only one thing.... I'll scratchbuild!

    (It's gonna be a looong winter)
  7. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

  8. gcodori

    gcodori Member


    the words "budget" and "HOn30" shouldn't (can't) be spoken together...

    The only way to get an HOn30 loco is to convert one from N or HOn3 (or scratch build), which means at least $60-80 for a nice mechanism (spectrum 2-8-0) or as little as $20 for a used docksider or davenport from the 'bay (auction site), but you'll have to add "fiddle-time" to the $20 loco to get it to run like the $60 loco.

    Second, the issue of trucks in HOn30. Sorry, but trucks cost an arm and a leg. You have to take HOn3 trucks, toss out the wheelsets and replace with NWSL or alternative wheelsets. You can scrimp in cost by using regular N scale trucks, but they are not in proportion. Expect to pay about $5-10 for a set of trucks (OUCH!)

    Lastly, you have the notion that most HOn30 modellers take after the New England prototypes. I happen to freelance an urban west coast industrial RR, which doesn't fit in with most that model HOn30.

    If you can live with the truck issue (many people use MT N scale trucks instead of HOn30), the budget issue should equal N scale with additional kitbashing expense. It's a great scale/gauge combo for those who like to kitbash, and enjoy the narrow minded approach to the hobby. It also can be a way to experience something similar to the On30 conspiracy, with less space commitment.

    Even with the budget limits, I still love the hobby. Now if I can only get something BUILT, I'd enjoy it even more!

  9. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I don't know, Greg, a lot of people pay a heck of a lot more than $20 to 60 for a standard HO loco, which is the cheapest scale for ready made. Time? IMHO: It's a scratchbuilders scale, if it's not fun enough not to charge yourself labor, better go RTR. Trucks are not the cheapest, but it all depends on what you're doing and the intended result. I like stuff that looks good to me. Doesn't have to match a photograph from the DRGW :D True ribbet counters need to stick with n2 and n3 for N. America, with few exceptions. HOn30 is for fun.
  10. gcodori

    gcodori Member

    I agree! Our hobby is like anything else in get what you pay for. You also get back what you put in.

    My post was not to scare anyone away from HOn30, but to just give a heads up that there is very little RTR.

    I believe that the only one you should please in this hobby is yourself first. It's YOUR hobby, don't let anyone tell you different.

    As for HOn30, I still think it's worth the effort it takes to build, even with it's pitfalls. In fact, you can get a certain amount of satisfaction building something that NO ONE else has on their layout.

    If you need help or want some inspiration, feel free to keep us updated on your great adventure!

  11. gcodori

    gcodori Member

    Narrow Gauge on a budget

    Since most of my post dealt with how expensive HOn30 can be, here is something that can get you started quickly on the cheap...

    Internet-trains is blowing out their stock of MDC products (they were purchased by Horizon). Check out this link-

    Here is a 6 pack of old time freight cars (36 foot).
    Step 1- Remove roof and floor from walls/ends.
    Step 2- Remove a section from the center of both ends to narrow the width of the car and reassemble ends.
    Step 3- Remove a corresponding amount from the roof and flooring to match the width of the new body.
    Step 4- Assemble and paint car, and use either N scale trucks or convert a pair of HOn3 trucks.
    Optional - cut the length shorter than 36 feet, if you want "shorty" freight cars.

    Voila - Freight cars for ~$3.75 per car plus trucks. Note - overton passenger cars and cabooses can be narrowed as well. Old time tank cars usually need only truck replacement.

  12. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    :thumb: Built on an old but smooth running Atlas U-Boat mech from the 70s purchased as part of a 2 unit lot on Ebay for $18 (the other unit is now a Climax), it ran continuously for 16 hours at last year's GATS show in Pensacola without a derailment :D
  13. gcodori

    gcodori Member


    Maybe what this forum needs is a dedicated thread for modelling on the cheap (narrow gauge or standard)!

    How about it?

  14. Catt

    Catt Guest

    In the Scratchin' and bashin' forum two forums above this one there is a dedicated stickie for tips and tricks for any and all scales.

    If you have a tip on making anything in any scale feel free to post it there.If you would like to do it in an article style I'm sure we can find a place to host it. :)

    OOPS! make that 3 forums above this one.I must have missed a finger when I was countin'.
  15. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    A table saw with a sharp carbide tip blade does a lovely job of removing material from the center as Greg suggests :D :D :D

    Sometimes I get 2, sometimes 3, depends which hand I count on :D :D :D
  16. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I've used many of the MDC "old time" cars for HOn3 rolling stock. The MDC HOn3 trucks aren't that expensive!

    Now, if your into the space program, NASA, and all start with the left hand, and count down......ten, nine, eight, seven, six......and five on the right hand make eleven! :D :D :D

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