Question about On30 & what it is?

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by DENNISJR60, Jan 8, 2007.


    DENNISJR60 New Member

    I currently have the Polar Express set for my son & I got this offer thing for the Mc Donalds 50th Anniversary Express set. My question is what is the difference between O & On30? Also will this train work on the tracks that came with the PE set? I'm guessing there's some similarity to the two being that they both start with the "O".

    Thanks for the help!
  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    There is quite a difference: O scale generally refers to a model in 1:48 scale, and a standard "O scale" locomotive is designed to run on track that is 1.25 inches wide (actually 5' wide in O scale, not American standard 4'8.5" wide, but that's another story.) On30 refers to models that are O scale but designed to run on 30" wide track, which is coincidentally the same size as standard gauge HO track.

    Not all railroads used the same gauge (distance between the rails): 4'8.5" became standard in the United States un the 1860s, but narrow gauge railroads (in 2-foot, 3-foot, 3'6" and 2'6" varieties, just to name a few) were found from the 1870s until about the first third of the 20th century. They were often found in industrial applications (logging, mining, manufacturing) in places where today trucks, tractors or other industrial vehicles would be used. They were cheaper and smaller than standard-gauge equipment. Many model railroaders like narrow gauge because the equipment is small and has a load of character (many would say it's cute.)

    So, after that long explanation, no, an On30 train won't work on O gauge track. But if you have an HO scale Polar Express, it will run on the On30 track--but it is the wrong scale!
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    O scale is 1:48.

    On30 is O scale (still 1:48), but it is a representation of narrow gauges - i.e the space between the rails is approximately 30 inches, instead of the standard gauge of 4' 8 1/2".

    So while the stuff (buildings, locos, figures, etc, etc) is all the same scale, a narrow gauge (On30) loco will not run on standard gauge track, and vice versa.

  4. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    Which scale is your Polar Express set? If it is Lionel (O scale), then On30 will not run on it.

    O scale runs on standard O scale track;
    On30 is:
    - O = O scale trains
    - n = narrow gauge
    - 30 = 30" scale between the rails.
    The track used in On30 is identical to HO gauge track.

    The similarity you mention is that they are the same scale trains. The difference is they run on different track widths.

    Here's a good pic:

    DENNISJR60 New Member

    Ok I get it now. The set I have is the O Scale PE. I have some HO track plus it comes with track so I should be fine. I really just wanted to understand the difference.
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    One further difference: the Polar Express runs on AC; On30 runs on DC. Even dropping the On30 on the 3 rail track and turning the power on can do nasty little things to the motor.

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