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Thinking of doing some O narrow gauge, new info

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  • Thinking of doing some O narrow gauge, new info

    I am thinking of doing some O scale narrow gauge modeling and I need some basic information. I have always been an HO modeler and I don't know much about O scale. I would like build some narrow gauge O scale models to see what it is like, my first project would be a freight car based off of a Mann's Creek Railway coal hopper and maybe a locomotive.

    1. I wanted to use Bachmann Climax and convert it to On3. I read somewhere that if you convert the Bachmann On30 stuff to On3 it is not really O scale and if I build a freight car to On3 plans the couplers won't line up, is that true? I want to try and use the Bachmann stuff for cost reasons. I want to do On3 because I like the look of the slightly wider track.

    2. What wheel sets do I use to convert a set of Bachmann freight car trucks from On30 to On3? Or, would I be better just buying On3 trucks to start with, and if I do just by On3 trucks will I have issues with question 1 above?

    I am really in the dark with all this so if there is something that I am missing I would really love to know so I get started in the right direction.



  • #2

    I've been accumulating On30 stuff for a while, making a few cars and kits here and there so I'm no expert but I'll try to provide some answers. Maybe other can help too.

    Your questions:

    1. O scale is O scale no matter what the track gauge. That was the easy part. I don't think I've seen anything on converting Bachmann On30 equipment to On3, but perhaps I just haven't paid any attention because it is beyond my interests. You would have to regauge all of the wheels by about 1/8 inch, don't know if there is enough room on the axles to do so. Having said that, the difference between On30 and On3 is only 6 scale inches, or the 1/8 inch that I mentioned. Would be a whole lot easier to stick with On30 because there are so many neat and inexpensive pieces of rolling stock available.

    2. Since you want to widen the Bachmann On30 trucks, I doubt if this can be done as there just isn't the room. Better off to buy new On3 ones.

    So I'd investigate On30 a little bit more before plunging into something a whole lot more complicated and expensive, all for 1/8"!


    • #3

      Yes O scale is O scale.

      Now what you need to decide is if you want to have fun and make life easy or have fun and be prototypically accurate to a certain railroad.

      If it is just for fun ON30 is the place to be. I gave up nut and bolt counting and went to the dark side (modeling ON30) and I am having more fun than I ever had in modeling.

      You hack and whack and make up all sorts of stuff and every one encourages you to do more.

      If not being accurate would drive you nuts then ON3 is a great scale as well. I think that a lot of the Bachmann engines can be converted to ON3. I think there may be enough play in the passenger car trucks to move them to ON3. The freight car trucks would need to be replaced.

      I was just sent some D&RG ON3 freight cars from a forum member getting out of the scale. Let me tell you the ON3 prototype cars are much larger than the Bachmann cars I have.

      What ever you decide the object is to relax and have some fun.

      If you are interested I can take some side by side pictures on )N3 versus ON30 trucks and cars.



      • #4

        I would be interested in seeing the comparison.

        Are the 0N3 cars closer to the size of the Lionel O Scale Cars?
        Tom M.


        • #5

          You are always trying to get me to work..... I guess I will get the camera out.

          The only Lionel O scale cars I have are my sons Thomas the Tank passenger cars so I do not think that will work.

          I am willing to put them in the picture if you want.



          • #6
            No need for Thomas. I have my first childhood Lionel Trains. Still would like to see 0N3 and 0n30 in a comparison shot ..... [:-devil]
            Tom M.


            • #7
              Just for Tom :erm:

              To think Annie is really a narrow guage car[:-blindfold]

              ON3 D&RG drop bottom gon versus Bachmann passenger car.

              ON3 D&RG drop bottom gon versus Bachmann ON30 freight cars.

              Grandit Line D&RG passenger car side frame on the side of a Bachmann D&RG passenger car.

              The ON3 truck is longer.

              I also checked the Bachmann Passenger Car truck and it looks like it can be made to work for ON3.


              • #8
                Sorry forgot to answer one of the other questions. The Bachmann couplers sit at HO scale height and would need to be raised to couple with a proper ON3 car.


                • #9
                  Nice gondola

                  On3 are definitely bigger (D&RGW stuff anyway). On30 is the way to go for running trains, but I'm the same way and usually choose the harder way. I'm waiting on an order on O14 kits (7mm scale on 14mm gauge track) just to be different I guess. Whatever you do make sure you're having fun!



                  • #10
                    Cody, Cody Cody!

                    Yes it is a nice gondola! Some guy in Calgary sent me a box full of the stuff! Don't you live in Calgary? Maybe you know him ?

                    O14 [:-batman]! Do I need to send some of your detail parts back?

                    What drives do you use Z? I am still having fun with Juniors ON18 stuff and trying to build some matching mine cars.



                    • #11
                      JEFF,the guys have said it all have fun theres not a visible differance in gauge and besides you may have an ho engine to convert by addind larger cub , steam and sand domes etc. and as for car size if you look you can find the reason for sizw referance the D&RG 4000 and 3000

                      box cars.Bauchmans withs aren't bad the length of the box is about right for the smaller 4000 and on and on.Besides MMI,AMS,and San Jaun have some great 0n30 car and engines if your looking to the norrow G in the rockies. Besides if you don't tell and your ties and spacing are right its hard to tell. RICK


                      • #12
                        The idea and the draw of the dark side of on30 is that it presents you with so many kitbashing options because you are essentially using HO scale mechanism with O scale kits- if you look at two great threads, Les's locomotives and Les's railtrucks, and some of the other threads of great kitbashes that are somewhere in this forum, you will see what we are talking about. The other great thing about on30 is the space it takes up. It takes up less space than On3 and definitely less than O scale. I am able to have a pretty solid switching operation in only 3 x 6 of a space.



                        • #13
                          Hate to butt in with prototype info but I see there is a lot of confusion being spread.

                          The basic Bachmann freight cars are very accurate models of early OR&W 3' gauge cars as per plans in the NG Gazette. The steel hopper is EBT, the wood tipper is Western Wheeled Scraper.The passenger cars are slightly reduced size AC&F cars as seen on the ET&WNC -- they took out one window and narrowed the remainder along with the platforms. The D&RGW cars that people have been comparing to are cars built about 25 years later than the OR&W stuff -- they are bigger prototype cars. The Climax can be easily converted or send it to the Schwedlers at Coronado Scale Models in Phoenix.

                          Bachmann passenger trucks can be spread to On3 using NWSL On3 wheel sets. While you can make new bolsters for the freight trucks, easiest way to convert the freight cars is to buy new On3 trucks -- see Foothill Model Works for similar wheel base ones -- and sell your Bachmann trucks to an On30 modeler. Coupler height adjusts to On3 by removing the drop block -- either cut or leave off on some of the newer stuff. See the On3 coupler height standard at

                          As mentioned before the Bachmann freight cars were Billmeyer and Small built so they suit lots of east coast lines including Pennsylvania and WV loggers. The Bachmann log buggies are basically shortened Russell pattern cars used on lots of lines -- use as is, build your own or lengthen the beam.

                          Bill Uffelman

                          In Carson City NV until June


                          • #14

                            Good to hear from you again. I have always been a big fan, following your posts on rebuilding your engine facility and your steam locomotive makeovers. :up:

                            I think that you would find recent articles by Sam Swanson helpful. He recently did a great how-to article about building On30 Manns Creek hoppers that was in the latest On30 Annual. He has other excellent articles in Narrow Gauge Gazette and RMC. Tom Sullivan here on RR-L is interested in the old West Virginia Midland narrow gauge in Webster County.

                            As for my personal take on On30: I think if you are going to base your narrow gauge on a prototype, but give it a freelanced identity (like your Roanoke Southern), On30 is the "gauge of latitude", allowing you to explore relatively inexpensive avenues of creative interpretation. If, on the other hand, you want to accurately model Manns Creek, then On3 would be the way to go. Trucks and other hardware are available from San Juan car shops, Grandt Line, and Precision Scale. Here is a very helpful resource:


                            Good luck, and please keep us posted,

                            Mark Chase

                            Richmond VA


                            • #15
                              Bill and Mark,

                              Glad to see you got this topic back on the rails. If Jeff still wants to go "0N3", there is nothing that time and money can't fix.

                              I would look forward to following Jeff's adventure into 0N3 ..... :up:
                              Tom M.