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Hi all, I'm currently a European OO scale modeler with a small switching layout. That being said, I really like the look of the Bachmann Whitcomb Center Cab diesel. Something about it just looks appealing to me, lots of character, like a tugboat.

I'm contemplating building a small switching layout for On30. Something like a whiskey distillery, so I'd have a reason to bring in grain, coal for the malt shop, lumber for barrels, and boxcars to haul out the finished product. Any good resources to follow for building such a layout? Are there other ready to roll freight cars outside of the Bachmann range?

Any gotchas in On30 compared to smaller scales like HO and N?

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There are ON3 (ON36) cars available and there were or still are separate trucks from Bachman and I think maybe some others.     The bachman cars tend to be based on smaller prototypes.   

The only minor gotcha I can think of is that the scale is 1:48 (similar european 1:45), so buildings and vehicles and scenery are much bigger and more massive than HO or N.   

It's very convenient to use HO track, but the tie size and spacing is wrong.  Not sure how difficult it is to find proper On30 track - I just use HO and don't worry about it.

I'm working on a concept - I have a scenicked 4x6 On30 portable layout on which I have planted only a couple of buildings (none permanently).  I'm thinking of making interchangeable building foundations so that I can swap out some OO or HO buildings and run the smaller trains.  However, most of my OO is larger prototypes, so might not look good on the 18" radius curves.  Nothing final yet.

Peco Makes ON30 track with proper ties spacing and appearance and some switches.

I just did some searches.    San Juan Car Company has a large line of ON3 and ON30 rolling stock built up and kits.   They also have wheelsets to convert ON3 trucks and they have ON30 trucks built up.

Also Labelle Woodworking has kits for ON3 passenger cars which would work on ON30 trucks.

Mainline Models used to have some very nice ON3 kits - you provide trucks and couplers.   However, they have been bought out by someone, and I am not sure who.   I think it might be Labelle, but it does not show up on the main  Labelle web site.

Another good source appeasrs to be the ON30 Annual from White River Publications.   It would probably have lots of ads for suppliers.

Last edited by prrjim

To me the hidden assets of ON30 are all related to size.  Yes you can use ho track (read cheap).  If you don't like the tie spacing simply cut off some ties and hand spike to some wooden ties.  Next because of it being o scale you need fewer structures to make a believable scene.  Because it's o scale you need fewer pieces of rolling stock to make a visibly realistic looking train branchline.  Also because it's narrow gauge you aren't running at mach II, you're cruising along at just a few MPH!.  Love ON30!  Russ 

A lot of good info here! I'm going to have to go looking for a prototype now, start figuring things out. Usually when I design a layout I start with geographic location, then time period, then the industry (or industries) to be served, and the locomotive and rolling stock last. To start off with "I want THIS engine!" is a bit of a break from the past!

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