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My current layout is 3 rail with all Ross track and switches. It is fully functional but I have been thinking about maybe making a transition to On30 and DCC.


I've looked at some of the Bachmann On30 products and since they have added a nice sound system it might be the way for me to go.


My current layout is "L" shaped the main area is 15 feet long and 5 1/2 feet deep with a 2 foot by 6 foot yard forming the "L" shape.


It seems to me that with the use of 2 rail HO size track I could get more interesting operational possibilities and also be able to incorporate a turntable in what is now the yard.


Any suggestions? Are there some track plans.


Also what might the cost be to make the transition and how much of my current power transformers, Lionel 135 watt Powerhouses, might I be able to incorporate into an On30 layout?

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Trainman, you mentioned track:


Your prototype will guide your track choice.  If you are doing USA narrow gauge you will probably like to look into the Micro Scale 0n30 track and turnout products.  They closely replicate the typical mountain narrow gauge. 


( Just make sure when curving their flex track you place the track upside down on a smooth surface and press on the bottom of the ties to curve the track.  That will not strain the spike heads and all will be well.)


If you are considering  European narrow gauge then Peco track may be something to seriously consider.  It most closely conforms to that prototype.


HO track just looks like HO track.



I would do some experimenting with On30 first before committing to a switch. Perhaps you could add some On30 to your present layout as I did, or construct a small loop layout.


A major consideration is that On30 is very similar to HO in operating characteristics as compared to 3-rail O. Trackwork is more critical, electrical contact requires cleaner track and wheels, etc.


If you go DCC (which brings out the best in the equipment) you may be able to use some of your basic power supplies since DCC uses a constant voltage AC on the track. But, everything else will require a new investment.


For track plans, check out the many excellent general track planning books put out by Kalmbach and others over the years. Many plans may be adapted to On30.


There are also several periodicals such as "Narrow Gauge Digest". Also, Carstens Publications has put out an excellent On30 annual for the last several years.


In your planning, you will find that 22" radius (44" diameter) curves are required for some On30 equipment, pretty much equivalent to the space required for O42 in 3-rail. But, as in any gauge, the wider the curves, the better, for both visual appeal and operating characteristics. 


For my track, I removed every other tie from HO flex track to give it a narrow gauge appearance. But, if I had to do it again, I would use one of the excellent On30 track products available now.


I have switched gauges more than a few times, and it is always exciting and fun as you research the requirements of your new gauge.


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