What is Narrow Gauge?
Narrow Gauge means that the width between the rails is less than standard gauge of 4'-8-1/2". It can be 3 feet, 2 feet, a meter or a whole bunch of oddity's.
Why was there Narrow Gauge?
Narrow gauge was someone's idea to reduce the width of right-of-way. A reduced right-of-way meant less costs. When it was envisoned in the 1870's rolling stock was small, basically limited by the ability to control a train and the physics to stop it. The early narrow gauge equipment was about the same size as the standard gauge. There was a craze of narrow gauge building in the 1870's and early 1880's. This crashed with the invention and adoption of the Westinghouse air brake, now stopping a train was possible without men running on roof tops turning brakewheels. The size of cars increased rapidly. The promise of narrow gauge ended with the limitation of it's size. In the late 1880's standard gauging spread like wildfire and the narrow gauge boom collapsed. It only continued where the cost of conversion to standard gauge could not be justified by the revenue.
Why model Narrow Gauge?
Imagine cracking the throttle on those 5 big diesels at the head of your train and cranking that 15 car train out of the yard, sounds realistic doesn't it. Narrow gauge allows you to operate trains in a realistic context. One or two steamers fighting 10 cars up a steep grade is the drama of narrow gauge. Trains become realistic representatives. Track patterns can be modeled in a compressed but realistic plan, try to model a modern facility that looks realistic. Rosters remain in the realm of sanity, no need for a zillion locos and cars. Operation in the heyday of narrow gauge is interesting as any standard gauge empire, scheduled trains, lots of car movement.
Why Model On30?
On30 offers an easy way to model narrow gauge. HOn3 is too small, expensive and difficult to get running. Sn3 is expensive, and has a limited range of kits and motive power. On3 is EXPENSIVE, need I say more. On30 offers a range of ready to run models. On30 has the two major motive power of Narrow Gauge. The Bachmann On30 Mogul represents the most popular narrow gauge motive power. Bachmann offers a complete range of On30 cars both passenger and freight. A whole cottage industry has grown up around On30 offering products for every taste. If you are thinking of narrow gauge or not look over the Bachmann On30 train sets. Try one, On30 will hook you runs on readily available HO track. You can build an empire using Atlas Snaptrack from you Local Hobby Shop. You can see On30, On30 locomotives run well and the On30 equipment is heavy enough to stay on the track . The On30 equipment comes ready to run with reliable knuckle couplers. Join the fastest growing Model Railroad group, On30.
What Railroad and Locale to Model?
Narrow gauge was a nation wide phenomenon, from mountain climbers to mid-west granger roads. They ranged from the Denver and Rio Grand Western, the Pennsy of US narrow gauge, to small one loco backwater enterprises. It is possible to model a railroad with tremendous traffic in On30, rolling stock is available to quickly assemble a fleet of freight cars. The D&RGW had over 200 locos, thousands of cars and over 1200 miles of mainline in it's heyday. Not exactly a podunk backwoods rundown operation but a class one railroad, in later years when the traffic was mainly coal there was even a narrow gauge rotary car dumper. Originally in the 1870's narrow gauge boom most of these railroads had grandiose plans of spanning large distances, the D&RG wanted to span from coast to coast. There were narrow gauge operations from the Hawaiian island of Oahu, an interesting prototype, to Alaska's White Pass and Yukon. There was the large coal hauling operations in the east in Pennsylvania's East Broad Top. There is a narrow gauge railroad for everyone, everywhere and can be modeled effectively in On30. The book America Narrow Gauge Railroads by George Hilton will give a modeler an overview of narrow guage, a must have book for everyone interested in modeling this facinating subject.
This is the definitive narrow gauge encyclopedia. American Narrow Gauge Railroads by George W. Hilton. If you are interested in narrow gauge buy this book.
On30 Narrow Gauge offers a format that is fun. It is large enough to effectively model realistic scenes but small enough to have a complete railroad on a 4x8.
Scene from my old 4x8 On30 Pacific Coast Air Line Railway. A Bachmann On30 2-8-0
(Click image to Enlarge)
What is On30?
On30 is 1/4" scale or "O" scale models of narrow gauge running on track gauged to 16.5mm the same as HO scale standard gauge. On30 makes it possible to model narrow gauge for the average hobbyist without the expense of the other "n's" like On3, Sn3 or HOn3. Originally it was about converting HO mechanisms to O scale narrow gauge. In 1999 Bachmann entered On30 with their Dept 56 oriented model of a Colorado and Southern Three Foot gauge 2-6-0 or Mogul. This sent On30 into a raging wildfire of enthusiasm and On30 has become the fastest growing scale. Bachmann has since kept the fire burning and On30 has added many manufacturers offering endless goodies.
What can be done in On30?
On30 Pioneer Stephen Fisher's Deep Run Railroad