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Bashing On30 equipment

Light Iron Digest and Railroad Model Craftsman have run many good On30 bashes using various inexpensive HO kits. I've also bashed several cheap kits for fun and profit! Here's a simple bash rating I came up with:

Bash Rating
1 - Don't bother, it's ugly, unusable or far more expensive than alternatives
2 - Requires major precise work and/or many additional parts
3 - Requires some precise work and/or some extra parts
4 - Requires minor work, nothing especially precise or exacting
5 - No changes or very minor addition of detail parts

Many of the bashes listed here come from the inventive mind of mind Jack Hess.
Jack Hess's 0n30 page - Down for now

Athearn Shorty Tank Car Bash Rating 3
Scales out to about 15' or so, It's a bit bigger around than the 40' tank. Two slammed together might be interesting also. No dome though. Probably just as easy to scratch one with Grandt Line parts unless you need a smaller tank.

Athearn 40' Single Dome Tank Car Bash Rating 3
In RMC May 2001, Patrick Tool wrote quite a nice little article on bashing a tank car. His use of two tank cars to get one, seemed a bit excessive however.

Athearn 50' Gondola Bash rating 3
In Light Iron Digest Volume 1, #3, Jack Hess wrote up a nice article on bashing this car. He widened it and added new ends. It's a fairly modern looking piece.

Athearn 50' Flat Bash rating 3
In Light Iron Digest Volume 1, #4, Jack Hess widened it and added a new deck. It's a fairly modern looking piece.

Athearn 86' Hicube Boxcars Bash rating 3
In Light Iron Digest Volume 1, #5, Jack Hess wrote up a nice article on bashing this car. He widened it and added new ends. Also requires new ladders and other such goodies. It's a fairly modern looking piece.

Athearn Switcher Bash rating 3
In Light Iron Digest Volume 1, #6, Jack Hess wrote up a nice article on bashing this locomotive. He added a new cab and a handful of detail parts. I know from experience that these inexpensive little fellas run quite nicely. You can't beat a $25-$30 locomotive (new)!

Bachmann HO bobber - Bash rating 3
In the November issue of "Finescale Railroader" on pages 52-54 there is a great article by Allen K Littlefield re: "Auxiliary Porter tenders. Some really great ideas and great modeling.  Yep, most inspiring, I've already bought a bobber and I've already trimmed off the tool box and weights and added some 20" (i.e. HO 36") inch metal wheels. If you go to 22"(40") or larger you will have to chop some additional clearances (as mentioned in the article) I was tossed up between a boxcar or a gondola, but I took a third option, a water car. The wheelbase is about 5', which is 1' shorter than the B&S 4 wheel cars that were built for the D&RG.
Bobber before tank
Water car

Bachmann On30 Ready to Run  - Bash rating 5
The cars are accurate 1/48 models of Ohio River and Western Billmeyer & Small equipment. The Bachmann's seem to ride higher that the prototypes they are based on, which would also make them look larger.  If you want to find out more about the Ohio River and Western, read Edward Cass's book, "Hidden Treasures". There are four plans for various freight equipment in the back. Some would be interesting projects to mix in with my current boxcar fleet.

Maybe somebody else on the list knows a good source of plans for these B&S cars. It would be awesome to have a book similar to the Robert Sloan DR&GW book of freight car plans that was recently released.

MDC Old Time Tank Car - Bash rating 1
The undercarriage on this car is hideous IMHO. Get one of the Athearn tank cars. No pictures of my bash, I didn't like it!

IHC Old Time Flat Car - Bash rating 4-5 (could be used as is on very small industrial lines)
Flat cars are always a bit of a pain because of the weight issue. My favorite hobby shop as well as several others were out of the MDC flat, so I looked into some substitutes. One good bash possibility is the IHC old-time flat car. It scales out to about 17' long (good) by a little over 5' wide (narrow). The floorboards scale out to 6" in width. The stakes are spaced at 2' and the sides are a bit under 2'. The trucks are about a 3' wheelbase with 33" plastic wheels. The axles are brass, so if you don't mind plastic wheels, they can be used as is. The truss rod detail is VERY nice, I have to add these for the MDC versions I bash. The sideboards are a bit on the slim side I think but it might be possible to use this car as is for a very narrow industrial railroad. What I did is to add a new top with stake pockets. I used similar parts to the MDC bash listed below. Sadly these are not available anymore directly from IHC.
IHC flat before
IHC flat car after

Seconds thoughts on IHC cars. I recently bought 30 of the old time IHC flat cars for bashing On30, at 3.98 including shipping from IHC, they are hard to beat in price. Features of the IHC flats:
1. The cast bed adds weight where it's needed.
2. Couplers, uggh! I file off the pockets and replaced them with Kadee's.
3. Truss rods are too thick for HO, replace them with fishing line.
4. The wheels are plastic, too bad, with RP-25 profiles. This means they should run on most trackwork. The axles are brass, alright! Steel axles are attracted strongly to the Kadee uncoupling ramps, I recommend not using them.
5. Truck bodies are brown delrin, I recommend lots of aging!
6. Bed size in HO is 30' x10 1/2' over the pockets. Deck boards are about 10" wide, sides are about 10" deep including deck.
7. I bought a Rebox tool and will probably add metal wheels to them.

To bash these I make new endbeams as well and throw some bolt castings on them. Also I use the old side sills by adding a strip at the to or bottom, that way I can use the pocket castings which are just about right for smaller cars. I usually add a foot or so of width and add a new deck, though the old deck is sort of OK. On the IHC cars, I use the stock undercarriage, no changes! In the past I have used brass wire and fishing line. For fishing line I drill the end beams and snake one end through gluing it with crazy glue. I wait for a while and then run it over the queen posts and thru the hole at the other end. I clamp it of with a forcep and glue it with crazy glue as well.  I use wood usually stained with sweet and sour mixture. I then beat it up to whatever level of weathering I'm looking for.

It's also possible to use the sides and stake pockests as is, in O scale they are OK for small stakepockets. Grandt Line sells one that's almost identical in size. If you use the sides as is, I recommend building them up a bit in thickness. Here's some later bashes that I've done that I've added a 0.020 piece of styrene on top to hold the widened car together as well as a piece on the bottom to bring it up to a scale 10 inches or so.
Tank car with heavily bashed Athearn tank
Pulpwood car
Boxcar loosely based on West Side

I also wanted to ask about the homemade log bunks on one of your flats. Could you please send me the sizes and dimensions of the parts needed?

They aren't critical I used .100 wide channel material and 40 mil stryene for side pieces.
Logging car with homemade bunks
Excursion flat, pre-OSHA!

MDC Old Time Flat Car and 30' Flat Car - Bash rating 4
The following flats are made from MDC flat cars. The cast bodies give you the weight needed for these cars. I also used the following Grandt Line parts:
1. NBW castings for the truss rod ends - #18 (2.5" nut on rect washer)
2. Brake wheel and racket/pawl - #51(wheel) and #111(misc brake fittings)
3. Queenpost 3" or pads - Didn't use them but they are - #69
4. NBW castings for bolsters/etc... - ??? I didn't add this much detail :(
5. Don't forget turnbuckles - #54
6.  Stake pockets - #89 (single bolt) #53 (2 bolt) I used both...
MDC flatcar bash

MDC Ore Car Kit  (#1501+)  - Bash rating 4
I also hacked up some MDC hoppers for a quick and easy bash. I replaced the ladders with homemade rungs and added a Grandt Line brakewheel. They look OK after aging and you can't beat the price. As with all MDC cars, I replaced the wheels so they will work with magnetic uncouplers.
Initial chopping of MDC ore car
Ore cars entrained


David Braun of  The Back Shop makes 20 and 25 ton trucks in brass, his castings are very nice. The 25-ton truck is $15.95, less wheels, and comes with your choice of  On3 or On30 bolsters. The 20-ton trucks is $16.95, l/w and with same choice of bolsters. There is a considerable difference between the two trucks (I am speaking of the prototype). The plastics people tried to get by, by supplying extra journal lids with their 25-ton, but The Back Shop is the only source for a prototypical 20-ton truck.
The Back Shop  (I know people who have had severe delivery issues with Dave Braun, I recommend buying in person or charge card so you won't be out any money if parts are not sent.)

Assorted trucks
from left to right, San Juan On3 trucks that is modified for On30, Grandt Line SR&L truck, and a Chivers, a very fine truck with brake beams. Some On30 list members report, it's possible to modify some of the Grandt Line On3 trucks, but since they are made from Delrin, you will have trouble gluing them. PSC has trucks, they are not cheap. Foothill Modelworks sells On30 trucks as well. I've also heard rumors that the Bachmann trucks are available separately. I don't know how easy they are to get.

Also you can use a long wheelbase old time truck in HO or S and remove the unnecessary detail.  The MDC old timer passenger trucks work out to 20" wheels with a 5 1/2 foot spacing. Also there's a British pattern gondola, Troublesome Truck!, in the Thomas the Tank series, I gave my bash to a friend, so I can't measure the wheelbase now but for $5-6 bucks full price, you can't beat it. Metal wheels!

The Kadee, IHC and Tichy #3002 archbars have a 3' wheelbase in 1/48th scale, if 36" is OK then you can use these. The Kadee with the Jaybee 40" wheels requires modifications, maybe 38" would be more suitable. Kadees with 20" (O scale) wheels are good matches for early DRGW trucks! The MDCs have axles that are attracted to magnets, you will have to replace the wheels if you use magnetic uncouplers. The IHC trucks are very close in size to the MDC and are about $1.98 US, this is a very cheap route as well as the Tichy which are also in this price range. The Tichy trucks with any metal axle wheel are very free rolling. I replace the stock Tichy wheels, which have steel axles, with Kadee wheels of various sizes. I've also modified them to have outside hung brakes, these are a bit on the finicky side to install though.

The Ian Lindsay trucks seem quite nice, I'm not sure they'll be all that cheap if you live in the States with shipping and all that. The Bachmann trucks look nice, but at $13-15 a set, a bit dear, they are often available from the On3 crowd at $6 a pop or so. Another alternative I stumbled on recently comes from the San Juan Car Co.. It's their On3 3'-7" DRGW truck. I modified the trucks in two areas. I first pulled the wheels of their brass axles and machined off .051 off both ends so I could push the wheels further in for On30. I then chopped off the existing brake gear, it will rub with the wheels pushed in. At $7 a set, a bit cheaper than the Bachmann, though they are plastic.

Chivers now makes cars, they also sell the trucks separately. The Chivers cars are very small, appropriate for 1880's, 90's layouts, war railroads, and small industrial lines. The trucks have a wheelbase of about 3' with a 20" wheel. There are prototypes from the 1880 period that have wheelbases of 2'10" on a roughly 22' car. The latest prototype that I know of with trucks of this size were some of the WW1 cars used for the trench railroads.

I'm not familiar enough with South America, Asia, or most of the rest of the world's narrow gauge to to state when trucks this small stopped being produced. Since archbars are often made up by the local shop, anything goes!

I know some of the Baja railroads had some pretty small equipment, sadly I have no drawings :(

I often use the 36" Kadee ribbed passenger wheels and I save the old 33" to replace MDC wheels! If you want to use larger wheels, you will have to modify the trucks. Jaybee 40" will work with modifications, but I don't know about the 42"! I also currently use the Tichy archbars with the Kadee wheels as well.

If you really want something special, Barton K. Davis in How to build model railroads and equipment scratchbuilt his own archbars at one time! (1956 publication)

Trucks may have to be modified to be less freewheeling if your using permanent magnet uncouplers. Someone on the On30 list suggested sticking some lint in one bearing to do this. Also the Bachmann couplers seem to uncouple easier than Kadee #5s. In terms of design, it's better to have the weight as low as possible, so metal tires are superior in this case. Weather your trucks, make maybe 1 in 6 or so have nice bright rusty wheels. Treads should be polished and bright.

There was some discussion about how to assemble archbars on the list as well:

I remembered I had an old NMRA Standards book and looked them up - NMRA Data Sheet # D5a dated April 1952 shows both arch bar and diamond arch bar trucks with the long flat part of the frame on the bottom.

I'd say that this is almost always the case for the relatively modern ones.

I also looked again in the Gazette (in case I was having a senior moment previously ;o)) and there are several pictures and drawings of the trucks both ways (long part of  frame on top and bottom)

White's show some that are close to flat on the top with the big bent part on the bottom.

Like you said - the couplers come in kits and modelers use them both ways since they assemble them wrong.

The original ones that the railroads used were kits also, take some special bearing boxes, a few springs, bolts and assorted strap iron and you've got yourself a truck. There was at least one single spring truck on the P.C.R. at one time, so it can get pretty funky. Your best bet is still the bearing brasses if your using some nonstandard truck. You'll also have to tell us where to find them  I bought 2 of the Grandt Line On30 trucks and I'm going to play with them. I think I can make them with 2 springs and make them a little more average looking for us non-Maine modeler types. They would be great for the longer, more modern cars then.


I've collected a few odd tools, one is a special plastic chisel from Micromark, another one is a plastic cutter from the local hardware store. It works like a dream on styrene. Lastly is a small paper cutter that uses a knife blade. Very handy for cutting very thin plastic and of course paper. Magnetic plastic strips on a steel surface are superior clamps for some jobs. They can also be used to keep plans and the wax paper used to cover them flat.
Weird tools
Using magnetic strips as jigs
More on using magnetic strips as jigs

As for lathes and such I've seen the older Unimats, but I've not used one. Guy Williams uses one for making 4mm scale locos, so they are obviously useful for our purposes. There are other lathes out there now that you can purchase, some like the Sherline are a bit pricey new but are every bit as versatile as the older Unimats. Replacement parts in the States are still available from Blue Ridge Machinery. As for the $300 dollar price, that would really depend on overall condition and included accessories. I've seen pictures of the new Unimat 1, it is mostly plastic, and doesn't impress me. The new Unimat 4 looks nice, but I seem to remember that it's more expensive than the equivalent American made lathes, both of which are fine machines. For more information, see my metalworking webpage: Metalworking pages

One "tool" that I can highly recommend is the Grandt Line catalog.   They also make an 18 ton Porter for those interested in a larger engine than the B'mann Porter but one that's smaller than the Mogul. I recently purchased the tender for this and I'm going to convert it to On30. I started this bash, but was unhappy with how it would look, but I may start it back up since a friend of mine is donating a GL Porter to the line! The only thing I'm not crazy about is the plastic wheels. I've have the 800 gallon one, #3064. It's a 4 wheeler ;) I don't know if they made a smaller one or not, I don't see anything in the catalog.

I really do love their stuff, the only thing I've been the least bit disappointed in is the wheels for the various trucks. I would prefer NS to brass or plastic.

Wooden boxcar/semiscratch
The construction is a combination of bash and very old fashioned construction. The bash part comes from some Bachmann old time freight cars, these have archbars and to my eyes, very exaggerated truss rods. This makes them perfect for use as an undercarriage in On30 for these smaller cars, the car length is about 17'. I then cut up a 2x4 with a handsaw and planed it to outline for the car I wanted to build. I then chopped this stick into four car bodies.

When working with wood I always dye it first so that glue splotchs don't show. My current choice is shoe dye, but I'm currently brewing a batch of sweet and sour. I use plain old Elmer's white glue as my adhesive of choice for wood to wood and wood to small plastic details. For clamping, I just use a book or two as a weight or the blue masking tape 3M sells for painting.

Continuing on with the body, I add the siding on first making sure there was about 6 scale inches protruding down below. This covers the edge of the Bachmann chassis. This is followed by the top and bottom frame pieces which are sanded to make the roof lay flat. I then installed the roof, using weights as clamp. Various other frame members are added, I find a NWSL chopper to be very useful for chopping stripwood to length. The door was built up using 1x6 and 1/32x1/16 scribed sheet.

I've added a ladder, door hardware and the roofwalk. I've painted the roof a random black color to simulate the paint that was often used to finish roofs as well as the undercarriage. I also added some end detail, the brake and a numberboard. The number of actual detail parts are minimal. 8 nuts with washers for the truss rod, 4 grab irons, 2 boxcar latches, 2 door stops and the roofwalk supports. Mostly leftovers from other projects. I cheated and painted in the small boltheads!
Wooden boxcar
Wooden boxcar end view

Freelance Ore Cars
Russ Reinberg wrote these older style cars up in the January 2001 Finescale Railroader, this is available on line! These are emptied via the 'Armstrong' method. He also did a great series on an On30 shelf layout. A great article from a nice magazine with an awesome publisher (enough superlatives?). Nothing special that I did except I used the Grandt Line high gondola stakes and cut off the last row. This also meant using 2x10s instead of 2x12s. I'm also using Tichy trucks with a few modified to have the outside hung brakes. If you kept the stock Tichy wheelsets, this might be a $5 bash if you bought everything new. In the Jan 2002 is a great little article on building a 1:20 scale drop bottom wooden ore car that would be a snap to build in 1/48. Even the plans are in 1/48 and you can use the Grandt Line stakes by changing the size of the side boards.

Jim, to display my woeful ignorance for all, I'll ask:  how are those ore cars "dumped"?  Shoveled by hand?
Yes, pretty horrifying thought! Especially in the West, they used gondolas for many things and they were unloaded by hand. See White's book on freight cars. The reason why they are ore cars is that they are short, because ore is heavy. They also used gondolas from time to time by shoveling the ore over the trucks.
Jig for the ore car
Ore cars under construction
Finished ore car
Another view

Also look at Bobber Gibb's page, he has an adaptation of the ballast car that might be a closer fit for your needs.

D & RGW Gondola
I tried something a bit different this time, I built everything up with individual boards instead of sheet. It went together fast, no more than 4-5 hours (with NWSL chopper) to get it ready for the paint shop. The side boards wave a bit, which is the look I was searching for. This car is all styrene, it's probably too light to run without weight event with metal trucks. Since I'm going to load them up after painting, I'm not too worried about that fact.

The early D&RG cars are really neat for Porter sized layouts, everything is in the 17'-22' range and just a smidge over 6' wide.
Unpainted gondola
Gondola painted and in service

Cypress Bayou Boxcar
A copy of Richard Gardner's lovely Cypress Bayou Lumber Co. box car. I'm going to paint it up as a MOW car of some kind. I need to add the turnbuckles, grab irons and such. I'm basing it on his plan (which looks like a Grandt Line plan ;)) All the hardware on the drawing fits existing GL parts fairly well. It's a small little car and make an interesting contrast with the slightly larger ones I've built to date. Interesting how most of my equipment is based on the Midwest and South. I simulated some of the typical practices of the day by double scribing every other joint. One typical type of board used was about 5 1/4" with a small groove milled down the center. I was worried before painting that this wouldn't have much effect. However it seems to have turned out OK. The grabirons are 0.15 brass wire from detail associates that I bent to size, I then added two small bolt heads on top of them (Grandt line #1). The stirrups are Grandt Line #90?, I'll dig up a pack and make sure.

New techniques I'm trying with this one:
1. More undercarriage detail. My layout is close to eye level and it matters.
2. Double scribed siding, I scribed every other board joint to simulate the type of siding commonly used by many builders of the period.
3. Floating the door, I put a 0.005 shim behind the doors to accent their feeling of 'looseness'.
4. Aging, I'm going to do a gray or buff for this car, I'm going to play around a bit!
Cypress boxcar unpainted
Cypress boxcar undercarriage
A quick coat of primer
The finished car after a few years service, a bit of weathering and drybrushing
Closeup of grab iron and double scribed siding

Are those KD trucks with stock 33" (HO) wheels?

I put the 36" passenger wheels on them. I then use the old wheels to replace the Roundhouse steel axle wheels on other cars. I've also tried the 40", but they require that the truck be modified.

 May I ask what kind of glue you used?

Testors Plastic cement for styrene to styrene, epoxy for the internal weights and some of the delrin to styrene connections, and crazy glue for some of the styrene to delrin connections. This car has no resin parts, it's styrene with liberal helpings of Grant Line parts.

Cairo and Kanawha boxcar #5:
Recently finished my first scratchbuilt boxcar for for 30" gauge. Between Evergreen and Grandt Line it was pretty easy! I'm using Kadee 501 archbars with the stock wheels for now, but I've set the bolsters up so that I can shave off the required material if I go to bigger wheels. I use the following for the car:
From Evergreen Scale Models: (Sheet styrene)
(sides and doors) #4067 Car Siding O scale 3 1/4 spacing .040"/1.0mm thick
(roof) #4125 V-Groove .125 (O scale 6") spacing .040"/1.0mm thick

I used assorted sizes of Evergreen dimensional styrene (4x6, 4x8, etc.) for the frames, ladders and roof walk. I also used various Grandt Line detail parts, I have to collect together the numbers. I have access to a good hobby shop, for the styrene, you might find some at doll house supply/craft stores! I don't have any plans drawn yet, but I've got a series of sketches and drawings that I eventually plan to turn into a set of instructions. You may have to wait on this.
Before the paintshop
#24 after painting and weathering with older South Pacific markings
#23 in service after revisiting the paint shop
The prototype is the Cairo and Kanawha boxcar #5 from Carsten's Slim Gauge Cars, the Kadee's are almost perfect for this ~20 foot car built around the early 1890's. According to White's book, at least some of the early Colorado cars had trucks in this size range also.

Aging techniques for #5
Looks great. I especially like the way you've painted and weathered the styrene. Can you tell us about your method?
I used two different ways of aging my #5s.
The first method is:
I first lightly sanded the styrene before assembly. I'm not sure this is required, I haven't done this for my next 2 cars. Next I put 2 coats of Krylon ruddy brown primer - 1317. One coat should work fine, but a found the last of the parts a few weeks after I finished the majority of the car. I then applied a thin wash of Polly S Night Black diluted about 12 to 1 with rubbing alcohol. Made it thicker in some spots. After it dried, I then applied some Bragdon Enterprise's Weather System Light Rust powder. I haven't tried other pastel chalk systems, so I don't if you would get the same results or not. The powder is very fine and seems to adhere well. More diluted black and more powder as touchups. I'm going to put a coat of Dullcote over the whole mess. Hopefully it will look the same afterwards!

The second method is:
1. Get a palette, I use old CDs
2. For a reddish box car I put the following colors on the palette: Polly Scale Boxcar Red, Rust (mud brown not reddish), and a small amount of black.
3. Have q-tips and paper towels ready.
4. Wet your brush and touch different parts of it to the three colors, be sparing with the black. This gives you kind of varicolored streaks.
5. Paint about 4-6 sq. inches of surface with a medium coat. For me 1/2 of a boxcar side works. Paint in the direction of the desired streaks.
6. Immediately wipe it off using paper towels, cotton puffs or q tips. Wipe in the direction of the desired streaks. You'll find that some of the paint is already setting (good) and that is has a tendency to stay in the cracks.
7. Apply chalks or powders now by drybrushing if a heavy dusty look is desirable.
8. You can use a very thin wash of black thinned with alcohol to punch up the contrast a bit.

Experiment first, it's a fast and dirty technique.

Styrene versus wood
 Thanks for the info. I'm still debating whether to make my boxcars from wood or styrene. Styrene is easier to use, but harder to finish.

What kind of effect are you looking for? Just curious, the flat cars are made of wood over an MDC shorty. I don't think it was any harder or easier to finish except for the part that I left as naked wood stained with shoe dye. I could have painted these as faux wood, as I've done wargaming miniatures in the past, but it wasn't required this time.

David Frary's books are pretty good on finishing various surfaces.

Getting started
If you had 1000 dollars to start a shop. lets look at small to no work space. What would you buy, AS in what would be important to get first, and what could/would you wait to get.

Right away:
1. Good knives, X-Acto, etc.
2. Good layout tools, small squares, rulers, calipers, etc.
3. If you make things with many duplicate parts, Chopper II and a True Sander ? are very useful. I use them all the time. Actually I still use Chopper I and plan to buy a Chopper II someday!
4. The Frary/Hayden scenery books.
5. Start building! Freight cars, buildings or whatever on the kitchen table.

On buying calipers: Since I use mine as a scribe, I'd hesitate to buy a Starrett for that purpose. Even the cheapies are close enough for the vast majority of modeling purposes. I would get dial versions unless your skilled at reading verniers. And if you don't know that last word, then I really suggest dials! And of course metal!

On cutting brass: Cutting and filing 1/16" brass frames
I've cut quite thick pieces of brass and steel with a jewelers saw. (Eng. piercing saw) Lubricate your blade with a bit of candlewax and use a new high quality blade. It will a bit of time but you can with practice cut very close to the finished dimensions leaving very little finishing work.

For most of the actual frame cutting I use a junior hacksaw.
Does this use standard hacksaw blades? I've a smaller hacksaw that I almost never use that uses 1/2 the blade, I find that if the material is healthy enough to hacksaw that my full sized one with the comfortable handles works much better.

If they're not up to standard, then break your heart and ditch them now and start again - it's far easier to do this than to mess about with an unsatisfactory job later. Then have another go!

I agree, brass is cheap compared to the troubles you will have with a tweaked frame, get new brass.

I'm finally in the planning stages for a small On30 4-4-0 American (roughly the size of a larger HO standard gauge lokey!) and I've been rereading my various sources for ideas, including things from this (!

A bit later:
1. Build or buy a good workbench, if it has to go in the living room, a nice watchmaker style would be good. Maybe a rolltop for the fashion challenged...
2. Good lighting and possibly magnifiers depending on scale.
3. Moto tool.
4. Maybe a good small benchtop drill press. Moto tool can substitute if required.

Much later?
If you don't have the basic handtools (Stephen has been nice enough to show a good selection on his website!) get those first. Otherwise, I don't think much else is required, just nice. You maybe lucky and working with a prototype with lots of scratchbuilding parts available, so you may not need to fabricate too many precision parts.


On30 track can be anything from heavily ballasted stock HO track to the Peco 'crazy track'. I prefer the Peco electrofrog switches, I feel they work the best with the 4 wheel locomotives. Some people take stock HO track and chop most of the ties out and then insert ties that are of the correct size for what ever road they are modeling. I might try this myself since I have some HO track kicking about. There are also some On30 tieplates castings available that make handlaying much easier. I believe there are also some turnout tieplate kits that are available as well. Of the On30 list: For use with the RDA tie strips, code 70, ME's code 83 and Atlas code 83 track is said to work along with either the Atlas spikes or  Old Pullman in Florida's "X-195".

Module Standard Thoughts

Keep the module and equipment requirements to a bare minimum. For example, coupler height, use what you want! If worse comes to worse we can have one yard for each users preferred height ;) I'm using standard HO/Bachmann height right now.

That being said, has anyone published any On30 module standards?

I'm lazy, I'd prefer to use someone else's standards, though I lean towards running the modules at closer to eye level than many standards call for. My current layout is 57" off the floor. There's a large California HOn30 module group that meets regularly, we might be able to steal some stuff from them!

The Joker mine is pretty outrageous, you could actually model in in S or HO and stick it in among the trees far in the back of a layout. Out of the woods pops a little wagon trail and a small siding. This assumes that the planned railroad for the area went through. It's even possible that they decide to use 30" gauge for some reason ;)

On another related topic, silver and gold mining, I finished Young's "Western Mining" recently and while it's not a good reference for modeling, it's not bad for general overall history and the basic processes used at various times. A couple of throwaway numbers for the smaller silver mines is 2-3 carloads of concentrate a day at the TOC.

My question is, what's the best way to lay the subbase for quietness?
I haven't done this yet, but one of the Ian Rice books that I've lent out recommends using foam from camping rolls. I believe he uses this on top of luan splines, but I don't have my copy and my memory is dodgy on this point. He also uses some form of flexible glue for the ballast so as not to couple the noise back into the layout.

I am about to lay track on a foam base.  I seem to recall a fairly recent posting in which it was suggested that white glue could be used for the track and ballast followed by a spray of alcohol to "wick" the glue up through the ballast.  Is that correct?  Any other suggestions?

Liquid matte medium, which is basically a clear flat acrylic. You can remove your track once you used this. White glue is a bit stronger, which is a disadvantage I think in this case. The alcohol trick still works with this as well.

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