Colorado & Southern 2-6-0 Baldwin Mogul locomotive, circa 1900. Note the large oil-fired
box headlight, short smoke box and the absence of a steam-powered generator.
What's with the 1:48 scale? Well after years in HO and other scales, 1:48 is the scale I model in these days. Everything in "real life" (or the "Prototype") is reduced by a factor of 48. Scaling everything down by a factor of 48 results in models that have incredible and very visible detail. Another way to express this scaling is to refer to it as "quarter inch scale" or O-scale. But that is a very North American view...
In the UK, the scale used for this size of model is 1:43 or 7mm (to the foot). I thought those guys were supposed to be all metric… In mainland Europe, they mostly stick to ratios and use 1:45. The difference between 1:43 and 1:48 is about 10%. Actually, HO-scale really means half-O and so mathmatically, 1:43 is closer to half-O than 1:48 but this would require an imense quantity of beer to explain properly.
So in On3, "O" refers to the scale. But what does "n3" mean? This is easy to explain. Most railroads in Europe and North America etc. operate on what's known as standard gauge (4' 8½" spacing between the rails). The "n3" refers to the narrower rail spacing of 3 feet - as used on less traveled short lines where lower construction costs were critical.
While there is a lot of interest in On30 (30" gauge) trains these days, the truth is only a few railroads were built to this standard. 3' (or 36") gauge was far more common with short lines especially in the era that I am modeling.
In terms of era and place, I'm modeling the North American Pacific Northwest roughly between 1880 and 1920.
The projects opposite will eventually be used on a new On3 layout that I am planning to build - The Elk Valley Lumber Co.
Questions or comments? You can contact me at
Here are my On3 projects:
Locomotives:Converting and back dating a Bachmann On30 Porter 0-4-0 locomotive to 3 foot gauge and late 1890's era.
Converting and back dating a Bachmann On30 Baldwin 2-6-0 locomotive to 3 foot gauge and late 1890's era.
Re-gauging a Bachmann On30 Climax to On3.
Rolling Stock:Constructing a Carson and Colorado 22' flat car from basswood.
Freelancing a 24' flat car from basswood that's based on D&RGW standards.
Building RGS Caboose #0409 from styrene.
Constructing two D&RGW MOW cars (Kitchen and Commissary) from styrene.
Structures:Constructing a small track side shanty from basswood.
Constructing the Elk Valley General Store and Office from milled and dimensional basswood.
Planned projects:Building a small Apothecary store from basswood.
Finishing a 15' Foothill Model Works resin Caboose.
Re-gauging a Bachmann On30 Shay to On3.
Building a Grandt Line 4-wheel "bobber" C&S Caboose kit.
Building a laser cut circa 1880 Colorado Central 24' boxcar kit.
Building the Elk Valley Lumber Co. layout
More way cool stuff...
Last updated: January 2014.