Colorado & Southern #22, a 2-6-0 Baldwin Mogul locomotive, circa 1900. Note the large oil-fired box headlight,
short smoke box, 'modern' look smooth domes 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's a very North American view…

In the UK, the scale used for this size of model is 1:43.5 or 7mm (to the foot). I thought those guys were supposed to be all metric…   In mainland Europe (except for France), they mostly stick to ratios and use 1:45. The difference between 1:43.5 and 1:48 is approximately 10%. Actually, HO-scale (1:87.1) really means half-O and so mathematically, 1:43.5 is closer to half-O than 1:48 but this would require an immense 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 i.e. 4' 8½" spacing between the rails. The "n3" refers to the narrower rail spacing of 3 feet - as used on less travelled 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 (with respect to actual track mileage laid) 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 in the basement of our home. This layout will be known as the Elk Valley Lumber Co.

Questions or comments? You can contact me at

Here are my On3 projects:
Converting a Bachmann On30 Shay locomotive to 3 foot gauge.
Converting a Bachmann On30 Climax locomotive to 3 foot gauge.
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.

Rolling Stock:
Freelancing a 24' flat car from basswood that's based on Denver & Rio Grande Western standards.
Building two D&RGW MOW cars (Kitchen and Commissary) from styrene.

Building the Elk Valley General Store and Office from milled and dimensional basswood.

Planned projects:
Building a small Apothecary store from basswood, Grandt Line castings and white metal detail parts.
Building a third truck for a two-truck 3' gauge Shay locomotive.
Building "Big Al's Bar" from basswood, Grandt Line castings and miscellaneous detail parts.
Building a Grandt Line Colorado & Southern Caboose #1006 4-wheel "bobber" kit.
Finishing a 15' Foothill Model Works resin Caboose.
Building a laser cut circa 1880 Colorado Central 24' boxcar kit.
Building a Grandt Line On3 8-ton Porter kit.
Building a Grandt Line On3 18-ton Porter kit.
Building the On3 Elk Valley Lumber Co. layout.
More way cool stuff…
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Last updated: November 2015.