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 the "Prototype" (or "real life") 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 and France, 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 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. Today, most railroads in the UK, Europe and North America etc. operate on what's known as standard gauge i.e. 4' 8½" spacing in 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 that 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 place and era, 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 curently building in the basement of our home. This layout will be known as the Elk Valley Timber & Tie 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.

Rolling Stock:
Building a Carson and Colorado 22' flat car from basswood and some Grandt Line castings.
Freelancing a 24' flat car from basswood that's based on Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) standards.
Building two D&RGW MOW cars (Kitchen and Commissary) from styrene.

Building a small track side shanty from basswood including a scratch built window and door.
Building the Elk City General Store and Office from milled and dimensional basswood.

Elk Valley Timber & Tie Co. layout:
January 2021 - Work has been completed on the new, insulated floor for the train room.
Fall 2020 - Now that the two drop ceilings are installed, I am now working on the lighting. The main lighting is six, 4,100 deg K LED strip tubes with thirteen, 3,000 deg K LED Pot lamps for accent lighting. I am using three separate dimmers to control the lighting.

Planned projects:
Building a backwoods narrow gauge water tank from dimensional basswood, Grandt Line castings as well as a few custom turned brass detail parts.
Building a small Apothecary store from basswood, Grandt Line castings and white metal detail parts.
Converting and back dating a Bachmann On30 Baldwin 2-6-0 locomotive to 3 foot gauge and late 1890's era.
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 Timber & Tie Co. layout.
More way cool stuff…
I appreciate all my visitors to this On3 site from across the world:

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Last updated: June 2022.