Re-gauging a Bachmann Shay from On30 to On3
A tad difficult, but not impossible
I have successfully re-gauged a pair of Bachmann On30 Shay locomotives that I bought a while ago on e-Bay to 3' gauge. My thinking was that in doing so I would wind up with low-cost 3' gauge locomotives for my future On3 Elk Valley Lumber Co. logging layout. When I bought them, my focus was on price and therefore paid little or no attention to the road names or to the type of cab. The reasoning for all this was that I was planning to change those aspects at some point in the future.

As I started to work on these fine locomotives it became clear that being a mass produced product, they were designed to be assembled quickly once but not to be easily taken apart. If you want to tackle this conversion, I suggest reading all four parts first before commencing the serious work.

The conversion broke down into four logical steps:

 Part 1 - Removing the front and back trucks and disassembly.
 Part 2 - Fabricating the new plastic conversion parts for the trucks².
 Part 3 - Re-assembling the trucks with the new parts³.
 Part 4 - Final assembly and testing the completed locomotive.

Part 2, A method similar to this was originally described in the June 2003 edition of Finescale Railroader by Dieter Jaeger. My approach is different in that I have changed the design of the conversion parts, changed the approach by widening the trucks mostly on the non-geared side, changed the dimensional units from Metric to Inch and also the materials used.

Part 3, Derrell Poole wrote an excellent article for the 2014 On30 Annual that describes how to upgrade the Bachmann drive gears with new NWSL Shay gears in detail. I also performed this additional step and now have two very smooth running Shay's.


The Bachmann Shay before conversion

One of my Shay locomotive's before conversion
- Photograph © copyright 2015, Chris Butler -

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Last updated: March 2016