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Modeling HOn3 D&RGW

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Modeling HOn3 D&RGW
Posted by CaptMike on Saturday, November 11, 2017 2:03 PM

Hey all I’m new here but not new to model railroading. I want to build a new layout based on HOn3 and D&RGW. But have limited space. I’m going to be running Blackstone Models loco and rolling stock. How do I get started?

Tags: C19 , HOn3 , K27
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Posted by snjroy on Monday, November 13, 2017 5:07 PM

Welcome to the forum! I'm no expert but I hate to see questions left unanswered. I'm sure others will chime in soon. For HOn3, I would recommend the book entitled "Narrow gauge modelling" (Kalmbach). Of course, this forum is a great place to ask questions. I would recommend being specific when it comes to questions here. For example, you might want to ask about good track plans. How much space do you have? 

Simon 

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Posted by middleman on Monday, November 13, 2017 7:07 PM

Welcome to the forums,Mike! I'm working on an On3 layout based on the Rio Grande narrow gauge. I don't know much about HOn3 equipment,track,etc.,but a fellow forum member,Mike Lehman,is all over that stuff,and always happy to help out. If he doesn't see this thread in a day or two,you might try sending him a personal message. His forum name is mlehman.

For information on the prototype,try Googling: "Narrow Gauge Discussion Forum" - a ton of info over there.

Good luck,and keep us posted!

Yet another Mike

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 12:03 AM

Welcome to the wonderful world of narrow gauge model railroading!

As you are not new to the hobby, you know you have already decided on a few important things - the prototype (D&RGW), the era (1940/1950s) and the setting (Colorado/New Mexico). That´s already a big step done! The next item on the list would be to determiune what type of operation you´d like to have - continuous running or point to point operation? How much space can you allocate to your layout and what type of layout would you like to have? Around the wall, shelf-type or island type? You say you don´t have much space, but that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Not much space for means not more than 3 by 5 ft but your figure will vary most likely.

When you have decided all of that, look for a track system. There are not many around. It´s either Shinohara, ME or Peco. Blackstone´s own track system never really got off the ground and still has no switches available, making it more or less useless for building a layout with it.

That´s all for the moment from me - keep coming back with your questions!

Here is a little inspiration for you!

and

Enjoy!

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 8:20 AM

Hi Mike,

As Mike stated, I'd be happy to help in any way possible. Here are some basics, but ask away on any question and I'll do my best to get you info.

First, Blackstone is good stuff and their customer service is top-notch. If you run into a problem, give them a call, they'll be happy to help. They just announced a new run of 30' reefers, but items from older runs are available from many retailers. You'll have to look around, as stck is spotty given the time since most were produced, but generally no problem soaking up most budgets. But if you have yet to build a typical narrowgauge kit, you may nt fully appeciate the value in Blackstone's RTR rolling stock. If time is money, the RTR is always cheaper than building yourself, however much fun it is. I lok at it this way. Blackstone covers the cars you need lots of, leaving you time to build those more special items you'll likely never see RTR.

Blackstone's Protraxx track is an incomplete system, just one set of curves and one length of straights. It's worth investing in an oval for use as a test track. Just a hunch, but when the long-awaited K-36 hits the market (in 2018, fingers crossed) you'll likely see turnouts and a few new track sections become available. It's made by Kato, so is good stuff and I'm suee the additional items are all engineered and ready for production for awhile. Keep in mind that Soundtraxx/Blackstone is a small company that also builds sound decoders and they have spent the last few years totally revamping their chip lines to provide an up to date architecture for their next generation of those (in Econami and Tsunami II flavors.) Now that is chugging along well, attention seems to be turning back towards the Blackstone side of things, so your timing to get into HOn3 is probably pretty good.

In narrowgauge, you'll learn that internet/mailorder is your friend. However, if you have a favorite LHS, they can order much of it through Walthers. To learn much more about what's out there, your best source, short of attending a National Narrow Gauge Convention (highly recommended, even if you don't normally like such large social gatherings because the sales tables are a unique yearly opportunity to see it all in one place) is reading the Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette. Their 50-year compilation DVD is highly recommended if you don't have a lot of it on paper like some of us do.

But you still need track for a layout, after catching up on my gossipy speculations and heartfelt opinions. I use ME track, primarily code 70, weathered. Many recommend code 55 but you must have a light hand around it. Once ballasted and weathered, code 70 only looks taller in close up pics, but keep that in mind. If you want dual-gauge, ttrack is available, but the only RTR trackwork is Shinohara, code 70

Mostly I have Shinohara turnouts, as most was laid before ME started making theirs. To sum up, both brands will serve you well with a little care. ALWAYS power your frogs and you'll not be disappointed, whatever else you do.

Shinoharas are tough, somewhat less detailed, and basic. There are several choices (4, 6, wye, dual-gauge), but it is produced in batches so some items can be temp out of stock.

ME are very detailed and somewhat delicate due to that. Be cautious with the throwbar, if you are like me and used to horsing around with a Shinohara's robust hardware. There is only the #6 turnout available so far.

Peco is expanding into HOn3, but I have no personal experience. Reports are that it's good stuff, but it's not cheap.

As for a layout, there are two basic choices if your room is somewhat limited. Modeling specific locations on the Rio Grande is so easy and basic, given the kits and info available to produce specific structures. If you have a favorite location, thats good. But keep in mind where it's located on what branch, etc, if youre intensely into prototype accuracy, as this can be somewhat limiting due to the specialization of traffic flows and the dates/yearsassociated with it. I did this in my main layout room, Durango to Silverton, but have taken extensive liberties with the volume and dates of traffic to cover my interests, which include the three Mears lines north out of Silverton.

Or you can build a more generic Rio Grande scenic tour that lets you run whatever you like plausibly. Thats what I did on my Cascade Extension, which used various industries to fill in for traffic missing on the Silverton Branch itself. You still need a lot of imagination to believe all that I have going on on the layout, but I have a very wide intrrest in the Rio Grande narrowgauge and need my intellectual elbow room to deal with that.

Here's a link to some practical layout building and scenery on the Cascade Extension:

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/219241.aspx?page=1

Hey, gotta go to work, so all for now. I'm here to help, but take my advice as mostly suggestions. Decide what it is you want, as there are so many different ways you can go with HOn3. So far we've talked only about Colorado, for instance...Wink

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by CaptMike on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 12:40 AM

So thanks for all the insight. I’m beginning to believe I don’t have the room. I also have a confession to make. I’m a closet Shay nut! My two favorite locomotives are a 2 truck Shay and a K27. Unfortunately they run in two different parts of the country. I keep going back and forth between D&RGW and logging. Then when I did a searched for HOn3 Shays there are very little selections under $500. So if I go logging narrow gauge there are hardly any loco’s and rolling stock Currently available

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Posted by snjroy on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 10:58 AM

Hi there. Model railroading involves breaking rules, which could include combining engines that never really saw each other on the real railroads. I actually run many roads on my pike, I just remove the offending locos when I want to run a specific road or era. My railroad, my rules... I also have specific locos that I only run at our local club.

As for the shay, there was the MDC HOn3 shay in kit form (some RTR, but rare). They are not qualified as "easy" kits and they definitely would look oversized compared to your other HOn3 locos. They are somewhat hard to find, but they do pop up on Ebay from time to time. There is also the Keystone shay kit, that is very difficult to build and to motorize (you will need a separate NWSL motoring kit - also hard to find).

Other more feasible options: use dual-gauge track to run both HO and HOn3, if you don't mind the 3 rail look. It did exist in the real world... You could also do a separate track for HO. Or you could be patient and try to find a used shay HOn3 in brass. Patience can do wonders with Ebay. But be prepared to pay a few hundred bucks for something that will likely require some work - unless you want to pay the big bucks.

Simon 

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 12:17 PM

Mike,

 

I model mostly standard gauge but hang with a bunch of narrow gaugers and know the NG landscape well (I’m ‘Narrow minded’). I would add to what has already been mentioned:

 

Check out the “Narrow gauge and short line gazette” for info

 

Join the HOn3 yahoo groups

 

Consider the idea that nearly everything in narrow gauge will be a little more difficult to get, a little more expensive and will require more modeling skills to it get to run right.

 

Blackstone is a godsend to this area of the hobby. I would start with their locos and rolling stock and branch out from there as your experience and desire moves you.

 

As for narrow gauge shays, I would avoid them for now – expensive, poor runners and they require well developed brass skills to work on them. IMHO if you must have a shay– don’t bother with the MDC or the Keystone - save up to buy brass.

 

My two cents,

 

Guy

 

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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Posted by mlehman on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 12:44 PM

CaptMike
I’m beginning to believe I don’t have the room. I also have a confession to make. I’m a closet Shay nut! My two favorite locomotives are a 2 truck Shay and a K27. Unfortunately they run in two different parts of the country. I keep going back and forth between D&RGW and logging. Then when I did a searched for HOn3 Shays there are very little selections under $500.

That sure sounds familiar.Wink

In fact, solving that dilemma was ne reason I built my Cascade Extension. It let me resolve the obvious contradiction of running Shays next to Rio Grande steam.

Now, I've got plenty of Rio Grande power based on year of collecting one here, another there. But I've yet to acquire my first Shay. I'd love to have one and now even have the track and operational flow to support it. You'd be doing very well to get one for under $500, especially if you need fancier than DC/no sound.

Do consider it's fairly easy to construct a general "Western mountain" layout that you can switch structures and rolling stock around on to suit whatever yur present interests may be. Doing it in HOn3 gves you access to a bunch of different possibilities, not just Rio Grande in Colorado. Logging is one, but there are lots of other prototypes, too.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by msrrkevin on Tuesday, November 21, 2017 4:32 PM

I've got the MDC hon3 shay - and it took a TON of work to get running well. That meant new NWSL gearbox, re-designed pickups on the wheels, new motor, changes to the driveshafts...  And still it looks like a MONSTER locomotive.  A backdated boiler could help there, but I am fine with it the way it is.  

When you stated K-27 and shays ran in different parts of the country - that's not true.  There were a few narrow gauge Colorado Shays. One was used on the Silverton RR and later the Rio Grande Southern, but that loco would have been retired before the K-27s were around.  Uintah Railway ran many shays, and had a 2-8-2 very similar to the K-27.  So given a little freelance license, it's perfectly plausible to see a shay running a logging or mining shortline that feeds a D&RGW main line.

- Kevin

Check out my shapeways creations! HOn3 and railroad items for 3D printing:

https://www.shapeways.com/shops/kevin-s-model-train-detail-parts

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Posted by mlehman on Saturday, November 25, 2017 4:04 PM

msrrkevin,

Problem is, you've covered most of the potential real world examples of Shay usage in Colorado (Was there a Shay on the Colorado & North Western, too? Yes: http://riograndesouthern.com/RGSTechPages/74b.htm ). Mostly not conducive to creating scenes from old pics of Shays and Rio Grande power in close proximity, because such really wouldn't reflect reality, hence don't exist.

I've got no problem running things together that never were, but generally don't try to pretend things that didn't happen did and just no one noticed. Better to come up with a story that touches on history, but goes its own way without doing too much damage to the facts that are well-known to exist. This tends to be a rather subjective endeavour, so what works for you may not work for me, but that's part of the fun IMO.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

SPV
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Posted by SPV on Friday, December 01, 2017 1:53 AM

mlehman
Mostly not conducive to creating scenes from old pics of Shays and Rio Grande power in close proximity, because such really wouldn't reflect reality, hence don't exist.

That's not really true. A 3-cylinder, 2-truck Shay (Lima #1561) worked for the New Mexico Lumber Company and associated Rio Grande & Pagosa Springs RR in several places along the D&RG from 1906 into the 1920s.  That Shay would have worked alongside former D&RG Moguls and Consolidations, at least one engine that was essentially a C-17 but came to the RG&PS from a line in Michigan (#32), a broad variety of leased Rio Grande power (mostly C-16s), and whatever appeared on the Rio Grande mainline where they connected.  The NMLCo./RG&PS also operated a 3-cylinder, 3-truck Shay (Lima #1762) from 1906 to 1918.  NMLCo. Shay #7 (I believe the last narrow gauge Shay built) reportedly served in the Dolores area briefly between early 1930 and early 1931 and would have crossed paths with RGS locomotives and whatever D&RGW power might have been leased at the time.

As has been mentioned, many Shays worked on the Uintah along the Utah/Colorado border, including one that was essentially built by the Uintah maintainers from spare parts (though the Uintah connected only with the Rio Grande's standard gauge mainline), and 2 others worked for the Little Book Cliff Ry./Book Cliff RR connecting to the D&RG in Grand Junction (although I can't recall if they ever coexisted with Rio Grande narrow gauge equipment there).

Across the border in Utah there were even more Shays, including engines in 30", 42", 3', and standard gauge (with a couple of the 3' gauge engines having been rebuilt from 2' gauge) operating in a variety of locations.  I'd have to do more digging to figure out if they ever could have been seen with Rio Grande narrow gauge equipment.  It's hard to say with Utah's complicated history of gauges.  Most of the Rio Grande system there was converted to standard gauge in 1890 (at the same time changing identities from the D&RGW Ry. to the RGW Ry.), while some branchlines remained 3' gauge for a few years longer.  Interestingly, the Rio Grande and its predecessors operated several standard gauge Shays there in the Bingham area west of Salt Lake City, contrary to popular belief that there were no Rio Grande Shays.

It's true that there are few if any photos of Shays with D&RG(W), (D&)RGW, etc. narrow gauge equipment, and I can't say for sure why that is.  I suspect a lot of it has to do with the fact that that Colorado's logging Shays operated on remote and short-lived lines and were signficantly out-numbered by more commonplace 3' gauge engines - primarily Consolidations which were leased from, purchased secondhand from, or otherwise nearly identical to D&RG/RGW/D&RGW/RGS counterparts.  Additionally, they were all long gone by the railfan era.  Nevertheless, there WERE Shays operating throughout much of Colorado.  And it continues to baffle me why so many people completely overlook this piece of Colorado railroad history in the search for modeling inspiration.

For more information on the Shays of Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah, check out http://www.shaylocomotives.com/index.html, "Logging Along the Denver & Rio Grande" by Chappell, Volume 7 of "The RGS Story", or "The Uintah Railway Pictorial", a 2-volume set by Sundance.

 

Chris

 

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Posted by Atchee on Friday, December 01, 2017 11:19 AM

There are a lot of different areas to model when considering Colorado narrow gauge.  If you'd like to move out of the "common" areas usually thought of  you might consider the idea of modeling places where more than one narrow gauge company ran equipment.  Places like Ridgway CO where the RGS and Rio Grande both operated, or the Gunnison CO and the Buena Vista to Leadville area where the DSP&P and Rio Grande both operated.

The D&RG line through southern CO and northern NM ran through some areas with extensive lumbering activity and its quite possible that undocumented locomotives plied the lines built in these areas as they came and went rapidly in some cases.  I've been hiking in some of these areas and found what appeared to be railroad grades that I've never seen shown on a map.

SPV
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Posted by SPV on Friday, December 01, 2017 2:08 PM

Atchee
Places like Ridgway CO where the RGS and Rio Grande both operated, or the Gunnison CO and the Buena Vista to Leadville area where the DSP&P and Rio Grande both operated. The D&RG line through southern CO and northern NM ran through some areas with extensive lumbering activity

Those are all great ideas. Another is the Cripple Creek area, where several shortlines - both narrow and standard gauge - interacted with the D&RG, Colorado Midland, and AT&SF. Marble, CO is another area with a variety of railroads and gauges (there was even a Shay there, and an electric tramway). Don't forget that for many years Silverton was not only the northern end of a Rio Grande branch from Durango, but also the southern terminus of 3 shortlines, any one of which would make a great model. Just Silverton would make a very interesting switching layout, especially if one modeled anytime between 1890 and 1920.

There's really a ton of variety to model in Rio Grande country (which also includes New Mexico and Utah!) but the vast majority of people have focused on just a handful of areas. Then of course there are the other railroads in that region - the C&S and its predecessors, the wide network of narrow gauge lines controlled by the UP across Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon, and a vast number of little shortlines of various gauges - 2', 3', 30", 42", and standard (and likely some I'm forgetting) - scattered all across the west that are all almost completely forgotten.

Anyway, there's a lot of options out there. Good luck in your decision-making!

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, December 01, 2017 2:09 PM

Welcome

.

HOn3 is a great choice for limited space. The trains can run on tighter curves than N scale, and look at home in vertical scenery.

.

They also have tons of character. I am sure you will enjoy yourself.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by carl425 on Friday, December 01, 2017 4:19 PM

SeeYou190
The trains can run on tighter curves than N scale

Not true. The Blackstone locos all specify 18" for minimum.  Most n-scale stuff will run on way less.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

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Posted by mlehman on Friday, December 01, 2017 4:43 PM

Chris,

Let me take another stab at characterizing the relative paucity of Shay operations in Colorado. They were nowhere near as numerous as often depicted by modelers. If one looks at their % of operations versus % of rod locos on the narrowgauge, Colorado was probably one of the states with less narrowgauge tonnage behind Shays as a % of the total than most states with any narrowgauge.

Nonetheless, they did exist, but were of a limited nature and mostly on lines gone before their work was documented by railfans or anyone else with film to expose.

SPV
...it continues to baffle me why so many people completely overlook this piece of Colorado railroad history in the search for modeling inspiration.

The fact that obtaining a copy of Chappell's "Logging Along the Rio Grande" is crazy expensive doesn't help. There's one in Germany for $91, which is the cheapest I've seen a copy in recent years. The only US copy I found is $175 and that's also pretty cheap in recent times.

Really, I'm not trying to discourage modeling Shays in Colorado, simply pointing out you have to really scratch around like you've done to find the few operations that used them for relatively limited times or to even consider fictionalizing some up.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

SPV
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Posted by SPV on Friday, December 01, 2017 5:50 PM

Mike,

Those are fair points. I just think a lot of people would like to model Shays in Colorado and don't realize they could do so prototypically without too much difficulty. Modeling the Pagosa Springs area around 1910 is a perfect way to have prototypical Rio Grande narrow gauge alongside logging operations. The same can be said of the RGS around Dolores (in 1930 if you want a prototypically correct 3-truck Shay).

mlehman
The fact that obtaining a copy of Chappell's "Logging Along the Rio Grande" is crazy expensive doesn't help. There's one in Germany for $91, which is the cheapest I've seen a copy in recent years. The only US copy I found is $175 and that's also pretty cheap in recent times.

That's also true, unfortunately. And The RGS Story Vol. VII is even more expensive. Still, if you keep an eye out - particularly on eBay - you can find a good deal on occasion. I picked up "Logging Along the Denver & Rio Grande" a few years ago for about $50 and Vol. VII about a year ago for about $120 (rather than the $250-500 that it's usually listed at). Hopefully they'll get reprinted someday and the prices will come down, and maybe then more people will be aware of all the unique opportunities in modeling narrow gauge logging in Rio Grande country.

 

Chris

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Posted by NWP SWP on Saturday, December 02, 2017 11:21 PM

Look up Rod Fredricks model railroad on YouTube... I just saw it in person the other day very impressive.

Steven

Crooner, Imagineer, High School Graduate, living with Aspergers, President of the Republica Pacifica micronation,  President of the NWP-SWP System.

Hook'em Longhorns! 

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