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EZ to NG: Some Common Enuf Models

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EZ to NG: Some Common Enuf Models
Posted by mlehman on Monday, July 27, 2020 9:11 PM

A lot of folks think of modeling in narrowgauge as involving exotic techniques and labor-intensive practices from the Neanderthal stage of model railroading. That's usually not the case nowadays. Most know of Blackstone, a sister company of Soundtraxx, which produces exquisite RTR narrowgauge locos and other rolling stock that you just unbox. Some grumpy ol' folks grouch that it's just not like the old days, like when they rode dinosaurs to school...

What many narrowgaugers think is that it all gives us more time to build stuff, while still having enough rolling stuff on the track that it doesn't feel like modeling an abandoned line.

But you don't really need to be all that handy to quickly acquire a variety of interesting models through converting them to HOn3 narrowgauge from common available standard gauge items. That's the topic of this thread. If you have one or more you'd like to offer up, please, jump right in, this can be a useful resource for those thinking about narrowgauge in any scale, not just HOn3, which I primarily work in.

Here's my latest conversion, a Walthers Jordan spreader.

This is a good pic to size up how this works. I operate a number of converted diesels whose loading gauge has been taken into account already on my lines. Yes, there's a little more overhang, but this Jordan spreader, although likely wider than the narrowgauge ones used on the Rio Grande, it's probably not far off from fitting to spec.

All in all, the initial testing run from Durango to Silverton went well, requiring a minor adjustment in a couple of spots, but it never derailed or turned over. It also negotiated some tight yard trackage. The fact that the wings would STAY folded was a good thing, among the many fine features of this Walthers model.

Before you think it's a big deal to get this fine model working at pushing back snow and ballast on your HOn3 pike, I can tell you it was one of my simpler conversions. I took off the SG trucks and added a pair of Grandt Line Rio Grande 4'8" Delrin trucks.

I left the SG coupler on the front to make things easy as it does barely engage with a HOn3 coupler at its correct height and that's good enough for moving it around the yard. The pushing end needed a block mounted in the SG coupler pad, with the underside of it providing a suitable mounting height for a 714/705 coupler. This does project out from the back of the spreader a little and I worried initially that it could cause issues on curves but it has plowed on.

The trucks required a couple of red Kadee washers under each to raise it enough to clear everything near the track. If I can figure out a way to light the headlight, I'm good. Basically with these very minor mods, it's easy to put a Jordan spreader to work in HOn3.

 

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, July 27, 2020 10:11 PM

Nice-looking spreader, Mike, and it fits right into your good-looking layout, too.

Mine is the earlier version, in standard gauge HO, from Walthers, and is modified somewhat to make it operable to a degree.  It's shown below spreading ballast, but it's pretty-much useless as a ditcher, especially with Durabond patching plaster over aluminum screen forming the trackside terrain...

Wayne

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, July 27, 2020 10:26 PM

Great looking model Mike!

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 2:15 AM

Wayne and Kevin,

Thanks for the kind comments on my Jordan spreader. Another comment or two on it. I considered repainting it in a more standard silver, but didn't want to gum anything up with paint. The Four Corners Division is far enough away from Denver we can get away with some non-standard paint. The spreader was originally decorated for the Pennsy. I soaked a q-tip in acetone and wiped away the old lettering, then applied DRGW decals for (what I believe to be ) mythical spreader 050. The stripes on the blade helped make its basic black more visible, which are the basic Rio Grande hood unit nose stripes. I wish it had the higher cab used on several roads for snowfighting, but there's an excuse since I use it on the Silverton line. The lack of windows in a high cab are due to the rocks...

The Rio Grande couldn't use a rotary to clear the line due to an abundance of rocks in the many snowslides that blocked. Slow business meant the often didn't need to clear the line, leaving the citizens of Silverton to endure without communications to the world at large for weeks at a time in the past. Changing climate may alleviate this, plus there's a road (which itself gets blocked for shorter times than the RR did in the winter) now. Heavier traffic on my Silverton Branch dictates the line be open as much as possible in the winter, thus the need for 050 there. Finally, the tall profile may make it seem too large for NG, but if you've seen the drifts there it will be called on to neutralize it needs all that height.

Now onto another piece of MOW equipment similarly easy to convert, although building what's above the trucks is more of a challenge, my OZ wrecking crane.

The OZ was built by Industrial of Bay City, Michigan and was a 70 ton capacity crane equipped with both SG and NG trucks. It was self-propelled when on its NG trucks. It was usually home-based at Minturn and saw relatively little use on the NG, where wreckers OW and OX provided for those needs. It was sold to the US Gov't in 1942, who asked that the NG trucks be converted to 42" gauge prior to delivery. Then it mysteriously disappeared into the mists of history. I've speculated that it was shipped overseas, but was sunk by submarine attack on its way there. It's a little hard to misplace something this weighty, but you never know...

This info is from Narrow Gauge Pictorial Volume VII, with text by one of the living deans of Colorado NG history, Jerry B. Day.

In physical shape and form, OZ was virtually identical to the 150 ton crane kit now sold by Tichy. It comes with plastic wheels on metal axles. Presto, with a little care and a NMRA gauge, it's easy to slide the wheels in to HOn3 gauge. I recall a bit of fiddling to get coupler height where it should be, but it was simple to do.

I made a few changes to increase the resemblance to the few pics of OZ that exist and painted it in the silver MOW scheme, which it never wore in real life, only the black and white scheme until shipped out to its unknown fate from Burnham Shops in early 1942. On the Four Corners Division, OZ made it back from gov't service after the war and expanding traffic on the NG brought it to be based at Durango.

It's the action part of the wreck train it supports.

The kitchen/bunk car is a bash of my first ever NG passenger car, a MRGS coach kit that I did a lot of learning on. The boxcar is a MOW version that Blackstone produced. The idler flat was built on a Blackstone flat. Nothing too hard or fancy about any of it, mostly bashing and building fun from commonly available items.

I don't get OZ out much. No self-respecting RR wants to be cleaning up lots of wrecks. However, it has to track well and it does so long as the boom is properly oriented to the rear.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 11:25 AM

This one is super-easy. It's the Eastern Car Works depressed center flat car. I'm not sure it's still in production, but kits should show up in the usual places.

In this case I used some brass HOn3 trucks, I think they were PSC. Add in HOn3 couplers and you're good. That's all there is to it, other than checking for ride height and coupler height and adjusting by adding the usual Kadee red and gray washers at the bolster.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by mlehman on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 7:52 PM

Let's turn to locos. Here's one that's a little hefty for some lines, but is a good all around performer if you have tonnage to haul, the Kato NW2.

I call these conversions by the designation NW2M. The HOn3 conversion is easy. Press the wheels in on the axles to fit. It also helps to adjust the contact bars that are the electrical contacts on the trucks. A few small adjustments to the 714 couplers being right and that takes care of operating on HOn3. It's a powerful little loco and provides a solid base for dieselization, if that's the way you're going.

I also modded it to be more versatile. No longer a switcher, for road service I added dynamic brakes and a small steam generator under the hood I modded by cutting out a straight section from another spare shell to replace the usual slanted cowl next to the cab. This provided a little more room to squeeze in a decoder, since most everything under the hood is full of metal in the original model, accounting for its hefty tractive effort. The conversion to HOn3 makes for a reliable loco that can outpull just about anything on the layout. It's als worth noting that the way things are on the Kato makes for easy conversion to virtually any gauge between HO and HOn3.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by mlehman on Friday, July 31, 2020 12:40 PM

This entry is a common-as-dirt one, the Tichy ore car, which comes in a 2 pack kit.

While billed as an HO car, this one is so small and light it almost screams narrow gauge prototype. Again, slap some HOn3 trucks on it and set the coupler to the proper height is pretty much it.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by snjroy on Saturday, August 1, 2020 10:00 PM

Nice work Mike. I also converted a few HO gauge cars these last few weeks. I converted a bobber caboose by removing the 2 axle truck and installing two HOn3 trucks.

 20200801_173749b on Flickr 

I also converted a model power pre-1900s car. I will repaint at some point.

 20200801_173912 on Flickr

This week, I trimed a Pocher passenger car by 15 scale feet using a razor saw. I am still working on the roof to hide the joint. The HOn3 trucks were installed directly on the bolster using 2-56 screws and bolts.

 20200801_172631 on Flickr

I need to add the couplers and paint. So three easy projects done on used cars for fun. I haven't converted any diesels, but I'm tempted now looking at Mike's work...

Simon

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Posted by mlehman on Sunday, August 2, 2020 2:04 AM

Simon,

That caboose came out well. The Rio Grande actually did the same thing, converting some of their 4-wheel bobbers into relatively better ride two-truck hacks. I've got a couple of 4-wheel cabooses and they are, coincidentally, easy to convert to HOn3.

This one is an old AHM bobber frame that I built a new superstructure on. Simply pressed the wheels inward to 10.5 mm gauge on the axles.

This one maybe should've been narrowgauge to begin with the way it just naturally hunkers down to the track behind the rest of this rolling stock, but it was also an easy press-the-wheels-in task to make this John Allen Gorre & Daphetid classic offered by the NMRA into HOn3.

The various old-time car offerings by several mfgs are good candidates for conversion as yours shows. The aren't very big to begin with and look suitably cozy.

Your Pocher conversion turned out pretty well, considering the weird geometry of that model. It reminds me of my MDC Overton conversions. I don't count them as EZ, though, because a radial saw is involved...ConfusedHmm Yep, I cut the body right down the middle. With a little sanding, that narrows them just about right to look right on the 3'. The roof is narrowed by carefully cutting/sanding the edges until it looks right. IIRC, the cupola came from the original body that sat on the AHM bobber's frame.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by mlehman on Monday, August 3, 2020 10:02 AM

This car is not quite so common, but still an easy conversion, the 3400 series Westerfield ore cars.

https://id18538.securedata.net/westerfieldmodels.com/merchantmanager/index.php?cPath=104_403

It's a resin kit, but don't let that scare you, as it's a relatively easy build. While SG prototype, it's diminuitive size makes it an ideal conversion.

This one is another easy trucks and couplers swap out.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by tankertoad135 on Monday, August 3, 2020 4:36 PM

Although I have never done any work in NG, those models you have completed are superb!!Cowboy

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Posted by snjroy on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 10:51 AM

Yes, Mike's work is impressive for sure... What's nice about NG is that it can be pretty much all you want it to be if you are flexible with time and space. What I like about NG is that it was often used by small operations, where local staff would adapt standard gauge equipment to NG, and would create all sort of oddball engines and cars. It's a great avenue for modellers who like to scratchbuild and kitbash rolling stock that are "believable" - and in some cases prototypical without one knowing it!   So far, we've only posted HOn3, but there is also HOn30 that offers the same enjoyment. 3D printing has really opened a whole new world of possibilities there.

This past weekend, I was going through my junk box and I landed on a part that is a remnant of my very first toy train... I decided to use it to create a gas engine critter. The wheels and frame are actually from 0-6-0 N scale engine that was also sitting in my junk box. I just removed the (broken) motor, the centre wheels and linkages, filled the wheels with putty to hide the spokes. I already had some motorized gondolas - I can just change the engines and era with the same cars. I will strip the paint and add some brakes. Can anyone guess what part I used to create the gas engine?

 

 20200803_184017 on Flickr

And here is the same motorized cars pushing a Porter engine made from a 3D print

 20190501_214822b  on Flickr

Simon

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Posted by mlehman on Thursday, August 6, 2020 2:07 AM

tankertoad135,

Thanks for the appreciative comments. I have some skills, but nothing like the MMRs and others I hangout with online. I shoot for a convincing overall effect. Probably the one thing where I have a little skill is in designing for believability.

Simon,

Nice work with the HOn30. That's actually where I started in narrowgauge, back when Frary and Hayden were doing the Elk River series in that other mag. It still has its place. Neat concept disguising the motive power as rolling stock and pushing the dummy along.

Like your ore bin, too. I used three of those Grandt Line kits building my Haymarket tram.

An overall view.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by snjroy on Thursday, August 6, 2020 6:33 PM

Wow, that's a nice ore complex. I wish I had the space for something like that... 

About HOn30, I find the main challenge is getting good performance, especially with the two axle engines. I kitbashed the ore cars by using a Japanese mechanism (two passenger cars, with one motorized). I also added power pickup on the second gondola for extra reliability. So I just swap the engines, which is OK given that this is an ore branch line. Swapping engines allows me to switch eras, from 1800s to 1940s, which I like doing on my layout. Here is a pic of an old minitrains engine, with the motor removed, connected to the motorized gondolas.

 20200806_122322 on Flickr

Recent productions by Minitrains run a lot better. For these, no pusher cars are necessary. Below is a sawmill scene I am working on as well, with a fine running Minitrains engine.

 20200806_121804 on Flickr

Simon

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Posted by mlehman on Friday, August 7, 2020 3:15 AM

Simon,

The pic of that little Plymouth brings on a wave of nostalgia. If they had only run better, I always thought. I eventually gave up on that with my crude 70s skill set. I sold what I could gather from my n30 roster and sold it for a pretty  god price right before the new Minitrains arrived. I've heard they're much superior to the original.

Nice work on the mill scene, too.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by mlehman on Monday, August 10, 2020 12:40 PM

We return to motive power this time and a bit different form of conversion. Instead of starting with a standard gauge loco, we start with one in HOn30. Everyone is probably think some kind if little steamer...but that would be incorrect. Instead, it's a very modern diesel cab unit.

This starts out as a Liliput Gemeinder diesel. It is a HOn30 (9 mm gauge) unit that also has available a HOm (12 mm gauge) conversion kit. HOm also happens to be TT gauge if you happen to need a loco  for that. But what we want is a HOn3 (10.5 mm gauge) loco.

How to do that? Get the HOm gauge conversion kit and narrow it to 10.5 mm gauge. If you have also bought an extra HOm kit, you'll now be able to run this loco on three different gauge tracks after a 5 minute or so swap of drive wheels.

BTW, this loco runs great! It accepts a 21-pin decoder and is also set up to add sound. For ~$200 - and some paint for your favorite road - you can dieselize and take some strain off those historical steamers.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, August 10, 2020 9:45 PM

There have been some great photographs posted in this thread.

Thanks for sharing this amazing work.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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