Hn3rail ?

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  • Member since
    March 2023
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Hn3rail ?
Posted by the_broken_plastic_and_rusted_tinplate_railroad on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 1:46 AM

I've always been interested in large scale since I toured MADURODAM in Holland when I was about 7 years old. The problem with G Scale is the expense - everything is expensive even the track. I just wanted to float an idea for what I call "Hn3rail" - which is to use 3 rail O gauge mechanisms as a narrow gauge to get into large scale on the cheap. Just use 3 rail O gauge track and trucks and build narrow gauge freight and passenger cars and new locomotive bodies. The Lionel couplers are very overscale for O gauge but not to H scale ( 1/2" to the foot). I would use 1/24 scale which would make O gauge track a 2' 6" narrow gauge. Something like a Marx 490 with a custom shell and tender would be WAY CHEAPER than anything you could find in G scale. 1/24 and 1/25 plastic car kits would be a cheap way to add vehicles to the layout and things like the Lionel banjo signal which are also oversized for O gauge would look just right at 1/24th scale. You could even run trains outside if you used Gargraves track with the stainless-steel rails.

Also if you have never seen MADURODAM before check out some clips on YouTube. It is AMAZING, trains running , scale size 747's taxing around, ships sailing around - the whole works. : )

  • Member since
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  • From: Henrico, VA
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Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 8:54 AM

Welcome aboard!

That's a pretty interesting suggestion. The issue is though for manufacturers would be "Is it saleable?  Is there a market for it?"

At the moment I'm not sure. G Scale or Large Scale was pretty popular 10 to 15 years ago but aside for a small hard-core group the market's pretty soft right now.  If there's a resurgence in interest it might be possible someone may try to take advantage of it, that's for certain.

A suggestion, you may want to post your idea on the "Garden Railways" Forum and see what the reaction is.  "GA" is where the Large Scale folks hang out.

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Posted by philo426 on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 5:31 PM

Even LGB had to shut down,USA trains may still be operational.

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  • From: Middle o' Nowhere, MO
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Posted by palallin on Thursday, March 2, 2023 7:14 AM

On30 got started more or less as you are describing:  HO gtrucks and mechanisms with scratched- and kitbashed superstructures.  I can't place a finger on it, but I have seen others working in Hn3 (using 2-rail track, but that's a separate issue), so your idea is, if not novel, at least somewhat proven.

Lots of Large Scale stuff out there to work with; if the primary market is thin nowadays, the secondary is pretty robust, at least from what I have seen in the past.  But you really don't need ANY Large Scale stuff if you build enough on your own ;-)  3-rail O mechanisms--I would suggest something more felxible than a Marx motor if you want to operate (I love Marx, and they are indestructilbe, but they tend to run fast)--are plentiful as are trucks.  The autho kits you mention are absolutely common, and the rest can be plastic card and strip wood ;-)

I'd love to see what you do!

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Posted by pennytrains on Saturday, March 4, 2023 3:34 PM

Welcome aboard!

Interesting!  Yeah, you could use low value Marx and Lionel boilers on wider frames.  Bigger (H scale) cabs custom built and maybe tall stacks.  Something resembling a Porter logging loco comes to my mind.  Catalogs are s great source of inspiration for scratch building and kit bashing your own designs.  If you try it I'd love to see your results!

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 1:29 AM

Aloha a me e komo mai! Hello and welcome!

I will not comment on the viability of your idea.  If you are planning to set things up outside, though, I'd make sure the tracks will withstand the weather!


Living in Hawaii, we pay a premium for everything, hobby or not, so your machinations hit home.  I began the hobby with zero skills, so 'bashing or scratchbuilding were not early options.  We did make use of the second hand market to flesh out our roster, but only after watching to see what things were really worth.  Also, even out here, there are LGB and Bachmann "starter sets" you can pick up on the cheap, and both may be better foundations for your kitbashing, especially outside.  Some clubs have track lockers with second hand stuff available at discount price, too.  The dues will be worth access to the track locker, let alone the expertise of the club.  Finally, we have been able to lash up with experienced modelers across the country, trading for bits or simply paying for their shipping.  Again, this will require some networking, which we accomplished through active engagement in a couple fora, to include this one.


Incidentally, I was in MADURODAM in the '80s.  It was cool then!





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Posted by Swiss-Colorado-Lines on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 8:34 PM

I would  tend to break this down into two categories:

indoor and outdoor.

for indoor, kitbashing large scale with existing toy train mechanisms is completely doable. No problem.

for outdoor, just some words of caution. I like to use the example of the hardware store: some paints and materials are for indoor use only, some paints and materials are rated for outdoor use.For example, building models for indoors, I might use styrofoam, foam core, balsa wood, etc. I would never use these outdoors.

The same with trains. Some trains were designed for indoor use only. Exposed spur gears, plastics without UV protection, metals that can rust. Many times I have been outside and a sudden gust of wind will blow leaves or twigs onto the track right into a moving train. Exposed gears will suck up this debris into the mechanism. This is why G gauge engines have enclosed gearboxes. So, it may seem like G track and equipment is expensive, but it is actually designed specifically for outdoor use. These are my words of caution.

But if you are working indoors, there is no potential issue.


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