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Author Topic: Need Advice - Planning First On30 Layout  (Read 7340 times)
texdon

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« on: July 31, 2010, 12:53:36 PM »

A recent move has created an opportunity to build a new model railroad.  After looking at some Bachmann On30 locomotives and cars at a local hobby shop, I think I would like to give them a try for this project.  I have a few questions about On30 modeling, and I hope someone on this message board can help.  My initial questions are related to layout planning:

   1. What are the recommended minimum curve radii?  Bachmann's catalog suggests 18-22" depending on what steam locomotives I choose to buy, but I suspect that I would be happier with 24-30".  Any opinions?  I assume the limitation on workable radii is locomotives rather than the passenger or freight cars.  Is this correct?
   2. Do people actually just use HO track or do people choose to buy the On30 track offerings from PECO or Microengineering?  What are the pros and cons of either approach?  Do the Bachmann models need the more common code 100 rail, or can code 83 or code 70 rail be used successfully?  What brand and type of On30 track do people recommend?
   3. How long are the locomotives, passenger cars, and freight cars?  I need to figure out the required track lengths for a turntable and for runaround tracks.  The cars looked to be 9-12" when I looked at them at the hobby shop.  The locomotives with tenders (looked at a 4-6-0 and 2-8-0) appeared to be about 15" long.  If someone could provide some rough lengths it would be helpful and more convenient than the hour drive to the shop that carries On30 here in Houston.
   4.  One last question for today.  What are the recommended center line spacings for parallel curved tracks?  How about parallel straight tracks?  I am guessing 3-4" would be fine, but advice would be most appreciated.

Thanks for any help you can provide.
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Don
AlanM

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« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2010, 01:48:35 PM »

Just my view and experience -- opinions will vary.  First suggestion is you join Yahoo On30 Conspiracy forum where a lot of good info can be found.
Specific questions:
   Bachmann 2-8-0 will fit on a 12 inch turntable.
   Freight cars are 7 inches long
   Passenger cars are 9 inches
   Centerline track spacing that I use is 2.5 inches straight, 3 inches curves.
   I use a minimum radius of 26 inches -- all Bachmann engines will operate on 18 inch radius, but the Forney especially has problems because of excessive rear overhang.  I have several Forneys (2-4-4T) so I go for 26 inch radius and larger when possible.
   Just some factoids to get you started.
        Alan Miller, Bainbridge Island WA
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texdon

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« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2010, 03:27:53 PM »

Alan,

Thanks.  This is perfect.  I am thinking I will use some combination of the 4-6-0 and 2-8-0 locomotives, so a 12" turntable should work.  The other dimensional information is really helpful.

I was thinking that larger curves might be better.

Do you have any preference in track for On30? 
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Don
C.S.R.R. Manager


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« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2010, 05:47:01 PM »

The 4-6-0 might barely fit on a 12" turntable, but it's about 13-1/8" long over the couplers.  Has anyone fit a 4-6-0 on a turntable?

The track issue is hotly debated, so the following is just my opinion.  It seems that various narrow gauge lines used a variety of ties sizes and spacing, so basically anything is prototypical for the freelance modeler in some sense, even normal HO track, and it comes down to taste.  Also, many photos of narrow gauge lines that I've seen show track that is buried in ballast and dirt and weeds, so that the ties are barely visible, so that makes the size and type of tie even less significant.

Personally, I like the look of MicroEngineering flex code 83, with the long ties that accentuate the narrowness of the rails, and it seems to work well.  I've also used Atlas HO code 83 backstage, and it's fine.  I do have some Peco switches, and they work great, but I always thought they looked odd, until I started watching videos of British narrow gauge.  The Peco does have a distinctive British look.
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texdon

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« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2010, 06:07:06 PM »

From this, it seems that the Bachmann On30 flanges are sufficiently shallow to allow code 83 track.  I have been thinking that the MicroEngineering track would look good.

It also seems that a 14-15" turntable might be more appropriate.  Does anyone make one in On30, or will I need to get an HO turntable with suitable rail?
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Don
Mike_AA9ZY

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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2010, 06:48:19 PM »

I bought some Peco flex track, but didn't like it. I'm using Atlas Code 83 HO track and turnouts. The ties and tie spacing are wrong for On30, but I'm using it anyway. The latest issue of Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette has a On30 layout that is using the Code 83 Atlas track.
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NarrowMinded


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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2010, 07:35:52 PM »

I have found the peco on30 flex track a little stiffer then other ho flex track, some people use HO and snip off every other tie. Some use the peco only where it is seen and use cheaper HO through tunnels, I like the peco on30 and turnouts with electric frogs. All of mine is code 100.

As far as radius goes the above comments hold true except my experiance with the forney on 18"R was not acceptable, the over hang looks TERRIBLE! And you must have absolutely perfect track joints or the rear truck will derail constantly, the engines you metioned should be fine though.

NM
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USAF_Andy

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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2010, 07:44:01 PM »

I have seen pictures of the 4-6-0 on the Peco turntable.  I personally am using their code 100 track for my modular group and it appears to be the standard for a lot of modular groups across the country.  Also, just as a rule of thumb, whenever possible in any scale, use as larg of a curve radius as you can fit.  Your equipment will look better and operate better through them.
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Dusten Barefoot

Determind to get some E.T.&.W.N.C On30 models


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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2010, 11:03:38 PM »

I can not get the 4-6-0 onto my 12" turntable, the wheel flange of the tender hangs off and catches the other sections of track. I'm not quite sure though if my turntable is a full 12". I'll give a definite answer tomorrow.

BTW, I use 18" radii, and sharper on my layout, but watch the longer engines, the blind drivers will catch the curve and knock it off the rails, so that is why I relaying some portions of track.

Rock On!
Dusten
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Dusten
texdon

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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2010, 12:01:48 PM »

Thanks everyone.  This is a lot of help.  Coming from S Scale standard gauge, I am more comfortable with larger radii.  I am leaning towards code 83 rail, but I am not sure yet about MicroEngineering On30 versus living with HO.  I will check the referenced On30 Layout in SN&NG.  I have a subscription, so its sitting on my desk.

Does anyone have any suggestions on where to find a suitable turntable or alternatively how to build a relatively simple one from scratch?
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Don
JohnR

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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2010, 06:46:45 PM »

My 2 cents. 

Centerline: 3" straight, 3.5" curve (yes you can go .5" smaller but that's smaller than finger width for me)

Radius: 22" minimum (24" minimum if you have the space)

Track: HO width rail separation is HO width rail separation.  Go with what looks right to your eye (and your wallet).  ME stuff looks nice but certainly isn't needed on hidden/less visible tracks.  ME has exactly two switches (LH & RH #5).  Consider spiking down or building your own.

Turntable: If you're going to run 4-6-0's and 2-8-0's, 12" is pushing it.  I've seen some nice turntable bashes that started life as Walthers 90ft HO turntables.

-John
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lvrr325

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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2010, 11:18:49 PM »

I just put together a layout using 22" as the minimum mainline radius - I actually used a few sectional pieces to maintain it.  The Forneys pull around those curves fine, but it's difficult to couple it to cars - and cars to one another - on the curves.  I did slip in a couple of spots of 18" on sidings.   Before I rebuilt the layout, I had one tight start to a curve where the Forney would cause longer cars behind it to sway - one a scratchbuilt 40' passenger car - but as long as curves are gradual and sharp spots are minimal, it will pull the Bachmann cars around just fine as far as that goes.

As for track, I had a ton of regular Atlas code 100 flex, switches and some sectional on hand, so I re-used it.  I'm going to get some real cinders to use for ballast (tried before and works well, just sift well, glue, and if you have cats, don't let them find the bucket!) and just bury everything so the ties are invisible.  The prototype I'm following, by the end, was often just a low spot in the grass anyways. 

I also used #6s for most of the switches, again except for a couple of sidings where I ended up with some #4s.

What I did find is the Forney especially does not like sudden changes in grade, your grades need to be very gradual at the start and end.  All of it's weight is on the drivers, so when the front of the engine levels out at the top of a hill, it raises the rear of the locomotive up, which can cause uncoupling.   This makes me glad I laid the mainline out and have test run it - I already raised much of the roadbed supports upward and have a couple spots they need to rise a small amount more.   Some of the older freight cars - the flat and gon in particular - don't like humps and bumps, I had one low spot on a curve that they would derail on, a piece of cardstock under the track eliminated the problem.   On straight track if you want a little sag here and there it probably won't hurt, again other than with the Forney.


But even the 2-6-6-2 handles the curves well and really doesn't look out of place doing it.  It's not like running an HO Big Boy over the same tight curves, for instance. 

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ebtnut

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« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2010, 01:40:28 PM »

Keep in mind that the On30 wheel and track standards are the same as HO.  You can go down to Code 70 rail if you like and it will be OK.  I agree that the larger the curve the better.  I'd hold to 22 - 24" at least.  I like the Micro-Engineering flex track appearance more than the Peco.  As for turntables, you might keep an eye out on e-bay, or check a good train shop for one of the old Bowser 14" turntable kits.  It will do fine for On30.  I used one for On3, but I widened the wooden center beam by about 1/8" to accommodate the larger On3 locos. 
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texdon

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« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2010, 05:28:31 PM »

This is all very helpful.  Thanks to everyone for the advice and opinions.
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Don
jpipkin

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« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2010, 11:57:16 PM »

I have used Micro Engineering Code 70 rail with no problems at all.  I also solved the Forney problem of uncoupling during grade changes.  I cut a spare coupler knuckle in half and bonded the two parts to the top and bottom of the rear coupler's knuckle.  It may not look too prototypical but it works great on our club's modules.
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