An Introductory Guide To On30 Model Trains

On30 Model Trains

Many hobbyists have heard of O gauge and HO gauge trains, but few are familiar with On30 model trains.

These train sets combine the track size of the HO gauge with O gauge locomotives and rolling stock to simulate a narrow gauge railroad, similar to those that run through mountain passes or those that provide services around mining areas.

On30 trains are some of the most fascinating trains a model railroading hobbyist could own.

A Closer Look At On30 Model Trains

1. What is the exact size of an On30 model train?

On30 model trains use 1/72 scale tracks to represent the 30-inch narrow gauge tracks used on real railroads.

However, the model trains themselves are a 1/48 to 1/45 scale which means they are the same size as O gauge models are.

2. Manufacturers that make model trains in this scale.

Bachmann produces the most extensive line of trains in the On30 scale, and has a wide assortment of steam and diesel locomotives, freight cars and passenger cars available.

In addition to Bachmann’s fine line of products, other manufacturers have also produced high-quality On30 models, such as Boulder Valley Models and Broadway Limited Imports.

They are well-known for their lines of antique-style steam locomotives and old-fashioned rail cars.

Beginners looking for model trains from the early era of railroading will find that the product lines available from Boulder Valley Models and Broadway Limited Imports will serve them well.

3. Buildings for your On30 model train’s layout.

Because On30 model trains only use the narrow gauge tracks of the HO scale, standard O gauge buildings can be used on On30 layouts.

This is because the bodies of On30 trains are ultimately standard 1/48 scale O gauge bodies. Overall, On30 is one of the most flexible scales available to model railroaders.

4. Can I use other O scale scenery with my On30 model train?

Yes, the same rule that applies to O gauge buildings applies to all O gauge scenery. O gauge mountain kits, trees, and other scenery items fit very well with On30 layouts.

5. Can I make my own On30 model train?

Yes, one of the things that attracts modelers to the On30 scale is the fact that they can easily create their own On30 model train.

This is done rather simply by taking the trucks and wheels off of a HO gauge model and fitting them onto an O gauge model. The result is that you will quickly create a working On30 scale model.

A Recommended On30 Locomotive

14-ton, Two-Truck Stearns-Heisler Steam Locomotive
14-ton, Two-Truck Stearns-Heisler Steam Locomotive

One of the finest On30 model locomotives available to hobbyists is the 14-ton, Two-Truck Stearns-Heisler Steam Locomotive available from Historic Rail.

This locomotive is a part of Bachmann’s top-quality Spectrum Line. It models a Heisler gear-driven locomotive.

During the 1890s these locomotives were known for their ability to handle the toughest hauling jobs in America. They were used to move timber, iron, coal, and ore along some of the roughest tracks in the U.S.

This exquisite locomotive features the following:

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  • Built in DCC speed, direction, and lighting control
  • Die cast construction
  • Hand applied piping, sand lines, airlines, blackened brass railings and other details
  • Soft white LED constant lighting
  • Flush fitting cab windows
  • An enclosed gearbox
  • Magnetically operated knuckle couplers
  • Authentic ‘Colorado Mining’ markings
  • And more!


Sound Module for Two-Truck Stearns-Heisler Locomotive
Sound Module for Two-Truck Stearns-Heisler Locomotive

It measures in at a length of 8 inches and arrives ready-to-run on an HO gauge track.

To enhance this locomotive’s special effects you may want to purchase the Sound Module for Two-Truck Stearns-Heisler Locomotive from Historic Rail, separately.

This 16 bit Tsunami Plug-And-Play Sound Module will allow you to hear 16 prototypical sounds of this locomotive in action.

This module can work on a DCC or a standard DC layout, and will most certainly add a definite sense of realism to this model locomotive.

In conclusion, looking at this scale we can see that it is one of the most versatile scales available. On30 model trains are always packed with high levels of detail and only require relatively small spaces for their layouts, which is why so many model railroading hobbyists are turning to this scale to model their railroads.

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