Why I Like HO Track for On30


Oct 13, 2004
I have a web article on HO track for On30 at:

Why I Like HO Track for On30


Thank you if you visit
I agree with you that the look and feel can be more important than the true scale or size. Your layout looks great, and that is the main thing - along with how well it works. Your prototype photos show rail with ties spaced quite close together, which some other narrow gauge railroads opted not to follow because of expense. And your HO rail seems to capture that look quite effectively. Too often in our make believe world, one expert produces a prototype photo of something, or espouses an idea as being the way things were done and everyone runs with the idea as being dogma and the whole model RR world assumes that this is the only way to do something.

Congratulations for thinking for yourself.
The more I look at photographs of prototype narrow gauge track, the less I understand. They're all different.

I should add that I think hminky's track looks terrific.
We "selectively compress" a lot of things and otherwise modify reality to accommodate unavoidable constraints. Although "purists" will probably tsk-tsk, the Model Power HO track, especially, looks way better than the hand-laid and gets my vote!
You have stumbled upon one of those quirks of the hobby that is just difficult to understand. Some things don't scale well. And worse, things look different in photographs versus in person.

Examples: In HO and smaller scales, if one were to put exact scale and spaced rivets on a piece of rolling stock, it wouldn't look "right" to me. They would be too small, and wouldn't stand out. But in photographs, the oversize rivets can look huge. If I am standing 5 feet away from my HO scale train, that 5-feet "scales" to something like 435 feet. If I was standing 435 feet away from a real train, I wouldn't see the rivets. But I don't want my layout to look like I am hundreds of feet away, I want it to feel like I am right there trackside. Thus the reason I think the larger rivets look better.

Perhaps the rot of the problem is that the distance between our eyes is one way in which we estimate distance. And the spacing between our eyes doesn't "scale" :)

Back to the tack in On30 - I think harold is exactly right. Sclae track would make his layout look smaller and the curves look tighter.
This oversized "HO track" visually works with the smaller Bachmann On30 equipment as 3 foot narrow gauge because of the proportions. The ratio of 30" to 36" is .833. The Model Power HO track is almost to that ratio as O scale narrow gauge track. If you take a the Bachmann On30 cars you have the same ratio with a later larger 3 foot car. Visually the On30 cars appear as three foot equipment. That is my story and I am sticking with it. Art versus Science.

Do not pass GO

Hello there,

I would love to read hminky's article on HO track for On30, but the link doesn't seem to work, at least not for me. :cry:

Can anyone please supply another link or address where I can peruse his article and see his pics?

Many thanks.:mrgreen::mrgreen:

Hello all,

I just re-tried hminky's link to his article, and it's all "go" again.

Thank you for posting your thoughts. :wave:

There seems to be a lot of differing views within the "Narrow Minded" fraternity as to the suitability of HO track for On30. Some say that it is not suitable, while others say that it makes no difference, as railways used many and varied gauges and sleeper spacings, in any case.

I like the look of the Peco O-16.5 track, but it is quite expensive, especially if one has to purchase enough to build a large layout.

However, I had many, many yards of Peco Streamline track left over from my switch from HO, and I didn't want to waste it all, so that was what I chose. After all, wasn't the original Bachmann blurb something to do with "O scale trains that run on HO track"?????:confused:

I built a small diorama-type layout using this Peco HO track with every second sleeper removed, and while that was a fair compromise, it did involve a lot more work, for a not-so-great result. It is especially noticeable when you see my 'modified' HO track as it abuts a Peco O-16.5 turnout.....

(This brings up another gripe about the Peco O-16.5 track - there are only LH and RH and Wye turnouts, with no option for smaller or larger radii. This is a little offputting too, as one cannot always fit such a large radius turnout into a small area.......) :cry:

If I were to do it again, I think that I would just use, ordinary, undisguised HO track and turnouts anyway!

I joined the On30 fraternity because I was under the impression that Rivet Counters, and jokers with colour chips and micrometers were banned....after all, NG was supposed to be FUN!!!

Let's return to the FUN of building and operating narrow-gauge trains!!:yep:

Many thanks.