55n3 Reboot - Proof of Concept

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The first 55n3 site was put on the web in 2010. Due to medical problems I couldn't pursue this endeavor further. Time went by and I let the domain lapse. Now my medical problems have been under control, none of which were life threatening, just debilitating.

Been in and out of the hobby since 2010 and can't believe how such a short period has brought so much change. Most of the items discussed on the 55n3 website are no longer available and have to be sourced on E-bay.

I write web-articles on the net. The satisfaction comes not in praise or an "atta-boy" post but someone using the information that was presented. It is nice to see someone applying the techniques that I bloviated about even if no credit is given to me. Stuff comes up in magazines that I recognize as my contribution to the hobby.

It was warming to see Ronald Halma's American Civil War 55n3 Layout on the net. Ronald showed the concept of 28mm war gaming items and On30 Bachmann equipment is a viable concept.

Thank you, Ronald

Vist Ronald's blog:


There are videos of Ronald's efforts two at:

Our 55n3 website is now 55n3.info and no longer 55n3.org


28mm gaming has grown and there are more figures and vehicles available.

Thank you if you visit
Bachmann has built another 55n3 caboose.

Got a logging caboose and it fits 55n3 perfectly. The original caboose was too high and required modification.

Before you look, no Bachmann doesn't really build 55n3 cars. Remember how that leading statement caused hair on fire in 2010 when I said it about the 55n3 sidedoor caboose.


Thank you if you visit
Got some new stuff from Shapeways shops.

Found this S Scale cab at the "Willy Monaghan S Scale" shop on Shapeways that will convert the Bachmann Mogul to 55n3. There are S Scale domes available also on Shapeways that will make a complete conversion to a Baldwin catalog Mogul. The Bachmann domes will also work with no mods.

The On30 Mogul is mechanically close to the Brooks Colorado and Northwestern #1 and Baldwin Catalog moguls. The 44" drivers match the Brooks.

Found these figures listed as "1/56" from the "Panzer VS Tanks" shop they are from the Merchant Navy series. The figures are really fine.

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An addition to the previous post.

A Bachmann Mogul converted to S-Scale with the original cab shortened for S-Scale.
Shows what the loco would look like with an S-Scale cab and stock domes.
The stock cab is too wide.

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Examining examples of narrow gauge moguls found these two examples in the Brooks catalog:

A Mexican

Quincy and Torch Lake

Looking at the Bachmann Mogul if the running board is extended all the way back a reasonable model can be produced.

The running boards fit into slots in the boiler so replacement would be easy.

There is an article about making the Q&TL Mogul in On30 in the Jul/Aug 2018 Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette. So it can be done with a better three foot cab.

Eventually in a strange scale endeavor one finds the holy grail, a plan, a piece of information that makes a model viable.

Searching about the Quincy and Torch Lake Moguls I finally ran across a plan in the August 1985 Railroad Model Craftsman of Mogul #1 & #4.

YES!!! The Bachmann On30 Mogul is 55n3 as made:

Now that the Bachmann Mogul is 55n3:

Can resurrect this conversion utilizing the Mogul gear tower and a Bowser HO frame:

Makes this locomotive:

Never was a good On30 model but great 55n3.

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Knuckleduster has a "32mm Gun Fighters Ball" series. Tried them as their 28mm figures were "short". They are the guys on the bases comparing to figures in earlier posts.

Wargaming figures must be tried to see if they are suitable for all purposes.

These are really very good.

The Bachmann On30 catalog has dwindled considerably with the collapse of the On30 bubble.

A locomotive that always flew under the radar was their little freelance 2-4-4-2 Mallet. Probably one of Bachmann's best efforts. A perfect 55n3 loco, actually a little cramped for O-scale.

There are two similar prototypes.

A Baldwin narrow gauge version of the Little River 2-4-4-2.

An Alco New Zealander

Really like this little loco.
The 2-6-6-2 was one of the locos I bought in the On30 fire sale of 2010.

Another loco no one in On30 wanted but a great little 55n3 loco.

Not in Bachmann's catalog but still out there and with shopping available inexpensively.

Going thru my old On30 stuff, found a Bachmann On30 Inside Frame 4-4-0 boiler. Allowed me to check the S Scale cab from the "Willy Monaghan S Scale" shop on Shapeways as a replacement for the funky original cab.

Makes the 4-4-0 closer to this 1897 Rogers.

The American Models S Scale Rib Side hopper scales 8ft wide x 28ft-6in in Scale55.

The Myner trucks fit just right. The American Model trucks can be regauged.

The mogul is close to the EBT moguls.

Brian Budeit's excellent HO model

Looking at the American Models S Scale hopper, the question becomes:

What about a EBT Mikado?

The old BLI On30 C-16 has an almost right mechanism, boiler dia and tender. Bowser HO 69" drivers at 44" are close to the 48" prototype. The axles are .125 on the Bowser and the BLI are .109 but that is an easy fix. The BLI has separate bearings.

Not quite a match but close.

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My original intent with 55n3 was to build 1870s three foot narrow gauge. Then someone asked if On30 Bachmann equipment could be used for 55n3 and got diverted to that tangent.

Scale55 is the only scale that early three foot narrow gauge works easily. Being HO gauge the use of HO mechanisms and locomotives come into play.

The MDC/Athearn 2-6-0 is a good fit for 55n3. The straight boiler is typical of early D&RG locomotives. New smaller drivers are available from UK suppliers.

Wondered if my stockpile of IHC/Rivarossi 4-4-0 could be used as 55n3.

Found a early porter drawing and compared. Yipes! We have a seminal 4-4-0. Sound can be added like my HO Bachmann
4-4-0 upgrade.

The PBL Sn3 cars are a close match to the Ohio River and Western Box and other early narrow gauge boxes. The Sn3 cars are more about the gondolas and cattle cars.

Making gons is very labor intensive compared with house cars.

The trucks can be regauged easily.

Now your question will be "Why not just Sn3?", because Sn3 and the other scales don't have motive power for 1870's narrow gauge.

The hardest part about an off-scale is determining if an object is the right size.

Found this site with cars and trucks listed at 1/64. They sell this paper model garage. I took the picture of the garage and scaled the photo to 1/55 using a figure height of 30mm.

Looked like the cars would work in Scale55. Ordered one. Upon receiving the kit the car looked small but placing the parts on a set of scaled plans the car was Scale55.

Love scrounging for stuff, that is what makes odd scale modeling so much fun



Well-Known Member
Harold, having a hard time understanding the 55 in your scale, where did the 55 come from? Would 87n3 be another way to describe HOn3, 25n3 work for O-3?

Although I model in HO standard gauge I am also fascinated with Narrow Gauge and at one time looked into tearing out my current layout and switching to Sn3 and building an Rio Grand Southern Layout. In the end, I determined that what I had modeled in HO Standard Gauge was the same type of scenery as most Narrow Gauge railroads ran through, plus there was so much available for Standard HO.

Doug Tagsgold who has built many layouts in several gauges shown in Model Railroader Magazines's, current layout is in 72nd scale. It uses standard HO track as the basis and he has also used the Roundhouse Athearn's newer steamers as the locomotives for his layout. He feels that in 1/72nd scale these locomotives would be the right size and the Standard Gauge track to be around 3 and 1/2 feet in gauge.

I appreciate what you are undertaking!
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The scale is 1/55 or 55 scale feet in a real foot like HO is 87.3 scale feet in a real foot therefore Scale87 or 87n3, O scale is 48 scale feet in a real foot or Scale48 or 48n3.

That is the way the proto guys designate their efforts Proto87, Proto64 or Proto48.

Using the scale foot/real foot as a scale makes more sense, look at the mess in large scale with letters.

1/72 on HO track gives a 49 inch gauge.



Well-Known Member
Understand now. I was thinking .25 equals a foot in O scale. 48 is more better! Thanks for the clarification. Not being a Proto modeler I simply don't think in those terms, although the reality is they do work.
Feeling in the mood to think about building a 55n3 layout, I re-examined PECO 0-16.5(On30). Love PECO track, sturdy, robust and available. Something for the ham-handed.

How close is PECO track to 55n3, the ties are 8 inches wide x 6 feet long on 26 inch centers?

The D&RGW had these specs:

"The ties have a cross section of (HxW) of 6"x8" (15.25cm x 20.32cm), regular ties have a length of 6' "

"It seems that 30' long sections of rail were most common, 16 ties were used for such a section, resulting in a distance of 22 1⁄2″ from mid of tie till mid of tie. For 33' long sections of rail a distance of 22" and for 39' long sections of rail a distance of 21 1⁄4″ had been defined."

The Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette Nov/Dec 89 had an article on track and the PECO track fell within many railroads parameters.

Even got some figures painted.

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Wanting to retain my PcalRwy passenger car lettering that I had done earlier in On30.

Searching references the Bachmann passenger cars are 10'-3" high in the body, most narrow gauge cars are about 9'-3". Standard gauge cars match the 10'-3" height of the Bachmann cars.

Works for me.

The Bachmann passenger car's interior is actually Scale55. These Scale55 figures fit the seating. O scale figures are too big.


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