View Full Version : Narrow Tracked Mind

10th Feb 2017, 07:31 AM
I had been originally posting my Nn3 build in my layout thread, but have since decided to start a thread dedicated to my Nn3 endeavors.

So to catch up anybody who may have just found this, I am loosely modeling a narrow gauge line that ran out of my home town around the turn of the century (1875 -1931) called the Ohio River & Western. It changed names several times, so you'll see me making rolling stock with two different names. One of its earlier names was the Bellaire, Zanesville, and Cincinnati Railway (Bellaire being my hometown), or as the locals called it the Bent, Zig-Zag, and Crooked. That name is misleading as Bellaire and Zanesville made up the ends of the 112 mile line. It never reached Cincinnati.

Another reason as to why this thread was started is to document the build of a Nn3 layout. I have acquired a 19 x 36" platform to use as the base.

The scope of this build is to build a loop (maybe 1 turnout) simulating the hills of SE Ohio. Also there will be a line of standard gauge track which will have a station and platform to transload from the narrow gauge to standard gauge equipment. The OR&W had an impressive S curve trestle not too far from where I grew up, so that will be modeled as well. Other then that, how the train gets to and from those two features is totally up in the air.

Here is the first version, of many I am sure, of a track plan:
I am sure that you can tell where the station will be (bottom center). The highlighted area is the S curve trestle. It is all made of sectional Marklin Z scale track.



I have purchased a kit, https://www.republiclocomotiveworks.com/show_item.php?ID=464 , from Republic Locomotive Works that builds a 2-6-0 engine. Marshall was a big help and got me the extra pcs to get closer to prototype. Along with the RLW kit, I talked a Shapeways designer into scaling down some HoN3 equipment as well: https://www.shapeways.com/product/CMHV9LTWQ/nn3-conversion-parts-a?optionId=61744751. So far I have used the cab, and will most likely use the tender of the 3D printed items.

Here is a picture of the engine as it sits now:

The engine build has been postponed until the necessary tooling comes in (micro drill bits and a tap).

Rolling Stock

I had purchased some undecorated reefers and have been slowly working on them. So far one is completed with the second one waiting on some couplers to be completed.

BZ&C 501 has been completed.

Here is #501 (before couplers) and OR&W #657 partially completed. #657 has been weathered and awaits coupler assembly.

Now you are all up to date with the Nn3 project. I'll admit the RLW kit at first looked intimidating, but so far it is has been really enjoyable.

Jugtown Modeler
10th Feb 2017, 08:47 AM
Very cool. N scale + smaller radius Z = MO FUN railroading in smaller spaces. Just the distraction I need from time to time.

I have a fascination with narrow gauge railroading myself. ET&WNC is my ultimate goal for a layout although a small pizza industrial layout is on the bench.
A bit jealous that I have not made a concentrated effort to move faster on my project.... But inspired by your efforts here!

Looking forward to this thread moving along. Good luck.

11th Feb 2017, 10:46 AM
ET&WNC is my ultimate goal for a layout

A quick google search showed me some very neat pictures of the ET&WNC. Looks like a great railroad to model!

11th Feb 2017, 01:30 PM
FWIW: In respect of your track plan (and based on personal experience), might I suggest that you add a passing siding onto it at where it interchanges, since going around and around and around can become somewhat tedious, even if you do vary it by going dnuora and dnuora instead.

I also notice that the NG section has no provision for a locomotive shed / service facilities. Is this intentional, or will the NG line run through the shed itself?

As I said, FWIW. I hope that this helps.

11th Feb 2017, 05:49 PM
Komata good points, I don't plan on doing much operating on this layout, but adding some extra track will add to the scenery.

I did a couple revisions. The S curve trestle was actually over 500 ft long in real life, or in N scale 37 inches. The whole platform is 37 inches, so I had to scale it down to 18". Picture of the S trestle.
The line followed the road pretty closely as you can see in the picture above, so I added a black line for where a road will be.

Rev 2
Revision 2 has a place to drop a car off or two to be unloaded.

Rev 3
Revision 3 has a smaller siding to unload cars, but has a single stall engine shed back behind the station.
I am still learning SCARM, so I couldn't put the road in nor the stream that goes off the layout. The pond looks kind of funny to!

11th Feb 2017, 06:12 PM
The height of the pond would be a negative number or just a lower number than the surrounding scenery.

Have you considered connecting this to your other layouts?

11th Feb 2017, 06:23 PM
I've been contemplating selling the 3x5' and building to a modular system. I was thinking that doing so would help my club get started with a modular system. That's just a thought though.

12th Feb 2017, 08:55 AM
ChicagoNW I wasn't really happy with how my wye module connected to the 3x5'. It was shoty at best. My worry is that I don't want to keep building off of the 3x5' when who knows, in a couple of years it may not fit my model railroading space. I'm trying to talk myself into taking the plunge and going to a modular standard before my club picks one. In hoping that members would see it, and maybe be more willing to go modular.

13th Feb 2017, 07:28 AM
The engine passed initial operating testing! The cab, boiler, and cow catcher are now all one piece. Unfortunately the cab amplifies the whining of the motor which is pretty loud when giving it a full 9 volts. This should never be operated at full throttle, so hopefully it will be quieter at lower speeds. I'm not sure if the brass cab would have done the same thing or not?


Next would be the detail pcs and then the tender draw bar. I am going to complete the tender before I paint this.

12th Apr 2017, 08:48 PM
It has been a little while since I have updated this thread. I ended up having to drill out the king pin holes with a #53 drill for them to fit in the flat car. Can we just take a minute to say "awwwwwe" at the size of it?! :lol:


I'm not sure WHAT exactly I am going to put on it, but I would like to put a wooden deck on it. I have several cars waiting for couplers, but they are so difficult to make that I am dreading putting them together.:head-wall:

13th Apr 2017, 12:08 AM
Any hollow shape will resonate any vibration.
The most common fix is to isolate the part making the vibration from the box. The fix with diesels is a little foam tape between the chassis and body. Rather than attaching the cab with glue, consider using a paintable silicone caulk.

You might also try liquid electrical "tape." This room temperature curing vinyl, will cushion the cab from the motor/frame. Paint onto the metal parts and let cure for a day or two. Because the liquid tape has strong solvents, don't directly apply it to any plastic. You might consider coating the motor isolating it from the chassis.

If you had used the brass cab instead of the resin, it is most likely you'd still have the whine but it would have a tinny pitch.

Are you using pure DC power or a PWM throttle? The pulsed throttles give a definite buzz to many motors. Try just using a 9v transistor battery on the tracks. The loco should rocket down the test track without the buzz.

13th Apr 2017, 06:35 AM

I've only been using a 9V battery. It sure does rocket down the track!

14th Apr 2017, 01:32 AM
Well, I guess the whine is a feature of the motor. It may go away as the parts wear together.

Since nine volts makes your teakettle scream around the tracks, you might consider using controllers from TomyTec.
Instead of nine volts, they use six from four AA batteries...
They are currently in stock
They work pretty nicely. By adding a jack and a little bit of wire they can be powered by a wall wart. Keep it on the low side. I used twelve volts and burned out the speed controlling variable resistor. I converted that one to a PWM throttle.

While the power lead ends in a Tomix Fine Track connector plug. It can easily be removed and connected to your track. I was amazed how many hours the batteries lasted with a Kato powered BanDai B-Train Shorty or TomyTec chassis. I actually got bored before the batteries totally died. A Bachmann streetcar with it's older bigger motor only lasted a couple hours. Z scale uses motors the same size as the Kato and TomyTec chassis.

16th Apr 2017, 10:56 AM
Your flat car pic reminded me of a seldom used method by the proto narrow gauges. To facilitate faster freight movement, track would be laid on a standard gaude flat, then the narrow gauge box would be loaded up a ramp onto the standard gauge flat. Voila! Now take it to wherever it goes and return.

17th Apr 2017, 03:34 AM
On the former Victorian Railways, they had a flat car with narrow gauge rails welded to the deck, this was used to transport the narrow gauge locomotives from each of the narrow gauge branch lines to the central workshops for overhaul.
At a convenient siding they would run the narrow gauge track up a ramp to meet this special flat.
This is on my long list of models to make.

22nd Apr 2017, 12:52 AM
Doesn't look like much, but if you squint your eyes, you may be able to see some green hills forming.


22nd Apr 2017, 06:57 AM
Looks like a mix of standard gauge and narrow gauge shoes to my eye...

22nd Apr 2017, 08:57 AM
Looks like a mix of standard gauge and narrow gauge shoes to my eye...

-Good eye!

I packed all of my college text books away, these were the next best thing!

4th Sep 2019, 06:14 AM
Time to dust this thread off and bring it back to life.

Since this thread, I have gone a completely different route for my Nn3 ideas. We have accepted a standard, and I have built several modules since then. Not wanting to have a separate layout for Nn3 and all of my modules, I decided to incorporate a Nn3 loop onto one of my modules. Well, it just so happened that I needed a return module which would make the perfect base for a narrow gauge loop.

To get everyone caught up on where I am at:

Current state of the loop.
There will be a farm to the right. Where the brick building is will be a trans loading area for standard gauge equipment along with a road and a couple small buildings/stores.
This area will be completely hidden from the rest of the standard gauge track to the right by using hillsides with trees.
Still working on forming the land. I hope to have it completed and painted this weekend.


I have completed two refer cars. I still have yet to decal the two box cars that I finished painting.


This is how the steam engine currently looks. There will be a big push to complete it as well as make a diesel engine before our Holiday show this winter.


4th Sep 2019, 08:12 AM
make a diesel engine before our Holiday show this winter.
Have you seen Rangust's Whitcomb Nn3 centrecab?
Just scroll down until you find the Nn3 diesel

4th Sep 2019, 11:20 AM

I have, and it sure is a 'bute.

I have several Marklin engines that I am wanting to use for the project however.

29th Dec 2020, 12:58 AM
Time to blow off the dust from this thread (.....again).

Progress has been made on both the scenery and rolling stock. The engine is still in pieces and is laughing at me.

The station and water tower received some MUCH needed attention. Pretty pleased with how the station turned out.

Life on the farm is looking up as the scenery is progressing nicely. The right out of the box farm house needs some attention as it was purchased second hand.

Still need a barn, a wind mill, and some various out buildings. The area to the right of the picture will be a fenced in pasture.


I have readied a caboose and flat car for the paint booth. Thinking about a tractor load for the flat car? Would like something interesting to look at. Standard gauge caboose behind them for a size comparison.


I have a couple projects winding up for 1:1 N scale. Once they are finished, I plan to revisit the steam engine.

el Gato Gordo
29th Dec 2020, 09:41 AM
I appreciate your posting this. I would like to do a small Nn3 layout of the Fichtelbergbahn, but cannot find suitable cars to convert, nor do I have confidence to convert a steam BR 86 standard gauge to a BR 99 narrow.

29th Dec 2020, 03:57 PM
Station looks great. Amazing what just a little paint can do. What brand is it?

30th Dec 2020, 01:44 AM
I would like to do a small Nn3 layout of the Fichtelbergbahn, but cannot find suitable cars to convert, nor do I have confidence to convert

Absolutely, most of my posts on here are of my trials and tribulations hopeful that next guy may be able to learn something from it. I've learned so much from this group over the years.

I kind of jumped head first into Nn3 and quickly learned why not many people are in it.... definitely a "craftsmen" scale. The quick plunge into Nn3 is why my steam engine has sat partially completed for years now. That was my first real modeling project. Hoping that by completing these easier builds that I'll gain the confidence to work on it again!:lol:

Station looks great. Amazing what just a little paint can do. What brand is it?

Thanks, isn't it!? Just takes some time and effort to really make buildings POP. I'm not sure. Next time that I am at the club house, I'll take a look under it. It was a used $5 bin buy at a show years ago that made me think instantly of a Narrow Gauge small rural station. Was quite pleased to find it as I have never seen one before.

I was able to move both cars through paint and decals tonight. These are not museum models and I did have to use my modeling licence as the OR&W didn't have a caboose like this, but I am calling them done for now. I have some more work that I would like to do to them, but they are "good enough" for now.


The next Nn3 project will be the tender for my steam engine.:scared::censored:

30th Dec 2020, 02:18 PM
Nice to see this thread active again. I'm planning on having a little Nn3 line on my new layout, just a simple point to point operation snaking through some hills. It feels like the most niche possible thing in the hobby to do Nn3. What will you be using for track?

1st Jan 2021, 06:22 AM
It feels like the most niche possible thing in the hobby to do Nn3. What will you be using for track?

You can say that again. I think the lack of (affordable) ready to run locos really puts off a lot of people from any Nn3 work. Fortunately, MT has a line of ready to run Nn3 rolling stock, so that helps.

I am using Marklin Z scale track. I had a simple oval from a beginner set and then purchased an additional straight track pack to add on.

9th Feb 2021, 09:59 PM
Made some great progress on some Nn3 equipment. I found a flat car on thingiverse and resized it to a 30' Nn3 car. The wooden sides will be a nice variation for a consist.


Having found another actual Narrow Gauge car in the wild, I was inspired to model it. Using some drawings from a book and talking with other OR&W guys, I am pretty impressed with how OR&W Coach 4 turned out!

Mocked up right out of the curing chamber.


After a shot of primer, it looks more like a coach! (I have since increased the size of the board cutouts and made the windows stick out less.)


Size comparison next to a Heavyweight.


On the Nn3 loop still needing to be finished. (Too cold to spray outside the last couple of days).


The OR&W Coach 4 had a sister coach No. 3. These two cars were build by Jackson & Sharpe in 1884.

Jugtown Modeler
9th Feb 2021, 11:47 PM
Looking great!

So cool that you don't have to create the 3D files from scratch.
Looking forward to more of these posts.

16th Feb 2021, 10:03 PM
I'm working on sourcing the right colors for my coaches. What better way to test the colors out, then to paint up some older revs. of the coaches. Hence the poorly masked roof line.

The "old gold" hand rails really set it off in my opinion.


I also decided to work on developing a more prototypical caboose then the one I made a few months back. Looks pretty good for an early OR&W caboose.

Later years saw these cars extended and cupolas added. Now that I have the base complete, the later style caboose won't be too hard to do.


22nd Feb 2021, 12:25 AM
Amazing. That coach looks awesome.

22nd Feb 2021, 12:54 PM
Thank you for the kind words ranulf .

I am pretty pleased with how it is turning out so far. This is only REV 2, and I expect at least another 3 before I consider it done.

9th Jan 2022, 12:26 PM
With all of my modules at the club house, I have turned some of my divided attention towards developing the Nn3 Ohio River & Western roster.

I had several cars pretty close to completion, but was hung up on coupler height problems. So, that was my first task was to get my two OR&W cabs to be functional pieces of rolling stock.

Caboose 33 & 34

The OR&W never had hopper cars. Labor was just too cheap, so they loaded everything into gondolas. However, that didn't stop my from designing one based off of an East Broad Top car. The rivets will come out once some paint is applied.


After I figured out the caboose and coal hopper's coupler height, I turned my focus onto the passenger car.


Then, things got out of hand....

I really got into the design work and just kept going. Pictured below are 6 different cars (4 different designs) from the Ohio River and Western.

Left Column front to back are Coaches 9 & 10 which were sister coaches (same design) and the back row is Coach 4. Coach 4 also had a sister coach, coach 3, that is not pictured.
Right Column front two are sister coaches 15 & 16 and then Combine 28 in the back row.


Then I ran into a problem..... I only have 1 set of Nn3 passenger trucks.:-/

Jugtown Modeler
9th Jan 2022, 02:29 PM
Looking good.
Appreciate you carrying the Nn3 mantle forward along with a few others here on NSN. I have been remiss in moving forward with my own endeavors.
(Officially jealous of your work on these)

11th Jan 2022, 05:50 AM
Hey another Nn3 thread has come to life, good stuff! Looking good, will be following the progress on this one for sure!

2nd Aug 2022, 10:07 PM
Though this thread may not have seen a lot of activity lately, things have been in the works on the Nn3 front.

Slowly making new rev levels for all of the car bodies and they are just about to a point where I am happy with them.

Lately I have been focusing on the frames. A lot of 3D modeling work that doesn't make for interesting pictures.
The platform hand rails keep breaking, so some kind of metal ones will need to be made.... still working through this problem.
I did solve the Nn3 running gear shortage problem though. Took advantage of MT's recent 25% off sale and stocked up on a lot of Nn3 goodies.

A friend recently converted to N scale, so I decided to make him a gift for his new layout. One of the OR&W combines survives to this day because it was turned into a house after railroad days. So, I modeled the combine car as it was when it was a house for my friend to put track side.


Most people may not recognize this structure as a repurposed rail car due to the front porch and room that were added to the car, but for the people who do notice it I hope will enjoy it. Now I need to find a place to put one of these on my modules.....

2nd Aug 2022, 11:16 PM
don't know how i missed this thread but you're doing a great job.