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HO vs HOn3

Wayne would like some guidance from those in the know:

“Either scale would be appropriate for the era modeling, space is at a premium to some extent. Is one head and shoulders above the other – HO vs HOn3?”

Add your comment below.

7 Responses to HO vs HOn3

  • Rudolph Blawsays:

    HO is the same scale as HOn3 which is 1:87. The usual gauge (distance between the inside of the rails) of HO is 16.5 mm which is the scaled down version of a standard gauge which in the real world is1435 mm (4′ 8 1/2″). HOn3 uses a scaled down version of 3′ rail gauge which is narrow gauge.
    In case you wondered why standard gauge is such an odd dimension: George Stevenson, one of the first locomotive pioneers decided on a 5 feet wide railway. He quickly found out that the wheel flange worked much better on the inside. So, subtract 2 rail widths which results in 4′ 8 1/2″. The rail heads were not as wide 200 years ago. You can create curves with a smaller radius in a smaller area. Don’t operate long engines or cars. You could create a mountain railroad. I would do some research on the availability of HOn3 locomotives or cars.

    • David STOKESsays:

      Rudolph, I have never heard that story about the gauge issue. The rails were always 4’81/2″ in the mining areas where horse and manpowered trucks were hauled. This was the most comfortable distance for one horse, or two men or boys could work, and was by coincidence the distance between the shafts of Roman chariots because that happens to be the width of the back end of a horse. Incredible as it sounds that is the true story.

      In parts of Europe and in Ireland 5’3” was the “standard”, Brunel on the Great Western in England plugged for 7″ in some areas and in India and South Africa 3’6″ was the go.

      Australia, being made up of a number of separate British colonies imported its railway engineers from Ireland and England and ended up with 5’3″ and 3’6″ and 4’81/2″ which on Federation and since has been a real problem

      In the US 3′ in the west and 2’6″ gauge were common, but I don’t think you went Broad.

  • phil johnsonsays:

    HOn3 vs HO std gauge wow. Narrow gauge is just. Road bed and ROW is usually narrower than Std. gauge. Vertical clearances are lower for narrow gauge. A small shortline or switching layout in Std. gauge will work in 4 X 8′

  • Frank Bsays:

    Narrow gauge allows tighter curves, but maintaining loco mechanisms and turnouts in narrow gauge is more difficult, requiring better eyesight and dexterity.

  • David STOKESsays:

    H0n30 is a narrow track gauge compared with H0 which represents 4’81/2″ both at 1:87.1 scale. In Australia the main line from Adelaide to Alice Springs, all trackage on Eyre Peninsula and apart from the interstate to Melbourne was the narrow gauge. The locos and rolling stock were full sized equipment, as they are in South Africa and India.

    The mindset that narrow gauge means miniscule equipment is false, except possible in the USA where it looks small because the “standard gauge” stuff was so big.

  • J E Wilsonsays:

    Well, I guess I will put my 2 cents worth in also. I have an 11′ X 9’area layout the outside track is HO/HOn3 Dual Gauge track so my radius can be 18+” and the inside is all HOn3 throughout the whole layout. It has 2 – 12″r helix’s – one at each end to elevate the narrow gauge track through the mountains to service the many mines and 1 lumberjack/sawmill area. On 1 end of the layout at the high point I am running HOn2 1/2 equipment (on N scale track) and on the other corner through heavy timber area I am running Z gauge equip. & Rail. The last 2 Gauges are to give a sense of distance and it works and looks Great. Hope this will give a little insight to what can be done with different Gauges (they are both at the top of their respected Helix). Just have lots of fun – I still am.

  • Frank Bsays:

    As stated, HO and HOn3 are the same 1/87 scale, representing standard gauge main line (HO) and narrow gauge (HOn3) lines. Narrow gauge is typically used on backwoods logging and mining lines.

    So you simply choose whichever is appropriate for the railroad line you are modelling.

    However, as HOn3 is more of a detail modeller’s gauge, the rolling stock is likely to be more expensive if bought new.

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