On30 Narrow Gauge Model Railroading

Thursday, May 24, 2018

NMRA On30 Clearance Gauge plus more!

If you're getting started in On30 model railroading, one of the key tools to have on your workbench is a gauge to measure essential items. The National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) On30 gauge will measure these items:

  • Coupler height
  • Track gauge
  • Clearance
  • Flangeways
  • Wheels
  • Points

The NMRA 0n30 Clearance gauge includes a NMRA HO gauge (for track and wheel measurements) nestled inside a On30 clearance gauge.

Get yours today direct from the NMRA's Online store (including NMRA member special pricing) or at your local hobby shop (through Walthers affiliated dealers - Walthers item number 98-9).

Additional Notes:

When determining track clearance you generally should factor in which "narrow gauge" you're modeling in On30. Are you modeling a specific prototype or prototype region? Or are you using commercial models? Or some hybrid? Maine narrow gauge cars have different maximums (esp. width) than for example Colorado narrow gauge or perhaps a specific UK or New Zealand line might. Similarly commercially available models have different car end overhang that will affect the necessary parallel track clearance (e.g., in On30 models the Bachmann passenger cars and the Bachmann Forney rear overhand will definitely impact your parallel track clearance on curved sections of track). So it becomes more important to understand what you're checking clearance for in On30. For example the NMRA's clearance for Old Time/Narrow Gauge is primarily taken from the Colorado Narrow Gauge railroads. More detail can be found in the NMRA Recommended Practice 7.1 on Tangent Track Centers and Clearance Diagrams.

Some modelers use an On3 (aka On36) track clearance gauge. If you have one of these handy, it should work as well for track clearance, although the track gauge is different. If you're interested in purchasing an On3 gauge, they are available from the NMRA Company Store.


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An active modeler in 1:64 scale (S scale) since 1998 and a relatively new On30 modeler, Michael's primary interests are in model railroading, structure modeling and control systems for model railroading. Michael is a life member of the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA), a member of the National Association of S Gaugers (NASG) and the Bristol S Gauge Railroaders.

Michael and his wife Deane Louise co-own Pine Canyon Scale Models, a manufacturer of S Scale and O scale structures.

Michael is a past chair of the NMRA's Digital Command Control (DCC) Working Group and was a contributor to the NMRA's DCC Standards activities. Michael continues to play an active role in the use of NMRA DCC in S Scale model railroading.

Michael previously served as the NASG National Secretary and Librarian for the NASG's Russell M. Mobley Memorial Library.


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