As noted above, the prototype Klondike Mines Railway was built to 3-foot
narrow gauge. So the present layout, built with operation in mind, could have
been built in Sn3 or On3. So why choose HOn3?
Operation of locomotive mechanisms is less smooth than in the larger scales,
due to poorer contact with the rails (again due to lighter weights), and lesser
quality mechanism components. Remedial measures include:
|The advantages of this scale/gauge include the following:
- More railway can be accomodated in a given space, so one comes
closer to representing the 31-mile length of the prototype, than would
be possible with the larger scales. (The typically shorter narrow gauge
trains and slower operating speeds also help.)
- A good level of detail can still be incorporated into model rolling
stock in this scale, and reporting marks can still be easily read.
- Good quality trucks for passenger and freight equipment are
available with metal wheels and good rolling characteristics (from MRC
and Grandt Lines respectively).
- There is available a wide selection of model HOn3 steam locomotives,
(including at least one close replica of a prototype KMR locomotive).
Most of these are of classic brass construction, but some newer and much
improved models are now available.
- HOn3 equipment is generally less expensive.
||The disadvantages of HOn3 include the following:
- Derailments occur more frequently, due to the lighter weight of
rolling stock. This is particularly true of locomotive pilot and
trailing wheels. Remedial measures include:
- weighting cars to at least NMRA specifications.
- incorporating the maximum weight that can be squeezed into pilot
and trailing truck assemblies. (We avoid using springs to hold trucks
down, since this subtracts from the total weight carried by the
locomotive driving wheels, and hence reduces tractive effort.)
- accurately built trackwork and properly gauged
- keeping rails and (exclusively metal) wheels clean. We avoid the use of
any oils or other contact enhancing agents, since we find that any temporary
benefit is accompanied by a greater tendency to accumulate dirt.
- replacing open frame motors with can motors, and the factory gearboxes
with higher quality and higher ratio ones from NWSL.
- invoking the back EMF feature of DCC, which also helps smooth
The recent availability of the Blackstone K-27 (seen at right) has had a strong impact on the
operation potential of HOn3 locomotives. The model features all-wheel electrical
pick-up on the locomotive drivers, and electrical pick-up on wheels on both sides
of the tender. This, together with a high quality mechanical drive, leads to
exceptional reliability and smooth operation. Further, a Soundtraxx Tsunami decoder and
golden-while LEDs in the head and back-up lights are already installed. With excellent
detail and modest price, this product is a significant addition to HOn3 modelling.
Unreliable operation can decrease the enjoyment of operation, if it extends
beyond a certain critical limit. Taken all together, we appear to have suceeded
in reducing the frequency of the above problems below this limit. One piece of
evidence for this could be the continuing participation of the same members of
the operating group over a time period of several years. However, with HOn3 it
certainly takes more work, and continuing attention to rolling stock, to
maintain this happy situation.