I’d like to thank Bachmann Trains for making the Bach Man available for this interview. I’ve been seeing more and more interest in On30 railroading and thought you might enjoy hearing from the company that’s been instrumental in bringing On30 to the fore. Among other duties, the Bach Man moderates the Bachmann User Forum.
Can you give us a little background on On30 in general, and specifically, Bachmann’s role in this scale?
On30 has been around since the 1940s, as have narrow gauge models in other scales. It was not widespread, however, until Bachmann began mass production in the 90s. It was originally marketed as the ideal size for Christmas villages, but was instantly accepted by the scale modeling community. The Bachmann line makes O Scale narrow gauge modeling not only easy, as regular HO track can be used, but very affordable. Consider the fact that an On3 brass Climax might sell for around $1500, while you can buy two or three On30 Climaxes, and perhaps some cars, for the same amount.
Given its size at 1:48, is On30 practical for a home layout?
Absolutely! Since it uses HO track, basically any HO track plan can be adapted. Care must be taken to leave room for the larger overhang of O Scale equipment, and of course fewer buildings will fit in a given area. Since O Scale buildings, vehicles, and figures are used it’s a treat for older eyes. In fact I recently completed an On30 layout based on an HO track plan from a 1960s RMC. It was displayed and raffled off at the Amherst Railway Society’s Springfield Show, and proceeds were donated to the Bay State Children’s Hospital. It is featured in the current On30 Annual, and more pictures will be on their site shortly.
It seems small, even micro layouts, are very popular in On30. Space saving aside, why do you think this is?
I don’t think this unique to On30, but certainly the smaller equipment, like our Porters and 18’ cars lend themselves to it. I have seen really clever micro layouts in On30 and Large Scale as well. Model railroaders are a creative bunch!
I’ve seen a good number of third party accessories for your On30 locomotives, is this something Bachmann supports?
We certainly do! The On30 aftermarket is booming. One has only to compare a copy of the Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette from the early 90s to the current issue to see an explosion of ads featuring O Scale equipment, parts, scenery products, and laser cut buildings and bridge kits.
In general, how do the On30 mechanisms compare to HO mechanisms in terms of running and reliability?
Mechanisms are very similar in terms of size, construction, and reliability. All Bachmann locomotives undergo constant improvement as we move forward.
It appears all of your On30 locomotives come DCC equipped, are all these locos are also able to operate on standard DC power?
Actually, not all locomotives are DCC ready or DCC Onboard. Those that are have dual-mode decoders to operate on analog. You have to ascertain the actual age of the loco in question, as some have been updated recently. If you have a question about the vintage of particular model, you can always “Ask the Bach Man!”
What online or print resources would you recommend for people just getting involved in On30?
The previously mentioned Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette is the Bible of all things narrow gauge. We have an On30-specific magazine in the On30 Annual published by Carstens Publications, publishers of Railroad Model Craftsman and Railfan. There are many online groups, notably the On30 Conspiracy on Yahoo Groups.
Do you have a sense of what’s more popular in On30, freelance layouts or prototype layout modeling?
This is a really interesting question I’ve been considering for several years. Rivet counting prototype modelers go to On3, despite the cost, but the On30 community seems more free-wheeling and is very laid-back. This is not to say their layouts are not scale in appearance; they simply discount the slightly narrower gauge. There are, of course, a good number of rather whimsical layouts as well. It’s really hard to draw a line, but if we put specific prototype on one hand and freelance layouts on the other, I’d feel comfortable saying 50/50.
As an absolute beginner in the world on On30, what question(s) haven’t I asked?
I think you’ve provided a good introduction. Anyone with further questions can certainly ask here or at the Bachmann site: www.bachmanntrains.com.
As we wrap up here, what would you say are some of the pros and cons of On30?
Well, as I said earlier, it’s great to be able to model O Scale narrow gauge without breaking the bank or straining the eyes! As for cons, all I can think if is the fact that once the bug bites you won’t be able to get enough!
On30 Links In This Article:
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