Some Completed On30 Scale Modeling Projects

Last Update: May 14, 2013

Rolling Stock Projects for the Swamp Valley Rail Road

The following shot is of my first two On30 'kit-bashes': an 'S' scale reefer and an 'S' scale hopper converted to On30. A Bachmann On30 box car scales out to 26 feet while the reefer is just over 30 feet. Perfectly acceptable narrow gauge conversion!! I've weathered and lettered them SVRR.

The next photo shows the shop mechanic applying a last minute adjustment to the headlight of my Plymouth switcher as the rest of the crew and some locals look on with interest.

This locomotive is a Model Power HO switcher with a new headlight, back up light, railings, horn, whistle, bell, windshield wipers and a DCC decoder installed just before undergoing a few more revisions and new paint job.

The following is a more recent photo of the same Plymouth diesel after other sundry details have been added including an engineer, a new 'scratch-built' raised cab, removal of the front engine panels, a diesel motor and exhaust stack installed, painted, lettered and heavily weathered all in an effort to bring it up to acceptable 'O' scale standards.

Speaking of weathering, the following shot is of two of my lettered and weathered box cars. All the rolling stock and all the locomotives are lettered and weathered accordingly to give a more realistic well-used appearance.

The next picture is of one of my Shay locomotives equipped with a full steam sound system. I weather all my equipment, autos, trucks and buildings using Doc O'Brien's Weathering Powders offered by Micro-Mark.

Following the purchase of Bachmann's On30 Climax locomotive, I ordered the the super-detailing kit offered by BACKWOODS MINIATURES.

The following photos show the locomotive after super-detailing, lettering and weathering. The detailing included adding an engineer and a fireman, a complete steam operated winch system, new wood burning stack, new air pump and air tanks, chains, tool boxes, various tools, re-railers, jacks and water bags. A rear ladder and sand boxes are also included. In addition a DCC decoder and sound system has been installed.

Another project tackled was reworking a Bachmann rail truck. After replacing the original stake-body with a 'new' wood box-body, a kit offered by Micro-Mark, I installed a Soundtraxx Goose sound module in the box-body which really brings the little rail truck to life!!

My next project was to construct the 'Mobile Workshop Car' (an OzSteam Kit by "Steam In The Bush", Revesby, Australia). I fabricated the kit adding many extra details, painted and carefully weathered the model.

I then assembled their 'plain-Jane' flat car and made it my MOW supply flat. All the details added, tools, welding equipment, spikes, ties, rail, various tools and ballast were taken from my miscellaneous 'parts box'.

Following these two projects, I decided to assemble the new Box Car Body kit (manufactured exclusively for Micro Mark by BANTA MODEL WORKS). This involved fabricating a laser cut wood kit which fits over the Bachmann On30 flat car. I painted it my Maintenance of Way colors, lettered and heavily weathered the model. This kit results in a model that is 'low-slung' in appearance, much like most prototype narrow gauge rolling stock.

Next came a little kit called THE WORKBOOSE by BOULDER VALLEY MODELS. The extra details, tools, drums, jacks, the two men (Artista figures) and the pussy cat also came from my 'parts box".

I constructed the following caboose kit, also by BOULDER VALLEY MODELS, lettered it with my new rail road logo and added a crew and their dog.

I purchased a number of AMERICAN MODELS SUPPLY box cars that are much larger then the Bachmann models, and fit in really well on my layout. Several came lettered, but without road name or number. I numbered and added my new logo on each one.

In the spring of 2009, Allan Littlefield, the gentleman who organizes the twice-annual 'On30 Mid-Hudson Mini-Meet' held in Gardener, NY., challenged attendees to present their version of Bachmann's first On30 offering, the 2-6-0 Mogul. This was to 'honor' the locomotive that started the big movement to On30.

The following is my submission. I converted the loco to a wood-burner, adding side railings on the tender from my leftover parts inventory, installed a complete Tsunami full steam sound decoder and speaker in the tender, a new draw bar that permitted a closer coupling to the loco, sundry tools, extra details, a crew (and their doggie), lettered the loco with my logo, lightly weathered and numbered it #105.

The following is a photo of DEERFIELD LASER's WW&F Taconnet 36' Smoking and baggage car. This is a wood craftsman kit utilizing Bachmann's combine running gear and roof as a donor. I lettered it the Swamp Valley Rail Road #6, gave it a light weathering, added passengers and loaded the baggage area with freight. I hope the cartons of ice cream showing through the baggage window doesn't melt!!


I attended the spring 2012 Maine Narrow Gauge meet where I discovered a little gondola craftsman wood car kit offered by On30 IMA that I found particularly interesting. The kit was designed from a prototype low sided 10 ton coal car operated by Maine's 2' gauge Bridgton & Saco River Railroad.

What got my attention is the statement that the kit was designed for those with scratch-builder instincts ... all parts are included to complete the model, but it can be easily modified to fit any unique model railroad application. After some discussion with the manufacturer, I immediately purchased the kit.

Upon returning home, I opened the kit and laid out all the parts. I then discovered it included no instructions!! One must go to their web site to download the assembly instructions that, beside detailed drawings and well written documentation, also included a photo of the well-worn prototype gondola, plus many useful tips to complete the model to one's individual satisfaction. Downloading and printing the instructions was really worth the effort ...

After studying the plans, I decided to build my model to resemble the prototype photo ... well worn and nearing retirement.

The following photos document my assembly.

First, a photo of the entire kit laid out on my Micro-Mark cutting board.

Following the instructions, I prepared the frame, attached the stake pockets along the outside edge, glued on the flooring, cut and glued on the bolsters, stakes, side and end planking, painting each piece as I assembled the little car.

Here you find me gluing the end pieces to the flooring and making final adjustments. And, although I may look like it, no, I did not drink all the SKYY Vodka that came in the carton over my right shoulder ... !!!

Assembly went really very well and the kit was easy enough for even the inexperienced modeler. The most 'difficult' part of the assembly was making adjustments to the truck bolsters and the Kadee couplers to bring the model up to the correct height.

Here is the fully assembled and painted car, ready for lettering and weathering.

And here is my 'finished' creation ... lettered, beaten, weathered and loaded with ballast ready for shipment.

I so enjoyed building the On30 IMA gondola kit, I purchased and built the following 2 different types of box car kits they offered. Both are built basically the same as laid out in the next photo:

Here I am working on the first box car.

The built-up kit, ready for weathering.

And the finished piece being spotted in Helena Yard.

Here's the next kit, an outside-braced box car, finished and also being spotted in the yard.

I'm really very fond of the way this car looks, I'm going to buy more for my fleet.

Next I purchased their reefer kit, also built in about the same manner as the box cars.

The finished reefer arriving at Helena Yard.

And lastly, On30 IMA's Hopper ... A really impressive looking piece of rolling stock!!

Quite a number of years ago I purchased the following reefer kit from a manufacturer no longer in business. The kit is actually constructed with laser cut poster board internal bracing, sides, ends and roofing. A very challenging, complex kit that took many hours to fabricate and assemble ... but lots of fun. As with all my recent kits, I use Boulder Valley Archbar trucks and Kadee whisker couplers.

My next challenge was assembling Mt. Blue Models mini-caboose, their kit #28.

I added some 'extra' details and applied my railroad logo decals along with some weathering.

Here she is on a siding in Helena Yard awaiting the next west bound freight. That's me with the road foreman along for the ride.

Stop by soon again to see more of my little projects.