HOn3 American Locos

by Mick Moignard, photographs by Anthony Mead

These are some of Mick Moignard's HOn3 locos. HOn3 is HO Scale, 3.5mm to the foot, 1:87 proportion, a little smaller than British OO scale. HOn3 means that these are models of 3-foot gauge prototypes. They run on exact scale gauge, 10.5mm to the foot. They are all models of Denver and Rio Grande Western steam locos, as they appeared in 1951. The D&RGW narrow gauge lines by then formed a large circle, with the Rio Grande Southern forming the western edge, southwest of Salida, Colorado and penetrating into New Mexico in a few places.
The models are all brass models made in Korea or Japan. Such models are commonplace to North American modellers, but rare in British modelling. They are made from photoetched brass sheet, brass castings and coinings - though coinings are less used than they used to be. They come fully assembled, ready to run. Recent production often comes fully painted too. All these models are fitted for DCC operation. Some have DCC controlled lights, including firebox lights, too.

Pictures 1 to 4 show K-36 class 2-8-2 Mikado #489 and #494. The K-36s are probably steam's greatest survivor worldwide. Of the 10 build, 9 survive today, and all have worked in the last 10 years or so. The model is a recent - 2002 production - Precision Scale Co model made by MSM on Korea. It has not yet been weathered. #489 not only has DCC, but also lights including firebox, and sound.

Pictures 5 and 6 on this page show K-27 Mikado (2-8-2) #453. The K-27s were the D&RGWs first Mikados. Originally delivered as 4-cylinder Vauclain compounds with slope-back tenders, they all quickly had the tender rear rebuilt to more conventional shape. Not long after, all were again rebuilt as two-cylinder simples with slide valve cylinders. Later some of them were again redone with piston valves and outside Walschearts valve gear, and that's the shape that the model of #453 is in. The model itself is a fairly rare work from 1984 by PSC, using the older Westside Models K-27 as the starting point. PSC reworked the model as a specific model of #453 as it was around 1951 when it appeared as the Durango Switcher. They added the unique square-cornered tender, the doghouse, power reverse and other details specific to 453. It came unpainted, and was painted and weathered by Mick, and has flickering firebox light. Pictures 7 & 8 show C-21 2-8-0 #361. The two C-21s came to the D&RGW from the Crystal River Railroad when that closed in 1916. #361 worked from Gunnison, Colorado on the Black canyon route and the coal branches north, including that to Crested Butte, now a major ski resort. The model is a 2001 PSC model, again made by MSM in Korea. It's been weathered and has DCC-controlled headlight

Pictures 9/10/11 are K37 #499. The D&RGW's K-37 class 2-8-2s were originally built as standard gauge 2-8-0s, in 1928 the D&RGW took 6 of them and converted them to 3-foot 2-8-2s. New chassis were supplied by Baldwin, and the original boiler and cab placed on top. The tender was converted merely by replacing the axles and pressing new wheels on to them - the tender trucks are still at the standard gauge width. So successful were the first six, that four more were converted in 1930, and #499 was the last of these. Eight survive today, but because of the age of the boilers, only one, #497, is in running order. Sadly there is little likelihood of the others running again. But it's not all bad news; in 1999 #499 was cosmetically restored and placed on display at the top of the Royal Gorge at Canon City to replace K36 #486. #486 never operated in the gorge because the line was standaed gauged before it was built, but #499 did operate there in its wide-gauge days, so is slightly more appropriate as an exhibit. #486 was hauled off to Durango to be restored and now runs on the Durango and Silverton. But that's another story, and another model.
The model of #499 was made in Korea for PSC in 1977. It arrived factory painted, and Mick has altered some detailing specific to 1951, added DCC with full lights, and weathered the model.
Picture 12 is D&RGW Spreader OV. This is a scratch-built all-styrene model of OV as it appeared around 1940. Spreaders were used for ballast spreading, ditch clearance and occasionally for snow clearance.

Pictures 13 & 14 are D&RGW Gondola #1599. This is a scratch-built wood/styrene model with a lead floor, the lead giving the weight needed for good operation.