Then disaster struck. I built the HOn3 engine. I was instantly hooked on narrow gauge. I had read the Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette off and on for several years but this was the first time I had built a narrow gauge piece. There was just something about that outside frame with the counterweights and tiny wheels.
My first thought was, “I need some narrow gauge on this layout”. I decided that a short line to the logging camps in the Huachuca Mountains with an interchange “somewhere” would be needed. The mines in and around Tombstone could also be narrow gauge.
My “givens and druthers” was updated:
- Scale/Gauge: HO Standard Gauge and HOn3
- Secondary Carriers: Huachuca Lumber Company, Contention Mining Company, Consolidated Miners Cooperative
I blissfully went back to playing with trains and I started looking for sources of HOn3 rolling stock. I didn’t really put much effort into designing the layout at this point, I was too busy playing with the trains on the test track (now my layout). It did occur to me that the standard gauge line was starting to look less viable. The mine trains could make the run to the mills quicker than they could interchange with the Tombstone and Tucson. The same for the lumber company. Fairbank would be the logical delivery point, not Tombstone. The mills and the towns of Fairbank, Contention City, Millville, and Charleston were all on the San Pedro. They didn’t need as much lumber as Tombstone but they still needed enough between them to be the logical supply point. All the Tombstone and Tucson needed was a few extra flat cars to carry the Tombstone portion of the loads.
At about this time, we decided that our current housing arrangement was less than satisfactory. We were renting a manufactured home on horse property and the house had developed several problems that the landlord was reticent to repair. It was inconvenient that even with the air conditioner running 24 x 7 we could not keep the house below the mid-eighties in the summer, it was inconvenient that parts of the outside molding were falling off, it was inconvenient that when it rained all of the water in the area ran toward the house, but when I could watch the moon-rise through the split between the two halves of the house, we decided it was too much.
It took awhile to convince the landlord that breaking our lease was in his best interest but eventually he agreed that we would all be happier if we were in different towns. This used up most of my time during the summer of 2001. In October we moved to a pleasant, but much smaller, two-bedroom apartment. The second bedroom was for my computers and my trains.
It was immediately obvious that the old 4×8 was not going to work out. There was no way to even get in the room with it set up so off came all of the track and I cut the board up to make shelves for the closet.
The “train room” was also the dumping ground for everything that did not fit somewhere else. As a result, using my workbench, let alone building a layout, was an exercise in futility.
Luckily, I was unemployed at the time so selling things that were not required for survival not only allowed me to eat, it also slowly freed up room in the train room. That statement was obviously tongue-in-cheek, actually I had just decided to close my business back in New England, but in some ways that time was very good for me, it helped me gain more clarity of vision both in my life and in my modeling. I began to see what was really important and what was just wasted bandwidth. Since this web site is about model railroading I’ll just stick to the parts that deal with model railroading.
It was clear that even though I had performed a major cull on my rolling stock, I still had too much, and the wrong, stuff. Narrow gauge was where it was at for me. I had one engine and a stock car in narrow gauge, everything else was standard gauge.
I kept reading Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette as my only modeling magazine. More and more the topic of On30 came up. When I went to train stores to dream, there was usually some On30 sitting on a shelf. I bought a Colorado & Southern set with the idea of using it for around the tree at Christmas. I knew my eyes were getting weaker and my arms were getting shorter. I really liked the look of On30 and thought I would like to play around with it some. I looked around on Yahoo! groups and found a few On30 groups and joined them.
When my birthday came up my wife had bought me a Chivers curved roof ventilated boxcar. When I compared it to HOn3, there was no comparison. For me, On30 was the way to go. Now the problem was how to get there from here, especially considering that model railroading was not my top priority when it came to funds.
I boxed up everything except books/magazines, a power pack, the Bachmann Colorado & Southern train set with EZ-Track, the Chivers boxcar, paints and glues, and one Atlas HO S-4 that has a lot of sentimental value (my wife drove over 40 miles one way to a train shop that was very hard to find in an area she had never been in, in a state she barely knew, to buy me the engine for Christmas one year) and sold it as one big lot on E-bay. The money was used to pay bills and to purchase one On30 0-4-2 Porter that was on sale at a local hobby shop. I was in On30. I had a boxcar, three coaches, two engines, a power pack, and track. I also had a fictional railroad that was primarily standard gauge and developed with the idea of HO scale distances. Back to the arm-chair to start over.