HO boxcar conversion

Two Moody River boxcars, one is scratch built, the other started life as a HO MDC 36' boxcar (MDC cars now come fully assembled from Athearn)

Two Moody River boxcars, one is scratch built, the other started life as a HO MDC 36′ boxcar (MDC cars now come fully assembled from Athearn)

Two Sn2 boxcar models by Tad Miyano that are inspired by Monson freight cars.  One is scratch built and one is converted from an HO MDC old-time 36′ box car.  Do you know which started life as an MDC car?  It’s #43 on the right!

Posted in Freight Car, Monson, Tad Miyano | Leave a comment

Moody River Flanger

Flanger #311 is based on a SR&RL prototype

Flanger #311 is based on a SR&RL prototype

Tad’s scratch build flanger is based on a SR&RL prototype.

The underside of Tad's model is typical of the detail on all of his models

The underside of Tad’s model is typical of the detail on all of his models

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Moody River Combine

Moody River combine #1 is based on the combine of the Monson

Moody River combine #1 is based on the combine of the Monson

Tad Miyano was inspired by Monson Railroad’s combine.  The short length of this combine is perfect for the small 2-foot gauge railroad.

Tad's added an interior and populated it.

Tad’s added an interior and populated it.

As of this posting, Portland Locomotive works has announced that it’s working on a kit of the combine and a freelanced RPO and coach based on the same roof and frame.  All Sn2 modelers can look forward to having a similar model.  Click on the Portland Locomotive Works link at right to learn more.

Posted in Monson, Passenger Car, Tad Miyano | Leave a comment

Freelance railbus and speeder

Tad's Sn2 KC Jones speeder

Tad’s Sn2 KC Jones speeder

Tad Miyano built a freelanced railbus and speeder for his Moody River Railroad.

Freelanced speeder has a simple 4 wheel power truck

Freelanced speeder has a simple 4 wheel power truck


Tad’s use of figures, interior details and canvas covers makes for a nice little model.

Posted in Maintanence equipment, Passenger Car, Tad Miyano | 2 Comments

Moody River #1

Tad's scratch built Forney based on SR&RL #1.  In "Hints for Building a Steam Locomotive" Issue #7 (Aug 1986)  and Issue #8 (Jan 1987) of Maine 2 Foot Modeler (M2FM) Tad described how he went about constructing Moody River #1.

Tad’s scratch built Forney based on SR #1. In “Hints for Building a Steam Locomotive” Issue #7 (Aug 1986) and Issue #8 (Jan 1987) of Maine 2 Foot Modeler (M2FM) Tad described how he went about constructing Moody River #1.

Tad Miyano built one of the first known scratch built Sn2 locomotives, an 0-4-4 Forney.  His Moody River railroad #1 is based on Sandy River #1, one of the original B&B locomotives.  The model appeared in in an Sn2 article in NG&SLG and then later Tad wrote a two part scratch building article for Maine Two Foot Modeler called “Hints for Building a Steam Locomotive” (Issue #7 – Aug 1986 and Issue #8 – Jan 1987)

Fireman's side of Moody River #1

Fireman’s side of Moody River #1

Underside of Tad's Forney

Underside of Tad’s Forney

Posted in Locomotive, SR&RL, Tad Miyano | Leave a comment

Memory lane – GDT ore car conversion

In addition to his GDT #4 shay locomotive, Darel Leedy built a fleet of Gilpin inspired ore cars.  Again, here are images and text provided by Darel in 2000.

A string of ore cars being pulled by shay GDT #4

A string of ore cars being pulled by shay GDT #4

I use Grandt Line On2 Gilpin small( early ) ore cars that I’ve modified into Sn2 large( late) ore cars. Shortening of these cars is necessary as well as some other detail modifications. I have only a half dozen of these made up right now, with about 30 more awaiting at the workbench. Someday I will scratch build the other rolling stock such as the coal cars, water cars, flats, plow and caboose.

GDT ore car #57 at Black Hawk, CO

GDT ore car #57 at Black Hawk, CO

For more Sn2 Gilpin modeling click on “Gilpin” in the categories at right.

At the time of this post Darel is modeling the C&S town of Dickey in Sn3.

Posted in Darel Leedy, Freight Car, Gilpin | Leave a comment

Memory lane – GDT #4 a shay

Most of us, modeling in Sn2, are inspired by Maine 2-Foot prototypes, but not all.  In 2000 Darel Leedy was building a Gilpin inspired Sn2 layout that he called the Gilpin District Tramway.  While the layout is gone, it need not be forgotten as the equipment he built for the layout was quite nice.  The images and text below were provided by Darel back in 2000.


GDT #4 is a modified HOn3 PFM Benson Shay

The HOn3 MDC shay is actually way too large to represent Gilpin shay #5 in Sn2. I’ve found that a PFM Benson Shay is a much closer match to #’s 4 and 5.  In fact, very little needs to be done. Removal of the air pump, tanks and related piping, the bunker, and a few other parts. And the addition of S scale parts such as headlight, bell and other details. The model sports a rather large cab for HOn3. The cabs on Gilpin Shays were very tiny, and no major modification is really necessary. Problem with these models is price. Oh yes, plan on adding a can motor and NWSL gear set if you plan to actually use the thing. The PFM Cowichan Shay is basically the same model.

A look at the smokebox details of the Sn2 shay

A look at the smoke box details of the Sn2 shay

The HOn3 cab looks good for this Sn2 model

The HOn3 cab looks OK for this Sn2 model

The fuel bunker is topped off with coal

The fuel bunker is topped off with coal

At the time of this post Darel is modeling the C&S town of Dickey in Sn3.

Posted in Darel Leedy, Gilpin, Locomotive | 1 Comment

Sn2 Crew to be at Springfield, MA show January 26 & 27

If any of you will be at the Springfield, Mass show this weekend (Jan 26-27 2013) you can take in a double exposure to S-scale free-mo.

First of all 3 members of the Sn2 crew will have a layout setup.  It will feature some of the best in Sn2 modeling in a free-mo form.

Secondly, the S-scale workshop will be displaying a free-mo setup.  The S-scale workshop is coming down from Canada, so do not miss the opportunity.  Their modeling is also first rate.  Like the Sn2 Crew, all modules follow the same theme, so the scenery has a consistent look from module to model.

Posted in Free-mo, Sn2 Crew | 1 Comment

Convert HO Tichy Archbars to Sn2

Several Sn2 modelers have converted HO Tichy Archbar trucks to get a Maine 2-Foot like truck.  It all started with Jeff Saxton.  The text and images below are interpretted from postings to the Sn2Trains yahoogroup.

Jeff Saxton image and thought process:

Jeff's converted Tichy Truck

Jeff’s converted Tichy Truck

Tichy #3002 HO standard gauge archbars (ex-Gould) are very closely sized for the so-called “common bolster” trucks used by the SR & RL in Sn2 (the common 66″ wheelbase truck in HO is a perfect 48″ wheelbase in S).

A quick trip to the hobby shop obtained several sets of HOn3 wheelsets (either MDC cobbled out of their HOn3 trucks, or PSC #3240 — HOn3 26″ wheels are 19″ in S, which is acceptable). I hand cut the HO truck bolsters narrower to fit the HOn3 wheelsets. And the result — Ta-Daaa! — cheap Sn2 trucks.

As a further bonus, these trucks have nylon cone inserts to accept the axle ends, individual journal lids (positionable), and inside hung brake shoes. For about $5 to $8 per pair (1994 prices, depends on wheelsets), you get some nice trucks.

Chris Abbott conversion

Chris Abbot posted a sequence of images showing how he narrowed the trucks.  Chris used MDC wheel sets from their passenger car tracks.  (David Keith notes take caution with MDC wheelsets, they are not always in gauge.  He also thinks the freight and passenger truck wheel sets are the same)

Chris measured the bolster and scribed a line

Chris measured the bolster and scribed a line


Chris is double checking his first cut


Chris is measuring final length


One more doulble check measurement

Other Notes

  • Some modelers have made jigs for making dimensions and filing – Dean Odiorne made his from styrene
  • Some have made jigs for assembly (gluing), but hardly required.
  • Dean Odiorne used KD 718 wheelsets in the few pairs of trucks he made
  • The Tichy trucks are styrene, so it is easy enough to custom make bolster replacements if one get’s cut wrongly.
  • The Tichy trucks show two springs on the sides, but the prototype Maine 2-Foot trucks were single spring or solid bolster.  The dedicated modeler could change the detail.
Posted in Trucks | Leave a comment

Maine Sn2 Coupler FAQ:

The Sn2 Coupler FAQ provides inquiring minds the details behind the Sn2 coupler standard.  The information below wass captured by Jeff Saxton from various email discussion on the Sn2_Trains email list at yahoogroups.

The Sn2 Coupler FAQ; compiled by Dave Keith

The following standard has been developed through extensive list discussions occurring over a several month period of time.

The members of this list have adopted a standard for Maine 2-foot modeling.

  • Coupler: Kadee HOn3 #714 or HO “Old Time” #711 couplers, with the trip pins snipped off.
  • Body Mount Height: 18″ in S scale = 9/32″ actual.
  • Coupler Centerline Height: 14.5″ in S scale = .226″ actual.

This is derived from mounting the #714 couplers at the required BODY height.

Why the HOn3 (#714) or HO Old Time (#711) coupler? The knuckles of the #714 and #711 couplers are the closest to the size of an S scale Maine 2-foot coupler. HO and N scale couplers are either too big or too small (more information pertaining to the HO and N couplers below)

For all remaining answers in the FAQ, I will use HOn3 or #714 when referring to the couplers. The #714 and #711 are the same size, the only difference is the trip pins.

How did you get 18″ for the body height? Most of the freight cars on the Maine 2-foot railroads have an 18″ body (sill) height from the railhead. There were some exceptions, but 18″ seemed to be the most common height.

Most Maine 2-footers had a coupler height of 16″ (to coupler centerline), so isn’t 14.5″ too low? Yes, 14.5″ is too low. However, a compromise had to be made because the mounting box of the HOn3 coupler is thicker than that of a real 2-foot coupler. The HOn3 coupler is 3.5″ from box top to center of coupler, but the prototype couplers were only 2″.

Therefore, one of 3 compromises had to be made:

  1. Raise the body height
  2. Recess the couplers into the body
  3. Have lower couplers

For esthetics and simplicity to build, we chose to compromise coupler height. This way the car will ride at a prototypical height and have the couplers mounted on the bottom of the body like the prototype.

Why are the trip pins clipped off? Because we mount the Kadee couplers lower than the NMRA standard for HOn3, and as such, the trip pins would hit the rails when going through a turnout. We plan to uncouple cars manually not magnetically.

Why wasn’t the HOn3 standard used for coupler heights? The HOn3 coupler height equals 18″ (to centerline) in S scale. Thus, it is too high for Maine 2-foot equipment. If we adopted the HOn3 coupler height, then the car bodies would have to ride high, or the couplers would have to be recessed into the endbeam of the car. The HOn3 coupler height gauge may be correct for prototypes other than the Maine 2-footers. The HOn30 folks chose the N scale coupler height, even though the N scale height is not right for HOn30 models of Maine 2-foot equipment. Thus HOn30 models have compromises that we did not want to have in Sn2.

What about Passenger cars? Most 2-foot passenger cars had body heights greater than 18″. More like 20″ or 22″. Thus they had a special mounting for couplers under the end platform. Sn2 models of Maine 2-foot equipment will have to have a similar mounting.

What about Locomotives? There are issues here that we have not yet addressed, as we do not yet have brass locomotives. We feel these will become easy to address once we have commercial locomotives; but for now, anyone building locomotives and mounting couplers should follow the above standards.

How do I get a coupler height gauge? Click to make a coupler height gauge or buy a coupler height gauge

What about 2-footers outside of Maine? Gilpin? Wales? The Industrials? The standard presented here is for Maine 2-foot equipment. It does not apply to other railroads. The Gilpin (in Colorado) used link & pin couplers mounted on the ends of the cars. I think many industrial railroads would have done likewise. One member of this group has chosen the HOn3 standard of 18″ for his Gilpin models. This is probably a reasonable compromise considering the Gilpin did not use knuckle couplers. The Gilpin cars had body heights from 20″ to 27″. If the HOn3 couplers are mounted on the bottoms of the cars at the 18″ height, then that means the bodies are 21.5″, and that is in the range of the prototypes.

What if I model a free-lanced railroad outside of Maine? Some of the members of this list are placing their 2-foot railroads outside the state of Maine. However, most are still inspired by the Maine 2-footers so they are opting for this standard as well.

Why an Sn2 standard at all? How many Sn2 modelers are there? Currently, the Sn2 segment of the market is small. But this group hopes that Sn2 will grow enough to support Sn2 products such as cars, locomotives and structures. We already have true Maine 2-foot trucks. Thus, we need a standard for manufacturers. Additionally, we may want to run models together or have a module meet. At such times a coupler standard will ensure that trains will stay coupled.


Addendum to Coupler FAQ. After several more exchanges on the various other makes and brands of couplers that may be possible to use in Sn2, we have updated the FAQ. Compiled by Jeff Saxton.

Kadee (Micro-Trains) N Scale Couplers:

Here are some thoughts on use of n-scale couplers

  • Pro: Come pre-assembled
  • Pro: Smaller, no interference for Sn2 equipment
  • Pro: Can be used with magnets at Maine 2-Foot prototype height (#714 cannot do this)
  • Pro: Compatible with 714 (they couple reliably)
  • Con: Actually too small for Sn2
  • Con: Does not couple on curves as well as #714
  • Con: Requires tighter (more exacting) standards for coupler height, not as much forgiveness as #714

Because the N-scale couplers mate reliably with #714 couplers, they are a viable substitute for tight situations where a #714 might not fit.  A #714 can be trimmed at the rear, but should that not be enough, an N-scale coupler may be the best choice.  Examples usage might be a short wheelbase car or a locomotive pilot.  If an N-scale coupler is used on Sn2 rolling stock, it should be mounted according to the coupler center height requirement.

Accumate HO “Scale” #1020 Couplers:

These “Scale” HO couplers are a good match in size for S-scale 3/4 couplers used on many narrow gauge railroads, but the #1020 coupler box needs to be modified. The #1020 uses a box which is narrower and should fit inside an HO standard gauge coupler box. They should adequately fit the narrower width confines of Sn2 with some shaving if one is concerned.

The 1020 couplers include a paper which essentially says (paraphrased): “when cut back in length to the internal bulkhead, they match the size of boxes from other commercial HOn3 coupler makers”. This almost has to refer to Kadee #714 couplers.

Pro: Closer to actual S Scale size. Con: Online purchasing is the only real option for these. Con: Mounting boxes need to be re-worked before use.

Sergent HO “Scale” Couplers:

The HO Sergent is designed to fit into a standard “#5” box as supplied with most HO kits. It is possible to mount them without any box at all by simply using a screw.

There are two primary problems with either the Sergents, Accumate or other brands mentioned. The first is that they are harder to find, and from smaller firms that may not even be around in ten or fifteen years (we think Kadee will be with us for some time yet). We have serious doubts that Sergents or Accumate will still be a viable production item in twenty years.

The second problem, especially in terms of these “off-brand” couplers, is the added work required to assemble them, and get them mounted, and then operating properly. Kadees, while not optimal, certainly are much more of a ‘brainless’ assembly and installation process, with less problems in designing new mounts for each new product as it comes along. There is also the added track record of a firm long in business, with replacement and repair parts as close as your nearest hobby dealer.

Kadee #58 or #78 “Scale” Couplers:

The #58 coupler box is far too wide to fit between the wheelsets of an Sn2 freight car. The #78 has a much narrower box. This subject was discussed on the HOn3 list previously, and while more than one person came forward and said that the #78 “worked” for HOn3 cars because the coupler box was small enough (they had tried it), Jeff Bissonette later noted that the #78 box is still too big. It won’t allow sufficient truck swing on cars where the distance from the end sill to the centerline of the bolster is 3′ 9″ or less, and it will foul the outer axle.

Another downside of the #78, is that they only come assembled (more expensive) and not all hobby shops carry them on a regular basis.

The problem with any Kadee HO couplers will still boil down to the coupler box itself, since that box is still the same basic item as used in the #5 Kadee coupler. The size of the box limits rotation of trucks on freight cars.

Link and Pin Couplers:

Grandt Line makes an On2 Gilpin Tram link and pin coupler set in plastic that is acceptable. Not perfect, but usable.

Alexander HO Sclae Link & Pin. They are too large for HO but will work for S Scale. They require a coupler box the same size as a Kadee #4 and use that style mounting. They might be able to be screwed to a car with no box at all. Does anyone have current contact information for Alexander Scale Models?

The Back Shop is now offering an On3 Link & Pin that drops into a standard KD #5 box.

Russ Simpson makes a West Side Link & Pin in On3 that is small and Mac Neil (available from Coronado Scale Models) makes a brass Gilpin On2 unit that is also very small.

Posted in Standards | 3 Comments