Nn3 Mining Layout Experiment

JimJ Aug 1, 2019

  1. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    8237038A-9CE7-4920-8051-EC1384395D35.jpeg 457A4FA1-C5BF-4851-BB23-98AC438A41ED.jpeg I’ve never modeled in Nn3 but I want a way to display and run my Showcase Miniatures locos and rolling stock. I shamelessly copied ideas from the Thunder Mesa On30 layout located in Jerome, AZ. Having been out to Arizona several times for my job I realized I had to model a rickety narrow gauge mining line. No exact location or exact date but just some freelanced southwest rocky scenery with rails clinging to cliffs and hugging rock walls. Sometime from the 1880s to 1900 or so. My HO layout is strictly prototype and I need a layout to be more creative with. Sorry for the long intro but that sums up the whys and wherefores.
    Here’s how things are as of tonight. The Atlas Z flex track and turnouts were laid directly to the 1” pink foam with a thin layer of Liquid Nails. Of course the turnouts weren’t glued. I then cut the roadbed to allow for elevation changes and glued everything onto 1 1/2” blue foam board using pieces of foam to support the elevated areas. The depot will be on the lowest level, then the next level crosses over the lower level and there’s a turnout leading to a mining spur up on a third level. A short track coming out of a hillside mine will be up on the fourth level. Next post won’t be so long. I promise.
     
  2. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    AF5BEA11-95A0-4FDB-BF97-948B910D7D38.jpeg First train around the line. My locos move smoothly along the turnouts but when taking the diverging route the loco stalls. Oh well, these things are so tiny and it’s just for continuous loop running.
     
  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    How are the lokeys, when considering their weight?
     
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  4. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    It’s takes both of them to pull the entire train up the grades. Double heading for real.
     
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  5. tracktoo

    tracktoo TrainBoard Member

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    Those locos look great as does the whole train. Much Narrow gauge goodness there, especially the tank car. (y)
     
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  6. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    I don't mean to be critical, but do you have any bracing under the layout? My experience with foam is that it can flex when moved and literally pop scenery and track off if it isn't held in place by something.

    Mind you, you are doing a small scale, so my size perspective is way off.
     
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  7. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    13BBB8D6-ABF2-485E-BD45-F6A1878CED12.jpeg C810CBCF-1644-484C-ABCE-5481F37F8CAE.jpeg The layers of foam, including the bottom 2” thick piece, are glued together and is very rigid, especially for this small size. It also sits in the middle of my N scale loop layout which adds yet another solid base. The elevated roadbed will have more foam support braces added before serious scenery work begins although it is surprisingly sturdy as is. It’s all ridiculously lightweight.
     
  8. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Now that I see it on the N scale layout I can really get a sense of the narrow gauge style of railway where the little trains are precariously clinging to the sides of tall canyon walls. It's looking really awesome.
     
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  9. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    9A8DA016-4459-4DAE-920E-C216CACA09D4.jpeg Sorry to leave this hanging but I had to make a change. The tiny Nn3 motors were just too finicky, noisy and weak to keep me happy so I’ve replaced the narrow gauge track with Atlas N scale code 55. My Atlas 4-4-0 pulls rolling stock up the grade with ease. The era and location will remain pretty much the same and the Nn3 line will be a point to point mine run that will be at a much higher elevation. That way I can still display my narrow gauge equipment and even run it occasionally.
    The standard gauge line is inspired by photos of the Old West railroads around the late 1860s-1870s or so.
     
  10. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

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    This is great stuff Jim. I can certainly understand why you dont want to deal with finicky locos. I bet when you get done with that 4-4-0 it will look the part. Looking FWD to your scenery and other additions. :D:D "Back in the day" if they could not pull the hill, with the entire train with a single loco, they would double the hill, remembering that back then, there were no hours of service laws, and they could work these guys till they dropped.
    But you would need a siding to do that.
    Great job Jim!
     
  11. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    Soooo, I received an email from Showcase Miniatures and they will be offering an improved version of the power trucks for their Nn3 loco kits. The PowerMax unit has been unavailable for quite a while and I’m unhappy with the running quality (fair but could be smoother in my opinion) so hopefully these new units will rekindle my Nn3 efforts. I think these will be in limited quantity at first if anyone is interested. Not sure of the price yet.
    I’ll build a new micro layout for the newly powered Nn3 locos. Smaller than the above layout.
     
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  12. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    $99 each. I just ordered two and they tell me there’s only 9 left. This is a very niche modeling scale but if you want one now’s the time to order.
     
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  13. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Several years back I explored Z scale which is essentially the same track and mechanisms as Nn3. I bit of testing at a local shop and I opted away from the super fine stuff for similar reasons.

    I am sure many enjoy it, but my choice was to go back to N or larger trains.
     
  14. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

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    I hope it works for you Jim.
     
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  15. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    Speaking of Atlas Z scale turnouts can you tell us more ? All your motive power stalls on all turnouts' diverging track ? Always on the same location ? Or does that miswork randomly ? I'm asking because as a Z-scaler I've 20 of these turnouts on order and I'm trying to figure it out.:barefoot:

    Dom
     
  16. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    I think my tiny Nn3 locos are so light and short that they’re asking for trouble. They only stalled on the diverging route. When I receive and install the new motors I will try to add some lead weight to improve electrical pick up.
     
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  17. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    OK thanks. Are all the wheels of your locos (example the Klimax on the above pic) picking up juice ?

    Dom
     
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  18. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

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    Hey Jim.
    I don't know if it is worth it or not but hobby lobby has moldable tungsten putty
    Weights. May give a little more weight to work with.
     
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  19. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    Only the powertruck has pick up. Way too small and fiddly for me to attempt to add pick up on the front. Maybe.
    Thanks for the tip, Tom. Hobby Lobby is on my way to work.
     
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  20. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    As a Z-scaler, experience shows me that very small locomotives (only 2 or 3 axles, close to each other) are a little bit tricky when considering juice pick-up. The same could be said with longer locos picking up juice with only two or three axles close to each other. Typically only one truck picking up power, like was seen for example with basic locomotives of train set in bigger scales some time ago.

    So maybe you could try to kitbash your locomotives, modifying them so that all axles pick up juice. If one considers it's feasable in Z/Nn3.

    My two cents,

    Dom
     

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