Mining Scene – Ore Cars


A mining line needs ore cars – lots of them.  Tichy sells kits that assemble into the above wood side ore car in bags of 12 for around $65.  These are HO standard gauge.  So in addition to being assembled, these cars need to be converted to HOn3 narrow gauge and appropriate couplers need to be added.  Will they be too big?  They aren’t as wide as my ON30 Shay’s cab.  I think they will be just fine.  I purchased 12 of these ore cars.  I will probably add another 12 once the first 12 are built.

The Tichy instruction sheet lays out the series of steps that should be followed in assembly.  You could complete one car at a time.  But it makes more sense to me to set up a production line and bring them all on line together step by step.. Here are the instructions for the body.


Step 0 (not on instructions) involves cutting parts of sprue.  Here that are sorted into two zip lock bags, one containing truck parts (left) and the other containing body parts (right).


Here’s a chance to show off a portion of my nearly complete modeling bench.  It is made up of a rack that can hold eight 3/4″ melamine boards.   So partially complete projects can be tucked away freeing work space and reducing the chance parts will be scattered and lost.

Project Shelf

This shot shows an ore car after step one.


Step 2 involved inserting and gluing the braces (steps 2 and 3).  The advantage of the assembly line approach became apparent in this step.  These braces are very fiddley work.  Putting the braces on the first car took 25 minutes.  The third took 5 minutes.  I’m not sure how long these two steps would have taken if I didn’t have a PanaVise to hold the parts from step 1 at exactly the right angle for mounting the braces.



Rather than attempt to bash H) trucks that came with the kit to HOn3, it makes more sense to buy HOn3 trucks and save the trucks that came with the ore cars for another application.  I chose to hedge my bets by ordering two kinds of HOn3 trucks.  The first set is Kadee 716’s.  They come unassembled so I ordered their assembly jig.

Kadee 716

The second is Grandt Line 5110’s.  They come assembled.  Both the Grandt Line and the Kadees have 3′ 7″ wheelbases.

GrandtLine 5110

When I see how they compare, I may go exclusively with one of the two and save the other for another set of rolling stock.  Freight cars are often sold without trucks so I shouldn’t have any problem repurposing them.


As tempting as some of the non-Kadee options are, I’m going to stick with Kadees.  I decided to go with their medium shank narrow gauge scale coupler No 158.  I picked the medium shank as I want to test them in a section with 18″ curve radiuses.  Because the cars are short (roughly 3″) I’m betting they will work in this application.  If not, I’ll use them in sections with larger curve radiuses and buy the long shank version.

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