HOn3 brass locomotives

Brian’s been in touch with pics of his HOn3 brass locomotives from 45 years ago:

“Hi Alastair,

I finally got my 45 year old photos converted from colour photos to JPEG’s to enable me to use them on a computer.

This HOn3 layout with the modified timesaver switching design on it was built by me 45 years ago when I lived in an apartment.

It was 6 foot 6 inches long by 20 inches wide. That was the only space that I had at the time. I used and modified John Allen’s switching puzzle (Timesaver) as a basis for my mini layout. I spread the tracks further apart, added structures and scenery with a painted sky backdrop and flat printed buildings onto it. It was all DC that stage.

I had a lot of scratch built rolling stock and structures on hand which I added to it.

Locomotives at that time, was a brass HOn3 K37 by PFM and an MDC/Roundhouse 2-8-0 with a North-west shortline gearbox and motor conversion which made it an excellent runner.

HOn3 brass locomotive

An HOn3 outside frame MDC 2-8-0 locomotive.

HOn3 brass locomotive

The same locomotive pulling a well weathered box car.

 HOn3 brass locomotive

The start of the timesaver HOn3 layout.

HOn3 brass locomotive

The HOn3 K 37 locomotive pulling some weathered scratch built refrigerator cars along the waterfront.

model railroad track side

The scrap metal yard with lengths of rail and a pile of ties (sleepers) next to them.

HOn3 brass locomotive

A stock train crossing the trestle and a cowboy on his horse leading cattle to the stock pens.

HOn3 brass locomotive

The entrance to the scrap yard surrounded by a scratch built fence.

HOn3 brass locomotive

A passenger train heading out to the next destination.

HOn3 brass locomotive

A small boat hire dock for the local fishermen to use. Note how the printed backdrop blends in with the foreground. A really busy little town.

model railroad buildings

Shops and industry in front of the backdrop.

model railroad platform

A small passenger station – a Woodland Scenics kit.

 model railroad truck and locomotivre

This white building (a Campbell kit) is still in use on my current layout 45 years later.

model railroad buildings

All this much detail in such a small space. Guns & Tackle is now on my current layout.

model railroad hotel

Every town had to have a hotel. The billboard is a Woodland Scenics kit.

model train town scene

Another view of the town and railroad tracks.

This was my second layout that I built in HOn3 for the spare room that I had in my apartment 45 years ago. If I can find and convert the photos that I had of my first layout also HOn3 as a shelf layout, I will post them here if possible.

Every layout that I build has to have a waterfront on it no matter how small they are.

The quality of the photos are not the best because of their age and having had them scanned. They were taken with a 35 millimetre Olympus XA film camera stopped down to f22. The negatives were lost a long time ago unfortunately.

The 46 year old camera below.

All the best and as per usual – keep up the great work on this excellent site.

Brian – the HOn3 guy from Knysna RS”

A big thanks to Brian for sharing his HOn3 brass locomotives from all those years ago – his layouts really do have a style of his own.

You can see more of Brian in the Hall of Fame.

Now on to Richard, who is looking for some suggestions.

You’ll remember him from his previous layout which is one of my personal faves. You can see it here:

HO layout build.

And here’s a pic of it too:

HO layout build logging

Well, here’s what Richard is planning now:

“Hi Al,

Richard here, now from Arkansas formally from Oklahoma…

Well, after long deliberation, I’ve narrowed my choice of future layout builds down to 3…

1) Rebuild the R&K Logging RR with an expansion to a tree harvesting area…

2) The Thunder Mesa plan, upgrading it to the 50’s time line and incorporating the logging and mining theme…

3) Or the Inyo & White RR… a plan that I found online….

So, all that being said, any suggestions from your readers would help….

Thnxs again for all you do for the hobby


If you have a suggestion for Rich, please do leave it below!

Lastly on to Dave, who has sent in this:

“Hi Al, just a short video with Deltics and class 37`s running, it will help to Brighten up a dull grey day… like today.



A big thanks to Dave and Brian.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

model train answers

11 Responses to HOn3 brass locomotives

  1. Stephen Hill says:

    There’s a lot going on in that small space . Magnificent detail , really impressive detail . Good for you for saving it all these years .



  3. Rich B. says:

    #1 is priceless, right from the 1950’s. They looked so real… was it the photography or 1/2 century of actual time and weathering (dust collection). Looks just as it should today. The detailing unsurpassed, can’t explain this but with different standards and way less of everything modeling wise?


  4. Kevin McArdle says:

    Truly amazing. Beautiful layout.

  5. Rob McCrain says:

    Brian, Love the brass locomotives. Great layout with some very interesting buildings. Great history, too. Dave it is always nice to see your layout and some train running. Rob

  6. George Zaky says:

    Brian, Richard & a DD video to brighten our day! The tri fecta to boost our moods while warm weather is just around the corner.
    That was so awesome. A work of art to marvel at.
    Richard only you can pick out which scheme to go with. What would be the most fun for you and go with that.
    Perfect timing. Hope you & the boss are well & I really enjoyed the ride.
    Big Al
    Ahhh nice! Hope y’all are well also. Gracias

  7. Rob says:

    2 WONDERFULLY detailed layouts. It’s amazing to me how you modelers are able to capture reality in miniature so well! This is an opportunity to showcase my pet peeve which is the foreground (fascia) treatment. Take a look at the first layout with the brownish fascia blending into the scene as opposed to the second layout picture with the stark contrast of the green paint. Seems to me that the fascia should blend in with the layout to carry the eye into the scene naturally. Of course I am no one to tell any of you great modelers what and how to do something since I’ve been out of the hobby for decades so I’m just posting my observations as to what is pleasing to my eye. So much time and angst is spent on the necessary blending of the background I’m curious as to why one wouldn’t want the foreground to enhance the overall effect also (with very little effort). Just sayin’

  8. Steve Ruple says:

    Totally awesome layout Brian in such a small space, well planed.

  9. robert dale tiemann says:

    great deetail. i like it a lot.

  10. Brian Messenger says:

    Hi all and thanks for all the compliments about that layout. Unfortunately as age catches up with me, I cannot remember what happened to that layout after about 2 years of building it (45 years ago). I have kept all of the buildings from it of which most of them are on my current double deck HOn3 layout (as of 2024). I think that another modeller at that time may have purchased it from me minus the buildings. May have been an apartment dweller like me (limited space available)
    I now wish that I had kept it and built my current layout around it. But sadly not to be. All that I have of it are memories and the photos of it.
    Also my modelling and weathering techniques-have improved in leaps and bounds since then.
    Brian – the HOn3 guy from Knysna RSA

  11. Chris Sylvester says:

    That’s an awesome layout!!! Step back in time a little lol but a great job !! Thank you for sharing your work. Chris – Michigan

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