Join us for the soft opening of Thunder Mesa Studio in Jerome, AZ. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Thunder Mesa Mining Co. model railroad and artwork by local artist D.L. Meek. This event coincides with the 1st Saturday Jerome Art Walk. Free parking at the venue and free shuttle bus service to and from downtown Jerome from 5pm to 8pm.
What the Heck is On30?
The Thunder Mesa Mining Co. is modeled in what is commonly known as "On30" - pronounced "OH-EN-THIRTY." This esoteric code is merely model railroader shorthand for the scale and gauge of what is being modeled. Scale and gauge can be confusing to the uninitiated and the terms are sometimes, regrettably, used interchangeably. Simply stated: "Scale" refers only to the relative size of a model in relation to its real world counterpart, whereas "Gauge" is a railway specific term that refers to the distance between the rails. In the case of On30, the "O" stands for O scale, which is 1:48, or 1/4" to the foot. A six foot tall person in O scale would be exactly 1 1/2" tall in our full sized world. The "n" in On30 stands for "narrow gauge." The "30" tells you that the gauge is thirty inches. To further confuse matters, 30" gauge in O scale is roughly the same as standard gauge in HO scale (1:87). In fact, On30 began as an effort to depict O scale narrow gauge by using HO scale track and mechanisms as a relatively inexpensive starting point.
Narrow gauge railroads, usually 3' between the rails, were common for mining and logging operations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were cheaper and faster to build than the larger "standard gauge" railroads (4' 8.5" between the rails) that most Americans are familiar with today. Some railroads where built to even narrower gauges, such as the classic 2' roads in Maine, and there were 20" and 18" gauge railways too, usually used only in mines, industrial facilities, or plantations.
True 30" gauge railroads were actually quite rare in the United States so On30 modelers often fudge a bit and use the scale/gauge to depict 3' Colorado style narrow gauge. Then again, some go the other way and use it to model the Maine 2-footers. Since such minute differences in gauge are only important to serious builders of miniature railways, and since the primary purpose of the TMMC is entertainment, the gauge in Thunder Mesa is simply "narrow," leaving others to quibble about what amounts to 1/8" in one direction or the other.
Welcome to the new Thunder Mesa blog!
Since April of 2012, I have chronicled the ongoing saga of my On30 scale Thunder Mesa Mining Company model railroad layout on its very own weblog. Now, five years later, I am launching a new site that brings all of my many creative endeavors together, including the railroad. On these pages I will continue to share stories, ideas, and methods as the model railroad progresses, plus I also be writing about my other creative projects, art techniques, and happenings at the Studio. I will no longer be updating the old blog, but all of its content will continue to be available online and accessible here, and via the menu link above.
Thunder Mesa Studio
The most exciting news is that the layout has been relocated from its original location at my former Camp Verde, AZ home, to my new Jerome, AZ studio. I have received so many requests from fans of the TMMC who would like to come see it in person that I've decided to make it available to view there by appointment, and on special open house "train days." See the Visit the Studio page for more information.
I am very excited to be continuing with this project and want to send a big, heartfelt thank you to everyone who has followed along and been a friend to the TMMC. There is much, much more to come!
Adios for now,