What is Nn3?
Nn3 is narrow-gauge model railroading in N Scale. The gauge refers to the distance between the rails in the prototype, narrow-gauge tracks commonly are 3 feet apart, whereas standard gauge tracks in the United States are 4 feet 8 ½ inches apart. The N in Nn3 refers to N Scale (1:160), the n refers to narrow gauge, and the 3 indicates the fact that three feet separate the rails in the prototype.
Why were narrow-gauge railroads used?
Narrow-gauge railroads could haul people and freight in places where it would be too difficult or expensive to construct a standard-gauge railroad, such as in mountainous terrain. The smaller narrow-gauge engines and cars could travel around tight curves and up grades not practical for standard-gauge trains. Examples of well-known narrow-gauge railroads are the East Broad Top in Pennsylvania, and the Rio Grande Southern in Colorado.
What is the Nn3 Division of Northern Virginia NTRAK?
The Nn3 Division of Northern Virginia NTRAK is a group of NTRAKers who like to model narrow-gauge railroads. We display and run narrow-gauge trains on NTRAK modules as well as Nn3 oNeTRAK modules. Our Nn3 modules have featured this aspect of model railroading since 1997.
The current roster includes Marc Sisk, Noll Horan, Steve Zutter, Bill Redfearn, John Drye, Bill Rutherford, and Jim La Baugh.
Are there Nn3 module standards?
Yes. Nn3 module standards exist for both NTRAK modules and oNeTRAK modules. Most of the Northern Virginia Nn3 Division's recent work has focused on oNeTRAK modules. Such modules allow us show narrow-gauge railroading as it was in real-life--one track of narrow gauge crossing the countryside between towns and rural areas. Such scenes are featured in the photos within this section.
Northern Virginia Nn3 oNeTRAK module dimensions
Track on the NVNTRAK Nn3 oNeTRAK modules is centered 4 inches from the front of the module at module ends. The height of the track is 42.5 inches from the floor. Straight modules are 4 feet in length and 18 inches deep. Curve modules are two-foot square. Module sky-boards extend 14 inches above track height.
Originally, the standard for Nn3 oNeTRAK was modules only 1 foot deep. However, we have adopted the 18-inch depth for Nn3 oNeTRAK modules to accommodate more depth in the scene. The extra depth also enables us to allow track to meander through the scene as it does in places in the real world.
Track on NVNTRAK Nn3 modules
Track begins 55mm from the edge of modules with a piece of Z-Scale Marklin 8503 (55mm piece) track at the end of all track within the body of the module. When modules are clamped together the gap allows a piece of Marklin 8592 (100-120mm flex piece) track to easily slip into place, making a smooth connection between pieces of Marklin track. Peco Z-scale flex-track is used within the module between the Marklin 8503 pieces at either end of the module.
We adopted this use of Marklin 8503 track after seeing the advantages of having the Marklin piece in position to receive connecting track on Mike Chenowith's Nn3 oNeTRAK modules at the St. Louis NMRA meet in 2001, and Steve Zutter's discovery of the Marklin 8592 connector based on conversations with Z-modular groups at the same convention. Turnouts are either Peter Wright turnouts, as on Bill Redfearn's R&R Stockyard module, or Tom-Knapp built ones, as on Marc Sisk's Thompson Valley and Silver Springs modules.
Are there others sources of Nn3 information?
Yes. In 1999, an internet group of Nn3ers emerged and began to serve as important resource about modeling Nn3 (www.nn3.org), and which has a Yahoo group. This group has become known as the N-Scale Narrow Gauge Alliance, which has published an excellent book on the subject: The Nn3 Handbook for modeling Narrow Gauge in N-Scale.