THE HOn3 2021 ANNUAL HOW-TO GUIDE FOR HO NARROW GAUGE RAILROADING features dozens of articles supported with a large gallery of excellent images.


The HOn3 2021 Annual How-To Guide For HO Narrow Gauge Railroading is a perennial feast for the eyes and brain of model railroaders, and all modelers in general.  Published by White River Productions, this softcover product consists of 116 glossy pages including the front cover, and is catalogued with ISBN 978-1-932804-74-4.

 This annual is not a picture book of other modelers’ layouts, it is a useful ‘working’ book including modeling and operating techniques, all presented to a high standard.  It does include some wondrous and inspirational layouts, too.  You can find it at the company website here.


Page 6 introduces this annual’s 20 features:

Narrow-Minded Notes • by Chris Lane — National Narrow Gauge Convention Wrap Up

Scale Illumination Part 2 • by John Niemeyer and Keith Pashina — More LED Lighting Projects.

Better-Looking Commercial Track • by Dave Vollmer — Better Appearance than Hand Laid?

Old Signs on Old Walls • by Peter Metzker — Creating and Adding Signage to Model Structures

Short Line on a Mission • by Matt Woods — Diorama of Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula.

The Gold Hill Project • by George G. Riley, Esq. — “A Square-Footer” Micro Layout.

A Room With a View • by Dean Smith — A Window for the Vida Division’s Dispatcher.

Tin Foil Rocks, Stone Portals, and Walls • by Bob Brendle— We Will Rock You Parts 1 and 2

Converting HO Locos to HOn3 • by Rich Mossholder — A Kato Mechanism is the Start.

Building a Post Driver Wagon • by Sam Swanson — When No One Makes an HO Posthole Digger.

Build an Autocar White Metal Kit • by L. Todd Leftwich — “Old School” kits and How to Kitbash, and Paint them.

Switching In/To HOn3 • by Bob Bennett — Diorama Update and a New Business.

Embracing 3D Printing • by Mike Mackey

Iron Horse Sense • by Geoff Stunkard — Feeding and Caring of the Tweetsie Stable.

Otter Creek & Rio Grande • by Dennis Carrell — A John Allen-Inspired Timesaver Layout.

Scratchbuild a 24-Foot Boxcar • by Dale Smith — Early 1930s Boxcar From an Obscure Iowa Line.

Work Crane Kitbash • by Duane Richardson — A New Use for the AHM Barnhart Log Loader.

The Venado Post Office • by Rich Mossholder — An HO Scale Interpretive Model.

Colorado in Switzerland • by Peter Gloor — Revisiting the AMORS  HOn30 Group.

East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad Scenery and Structures • by Johnny Graybeal — Some Unique Features of the Prototype.

Modelers provided the high-quality text and  photographs, with clear and often comprehensive presentations.  They know what they did and how to explain it to modelers interested in the subjects.  Plenty of captions and narratives ensure the reader will understand the topics.  All but 12 pages are devoted to modeling and techniques, or layouts and operations.  Those dozen pages consist of titillating advertisements, and several pages of new products.

While some of the articles are comprised of both subjects, I present the content in two categories - modeling and techniques, and layouts and operations.

Modeling and Techniques

Scale Illumination Part 2: describes the use of flickering lights to simulate welding flashes and other effects, and the power sources types, demonstrated with eight photos.  Better-Looking Commercial Track uses a twist on iconic track colors, with 11 photos of the step-by-step process and result.  Old Signs on Old Walls shows how you can create authentic advertising building art.

Tin Foil Rocks, Stone Portals, and Walls: eight pages of ingenious methods of creating cliff faces and masonry, bountifully illustrated with 37 photos.

Converting HO Locos to HOn3: four pages with sixteen progress photos.

Building a Post Driver Wagon: Sam Swanson’s work is always top-notch, as is this 4-page 10-image how-to about scratchbuilding a unique machine.

Build an Autocar White Metal Kit: seven pages and 43 photos lavishly demonstrate an exceptional assembly and kitbash, in stunning detail: pastels; washes; super-detailing.  This feature demonstrates that while white metal kits have been eclipsed by styrene, resin and photo-etch, they can be built to challenge the latest-greatest multi-media models.

Embracing 3D Printing: four pages and fourteen photos demonstrate the appeal and potential of 3D printing.

Scratchbuild a 24-Foot Boxcar provides a super-detailed step-by-step tutorial through five pages of a multi-media boxcar. Twenty-plus photos provide a visual follow-along.

Work Crane Kitbash: I gained some ideas and knowledge from this short but remarkable article.

The Venado Post Office: five pages with 15 photos demonstrating a highly detailed scratchbuilt building.

East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad Scenery and Structures guides us along a historical survey of The Tweetsie’s unique environment and physical plant.  It is full of information apposite for freelancers as well as ET&WNC modelers, including mention of HO models suitable for Tweetsie locomotives. The author describes unusual ET&WNC equipment and facilitates, i.e.,swivel couplers, a unique coaling facility outside of Elizabethton.  This article is illustrated with vintage and rare color photographs.


Layouts and Operations

Short Line on a Mission: late summer along the water in a harbor town.

Iron Horse Sense: eight pages with 25 photos describes in-depth the fueling, watering, and maintaining steam locomotives, based upon prototypical operations of the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad.  Use of a laser knife to scratchbuild prototype structures is discussed.

The Gold Hill Project “Square-Footer” Micro Layout operating diorama brimming with detail.

Switching In/To HOn3 presents a modeler’s small and simple layout that serves businesses.

Otter Creek & Rio Grande: compact time-saver layout article showing brilliant construction techniques and outstanding modeling through 14 images in four pages.

A Room With a View: fascinating use of layout trackside camera and video screen to simulate looking out the window from a modeled dispatcher office.

Colorado in Switzerland: a 10-page photo-filled tour of a European model club.


Graphics – Photographs and Artwork

The visual component of this book is excellent.  The photographic quality of the images is professional, clear and illuminated,focused on pertinent subjects.  I find them definitely helpful with clarifying topics in the text.  Original images shot for these articles are the majority of the book, while prototype photos validate and support the modeling subject.  I noted at least one drawing illustrating a system to water steam locomotives.


White River Productions publishes excellent products and The HOn3 2021 Annual is inspirational and educational.  It combines prototypes, historical information, and exciting layouts and projects.  Glossy paper makes it even more appealing.   The publisher and contributors are generous with high-quality photos that present detailed steps of projects and layouts.  They are accompanied with captions that often impart as much information as the paragraphs they illustrate.  The projects are narrated clearly and full of detail.

This annual has been a joy to read and will take up its place in my reference and resource bookcase.  Recommended.

Please remember to mention to White River Productions and retailers that you saw this product here - on RailRoad Modeling.



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