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Author Topic: question on future  (Read 3933 times)
whatsamatteru

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« on: August 22, 2009, 02:00:23 PM »

trains in the past, pre war and post war are for the most part collectible and worth something.  my question is are the trains they make today going to be worth anything.  the reason i ask is because unlike the trains of yesterday the trains today have all kinds of technology in them.  the problem with tech is in 6 months or a year its old.  i can amagine my son opening a trains from me when he is 40 only to find out that it is a dinosour and the tech is so old he cant even find the stuff to run it.  it would be like a kid today not playing with his xbox 360 live and play with a commodor 64.
what do you think?
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jonathan


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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2009, 03:56:09 PM »

I can't speak to value, HO stuff has never retained it's value, well.  It's priceless to me, though.

Consider this... Since Athearn came out with their new drive system, in the early 70's,  all companies' drive systems are incredibly similar, even to this day.  There is a single motor, with a drive shaft, connected to a worm gear, which drives all the wheels.  The wheels all pick up current to send to the motor.  From 1932 to the 1970's, every which way was tried to make a dependable drive system in a small space.

Granted there are changes in metal types (not necessarily improvements), additions like flywheels, LEDs, DCC (which is really a communication system, called the 'dark side' by some), different plastics, etc.  But generally, the overall system hasn't changed much in 40 years.  How could it?  The prototype only gets bigger and more powerful.  Again, since arrival of diesel, the drive train (pun intended) is still about the same.  BTW has anyone else notice that the new "hybrid cars" really do what trains have been doing for generations?  They turn combustable power into electrical power into mechanical power.  Auto engineers were probably train engineers once upon a time.

What was your question?  Oh yes,  I can understand the mechanics of the trains my grandfather handed down to me.  And I'm guessing my son will understand the trains I give to him.  Don't think there's gonna be a big market for maglev model trains in the near future.

OK down off my soap box now.

Regards,

Jonathan
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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2009, 04:34:05 PM »

Technology will undoubtedly advance.  So the train control systems of today may be as antiquated to your son or grandson as the 78 rpm record is to us today.  However, I can still play a 78 record, or even an Edison cylinder if I really want to and am willing to find the equipment to do so.  But if the performance or performer are of special interest to me,  I am more likely to have it transcribed to more modern technology, or purchase someone else's transcription.  In fact, as I write, I am listening to a CD of jazz originally recorded on 78's in the 30's and 40's.

I suspect the concept of running model trains using electric motors will be with us for a long time yet.  But I can see the day coming when the electric power will be provided by on board batteries instead of through the rails.  And control will be direct to the locomotive, possibly via digital radio (like Air Wire) but more likely by something completely different. 

Your old fashioned trains with all of today's latest DCC and sound on board will have zero compatibility with whatever new system is developed.  This will leave your son/grandson with three possibilities:
- leave your old trains on the shelf as a memento of days gone by.
- acquire suitable controls, probably from an antique shop or a collector.
- replace the controls (and probably the motor) with the latest equipment.

I find myself doing all three now, today:
-  I collect old cameras, particularly box cameras.  Film has not been available for some of them for 50 or 60 years.  But the collection still represent a period in the development of photography.  Today I am starting to add digital cameras.
-  I also collect old MARX trains, restore them, and run them from time to time with transformers that are half a century old and more, sometimes much more.
-  And I update my old H0 trains with up to date decoders and sometimes new motors.  It would be fair to ask why I bother with 50 year old trains when I can buy newer, better ones cheaper.  The answer would have to be that they and I have history - sometimes it is a time and place I acquired them, sometimes it is who gave them to me, sometimes it is other things.

Bottom line, your son/grandson has the same options as we do today.  Whether or not that will affect the value of your trains in the distant future, I do not know.  I do know that a set of MARX trains that retailed for $20 in 1950 is now worth $200 in really nice condition.  But that is not even enough to keep up with inflation.  I also know that people are willing to pay even more than that to have their dad's old train set restored so they can pass it on to their son or grandson.  The added factor is sentimental value.

What I think is that your son/grandson will be very pleased to receive your old trains, whether he can run them or not.  If he is at all interested in model trains, he will get them running, one way or the other.  And if not, he will still be pleased to show off what to him will be family heirlooms.

Incidentally, we should both be reminded that there are daughters and granddaughters in this world too.  And a number of them are interested in trains as well.

Jim
 
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Growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional.
whatsamatteru

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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2009, 08:11:50 PM »

thanks guys.  those were some really really good answers.  things i did not think of.  im new to the hobby and i think i am going to dabble in both.  i really like bachmann the best today of o gauge stuff,  but i also am attracted to post war stuff from the 50's.  currently i have my dads train he got when he was 8 years old running on my layout and i have a stereo underneath with a train cd in it for sound.  sounds great to me.  i still dont understand how a diner passenger car can be 60 dollars and then add sound to it and its 139.  i mean i can talk thru a walkie talkie and have it recorded out the other end and it sounds just like crew talk or my train cd for the chuf chuf.  seems like there really upping the price on those things that probally cost 5 bucks to put in.
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jonathan


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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2009, 05:28:49 AM »

SOUNDS great!  Remember, enjoy your trains anyway you want to.  Like you, I have some old things running on my railroad, that my grandfather had.  My layout is mostly modern era, but I really enjoy being able to get something perhaps 60 years old to join my modern stuff for a trip around the loop.  I've only been at this for three years.  I had to wait until I retired from my first career, before I could play with my trains.  It's a lifelong passion.

Regards,

Jonathan
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CNE Runner


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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2009, 09:48:49 AM »

I have been an avid collector (mostly Lionel), appraiser, and vendor of classic trains for a number of years. There was a time when the Lionel #700E [Hudson 1937-1942] brought enough money to put a down payment on a home or buy a new car. While the latest price guides I have still list the #700E having a mint price of $5,000, that would be hard to fetch in this economy. Frankly the value of classic trains has dropped through the floor. My advice to collectors is to keep insuring their collections based upon appraised value; and hold off any liquidation on all but their most inexpensive items.

Simply put: an item is only worth what someone else will pay for it. With the possible exception of some brass items; HO trains have never retrained anything more than a fraction of their value. As someone who was immersed in the collection market, I would strongly suggest that you put your money in other investments...like railroad stock.

In addition to the above, there is the intrinsic value an object has...what emotional, or aesthetic, value does something possess...what pleasure do you derived from its ownership? Frankly, one cannot put a dollar/euro/yen/peso value on these types of objects. For example: How much would you take for your dog, or your cat, or your life? Trains generally fall into this category. We enjoy our hobby and rationalize the expense of something that will ultimately return 25% (or less of its value). It is 'our thing'.

In summary, if you plan on investing in model trains; you really need a good financial planner. Trains are for fun - plain and simple - invest in gold for the future.

Ray
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"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"
Woody Elmore

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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2009, 11:25:41 AM »

Speaking of railroad stock, a friend inherited PRR stock from his dad. It later converted to (I hate to say it) Penn Central stock. So he framed the now worthless PC stock certificates and has them in his den. So much for railroad stock

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whatsamatteru

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« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2009, 12:55:39 PM »

hi, i am a investment consultant.  but i wasnt asking the question because i was using this as an investment, just i was wondering.  i just bought a lionel 11700 conrail limited set c-8 and c-9 boxes for 154 out the door.  i believe that set was around 500 bucks when it came out.  now im getting it for a price of a entry level penn flyer.  i think the key is buy nothing new at all.  wait a couple of years and get it for a ton less.  oh yea any opinions on that set?  thanks
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bobwrgt

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« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2009, 03:25:22 PM »

Check the stuff selling on ebay and you will see that quite a few trains have retained their value.
I started buying Lionel when i was 15 yrs old. I purchased alot used and in garage sales and on sale close-out. After 25 years i sold it for three time what i paid. I'm talking a 14ft trailer of stuff.
I then built a garden railway with 95ft of track. Again i purchased at shows, on sale, and close-outs. Had to move after 15years and sold all the trains for what i paid or more.
I also collected over 200 engines in n-scale and sold then for what i payed or more after 15years.
Now i am retired and into HO with over 200 engines again.
You can see the trend, do the research and purchase when the price is right. Never pay retail. Never pre-order a new release and you will pay half when it goes on sale.
Look at ebay again most Athearn, Atlas, AHM, Mantua, Rivarossi, always sell for what they did in the 60's and 70's or more. Some models 3 or 4 times their origional price with plenty of bidders.
I think there always will be modelers running DC only and older DCC systems in the future.
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CNE Runner


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« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2009, 09:30:31 AM »

I haven't read this thread in a while and realize that a couple of points need response.

Woody: Your dad would have had an entirely different result had he invested in Union Pacific, CSX, Santa Fe (or Burlington Northern), or Norfork Southern paper. Railroads seem to be entering a new growth era that shows no sign of abating (especially Canadian roads). Speaking of Canadian roads; Omnitrack operates small branchlines and is a very hot stock.

Whatsamatteru (whose sister is named Whatsamatterhr): There are lots of price guides on the market...all saying about the same thing. Personally, I like the TM series (available from www.tmbooks-video.com) although others prefer the Greenberg guides. Either of these publications should have your collection items listed; and will give you some idea of what your items are worth in a perfect world.

I like the way Bob put it: "...do the research and purchase when the price is right. Never pay retail." Good advice for any scale. If you pay retail (MSRP), I strongly doubt you will get anywhere near the purchase price down the road. Additionally, you will spend less money if you stick with DC (then again you would have saved a lot of money if you had stayed with your old 19" TV).

As a part-time vendor of classical trains, I ask all of you to keep attending train shows and help us move our inventory.

Thanks,
Ray
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"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"
Woody Elmore

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« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2009, 10:25:20 AM »

CNE Runner: Since the Penn Central debacle I have never dabbled in buying RR stock but I have mutual funds that hold railroad paper. You are definitely correct about the upturn in value of stock like CSX or UP.

As for collecting, people collect things they like and I don't think that price enters the picture. For example Tyco made a ridiculous loco that they called a GG-1. It was a funny looking thing but is collectible today because of the relative rarity and as a curiousity. These command a good price if you can locate one. Me? I wouldn't pay five cents for one.

I have a friend who has collected beer cans from all over the world for many years. His wife and family think he's a bit daft. He says emptying many of the cans himself was a labor of love.

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jonathan


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« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2009, 11:45:47 AM »

"As a part-time vendor of classical trains, I ask all of you to keep attending train shows and help us move our inventory.  Thanks, Ray"

Thank YOU, Ray!

I can only afford to attend two train shows a year... because I go bananas!  I want to buy every piece of treasure I see.  I have to leave after I've emptied my wallet.  I never bring a credit card to a show because I'd go extra bananas.   

I know no one else will appreciate the value of what I collect.  But my trains are worth every penny spent.  Keep having the shows, and I'll keep coming ready to gather more treasure.

Thanks,

Jonathan
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CNE Runner


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« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2009, 07:51:48 AM »

Well said...Jonathan...well said.

Ray
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"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"
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