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Author Topic: Philosophical Question...Comments, posers, replies requested.  (Read 1023 times)
Ralph S

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« on: March 23, 2022, 05:23:17 PM »

How many train cars, locomotives included, does one need before friends, acquaintances consider you a collector, a hobbyist, or a hoarder?

Reason for asking this question:
Iím recently retired, finally getting back into this hobby.  For over fifty years, Iíve stored my original HO models.  Pulled them out for the kids who, later had no interest, then put them back into storage till now.   My collection was approx 89 cars, locos included.  I made an acquaintance with a defunct model store ownerís son, who provided more than 324 cars and locos (i.e., the son was adamant that I take them).  My original though pattern was to have only enough cars and locos that will fit on my layout.  If a car or loco overfills the layout it would have to stay in the box.  That I did not want.  So if there are cars and locos that cannot fit on your layout, and they are on the shelves, or still in their boxes, are you now considered a collector?  I presume that a hobbyist will use all of the cars and locos on the layout, with no extras still in a box.   A hoarder, again I presume, just collects and collects with no intention of putting them to use, or for that matter, store them as a collector would.  This is unlike railroad track, one can never have too many railroad tracks.

My layout is in its pre-built phase.  I can surmise that only 215 of those cars will fit on the layout, without being on the main line.  With all the extra cars, I think my acquaintances may look at my collection and stamp me as a hoarder, unless I go and hide those extra cars in a closet.  I donít want to sell the extras cause I feel that the store ownerís son would not have provided them to me if he thought I would sell them.
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jward


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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2022, 05:48:22 PM »

To answer your question, I am going to provide another perspective: that of the railfan modeller.

For many years, I've kept a log of the trains and locomotives I've seen. Listings include location, date& time, train symbol, and other data. In doing so certain patterns of operation have emerged. Shifters (local trains) and yard locomotives tend to stay put, and are rotated in and out of the area when they need inspections or servicing. Road trains will have a consist that will run through the area, and may or may not come back through in the other direction in a couple days time. When they get to the end of their runs, they are serviced and used on another train which can run on any of the routes out of that particular terminal. The same holds true for freight cars.

What does this have to do with the layout? Plenty! In order to model operations like these, cars and locomotives are rotated on and off the railroad so that you are never running the same train twice. In doing so, all those cars and locomotives you've spent a lifetime "collecting" become part of the operating scenario.

To me one of the most irritation things about model railroad videos is where the modeller obviously has a layout full of locomotives and cars, yet films the same train endlessly looping around the track. It would be much better to switch up the trains in the video so that the same one never appears more than once.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
Len

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« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2022, 05:57:14 PM »

I'm with Jeff.

Right now my layout is in boxes due to space constraints. When it's set up, I have more cars than will ever fit on my layout. So I built shelf units that fit under the layout to store the extra cars on. "Train Orders" periodically rotate cars between the yards and the shelves.

Len
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If at first you don't succeed, throw it in the spare parts box.
the Bach-man
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« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2022, 12:38:37 AM »

Dear Ralph,
As a rule of thumb, the perfect number of cars or locos is "one more"...
Have fun!
the Bach-man
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jonathan


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« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2022, 07:18:03 AM »

That's just about right.  Grin

Have more trains than will fit on my layout... mostly because I have a small brass collection, and I'm obsessed with building craftsman kit boxcars. Hoarding? I think not.  Wink

Tinkering brings me peace-of-mind.

Does your collection bring you joy? Are your loved ones sheltered and fed? There ya go.

Regards,

Jonathan
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Fred Klein

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« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2022, 12:45:52 PM »

I agree with the Bach-man! I currently have my G and HO stuff packed away. Moved from up-north to Florida about 40 years ago and the HO trains from my basement layout got packed and never got unpacked (no basements in South Florida, hence no room for a decent-sized layout). Due to space limitations, switched to N-scale at my son's suggestion and did that for quite a while (basically a Pink Pacific layout) until my arms became too short to see the fine detail. This caused me to switch to On30 and I've been playing with different track designs that will fit on the existing layout structure. I've always enjoyed building models and On30 lets me do that and still be able to see well enough to place small details on rolling stock, etc. All of the N-scale equipment went to my son.

I also collected Mšrklin Z-scale and had small table-top layout for quite a while. Finally gave up trying to see it and gave all of it to my son's best friend, who is an avid and excellent modeler and thought that he might enjoy having a small model railroad around.

As for the G scale, it started with Bachmann Big Hauler waaaaayyy back. This was a B&O Royal Blue (not sure of the exact name) set that we purchased for around the Christmas tree and used it for quite few years. During that time, I was in a hobby shop and they had a beat-up Big Hauler freight set missing the power supply. Since by that time the Big Haulers were getting more scarce, I told the store owner that I was interested in purchasing a complete set if he had on in the back - he did not. He did, however offer me this set at a VERY good price. Since I didn't need the power supply, I bought it. The plan is to, at some point, set up a small garden railroad.

So, I don't know if that makes me a collector, a hoarder, or just plain nuts.
  
« Last Edit: March 26, 2022, 02:13:48 PM by Fred Klein » Logged

Fred Klein
Okeechobee, FL
Trainman203

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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2022, 08:41:57 AM »

1.  You donít need a basement to have a model railroad. Down South we usually have attics that once insulated are great railroad rooms.  If you have property you can have a building behind your house.  In coastal MS we live in a flood zone so the house is raised 10í off the ground. I have a layout in that open air yet covered space.  The only thing that limits my layout size is how much track I want to clean, since being 2 blocks from the Gulf we have salt air on it all the time, and a daily surgical scrub is required.  And we have mosquitoes most of the year that will carry you off but itís nothing that screening wonít solve, which is coming.  Also, being near the woods, night roving critters sometimes patrol my layout.  I know theyíve been up there by minor movements of this building and that, but thereís never nothing awful.  Of course all of this means that you have to pick up all the equipment when you are finished operating .  Which brings me to Ö..

2.  Number of cars on the layout vs those in storage.  Jeffery is right about realistic operations involving continual swap out of cars so that you donít see the same ones all the time.  This layout operates comfortably with about 15 cars and one engine.  I have 9 engines and about 120 cars.  At our other house in town, I also have a layout.  Itís 3 times as large and can operate with 40 cars and 4 or 5 engines.  But!  Over there I have 80 steam engines, 20 diesels, and maybe 600 cars.  Most are in storage but all run from time to time.  Does this bother me?  OF COURSE NOT!  in reality, the cars are spread over 4 general historical time periods, so my 1910 cars never run with the 1950 ones.
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Ralph S

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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2022, 11:37:27 AM »

Wow!   Interesting information from everyone.   This makes me feel much better.   I was considering that I was becoming a hoarder, for the mere fact that I didnít want to get rid of any of the cars. 
Quote
...the most irritation things about model railroad videos is where the modeler obviously has a layout full of locomotives and cars, yet films the same train endlessly looping around the track.
I found that I have the same irritation...so for my layout, my vision is to be able to hide the train for some length of time before you see it again.  That is, the main line will actually disappear under the layout, maybe have it go through a modified helix at one end and then resurface at the other end of the layout.  Thereby I can have the above ground layout with all the towns, cities, switching operations including subway train involved and then after, say a 2 minute hiatus the train reappears.  Iím also thinking about putting a pause in the train under the layout to add more anticipation to it returning.

By the way, my layout is a work in progress.  Having all these cars and engines now, is keeping me quite busy. Iím replacing a lot of wheels, couplers, and let alone this fancy concept of designing the layout and track with power supply.  Not to mention keeping the wife happy.   

This tinkering does bring piece of mind, brings back all the memories of my youth.
I havenít been able to grasp the reason to have different scale models yet.  The N and Z scale are way to much for my aging eyes to absorb.  The O and G scale are cute but they do take up much space.  So Iím staying with the goldilocks version...HO for now.
Quote
...realistic operations involving continual swap out of cars so that you donít see the same ones all the time.
Now that makes lots of sense, thatís something I hadnít thought about, as a kid that would have never occurred to me.  Iím old now, and Iím going to look forward to changing out all those cars, even though I now have several of the same type cars, i.e. 20 bulkhead cars, 14 log cars. etc.

Lastly, after absorbing all the responses, I can now look forward and state to my friends and acquaintances that Iím a Model railroader not a hoarder, or a collector.

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rustycoupler

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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2022, 05:13:30 PM »

Never too many trains, i am in n scale so they are easy to hide lol, but when they get in the way of everyday chores..... well. I even buy junkers because its very rewarding to take a engine that will never run again , and pow, she is pulling a train again.
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Trainman203

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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2022, 08:52:02 AM »

Model railroad equipment with only a few exceptions has near-zero resale value.  I donít know why some modelers sometimes decide to sell large collections en masse to build a layout of a different prototype or era. The return is always abysmal.


But. Very Good for me. I have filled long vacant holes in my own collection via eBay.  Models of 1920s/30ís/40ís equipment are becoming harder to find on the regular market as time passes.  Long-discontinued items live on in the on line auction setting.

And.  I am even near-completion of my own heritage train- a re enactment of my very first HO train.  Except of course the DC turkey that posed as a locomotive.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2022, 08:57:21 AM by Trainman203 » Logged
Ralph S

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« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2022, 11:38:47 PM »

Mr Trainman.

I reread your previous response about critters moving about on your layout and it jogged my memory for way back when.

When I was playing with my train set sometimes, Iíd take it apart and set it up outside on the patio.  I remember that there was an ant path where I laid my train track.  I then got some dirt (kinda like sand) and put it down so the ants would cross the track instead of going under the rails or in-between the rail ties.   I believe you can visualize what I or the locomotive and train cars performed.   Scrubbing the track after running over critters can be a track cleaning issue.

As for looking for old train cars to obtain.  I have to believe that there is an exception on the part of resale of those old cars.   Donít get me wrong, steam engines will always be a premium since those older ones are rare.   But for those old Tycoís, Bachmann's, Manhua train cars- from what Iíve seen on E-bay they are not that cheap.  The cars I have exactly being the same as the ones showing on E-bay have increased quite a bit.   My train car boxes have from $1.99 to $7.99.   Those same cars on E-bay are now pushing from $10 to $25, more if they are new.  I did find that a train car ďlotĒ instead of ones and twosees are the better deal.     
But what am I chatting about, I have too many cars currently and most of the new train cars out today are container type (modal), longer than 40 ft, along with other type of long cars.  Using those longer cars lowers the number of train cars that the train can pull.

 So my question is: Is it better to have many short (40 ft or less) train cars to pull the same length of train, or is it better to have fewer longer (48 ft to 72 ft) train cars to pull the same length of train?

To me... more train cars is more enjoyable.
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jward


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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2022, 08:57:02 AM »

The answer to that question depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Shorter cars are usually older cars. Some industries, such as mining, use alot of shorter cars even now because the loads are heavy. Lighter loads tend to be hauled in longer cars because they will run out of space long before they overload the car.

Personally, I run on 18 inch curves. My railroad is set in the mountains of Maryland and West Virginia in the 1970s, so cars longer than 50 feet were rare. And that fits in perfectly with the railroad I have. I can use diesels that are small enough to negotiate the curves, while strong enough to pull modest sized trains up the steep grades. I don't have the problems the steam guys have, where the locomotives I need to pull the grades won;t make it around the curves without derailing, and the locomotives I can use won't pull the trains I run. If I had the room, I'd widen the curves to 24 inch which would allow me to run almost any diesel, and allow longer cars. But what I have fits well for me.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
Trainman203

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« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2022, 07:42:37 AM »

I have two layouts in two different towns where we have a house.  The small one is a 4x8 cut into two 2x8ís arranged in an L.  The other is two of those arranged into a U.

I have equipment from 3 eraís, the 1910ís, 1935 and 1950.  The cars and engines get larger as you advance in time.  Itís incredible how much larger the layout looks with the smaller equipment, and fewer cars at the same time as well.  I have a good number of 50í cars and most of them havenít been on the rail for years now.  Long ago I had intended to run passenger trains with foreshortened 60í heavyweight cars but quickly found that they just looked too big on there, even with being shorter than their actual prototypes.  I have several mikado steam locomotives that look too big on the layout as well.  I am thankful for the smaller steam engines offered by the Bach Man and nobody else.  No diesel will ever polish my rail.

In such a reduced setting, the modeling of an earlier period branch line or short line makes a lot of sense.  Thatís basically the only prototype example Iíve ever followed for some 60 years now, after a 4x8 that tried ridiculously to represent a heavy main line.

« Last Edit: May 04, 2022, 07:47:32 AM by Trainman203 » Logged
Piyer


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« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2022, 03:07:28 AM »

I model in three scales, and have equipment ranging from Z to 1:29 scales. So, basically, I'm a few models shy of being featured on Hoarders.
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~AJ Kleipass~
Actively modeling in N, HO, and 2-rail O scales.
Ralph S

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« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2022, 05:13:47 PM »

Quote
...model in three scales and have equipment ranging from Z to 1:29 scales...
If you're modeling in three or more scales, are they all on the same layout?   Wouldn't it be confusing which train is which?  Do the trains of different scales cross one another on the layout.   I've seen multiple scales of trains in the hobby shop but that's to support sales with limited space. The hobby shop isn't trying to make it look good, but to increase sales in that limited space. 

To each his own, I'm just curious as to what makes this so intriguing.  Of course, all bets are off, if each train scale has its on unique layout.
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