I think estate sales are an underrated place to buy trains. While some things have changed from 15 years ago when I started, there are still good finds out there. Here are my tips for buying trains at estate sales.
There are lots of places to find trains, including train stores, antique shops, train shows, and placing want ads. But buying trains straight out of people’s estates is surprisingly effective, and can be economical too.
It’s fairly common for hobbyists with extremely large train layouts to use outdoor landscape transformers instead of specialized train transformers to power the lights and accessories on their layouts. Landscape transformers are large, rugged, and less expensive. But it can be confusing how to set them up. So here’s a step by step guide to using landscape transformers on train layouts.
I use PC power supplies to power lights and accessories, but that limits me to 12 volts DC for power. I’m OK with that. But if you want 15 volts AC, or you’re uncomfortable modifying a PC power supply, low-voltage landscape transformers are another viable alternative. I don’t think they’re as economical as an old PC power supply, but they cost much less per watt than a train transformer.
I had an interesting question come in: Can you paint American Flyer train track? You can, if you’re careful about it. There could be a couple of reasons to want do that. Here’s what you need to know about painting electric train track and why you might want to do such a thing.
Ironically, the main reasons to do it are to make old track look less rusty than it is, or to make new track look old and rusty.
I like to support my local dealers, and of course Ebay makes it easy to buy trains, but there’s still nothing like an old-fashioned train show. Here are my train show tips that I’ve found helped me in the past. Hopefully they’ll help you too.
You may recognize some of these from my tips for garage sales and estate sales, but some of the methods are unique to shows. Also, not all shows are the same, and my tips may work better for local shows than traveling shows but most of them should work for both types.
A multimeter is an inexpensive tool that has several great uses in model railroading, especially if you deal with used or vintage trains a lot. Knowing how to use one will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Narrow gauge railroading is almost always confusing, and On3 vs On30 is no exception. They sound similar, and they are, though there are some differences.
Narrow gauge has a following among hobbyists who want to be able to model small areas accurately. Most basements don’t have adequate space to model a big-name railroad with any kind of scale accuracy. But it’s possible to model a small narrow gauge operation in a small space. Narrow gauge O scale trains are a great compromise for people who want big trains in a small space.
The distinction of O scale vs O gauge can be confusing for some people, especially newcomers to model railroading. Some people can get uptight about the difference, so here’s how to distinguish the two so you can avoid offending someone.
HO scale is the most popular scale for model railroading, partly because its size represents a good compromise. It’s small enough that you can fit a decent layout in a reasonable space without it taking over your basement. But it’s big enough that you can see it. But how big is HO scale? How big is an HO scale train?