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Thread: Inexpensive rail cars

  1. #21
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    Just looking on ebay now, crazy prices. In some the shipping is near or more than the actual bid/purchase price. And I'm looking at Canada only.

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    I know when I first came back into the hobby a few years ago, I wanted to buy everything I saw. Not very frugal, money wise! To lessen the impact on my wallet, I bought LOT OF CHEAP CARS! Eventually, I calmed down. I settled into buying a couple of cars every month. Over the last 5 years, I have gone to buying a car every couple of months.

    I have learned that this a lesson in time management. I'll be in the hobby for years to come and I don't need everything that's out there. Take your time, spend the money on quality locos & rolling stock. Over time, a long time, you'll be happier in the end. It worked for me!
    N-joy!
    Tred - (USN-Ret.)
    Kansas City, KS
    (Sent using @ 1000Mbps)
    "No matter where you go, there you are!"

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  4. #23
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    Part of the problem is that everyone want's the fine details in everything. Picking over the small details, it's okay if that's the only one your getting for your model collection. But when you try to put together a proto-typical train, do the fine details matter? As long as it runs on the rails like it should without derailing. There's a review for an ore car from Bachmann for $30 that just went up in the forum. While not perfect, if you want to model the typical ore train that has 50+ cars, your looking at over $1500 for a train of that one car. Even for just 10 cars, your looking at $300. Chances are you won't try to run a train of that length, especially with that price. And in the real world, those cars won't stay pristine, they will be beat to heck. That goes for all other rail cars as well.

    Guess in comes down to weather you want to be a collector of detailed rolling stock or just want to run proto-typical length trains without needing a bank loan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cybr View Post
    Part of the problem is that everyone want's the fine details in everything. Picking over the small details, it's okay if that's the only one your getting for your model collection. But when you try to put together a proto-typical train, do the fine details matter? As long as it runs on the rails like it should without derailing. There's a review for an ore car from Bachmann for $30 that just went up in the forum. While not perfect, if you want to model the typical ore train that has 50+ cars, your looking at over $1500 for a train of that one car. Even for just 10 cars, your looking at $300. Chances are you won't try to run a train of that length, especially with that price. And in the real world, those cars won't stay pristine, they will be beat to heck. That goes for all other rail cars as well.

    Guess in comes down to weather you want to be a collector of detailed rolling stock or just want to run proto-typical length trains without needing a bank loan.
    Wanting details on everything isn’t a problem. I’m glad more modelers are striving for quality. That’s what drives the hobby to a better place.

    I used to collect ‘filler cars’, like many modelers I figured I would have a monster layout. It can be easy to make those cars disappear in a long train. As long as the first 4 cars and the last 4 cars look nice, your eye and brain float right over the rest. My theory proved right at train shows.

    Then I built my home layout. I realized I didn’t need all the cars I had bought. I sold off 2/3 of what I had. The filler cars were the first to go. I made the decision that I wanted quality over quantity. Most people don’t have room for prototypical length trains. I figured if I’m running trains, I want every car to be as high quality as possible. The idea of owning a lot of cheap stuff isn’t appealing to me. If your cars are sitting in foam boxes or jewel cases, I guess details don’t matter. If you are starting out or don’t have a great budget, it doesn’t take much work to dress up cars, adding details and such.

    The problem in my mind is cheap cars tend to be that... cheap. Not even talking details, they tend to be too light, have low quality wheels, trucks and couplers. Once you fix those problems so they run better, you still have a car with too high a ride height in most cases. And now you have spent money on it that you wouldn’t have had to spend on a quality car. So many people want the large volume that they buy a lot of cheap cars, take them to a show or friends house and get upset when they derail, shoestring, or uncouple every few feet. They get discouraged and take their trains home.

    You can can get a Kia for $14,000, or you can get a Corvette for $56,000. Why do people pay more for the Corvette? Because it’s worth it.
    Karl

    CEO of the Skally Line, an Eastern MN Shortline

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    Quote Originally Posted by dwwojcik View Post
    This isn't 2067 either. Today tooling a factory is a major undertaking and is very expensive, no matter what you're making.
    Having been a Plant Engineer for a rubber plant, tooling is a huge cost compared even to labor, and most is all up front. Even with terms, it is a major hit to cash flow for companies.

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  8. #26
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    In general terms - you're looking at a manufacturer to retail markup of 40% or more; because the structure in the past has been for manufacturer to distributor to retail shop. That' last chunk is at least 40%. Which is how you can afford to discount 20-30% and get away with it as a retailer, if you have to. If you're mail-order competition is a distributor or online, you can see how the brick & mortar takes it in the teeth.

    The tooling cost is greatly exacerbated by the variations in the prototypes and the number of additional parts. It isn't enough that the model has a scale-width hood, now it has to have the proper grilles, hood latches, air conditioner, and snowplow. Each of which requires not just a separate mold, but inventory control, batch control by prototype, and assembly plan. It's geometric in nature.

    My approach is that I really want to see that scale width hood, and whatever you do, at least do it right... but don't run up cost by doing the perfect headlight pack, number boards, and prototype-specific details. That's a modelers job.

    One option I never hear much about but I've seen done successfully is if you're trying to build a true unit train of 'whatevers', directly approach the manufacturer for a custom build, or even a custom car number, if you're talking a lot of 100+ cars. I did that myself with MDC on my 100-ton unit coal hoppers, bought undecs for 50% of retail back in the 80's and did custom decals to get what I wanted. Another friend of mine did a custom lot with Micro-trains on his 50-ton B&O coal hoppers. Those had a custom number and after his passing, retained their full value as collectibles as they were oddballs.

    If you just want scads of miscellaneous cheap cars, look for estate sale liquidations on the auction sites. If you adopt the mindset that you'll simply re-auction the culls right back out, it's a pretty good approach. It's hard to beat, particularly if they've at least been converted to MT trucks and couplers instead of 1970's Rapidos and bad wheels. You're doing the seller a favor too, as they really need to unload the stuff.

    I don't think you'll ever see the day again of sub-quality, low-price cars in volume; the Trainman approach of Atlas is as close as you'll get. Until Chinese prices really started to climb against the dollar you had Bachmann, not so much anymore.

    While there's a lot of crap cheap cars out there, there are a few amazing winners. Bachmann's old Pullman Standard covered hopper in the original ATSF herald scheme is as nice a car as you'll ever find for paint and finish and dirt cheap compared to a virtually identical car from Intermountain, just no etched metal roofwalks.

    I'm to the point now where I'm culling most of the remaining old cars and upgrading what I'm keeping, but it's a small layout with about 200 cars, and I can afford to. A good example of that was a three-year campaign to replace every caboose I had with the Intermountain ATSF Ce- series cars, and upgrade the two older Trix ones with etched metal detail. About 10 repainted Trix cabooses went out to auction, all rapidly sold.
    Randgust N scale kits web page at www.randgust.com

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