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Best place to buy trains/locomotives

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Best place to buy trains/locomotives
Posted by Steffen1601 on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 10:31 AM

Hi All,

I am new (again) to model railroading and am wondering where is the best place to buy trains/cars/locomotives. Is there a preferred palce?

 

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Posted by csxns on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 4:48 PM

Steffen1601
preferred palce?  

Hobby Shop.

Russell

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 5:09 PM

Russ isn't being snarky, there is an advantage of having a local place where you can pick up an odd ball size Kadee coupler, paint, CA, or browse and buy things that you didn't know were available.

I think the biggest online retailers are Modeltrainstuff and Trainworld.  There are others, Caboose Hobbies, which recently took a political stand, Mainline Hobbies, MidwestModelRR, Star Hobbies, my local shop, Trainz, factory direct trains.

The preferred place is one that shows me they have, what I am ordering, in stock, for the lowest price.

There is one place to avoid, and I can't think of the name. It does not have model railroad in the name, the name sounds like a  general hobby store.  They claim to have it in stock, but do not, charge your credit card and you wait, maybe forever.

 

Henry

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Posted by York1 on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 5:16 PM

Welcome, Steffen.  This forum is a great place to get advice and help on just about any model RR problem you may have.  Also, we're interested in what you have planned for your layout, what scale, etc.

It sounds like you have been in the hobby before.  If so, my advice doesn't mean as much.

 

However, if you are brand new, like I was, then there's probably no substitute for a model train hobby shop.

I was able to take problems I was having there, and they showed me, step by step, how to correct them.  I specifically remember the owner took 45 minutes to show me how to take apart an N Scale locomotive, how to lubricate it if necessary, how to change couplers, etc.  Those were things that I probably would not have understood by watching Youtube.

York1 John       

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Posted by tstage on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 5:30 PM

BigDaddy
There is one place to avoid, and I can't think of the name. It does not have model railroad in the name, the name sounds like a general hobby store. They claim to have it in stock, but do not, charge your credit card and you wait, maybe forever.

Would that be Internet Trains?  I did order something from them back in 2005 that they actually had in stock at a very good price and I received it in a timely manner.  Most of time, however, they don't have much inventory and probably have things drop-shipped to the customer from wherever they order their stock from.

Tom

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Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 5:45 PM

Steffen1601

Hi All,

I am new (again) to model railroading and am wondering where is the best place to buy trains/cars/locomotives. Is there a preferred palce?

 

 

Many will say from your local hobby shop but, I would rather saved $30-50.00 from a on line shop and use that extra money for other needed items.  In short there is no need to pay full MSRP these days.

As a example last March I bought two $50.00 boxcars for $84.00 with free shipping. I had no need to drive 65 miles (130 mile round trip) to buy those cars at full or 10% off MSRP.

Another down side to hobby shops is that decades old excuse "I don't have one in stock,I can order it for you" or "I didn't recieve my preorder" or that "My preorder was short several fill the blank".

I can use 2 on line shops and e-Bay and get the items I need including paint,decals and detail parts.

 

Larry

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"Stay Alert, Don't get hurt  Safety First!"

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 5:53 PM

No it did not sound like a train store, Action hobbies, power hobbies or RC sports, none of those are it, but we had a thread on it in the last 3 months.  

I tried searching the word "review."  The search engine now seaches personal profiles on Trains.com. There are dozens of people whose profiles are just ads for bitcoin, male ED drugs, essay writing services and coffee grinder reviews.   I did not find the relavant thread.

Henry

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 6:29 PM

This is where I buy:

Locomotives:

BrassTrains Dot Com

Colonial Photo and Hobby (Orlando)

Rapido... if they ever let me

Freight Cars:

Direct from Kadee

eBay (most of what I want is out of production)

Model Train Stuff (online)

General Hobby Supplies:

Gulf Coast Model Railroading (Sarasota)

Model Train Stuff (online)

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Water Level Route on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 7:08 PM

BigDaddy
There is one place to avoid, and I can't think of the name. It does not have model railroad in the name, the name sounds like a  general hobby store.  They claim to have it in stock, but do not, charge your credit card and you wait, maybe forever.

HobbyLinc?

Mike

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 7:15 PM

I shop at my local train stores. Once you know what is out there and what values are then the Internet can work for you. 

I do know that train retailers generally know all about internet pricing and availability. Most have online shopping options also and some are internet vendors in their own right.

My local train store sells over eBay and if I happen to see one if their units there I can just call them directly and they'll set it aside for me. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by NittanyLion on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 7:34 PM

Water Level Route

 

 
BigDaddy
There is one place to avoid, and I can't think of the name. It does not have model railroad in the name, the name sounds like a  general hobby store.  They claim to have it in stock, but do not, charge your credit card and you wait, maybe forever.

 

HobbyLinc?

 

 

They've never done me wrong.

Internet Hobbies, though, has and I'm pretty sure that's the one in question.

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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 7:55 PM

All the good local hobby shops are gone in most places, we have left Trainworld which has fantastic prices on their special buys and Modeltrain stuff. There are others too.  I live in an area of 8 million and only two train shops remain, both of which the owners have a bad attitude.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 8:39 PM

Water Level Route
HobbyLinc?

No you guys made me go back through the posts, it was Action Powersports

Henry

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 9:17 PM

Now's not the time, but train shows can be great once they start having them again.

I'm also a big fan of the local hobby shop, although mine closed, then I moved, so I don't have one.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, July 30, 2020 6:04 AM

MisterBeasley
I'm also a big fan of the local hobby shop, although mine closed, then I moved, so I don't have one.

Time was after the end of my railroading career you could find me every Saturday morning  at a LHS until it closed due to the owner's health issues. I even worked part time in a shop until the owner retired in 2004.

I finally gave up on hobby shops due to the ever increasing MSRPs and better the discounts found on line shops..

I suspect if there was a well stocked hobby shop near me I would go there for the few items I need and for the needed  Accurail car kits.

 

 

Larry

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, July 30, 2020 6:53 AM

BigDaddy

Russ isn't being snarky, there is an advantage of having a local place where you can pick up an odd ball size Kadee coupler, paint, CA, or browse and buy things that you didn't know were available.

There are advantages, as mentioned above, and disadvantages as well.  Over the past 50 years, on the average, I've found most local hobby shops charge quite a bit more for trains and being on a limited budget, I found it very helpful to find sources that sold at a discount.  If you can afford the extra cost - by all means - local hobby shop.  If you are tight for money, here are two suggestions for online purchases I use:

modeltrainstuff.com

LombardHobbies

Yankee Dabbler is a pretty good place.

I've ordered from Trainworld a few times and had good service.

There are others, Caboose Hobbies, which recently took a political stand, 

I would call them Caboose hobbies with a lower case h, as they are not the same store as the long popular Caboose Hobbies, which closed in 2016.  Caboose, as they are called opened in March of 2017 with a new owner and as of some months ago were in financial difficulty and started a Go-Fund-Me site in April.  Some have complained they put orders in and have gotten no action and put in disputs with their CC company or PP to get their money back.  Add to that, as mentioned above, they have injected politics into their public statements.  I'm not sure if they have even re-pened for buisiness yet after closing "until further notice" some months ago during the pandemic.  Tread cautiously.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by joe323 on Thursday, July 30, 2020 10:43 AM

Being in Staten Island Trainworld has become both my LHS and my go to internet supplier when I don't want to pay the toll to get off the Island. Good customer service decent prices and same day pick up if I ever need it.  

Usually though I just wait till I want several items and send one order to save on shipping charges.

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by snjroy on Thursday, July 30, 2020 12:58 PM

It really depends on your location, what you're buying and how deep is your pocket. I have access to a hobby shop, and I will only avoid it when the price is way higher than online. I don't mind paying some premium because there are things I am paying for, that is, instant access, advice, easy return and... ongoing direct access. There are a few REALLY good hobby shops only a few hours away that I will go to two or three times a year. 

So, if you say the area where you live, some of the forum members may have recommendations for shops more or less near you. Would also good to know what you are modeling... Doesn't mean you have to buy all your stuff there, but a few special trips a year can be worth it.

Simon

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Posted by dstarr on Thursday, July 30, 2020 1:04 PM

Used to be, we had train shows, at which all sorts of dealers, clubs, individuals, would sell all sorts of stuff.  Prices could be very good indeed, and you could see and touch the product before buying it.  Too bad Corona virus has shut the all the train shows down.  Maybe they will come back in a while?  Much of the stuff on my layout  came from train shows. 

Then there is Walthers.  Big distributor and they sell over the internet.  They have everything.  Prices are not bad.  Walthers is reliable, give them your credit card and they will ship, not problem there. 

If you have a hobby shop near you they are great places for bits and pieces like couplers and paint and styrene and brass and wire and etc.  They also have locomotives and rolling stock.  Hobby shop prices are a bit high, but they will fix stuff that does not work when you get it home.  I miss the Littleton hobby shop that has been gone for 10 years.  My closest hobby shop now Hartmann's in Intervale. an hours drive away and looks to be going out of business slowly.  I will miss them too.

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Posted by santafe5000 on Thursday, July 30, 2020 3:26 PM

I have had good luck with Bobthetrainguy in South Carolina.

https://www.bobthetrainguy.com/

James in TexasCowboy

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Posted by csxns on Thursday, July 30, 2020 4:38 PM

santafe5000
Bobthetrainguy in South Carolina.

Where at in SC?

Russell

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Posted by PRR8259 on Saturday, August 1, 2020 10:19 PM

My last purchase from TrainWorld was horrible.  They took a gorgeous new Athearn Genesis SP 4-8-2 and threw it into a box with no--zero--packing material around the Athearn box.  The item arrived broken, with several things broken loose and/or damaged including a chunk of the cab roof broken.  I was able to repair it but was never happy with the engine, as I couldn't make it look right.  If the mail order place won't pack the product right, I don't buy from them again ever.

This year it is becoming even more common for Ebay sellers to just throw items into a Priority Mail box without any packing material at all.  That is playing Russian Roulette regarding damage potential.

I buy as much as I can from my closest local dealer, The Station, in New Cumberland, PA.  If they have it or can get it, I buy it from them.

Otherwise, I usually buy from English's Model RR Supply, which is about 80 miles farther away from me than The Station.

I like the wonderful service these shops provide, and there are a multitude of reasons I buy from the local train stores whenever possible.

Now, some of the dealers on Ebay have been bad about shipping properly, or claim items are "new" when they are definitely not. I just bought two allegedly nos steam engines off Ebay--both arrived  (each from a different dealer) without working smoke units--not a huge deal for me, but the items were clearly not "new" as advertised on Ebay.

I am getting to a point where I no longer have to buy items off Ebay, a point where if my local train stores can't pre-order it, then maybe I don't need it.  I already have enough trains on hand.

Buying from the cheapest possible place only encourages poor packing and shipping, and encourages them to represent used stuff as new and get away with it.  Or they send the dogs out mail order after cherrypicking the good ones.

There are a couple reputable Ebay dealers, who provide excellent service (it happens at least one is a regular full service train shop in Ohio--The Train Station).  Also Train Magic is good, and TJ Prantle.

John

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Posted by Doughless on Sunday, August 2, 2020 6:14 AM

Ebay mostly: I've purchased probably 100's of items off of ebay and got a few duds, but those were returned under ebay buyer protection policy and it never cost me a cent.  Can't remember a time when I got stuck with something, new or used.  I have more problems as a seller with picky buyers who use the excuse of an undescribed detail part being out of place to disguise buyer's remorse.

Lombard Hobby, Train World, Hiawatha Hobbies, SpringCreek Model Trains:  One usually has notably better prices on certain items than the other three, It varies, and they seem to buy enough stock to keep inventory for a while.  TrainWorld has had some slowness lately I think due to the pandemic.  I think each one of these has a brick and mortar store as their HQ still.

ModelTrain Stuff:  They've chased me off with what seems like a low inventory business model.  They never have much in stock for very long and its a matter of being on constant alert to pounce on a new arrival or sign up to a volume buyers club or something.  I'm not a fan of the BlackFriday sales concept where the buyer feels like they need to buy it right now or else it will be gone forever, and that's the vibe I've gotten from MBKlein recently.

Riverdale Station in ATL GA is a great LHS that can order items at good prices and does some service work for customers.

I don't have much luck at train shows anymore.  Mostly traveling dealers who only sell at MSRP...LOL...like they never heard of the internet.  I will find old poorly built structures to tear apart and use as kitbashing fodder or a piece of used rolling stock that meets my needs.

 

- Douglas

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Posted by rrebell on Sunday, August 2, 2020 10:35 AM

PRR8259

My last purchase from TrainWorld was horrible.  They took a gorgeous new Athearn Genesis SP 4-8-2 and threw it into a box with no--zero--packing material around the Athearn box.  The item arrived broken, with several things broken loose and/or damaged including a chunk of the cab roof broken.  I was able to repair it but was never happy with the engine, as I couldn't make it look right.  If the mail order place won't pack the product right, I don't buy from them again ever.

This year it is becoming even more common for Ebay sellers to just throw items into a Priority Mail box without any packing material at all.  That is playing Russian Roulette regarding damage potential.

I buy as much as I can from my closest local dealer, The Station, in New Cumberland, PA.  If they have it or can get it, I buy it from them.

Otherwise, I usually buy from English's Model RR Supply, which is about 80 miles farther away from me than The Station.

I like the wonderful service these shops provide, and there are a multitude of reasons I buy from the local train stores whenever possible.

Now, some of the dealers on Ebay have been bad about shipping properly, or claim items are "new" when they are definitely not. I just bought two allegedly nos steam engines off Ebay--both arrived  (each from a different dealer) without working smoke units--not a huge deal for me, but the items were clearly not "new" as advertised on Ebay.

I am getting to a point where I no longer have to buy items off Ebay, a point where if my local train stores can't pre-order it, then maybe I don't need it.  I already have enough trains on hand.

Buying from the cheapest possible place only encourages poor packing and shipping, and encourages them to represent used stuff as new and get away with it.  Or they send the dogs out mail order after cherrypicking the good ones.

There are a couple reputable Ebay dealers, who provide excellent service (it happens at least one is a regular full service train shop in Ohio--The Train Station).  Also Train Magic is good, and TJ Prantle.

John

 

You just got a mistake from Trainworld, why didn't you send it back. I have used them for over 20 years, never a problem and always well packed.

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Posted by PRR8259 on Sunday, August 2, 2020 10:52 AM

Whenever I have talked to TrainWorld on the phone, well, let's just say they are extremely brief to the point of being curt or rude, and I don't appreciate the attitude I get from them, that I don't get from other stores.  I've heard it's a NYC "thing".  I experienced other issues with products shipped from them too; that was merely the most egregious example.  They once told me they sent the latest version of an LGB mikado, that turned out to be factually not true, and as a result it had to have warranty repairs--twice within a year!  It was gone to San Diego for repairs (at $$$ shipping cost) more than it was home.  The SP engine was beyond their second chance...

I have had issues from other allegedly "reputable" shops too, and most of them warranted a second chance eventually, but TW is the worst.

John

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, August 2, 2020 10:55 AM

Doughless
ModelTrain Stuff:  They've chased me off with what seems like a low inventory business model.  They never have much in stock for very long and its a matter of being on constant alert to pounce on a new arrival or sign up to a volume buyers club or something. 

I have noticed this too. about a year ago I bought out their inventory of undecorated Kadee kit #4100 basic 40' boxcar with 6' door, and RTR #7501 undecorated hopper car. I think its was 8 of the boxcar and 5 of the hopper.

Since then, they never have more than 2 of each of these in stock. Their prices are great, but the stock levels they keep seem to get lower and lower.

Doughless
Riverdale Station in ATL GA is a great LHS that can order items at good prices and does some service work for customers.

That is the best Local Hobby Shop still in existence that I know of (with the possible exception of New Brookland in SC). Always neat and clean, well stocked, and a knowledgable friendly owner. Has all the building supplies you need in stock all the time.

I might never make it back there. For four years I shopped there more than any other hobby shop, but now that I am retired, no more spending 1-2 weeks a month in Atlanta.

I do miss that place.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by kasskaboose on Monday, August 3, 2020 6:55 AM

Add my vote for Modeltrain an Trainworld.  They are very fast and reliable.  Call me a snob but I don't buy trains 2nd hand.

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Posted by maxman on Monday, August 3, 2020 11:33 AM

santafe5000

I have had good luck with Bobthetrainguy in South Carolina.

https://www.bobthetrainguy.com/

 

Out of curiosity looked at the website.  Prices appear extremely high.  Cyber sale for Walthers depressed center flat was about $50.  Supposedly retail was about $80.  I got same car at show for less than $15.

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Posted by Steffen1601 on Monday, August 3, 2020 4:15 PM

So, I looked at local hobby shops, which there are very few left and they got nothing I need in stock and they aren't very knowledgeable either, so they would have to order anyways and they have a significantly higher price than what I found online. I really wanted to help the local business, but they don't make it easy, so I ended up buying everything I need at YankeeDabbler.com. I also called them, spoke with Bob, very friendly service for great prices. A Walthers diesel locomotive that others sell for $199 he has for $149, just as example.  

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