Trains.com

Convert?

703 views
10 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    July 2007
  • From: Clifton, NJ
  • 22 posts
Convert?
Posted by trainman07011 on Monday, December 27, 2021 7:01 PM

Hello!

 

I am currently in another scale and considering converting to high rail O gauge. I have an extensive collection that would be sold to finance said conversion, so money would really not be much of a limitation. I do have several concerns that I hope all of you can help me with.

 

1. I understand that Lionel is experiencing unprecedented quality control issues, is this true?

2. With MTH departing the market, this will leave Lionel with virtually no competition on the high end of the market. How much of a concern is this to people modeling in this scale?

3. I understand that there are often serious availability problems with O scale models. I would be mainly interested in smaller PRR steam locos like 2-8-0s, 4-4--2s and 4-6-2s. Also 40s and 50s rolling stock. How hard are these to find and once found how much of a premium do they command?

 

Thanks in advance for your help.

 

  • Member since
    June 2013
  • 257 posts
Posted by smokey1 on Monday, December 27, 2021 9:28 PM

40's & 50's rolling stock is fairly easy to obtain thru secondary markets ( ie eBay, Local hobby shops, etc. ) 

I'm a little confused as to what do you want, You start out talking like you want new production engines then you goto postwar style rolling stock. I have some modern engines and some post-war engines. Now, most postwar can be converted to be run through a command system. There 2 ways you can add it to your engine or use what they call TPC ( Track Power Converter ) 

Most modern ( new ) engines are bought through what they call BTO (Built To Order) and you can wait for 1 maybe 2 or more years to finally get it, as they take orders then they have them built, then it has to go through there QC. Then it gets through custom which can take months, then loaded onto a slow ship from China, probably docking in CA. then customers again and finally through pack and ship to where ever here in the states. Now just like anything, you hear the negative about an item. You hardly hear the positives because people like to complain more than rave about something. I would suggest if you can sell what you want save the money and then go to a train show like the TCA show in York, PA. which is held twice a year, You will have to join the TCA and buy a ticket. But that is the place to me, get your best deal and most will give you so much info ( if you ask ) your head may be spinning by the time you leave.

 

  • Member since
    March 2013
  • 514 posts
Posted by BigAl 956 on Tuesday, December 28, 2021 8:58 AM

trainman07011
1. I understand that Lionel is experiencing unprecedented quality control issues, is this true? 2. With MTH departing the market, this will leave Lionel with virtually no competition on the high end of the market. How much of a concern is this to people modeling in this scale? 3. I understand that there are often serious availability problems with O scale models. I would be mainly interested in smaller PRR steam locos like 2-8-0s, 4-4--2s and 4-6-2s. Also 40s and 50s rolling stock. How hard are these to find and once found how much of a premium do they command?

1. I have been hearing the QC complaint for most of the 50+ years I have been in the hobby. Yes there are some high end products that are sent out with glitches, and yes, the stuff is coming from China. I guess it comes down to how picky you are. Only once have I received new product from Lionel that was DOA and Lionel customer service took care of it immediately.

2. While MTH has sold off some tooling to other companies the company has been taken over by former managers and is producing new product. There is also Atlas and Bachman/Williams.

3. A lot of the Lionel line is built based on orders. While you may have an affinity to a particular road name or engine type if there are not enough others with your interest your product may never get built. I heard Lionel produces 60-70% at most of what is shown in the catalog. And yes, if you want the high end Legacy stuff be prepared to pay a lot.

If you don't want the latest stuff, you can by decade old NOS or LN products for .50 on the dollar or less on eBay.

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,438 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, December 28, 2021 10:12 AM

I had to think about this one overnight, but I think I'm ready to try and answer your questions as best I can.

Before that though, let me state that if you're switching from something like HO to O Gauge be advised you're not likely to find the extensive variety of products in O that you have in HO.  HO is a much more popular scale for modelers with a much bigger market, so don't be surprised or disappointed by what you find, or can't find. I'm not saying there's not a lot out there, there is, but not as much as you're probably used to.

Now, that being said...

1)  Quality control with Lionel.  It's actually very, very good.  This is not to say that there haven't been some problems with the product line, but there's ALWAYS some that are going to "slip through the cracks."  That's true with anything.  Any manufacturer with any sense wants you to be happy with the product because if you're not, you won't come back for more, so don't worry about it.

2)  As had been said, MTH isn't departing the market, MTH staffers have taken over the company and product line so for now they're not going anywhere.  What the future holds for MTH products remains to be seen.  Personally I'm optimistic.

3)  Availablility for O scale models.  Refer to what I said earlier.  Now that being said since I gather you're a PRR fan you're better off than most.  The PRR was a colossus in it's day and has lots of fans to this day so it's one of the better represented 'roads in O Gauge products. If you're favorite 'road was the "Puddle Jumper & Western" you'd have a problem!  

PRR engines like 2-8-0's and 4-6-2's were covered pretty well in the MTH line.  MTH made some 4-4-2's but not as many as the other two. Same with Lionel.  Post-1970 you can find Lionel 4-6-2 conventional control types, but no 2-8-0's that I'm aware of but I could be wrong. Lionel made some conventional 4-4-2's at that time period but those tend to be low-end starter set types made with no particular prototype in mind. 

It's been suggested you join the TCA for the purpose of visiting the York train show.  Not a bad suggestion but depending on where you live I'd say you can get a pretty good idea of what's out there by visiting any local train shows to look around and get some ideas of availability and what the going prices are like. Bear in mind the prices can range from reasonable to ridiculous depending on the exhibitor.  Some of the bigger train shows like "Worlds Greatest Hobby On Tour" and Greenbergs are great places to "get your eye in" as the saying goes.

I see you're in Clifton NJ?  Man, you're in "Train Show Central," lots of train shows come to New Jersey, and on a regular basis!  You're perfectly placed for the hunt!  Check https://www.trainshow.com  and https://www.railserve.com (events) for schedules. 

Pick up a copy of "Classic Toy Trains" and check the ads and websites of their bigger advertisers for availabilty and pricing as well. 

I hope this helps.  Don't hesistate to any any further questions, there's a lot of knowledge and experience here!

  • Member since
    July 2007
  • From: Clifton, NJ
  • 22 posts
Posted by trainman07011 on Wednesday, December 29, 2021 10:51 AM

Thanks for your thoughtful reply! I'm actually in Denville, NJ now. I just haven't figured out how to change my town. I'm not sure that everyone shares your optimism concerning MTH, but one can hope. I do believe that Atlas will step up a bit with the tooling they've purchased, so that's good news.

 

I am shying away due to product availability. It seems that product appears and disappears in O very quickly. As an HO PRR guy I have virtually every PRR loco and passenger car anyone could ever ask for and had no trouble finding any of it. I'd be willing to sacrafice that for the upgrade in size, but I would need at least the bare basics.

A quick search on Evil Bay reveals no PRR P70 coaches available at all. Not one. In fact, I'm not sure I could even purchase one complete freight and one complete passenger train. There seems to be no shortage of semi-scale, but this is not where my interest lies.

I did go to the last York show on Sunday and it seems the whole place was packed up and nailed shut by noon. Very discouraging after what I have heard about it over the years. There are a wealth of shows here in NJ and I guess I'll keep my eyes open for equipment. Perhaps I'll have to collect my two O trains before pulling the plug on the whole HO collection, but I do want to get something up and running here in my new home soon.

 

Again, thanks for the advice. I'm still on the fence, but falling back to the HO side quickly.

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Hightstown, NJ
  • 2,769 posts
Posted by anjdevil2 on Wednesday, December 29, 2021 11:49 AM

Denville is nice, been a while since I've been up there...........

Your first mistake was going to York on a Sunday - my first York (This year, as a matter of fact) I went on Friday.  Though there were a lot of vendors that decided not to make the trip, there were enough vendors that made it worth my while.  Only the fact that I have my own and my daughter's weddings to pay for, I didn't drain the bank accounts.

There are many places other than the 'bay to find O Scale stuff - choochooauctions.com is one, Trainz.com is another.  Sometimes you get lucky on Craigslist.org.......

I hae a smattering of HO, my fiancee has N and Z, so, trust me, with a little more dilligence, you can find what you need or want.  

You and I are in Jersey, and there is a wealth of Lionel/MTH/Atlas (and Atlas is a Jersey based company) product out there.  Most of it local - shipping can be and usually is expensive

I primarily purchase used or "previously loved" items.  New is nice, but can be expensive.  If you let it be known you are looking for trains, people will seek you out.  I had a fellow firefighter reach out to me and he had a Lionel 2184WS set in the boxes fron 1952.  I didn't have the funds at the time and passed it to another firefighter I know and he bought it.  Pays to have contacts and feelers....

Don't give up just yet, there is a lot of product out there, just have to be patient.

I am the monster in your head...And I thought you'd learn by now, It seems you haven't yet.
I am the venom in your skin  --- Breaking Benjamin


  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,438 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, December 29, 2021 12:01 PM

Denville's not the end of the world, I used to live in Stockholm! (Sussex County, NOT Sweden!)

One thing to keep in mind is O Gaugers like myself in the spirit of "Classic TOY Trains" have made peace with the semi-scale concept a long time ago.  A lot of us even prefer semi-scale for the space savings, and in a weird way a semi-scale O gauge passenger car just looks better than a scale one to us. 

One last thing on the MTH product line.  The pattern I've seen in the past is they don't make everything all the time.  Engines of a particular type or 'road name will be in the catalog for a year, maybe two, then disappear for several years to return again at some point in the future.  Same with passenger cars.  I'd also surmise the poor sellers never return at all, no suprise there.

And you're welcome, I hope I was of some help.  

  • Member since
    July 2007
  • From: Clifton, NJ
  • 22 posts
Posted by trainman07011 on Wednesday, December 29, 2021 2:44 PM

I really can't seem to make peace with the semi scale. The third rail is invisible to me, but everything has got to be in scale. This is what drove me to HO as a kid, and it wasn't easy giving up that MPC Hudson for Athearn, let me tell you.

Some You Tube channels make it look like scale stuff is readily available and everywhere you look. I guess the search is still part of the fun in O. I guess if I just build a nice flat table in my new Train Cave and hunt O for a while as I build we will see what happens.

In addition to the large size and heft advantage, at 57 I also have early arthritis taking hold in my hands. I'm getting scared I won't be able to handle the HO in 5 or 10 years. I also have a good honest buyer in place that can afford to buy my sizeable collection outright in cash without raking me over the coals.

We'll see what happens in the next year. Thanks guys, this is helpful.

 

 

  • Member since
    November 2012
  • From: Kokomo, Indiana
  • 1,390 posts
Posted by emdmike on Wednesday, January 5, 2022 10:26 PM

Between Lionel and MTH, if you want scale size PRR steam, both have you pretty well covered, from the S2 Turbine, M1 Mountains, I1 decapods, K4 pacifics(both prewar and postwar styling including 1361).  Lionel did a nice scale 4-4-2 as well.  Ebay, shows(Especially the TCA show at York PA) will be your friends to find these prior models.  Most big scale steam needs 072 or larger diameter curves, Atlas O makes very nice realistic track with curves even larger like 096 and bigger.  Good luck on your move to O scale and post some pics as you start buying engines and start a new layout. Mike

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 7,438 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, January 6, 2022 8:10 AM

trainman07011
In addition to the large size and heft advantage, at 57 I also have early arthritis taking hold in my hands

So sorry to hear that!  All I can say is you're not alone, a lot of guys make the switch from HO to O for reasons of infirmities or advancing age, such as "The eyes aren't what they used to be."  I can understand that, in my case the eyes NEVER were what they should have been! 

A fixation (for lack of a better term) on scale is understandable as well.  In my case it's a fixation on era or geographic location.  I won't and can't put different trains on the layout from parts of the country hundreds of miles apart that would have never met in real life and I won't mix trains from the 1980's with trains from the 1940's or earlier.  Crazy, huh?  But I just can't get past it!  Bang Head

Anyway, as has been said get out and enjoy the hunt!  It's a good 50% of the fun.  Sometimes you'll find something you didn't KNOW you needed and sometimes the good stuff finds YOU!  Happens to me all the time!

  • Member since
    November 2012
  • From: Kokomo, Indiana
  • 1,390 posts
Posted by emdmike on Thursday, January 6, 2022 9:07 AM

Many of the older generation(that were kids in the 40s and 50s) came back to O gauge as that is what they had as kids.  Now as an adult, they had the money to afford many of the trains that were just dreams as a child.  Add in the effects of getting older with stiff hands and failing eyesight, O gauge and for some including me, G scale as well(I have both) become much easier to model with and enjoy.  For myself, I stick to the older Postwar Lionel and UK stuff as I love the smells of hot oil and ozone from the AC motors.  With G scale its the ablity to run live steam locomotives, although I do have one of those in O scale as well.   Doesnt matter how you got here, get on and enjoy the ride.   Mike

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Get the Classic Toy Trains newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a month