A Little Rant About Prices

CP 4505Warning: A little rant ahead.

For Canadian model railroaders, this is a truly golden age. There has never been such a variety of Canadian model train equipment available, either new or used via eBay or Kijiji or Craigslist or whatever. Looking for a CP “Minibox” boxcar? No problem. You want a high quality GMD1, previously only available in a cruddy brass version? Sure! Want a complete, museum quality, 1970s-era Canadian Pacific Canadian? You can buy it! Items that were once rare or non-existent are now available or will be available soon.

Life is good.

But prepare to pay dearly for this. It really is a golden age… as in it costs a significant fraction of an ounce of gold to buy a locomotive these days. That GMD1 will cost you $325… Also be prepared to wait, as you have to pre-order them, and wait up to, and sometimes over, a year before you can actually have the model that was announced.

In the excellent Canadian Railway Modellers Facebook group, people occasionally post photos of their locomotive, passenger car or caboose fleets. I’m usually stunned by the sheer size of the fleet. My mind immediately goes to multiplying the number of locomotives by the price/locomotive and coming up with thousands and thousands of dollars.

Maybe I’m just cheap frugal.

I wish there was a way to buy a good running locomotive, that looks reasonably like the prototype, for less than $100.

There is a way. Two ways, in fact

One – buy a Walthers GP9 or F40PH, or a Bachmann GP38-2 or SD40-2. They are selling for around $70-$85 right now, new – if you can find them.

Two – buy used, at a train show or on eBay. You can get some decent deals at train shows, especially if you go early. eBay is pretty good but you’ll pay dearly for shipping.

Of course, if you want DCC, then you have to add at least $20 for a decoder, or well over $100 if you want sound. I can’t grouse too much at that cost as you have to think about what you’re getting – a tiny little computer in your loco giving you great sound. I have only one sound-equipped locomotive, my dear CN 3665 which was also my most expensive locomotive.

I guess I’ll stick to the model train shows and look for the good deals. At the last Winnipeg train show I was at, I scored a beautiful Bowser C630m for just over $100. A $20 plug-in decoder was all I added so it could join my meagre fleet of locomotives (shown below).

My Fleet
My Fleet

Thanks for reading my little rant. I’d appreciate any suggestions you might have about how to acquire decent locomotives at a reasonable price.