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Used trains can be better than new in cases where the used train was tested and all functions worked, whereas a New old stock (NOS) train that is out of warranty can be a disaster and costly to get running. I purchased a Legacy K4 steamer - brand new but out warranty from an authorized Lionel dealer (but not an authorized repair shop), and it was a mess, a terrible experience that involved multiple trips to my local repair man. Whereas I bought a used Premier Reading PS3 steamer where the original owner lubricated and primed the smoke unit correctly, and generally took very good care of it. The main consideration in buying used engines, is just like used autos, how was it treated and serviced (if at all) by the original owner.

Last edited by Paul Kallus

In my opinion the general rule is "buy what you can fix, and expect what you buy used to need repairs". Can you fix circuit boards and/or diagnose what needs replacing on modern locomotives? If yes then buy that used train, you can fix it if necessary and save some money over new. Only feel comfortable twirling a screwdriver? Buy prewar/postwar/MPC trains and fix them if necessary. 

Buying a used item you can't inspect in person over the internet is a crap shoot, plan accordingly. You can get great deals in the used market, just be prepared for some clunkers along the way.   

Most of my current collection is new. I've had one case of cosmetic damage that wasn't mentioned but you could see it in the pictures when I went back to look (ebay). No big deal. It was bent stairs on the front of a steam switcher. I just fixed them in a vise. I was getting it for pennies compared to new. 

The two cases of malfunction was the same engine. It had no sounds but it was supposed to have them. Turned out the wire had come unsoldered from the speaker. Put it back on, now it makes a ruckus. I love it! Then I tackled the reason it didn't smoke. Turned out that the smoke unit was missing in action. I would have demanded a refund but the price was cheap enough that I can buy a new smoke unit and still be ahead of the price of new. 

Beyond that, I have had nothing but positive experiences; including a guy that messaged me afterwards on ebay to check if everything arrived as I expected. I'll be glad when I can afford to buy new but used has been a great way for me to get engines I want. 

@Mike Wyatt posted:

 ....But I will NEVER buy a truly used one where the seller has NOT tested it, such as from an online antique dealer or estate seller who knows nothing about trains.  Words like "looks like new, but I have not tested it" and I move on.  A new one in the box from such a dealer is probably worth the chance, but only if the price is right."

Exactly what I was talking about:  A Lionel GP-9 6-18567 was listed on e-bay, at a very good price.  The listing said only that it was used, and then (all caps) BOX-MISSING-FLAP.  The standard e-bay explanation of "used".  Nothing else.  Except that used items cannot be returned, and are not tested. 

I sent TWO e-mails to the seller, asking a simple set of questions: does it run? and do all TMCC features work?  Never got an answer either time.   Without that information, I had to assume that it did not run and that the TMCC features did not work- so no bid from me. 

It sold for just over $100.  Testing and better information likely would have gotten a far higher price (and certainly a bid from me). 

Sellers, you will make more money if you ARE thorough and if you simply test items on a 30" piece of track with a transformer.  Otherwise what you sell are basically "parts" locomotives.

Last edited by Mike Wyatt

Until I get my layout operational, I'm only shopping for locomotives. I have a limited road name and era interest so I don't see much out there. When I do, the seller always wants too much. For example, for an 8 year old locomotive, I'm only willing to pay 50% of MSRP of an equivalent of today. But, the seller wanted significantly more than that.

Oman, I used to go by the 50% rule. Then there was some shift in the market that I can't explain and over time I was no longer able to get good deals at 50%. When I got 50%, the item was in poor shape. I think this may have been because the price of NEW stuff went up, so it drove up the value of used stuff.  I dunno. Now when I buy (rarely), I just evaluate each situation on its' own merits.

Don

 

Greetings Forum, in most cases buying on eBay is a good thing.....I myself have found that if you can’t fix it yourself I usually don’t buy it.....I do not have the luxury of spending $$ on train repairs .......I fix what I own.......or exchange info with this great group of people into how to repair......the price repair shops want to fix things is quite simply an expense I want nothing to do with....because as we all are aware our trains break down again .......this is a great forum filled with people wanting to help fellow train enthusiasts in answering questions and keeping the hands of time moving along.....Choo Choo......👍👍

Last edited by EZ Money

I find it interesting that just because an engine is NIB and was never taken out of the box commands a reasonably higher price than one that has been slightly used.  With the number of issues we have had with purchases of new engines, there is no guarantee that the engine sitting in that box untouched does not have issues.  And, now the warranty period has expired.  What's to say that that ten-year-old engine that has never been run is not DOA or the victim of zinc pest?  That's why I suggest to not worry about resale value and just play with the **** thing!

 

 

At this point, I only buy used. The last new locomotive I purchased was from Lionel and had to be pre-ordered.  It arrived in the wrong color scheme and took months until they corrected the issue.  I paid full price for it but now see the same model on Ebay either "new" in box or gently used for about 75% of what I paid.  I have more trains than I need and have actually been reducing my 40 year collection for a couple of years now.  I think there are a lot of us in that boat?  Who needs 80 locomotives when you only have a 2 loop pike?  With Mike's departing the scene, I can see a huge price reduction on all the unsold dealer inventory when he closes his doors. Who really wants to pay $85 for ONE new Lionel or Atlas freight car when you can get four of them used in great condition on Ebay for the same price? 

I find it interesting that just because an engine is NIB and was never taken out of the box commands a reasonably higher price than one that has been slightly used.  With the number of issues we have had with purchases of new engines, there is no guarantee that the engine sitting in that box untouched does not have issues.  And, now the warranty period has expired.  What's to say that that ten-year-old engine that has never been run is not DOA or the victim of zinc pest?  That's why I suggest to not worry about resale value and just play with the **** thing! 

While I'm inclined to be in agreement with you, as a fellow TCA member....endorsing TCA standards, as I've been educated in them through the ages...'cosmetics' tend to trump innards/guts/mechanisms/electricals/etc.

IOW, that an item is classified as NIB generally would mean that its cosmetic condition would be the best-in-class....which, IMHO, sez it'll garner a better price than a used, well-traveled...to warranty/repair stations as well as trips around the layout...offering.

Of course, I believe the whole rating thing needs some sort of massage.  The whole obsolescence issue over electronics and animation/smoking gadgetry in modern era train products, thereby rendering more and more items to the shelf....or worse...is reason enough to re-think how used items are rated in the market.

It's bad enough to attempt clarifying this amongst the avid hobbyists, such as on this forum, but trying to use clever abbreviations and confusing standards in the common market...e.g., ebay sellers of anything and everything for whom a choo-choo is just another....thing...to sell has become akin to a nightmare.

Just MHO, of course.  Nothing more, nothing less.

KD

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