First-time York Visit Summary

I am more of a lurker than a poster (although I very much value the posts on this forum), but I thought my first-time York visit report might help other potential "first-timers" who are debating making the trip.  I attended on Thursday as a "guest", and it took me about 3 1/2 hours (one-way) to drive to the show. (As I will reference, I have also attended the Big E train show in Springfield, MA.)

York Pros:

  • Parking was easy and FREE
  • In the Purple and Orange Halls, there were more O gauge "store front" vendors than are present at the Big E, and those that are common to both shows seemed to have set out more inventory (volume and variety) at York than they did at the Big E
  • Lionel had a black Vision Line Niagara on a shelf in their booth, and a grey Vision Line Niagara running slowly on a simple layout.  The grey one was running on a O-72 Fastrack loop and there was no overhang as it rounded the corners.  Dave was gracious in showing off the Niagara's features.  I think those people that pre-ordered this item (as I did) are going to really be happy once it gets delivered.  (Sorry, I didn't stop to take any photos the entire day, so I have none to post.)
  • By nature of it being York, there is WAY more O Gauge content at York than at the Big E. 
  • Many will scoff at me I am sure, but, much like the Big E, I was able to walk through every part of all six Halls / buildings in 3 hours.  That includes stopping here and there to buy things that were of interest to me or to ask questions.  I am not interested in the older O Gauge items (which is what seemed to make up most of the tables in the Silver, Blue, Red, and Black Halls), so I didn't stop and fully absorb every single table, that's for sure.  In fact, there were quite a few tables where I honestly wondered why the person invested money to try to sell their wares as I find it improbable that they were going to make any profit whatsoever... maybe they just enjoy the friendly interaction with prospective buyers.  Who knows?
  • I guess you have to start with a baseline marked price, but, for all Halls except for some of the vendors in the Orange Hall, it seemed that most items were very negotiable.  In fact, I think the seller-buyer haggle is expected.  I heard a million times along my journey where a seller said "make me an offer".  My guess is that this will become more and more of a reality as the show comes to a close on Saturday as many of the these sellers don't want to have to lug their wares home with them.  Thus, if you want to find something that other buyers may be seeking as well, attending York on Thursday is probably your best bet, but if you are looking for fairly common items for the absolute best deal, my guess is that Saturday is your best option.

York Cons:

  • In spite of the fact there's a "can't" miss section of tables with show registration forms in the lobby of the Silver Hall, it seemed most people in the registration line were wasting time by filing out the forms once they waited in line and actually got up to the registration window.  It really slowed down the line.
  • If you were interested in buying any Lionel Vision Line products, there wasn't much available.  I saw one VL Big Boy, one VL Pennsylvania CC2, maybe 6-8 VL GG-1's in assorted liveries, 2 VL LCD billboard cars, and 2 boxes of the VL freight cars... and for the most part, the prices weren't all that great for any of them.  {As an aside, I did see some really good prices (i.e. $500-$600) on some JLC GG-1's}
  • For some reason, and I think I only noticed it in the Orange Hall, some of the aisles don't go from one end of the building completely to the other in a straight line, so if you are abiding by the "yellow arrow" one way direction markers on the floor, you end up having to go back down an aisle you've already visited to actually get to where you want to go.
  • There weren't very many O Gauge layouts on site to admire, and certainly no where near the multitude of "all gauges" layouts that are present at the Big E.  As such, I think York is less of a show to bring younger kids to than the Big E, which is a bit of a shame as kids represent the "next generation" of model railroaders.  That being said, having to compete with strollers of very young children in the very tight aisles of York would be a complete nightmare.  I saw only a handful of teenagers yesterday, although, in fairness, it was a school day. 

I am glad that I attended York at least once in my lifetime, but I probably wouldn't go back as a regular occurrence.  The deals on the newer products and lack of sales tax on purchases just aren't good enough in my opinion to offset the automobile gas consumed, the York registration fee, and the 7 hours of lost time on the road to get there and back.  I hope this summary helps with any of those out there thinking about attending the show for the first time, and sorry for the long read.

Original Post

Interesting observations. I’ve never been either since I live in the Chicago area, but am considering a trip there this fall. I’d have to drive in case I found some goodies which is a brutal 12 hours. Luckily for us we have a great show each November in Milwaukee that a lot of the major venders some to as do the manufacturers. 

What did it seem like the breakdown of production eras was like for items for sale? A lot of post war, MPC, etc. Thanks!

Excellent summary. This was my third York and I think you captured it very well. I took a bit more time and stopped and talked with some very interesting people.  So it can easily take the whole day but for the purposes of shopping 3-4 hours will give you the lay of the land. 

Rick Francis

TCA 17-72746

An interesting read and I respect your objectives and feelings. I started at York about 25 years ago and have spent a lot of money at York. I don't recall when I started going to the Big E, but it is much more recent.

For me, York had ALWAYS been a multi-day affair. Big E is not. When I first started coming to York, I had a couple of friends I generally hung with and York was a search and buy event. Over the years that has greatly evolved. In addition to having sessions which tell is what the manufacturers are doing, the social events let us meet other train "nuts" which makes it easier to learn things. Just as this Forum does.

IMO that is a very important part of York. You probably have no idea how helpful the DCS dinners (regrettably not available at this York) and the Legacy morning meeting have been. Did you go to the LCCA dinner and meet people? The OGR Forum dinner? The Thursday morning breakfast? The ED socials on Friday night or Saturday morning? The OGR Forum meeting at 2 on Friday?

Talk about the expense of a couple of days at York. What did the Legacy engine cost? What do you want out of the hobby?

Did you make any new train friends or renew older acquaintances?

So respectfully, I would say you have barely scratched the surface of what the York experience offers.

Gerry

  Home of the BRATS RR  

 

 

 

bigtruckpete posted:

Interesting observations. I’ve never been either since I live in the Chicago area, but am considering a trip there this fall. I’d have to drive in case I found some goodies which is a brutal 12 hours. Luckily for us we have a great show each November in Milwaukee that a lot of the major venders some to as do the manufacturers. 

What did it seem like the breakdown of production eras was like for items for sale? A lot of post war, MPC, etc. Thanks!

I am probably not the best person to ask (someone who attends more frequently is probably a better judge), but since you took the time to read my summary and did ask me, I will give it my best effort.  I would say that the Purple and Orange Halls are mainly stocked with current product; whereas, the other 4 halls are filled with everything from my father's tinplate generation all the way up to current product (with current product being in the minority).  There is plenty of non-current product to be had for sure if that happens to be your cup of tea.  No matter what era you collect / run, there is plenty to see and keep you engaged.

gmorlitz posted:

An interesting read and I respect your objectives and feelings. I started at York about 25 years ago and have spent a lot of money at York. I don't recall when I started going to the Big E, but it is much more recent.

For me, York had ALWAYS been a multi-day affair. Big E is not. When I first started coming to York, I had a couple of friends I generally hung with and York was a search and buy event. Over the years that has greatly evolved. In addition to having sessions which tell is what the manufacturers are doing, the social events let us meet other train "nuts" which makes it easier to learn things. Just as this Forum does.

IMO that is a very important part of York. You probably have no idea how helpful the DCS dinners (regrettably not available at this York) and the Legacy morning meeting have been. Did you go to the LCCA dinner and meet people? The OGR Forum dinner? The Thursday morning breakfast? The ED socials on Friday night or Saturday morning? The OGR Forum meeting at 2 on Friday?

Talk about the expense of a couple of days at York. What did the Legacy engine cost? What do you want out of the hobby?

Did you make any new train friends or renew older acquaintances?

So respectfully, I would say you have barely scratched the surface of what the York experience offers.

Gerry

Gerry.... thanks for your thoughtful response.  I totally agree that for those who have the time to make more of a weekend out of it (as opposed to my situation, which only allowed me to do an out and back all in one day), York would likely be a much more robust experience.  I only had time for the "shopping" experience.  But I admit that York (and the Big E for that matter) can be greatly enriched by the social aspect of meeting up with old friends / forum members, attending scheduled events / workshops, etc.  So your point is well taken.

Interesting observations.  As a kid, I watched my Dad go to this thing called York, but I had no idea what it was. All I knew was he always came home with trains. Then, in 1979 (I was 10 and in 4th grade), Dad decided it was time to take me along, and I continued going with him every 6 months right through high school. Back then, and for many years after I started going, York was strictly a buy/sell "meet," for members only, as it had originally started. No kids corner, and from what I recall the closest thing to an operating layout was the test track. It definitely has grown and evolved from that. Each time we would go to York, it became more and more clear that York, for my Dad, was as much about seeing friends and making new ones as it was about buying and selling trains. Sure, he bought and sold trains, and always had a table in the Blue Hall, but the thing that brought him the greatest enjoyment out of York was seeing his "train buddies." 

With that said, I agree that York wouldn't be worth it if all you were after were trains. I go to buy/sell trains, but York, for me, like many of us here, is just as much, if not more, a social event. It's a great place to actually meet the people from this forum, and you never know, those acquaintances might just lead to learning something new, finding that one item you've been searching for, or perhaps the best of all, as in my Dad's case, lifelong friendships. I agree with Gerry: there's much more to York than good prices. I hope you decide to give it another shot. 

 

John

 

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  TCA 90-30847

  NJ HiRailers Associate Member

I enjoyed reading PRH2J's thoughts on the show. I like to attend both the Big "E"  and York train shows, but haven't been to either in a few years.
I see nothing wrong with comparing the two, even though they are very different shows with different target audiences.
A couple of comments:

In fact, there were quite a few tables where I honestly wondered why the person invested money to try to sell their wares as I find it improbable that they were going to make any profit whatsoever... maybe they just enjoy the friendly interaction with prospective buyers.  Who knows?

While there are some people who try to make money buying and selling trains, hopefully most of the table holders in the member halls are trying to sell surplus trains. Very different then "investing money" in stock for resale. If their prices are high, its because they don't recognize or don't care about the declining market. Maybe they paid a lot for their trains, or maybe they got their train values stuck in their heads when the market was better. It doesn't really matter, if someone's prices are too high, its off to the next table!

There weren't very many O Gauge layouts on site to admire, and certainly no where near the multitude of "all gauges" layouts that are present at the Big E.  As such, I think York is less of a show to bring younger kids to than the Big E, which is a bit of a shame as kids represent the "next generation" of model railroaders. 

As I wrote above, The Big E and York shows target different audiences. The York show is put on by the Eastern Division of the TCA for Train Collectors, who are generally adults.
The Eastern Division has opened part of the show to the public. And the number of display layouts is many times what it was when I started going.
Families with children are certainly welcomed at the show, but the focus is not on their entertainment.

 

C.W. Burfle

Have to agree with Gerry's comments as well and CW Burfle' comments.

York is a buy/sell show and I am not sure it is geared up enough to be a future model railroader show from what I read about the Big E. York is trying to attract younger folks to some extent.

York has become a social event for many these days as many of us have enough trains to last a few lifetimes now. I am very selective these days in buying, have way too many!

I do urge friends who never gone to York to do it at least once in their life. One of my club members showed up on Friday with his wife and son who is 14 and IS the club member of ours. He made it here and Sean had a smile so huge it was priceless. He was so happy to be here. His son is such a train geek and knows more about trains than many in my club.

Regardless, everyone has their opinions about York. It is a huge show to put on by TCA Eastern Division and I applaude them for their efforts.

P.S. Gerry- how many times did we run into each other in the aisles? Lol!

P.S.S. I did see Eddie G in the Orange hall and thanked him for bringing the Maine cold weather with him and to start the coutdown for October. Since it was Friday, told him the countdown was at 181 days! Ha!

Ted Bertiger

Ocean County Society of Model Railroaders Lakewood, N.J.

www.ocsmr.com

 

prh2j posted:
  • Many will scoff at me I am sure, but, much like the Big E, I was able to walk through every part of all six Halls / buildings in 3 hours.

If you went through York in 3 hours and you go through the Big E in 3 hours, you approach the shows differently than I do.

I am able to fit the entire Big E show into one day, but it takes some effort for me to finish up on time.  I do buzz past the N Gauge tables at the Big E, just as I buzz past the Flyer at York, so that helps.

At York, I find that it takes me all of Thursday afternoon and all of Friday to see it all.  I reserve a few hours on Saturday morning to follow up on some items I thought were overpriced -- but within reach -- and return to see if I can strike a deal. I use an approach I learned way back when from Tony Lash himself of chatting up the guy, finding out where he's from, and making a "You don't really want to carry that all the way back to [city X], do you?  Would you take [$Y]?"

So, for me Big E = 8 hours, York = 12-14 to see it all.  I'm guessing you didn't slow down to look under anyone's tables at York or to stop and read a vintage New Haven "Conductors' Operating Guidelines" Manual at the Big E.

My advice to you and everyone would be to slow down and enjoy the trains.  YMMV.

Steven J. Serenska
Bristol, Rhode Island

I've been going to York on and off since '86. I agree to your "take" on York for the most part, but you were not exposed to the very important "social" aspect... meeting old friends, and having it as a twice-yearly "tradition". Also, old farts show up to display their over-priced postwar trains so they can 1. Get away from the wife for 3 days, and 2. Be able to tell her, "Honey, I TRIED to sell these things".

I'm at a point where I don't need to buy anything, train-wise. I go to walk and look. However, I live only 2 hours from York.

prh2j posted:

Gerry.... thanks for your thoughtful response.  I totally agree that for those who have the time to make more of a weekend out of it (as opposed to my situation, which only allowed me to do an out and back all in one day), York would likely be a much more robust experience.  I only had time for the "shopping" experience.  But I admit that York (and the Big E for that matter) can be greatly enriched by the social aspect of meeting up with old friends / forum members, attending scheduled events / workshops, etc.  So your point is well taken.

I don't know your situation or why there is a one day limitation. I know that the "York experience" has changed significantly for me over the years. I don't know your age, where you are from or even your name. And I'm not going to bother to look you up in the directory. If you wanted to be more social you could with little effort, prh2j. 

I wish you well. I know that my train experience has changed significantly over a quarter century and I'm sure yours will also. There have been times when I haven't played or dealt with trains for the better part of a year or two because of events in my life. Some of which were train related. But having a broader group of friends and acquaintances has proven very worthwhile. And being a member of the NJ HiRailers is extremely worthwhile. Those guys brought me back from a significant "train funk" which could have turned out very differently.

So you pays your money and you make your choices. But I sincerely doubt that at a minimum you couldn't be at York at least on Friday & Saturday.

Gerry 

  Home of the BRATS RR  

 

 

 

Also, old farts show up to display their over-priced postwar trains so they can 1. Get away from the wife for 3 days, and 2. Be able to tell her, "Honey, I TRIED to sell these things".

I guess there is some of that too.

But I never understood the idea of pricing things so they won't sell. Each time an item gets taken to a train show, unpacked and repacked, there is the risk of wear or damage. Especially boxed items, where the boxes get soiled, or otherwise damaged. When I bring something to a show, I want it gone! If I don't think I can get the price I want, it stays home.

C.W. Burfle

Thanks for your York report. I was there three times; October 2001 and both in 2002. Haven't been back since, for reasons having nothing to do with the show itself (which is an eye-opener), the ED or the TCA (of which I've been a member since 2000.) For perspective, I attended a dinner at the Viking Club in 10/2001 and got one of these....how's that for ancient history?

 

K-Line 8th semiannual AOL train gang box

 

 

John 

 

 LCCA PCA TCA

 ILLINOIS RAILWAY MUSEUM        

 www.irm.org   

 

 

 

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George S posted:

Great seeing you there today John and great to spend some time together!

Hope it's not another 9 years for me before I'm back.

George

Same here, George--thanks for stopping by my table. Keep up the layout construction, and hopefully you'll be back in October. 

John

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  TCA 90-30847

  NJ HiRailers Associate Member

PRH2J, 

There's no email address in your profile, so I have no way to contact you other than here. If you'd like to talk about your York experience and/or the TCA in general, please send me an email. Hope to hear from you.

John

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  TCA 90-30847

  NJ HiRailers Associate Member

prh2j posted:
..................

York Cons:

  • For some reason, and I think I only noticed it in the Orange Hall, some of the aisles don't go from one end of the building completely to the other in a straight line, so if you are abiding by the "yellow arrow" one way direction markers on the floor, you end up having to go back down an aisle you've already visited to actually get to where you want to go.................

You already have a lot of great responses to other parts of your post, but I didn't see this part covered, so I'll suggest the method to deal with this when shopping.

As you found, if you walk from front to back, there are spaces where it doesn't line up.  If you take your first instinct and start on one side of the room, the ends and maybe first or second aisle in from each end are the same from the front all the way to the back.

I find it much easier to cover the hall in halves.  If you do all the front aisles 1st, the arrows make sense, and you don't need to worry about how they line up with the back half (or vice versa). 

I'm also pretty sure the arrows are (intentionally) missing in the rear aisles where the walkways are so wide there is more than enough room for people to walk in both directions.  Same for the 1st aisle or 2 in the front, but arrows become important for the majority of the front half when it becomes the narrower walkways  - where instead of booths you have tables with chairs in front of them on both sides of the aisle.

There was one or 2 meets in the past where there might have been an error based on the aisle spacing where 2 aisles next to one another in the front had arrows going in the same direction, but I don't think that was the case this meet.  Even if it is, it's relatively trivial to skip back one aisle to get back to the "in" end of the arrow for the second row you would like to see.

-Dave

Read your interesting commentary on the York Train show.  I guess every one of us comes back with an opinion.  I have been going since 1991.  Once a year from '91 till 2004.  (  work permitted me only to take off once)  and twice a year from 2004 till the present.  For me it is like a pilgrimage haha.  I go all three days.  Glad it is now 3 instead of the original 2 because as I get older, it takes me longer haha.  As was stated by other members for me it is the whole experience of meeting friends, learning new things and picking up a few items.  I don't buy as much as I used to.  I used to have a trunk full.  Now I buy older nice pieces that I passed up years before because I wanted quantity over older pristine pieces then.  Yes there are those older folks who sit with a table full of the same stuff, but I guess they go for the fraternalism too.  Whatever your thoughts about York are, all are valid.  This hobby has so many niches and that's what makes it great.  To learn about all ideas.  Keep enjoying the hobby.  Good to hear everyones thoughts.

prh2j posted:

I am glad that I attended York at least once in my lifetime, but I probably wouldn't go back as a regular occurrence.  The deals on the newer products and lack of sales tax on purchases just aren't good enough in my opinion to offset the automobile gas consumed, the York registration fee, and the 7 hours of lost time on the road to get there and back.  I hope this summary helps with any of those out there thinking about attending the show for the first time, and sorry for the long read.

While many on here can afford to take multiple days off of work and make it a social event returning every year, if you are going mainly to purchase items I'd guess it is a financial hole when you include food, lodging, transportation etc. into the cost of the item(s). All that truly matters is that you are glad you attended this one!

I come down to York from Connecticut.  Google maps says with no traffic it is about a 5 1/2 hour drive one way. So far, having gone 4 times in the last 3 years, there has always been traffic on the PA highways (lots of it), so add at least another hour. Because of the distance I stay overnight. When you add in the cost of gas, tolls, eating on the road, a hotel for the night, and York admission ticket, for the amount of things I've purchased (average $400+/- each trip), York isn't a deal. I could buy the same things for less by scouring the internet for dealer inventory, eBay items and even forum deals, and skip the expense of going to York. But York is fun!

York is fun, the Big E show is fun, local swap meets are fun, going into one of the super stores like Charles Ro is fun, visiting the NJ Hi-Railers club is fun, playing with my trains is fun, hell, just staring at my wall of rolling stock is fun. For me, that's the point of going to York - fun. I'm newer to the hobby (last 5 years), so I don't have any comparisons to make to the good old days when it was more fun - i.e. I've never seen Neil Young or Frank Sinatra at York - but if I had any more fun, I might go into cardiac arrest.

York is fun because you can see pretty much anything related to the hobby on one table or another. York is fun because there are people there with experience who you can talk to about the hobby. York is fun because while in the area you can visit places like the Choochoo Barn (so cool!), the Toy Train Museum (fascinating) and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania (educational). I even stayed in Ronk and slept (plus other stuff) in a caboose for a night one year. Did I mention you can have fun at York?

Is it all fun? Nah. Some of the people selling are crotchety miserable people who don't post prices, tag everything with unrealistic prices, or act like you are doing them a favor when you buy something. Out in the aisles there are the aggressive buyers who act like the other attendees (all 10,000 of us) aren't even there. Then there is the occasional old fart who, well, smells like an old fart, or worse. God bless him for still coming out. The miserable seller I skip. The aggressive buyer I mistakenly hip check into a table when I get the chance, and the old fart...I guess we'll all get there someday. Oh, no, ain't nobody going to ruin my fun! Keep it going York - I love it.

Speaking of pricing, my wife picked up a used piece of modern rolling stock that was marked $25. Not much on dickering, she got up the nerve to ask if the seller would take $20? Before she even finished saying the word "twenty" the seller said yes. Should have said $15 - darn. Later in the day, an engine marked at a price of $200 was sold to me for $175 just because I didn't say anything. I just kept looking at it and the guy dropped the price. Probably could have gotten that for $150. We are horrible at negotiating. Oh, well, we had fun.

This is my 5th York and all I can say is you have to know where the deals are.

This York was a multitude of pre war deals... maybe they were there before and I missed them before. But guys had allot of sets that they just did NOT want to take home.  So I did

I did buy 2 nice engines for a great deal. A Legacy Y-3 UP from Nick Smith for 775 in the orange hall, and a 3rd Rail Z-6 for 575 from Bob in the Silver Hall.

There were good deals on GLa hoppers and scale rolling stock.

Train world in the Orange hall was ready to deal and I almost caved on a pair of Legacy GN E7s... but the Orange on those units were WAY to bright.

Mr. Muffins Always has good deals and so does Grasbowski's  (sorry for the spelling)

Another dealer in the blue hall had great deals on new MTH and Lionel engines

The White hall last time had some guys selling scale items and kits that I purchased from again.

Bob Karas had some great Legacy and TMCC scale engines for sale at a great price.

The thing about York is you see were the deals are and make note of them ... but when you return to the next York the deals are always in another spot!

The other thing about York is you have to stop and talk to the people. Mike Reagan told me about the ERR boards on Thursday and I did not believe him... Sorry Mike.

And Roys Toys had some great electrical LED kits and detection devices that I had to investigate. Thanks Roy!

And don't for get Jack Pearce and his wife selling those really cool lighted cars! He made me a lighted 51 Ford that I ran home and put on the layout... Thanks Jack.

 

I am already counting the days to go back in October... and that is York

 

 

TCA Number 16-71884

Hey Moon...........with all you wrote, I couldn't have said it better myself!  SPOT ON!  I believe that your summation about York is that one sentence, "York is FUN"!    Seeing pretty much the same vendors 2x a year and having fun.  The miserable ones DO stick out, so its' simply move on to the next table!

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