I've been trying to figure out how much upgrading a conventional locomotive to either ERR/TMCC or PS3 increases the value of a locomotive. For example I have an ABA set of Williams Alco PAs in Santa Fe livery that I upgraded with an ERR Cruise Commander and ERR Sound Commander with Alco PA Railsounds. Before the conversion the ABA set was probably worth about $150-200. So how much value does the command upgrade add to the set? I'm not looking to sell the set any time soon but if I ever wanted to sell the ABA set to fund a different locomotive purchase how much should I ask over the cost of a stock set? $50 more, $100 more? I've tried looking up sold auctions but I've only found stock sets. I'm just curious what kind of "value" is added to a conventional locomotive after it's been upgraded to command control.

Santa Fe, All the Way

Original Post

Not too much different in value.

Just because you only added TMCC and a sound board doesn't do as much as new o.e.m. with led lighting, directional lighting, more details, more sound options, and in many instances a smoke unit.

If you add TMCC and sound then you need to enjoy it first. Trying to "flip"a model locomotive you would likely have a tough time in making a profit.

member:Golden Spike Club Charter Member

I'd agree that it probably won't add much resale value. I'm new to the command control world, but IMO, before you go to the expense of a conversion, ask yourself if you intend to keep the loco for the long run. If you plan to keep it,  you will realize a return on your "investment" in the form of better performance, being more enjoyable to run etc. In the past year, I've had 4 conventional locos converted to PS3. I'm never going to part with them, so it was worth it to me. If I were to sell them, I wouldn't expect much more than fair market value for a conventional loco. Bottom line, they are family heirlooms to me, but to anyone else they're just used locos. 

John

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  TCA 90-30847

  NJ HiRailers Associate Member

I don't know what the market says but I would not pay more for it.  I do run Command Control exclusively.  But I've had enough headaches with brand new trains that I would be spooked about anything used being advertised as converted.  Maybe if Marty Fitzhenry or someone like that was selling it, I would trust it then.  Other than that, the stuff I look for is usually made in PS2/3 or TMCC/Legacy so why bother?  That's my attitude so I'm just personalizing and guessing there are quite few out there like me.  FWIW.

MikeH

I'm not planning on selling my converted Williams PAs, I'm just curious if the upgrade added any value. I figured it didn't add much if any but was trying to confirm. Last year I bought a MTH Premier GS4 Northern that was originally a PS1 locomotive but was upgraded to PS2 3V. The locomotive was in like new condition and I paid about $20 more for it than if it was still a PS1 locomotive, so I figured that upgrades to a conventional locomotive might add $50 tops. Resale the upgrades aren't worth much (the old adage that you never get what you put into a project back) but what you pay for is more enjoyment out of the model. 

Santa Fe, All the Way

I had a Scale Williams GG1 converted to TMCC, Lionel OEM Railsounds 5.0, ERR Cruise, LED lighting and Electrocouplers. The installation was done professionally by a Lionel Service Station. Total cost including the original cost of the engine $550. I have it listed for sale for $325 or best offer and there is no interest.

So, convert for your own use but don’t expect to get a premium if you decided to sell.

Using your example of 150-200 for and ABA w/o command I would say you should be able to recoup the cost of parts assuming you did it yourself. Thats about what new Williams costs today without Command. 

Buying new at today's street price, then doing an upgrade it would be hard to recoup your investment due to depreciation.

Pete 

I paid about $175 for the ABA set new then installed all the ERR components myself, so no labor involved. I had the set for about 7 years before I converted it. The $200 to convert it was cheaper than buying a already command control set, even after selling the Williams units, so that's why I upgraded them.

I figured that the upgrade was along the lines of spending $25k to restore a car that's worth $8k. Even though you spent $25k you still have a car that's worth only $8k.

Santa Fe, All the Way

Thanks for bringing up this topic! i am changing eras with my motive power and rolling stock (back-dating) and I have a Lionel H-15-44 in McGinnis-era orange and black with a bad board and I’d been wondering if replacing the bad board with up-to-date ERR electronics would help salability. You’ve convinced me that it isn’t worth the bother and expense.

Mister_Lee posted:

Thanks for bringing up this topic! i am changing eras with my motive power and rolling stock (back-dating) and I have a Lionel H-15-44 in McGinnis-era orange and black with a bad board and I’d been wondering if replacing the bad board with up-to-date ERR electronics would help salability. You’ve convinced me that it isn’t worth the bother and expense.

I think your situation is a little different. Let’s say the engine is worth $300 if it is fully operational. With a bad board it may only bring $100-150. It might make sense to get it working before trying to sell it.

 

Mike

I've done a lot of TMCC and DCS upgrades.  It's pretty hard to quantify what it adds to the value, and I suspect it has more to do with the locomotive being upgraded.  Some of the nicer locomotives may gain significantly in value, but I've never spent a lot of time worrying about it. 

I do agree that there is a vast range of quality in upgrades, I've received some that I simply started over and redo them like it's a new upgrade.  Others are done quite well.  If you're going to contract this out, just make sure you know who's going to do the work.

I don't believe that adding remote control to an older P/W engine will increase its value at all.  It will be expensive to do so, as you not only need to change the motors but add control board and a speaker for the sounds. Hobbyists that buy conventionally operated trains do so because they want simplicity with high reliability of operation. The used market for remote control trains is already flooded, the prices reasonable and the choices numerous.

Builder of the Hill Lines ( New Delta Lines). Recreating history for the model RR community.

RoyBoy posted:

What gives you the impression that the motor has to be changed?

Obviously hasn't heard of the ERR AC Commander.

I upgrade locos myself, typically with ERR Cruise Commander (I have done 2 - 3 plain DC Commanders), and, also typically, I add Railsounds, and always remote couplers if reasonable, and it usually is. I seldom fiddle with the "fancier" functions.

This is usually a $200 proposition, so, yes - I will gladly pay more for an upgraded or re-graded (PS2/3 to TMCC) locomotive. And I don't have to do it. Win.

But - who did it? How well? There's the pullback. If I know the up-grader personally (I know 1 locally, other than me) or by dependable reputation (some guys on this Forum), no problem. Not having to crack it open, figure out how this little S.*B. is again just a wee bit different from every other one of the others you've done (which were different from each other) is worth a bit of real cash. I like the results of TMCC upgrades, but I do not like the process - but that's just me. I do it anyway. (Just saying "brass tender" and "nylon screws" annoys me; some will understand.)

Lou1985 posted:

I've been trying to figure out how much upgrading a conventional locomotive to either ERR/TMCC or PS3 increases the value of a locomotive. For example I have an ABA set of Williams Alco PAs in Santa Fe livery that I upgraded with an ERR Cruise Commander and ERR Sound Commander with Alco PA Railsounds. Before the conversion the ABA set was probably worth about $150-200. So how much value does the command upgrade add to the set? I'm not looking to sell the set any time soon but if I ever wanted to sell the ABA set to fund a different locomotive purchase how much should I ask over the cost of a stock set? $50 more, $100 more? I've tried looking up sold auctions but I've only found stock sets. I'm just curious what kind of "value" is added to a conventional locomotive after it's been upgraded to command control.

I have upgraded 3 engines from PS1 to PS3.  I did it because I run Command.  One was actually my first engine (RK CNW SD-60).  One for the Grand Children and one was an El Capitan which I actually sold.  Like anything here, do it for fun, not investment.  If you don't run your engines, what do you intend to do with them?  I tend to think most here are operators enjoying their trains.

Bryant

TCA 18-73717

Guitar Mike,

 

Your idea sounds nice, but I'm concerned about the economics. Even if I upgrade and replace the bad boards(That's about 100 bucks for the new innards), there's at least 20 to 40 bucks for shipping, so that extra money I'd get would get cancelled out by the additional expense. It still doesn't seem worth it. So that $100 to $150 I'd get if I sold the one with the bad boards as-is plus the $150 I'd get if I did the repair work (Or got someone else to do it) would still leave me in the same place where I started.

 

--Lee

Upgrade because you want to and what that intrinsically means to you to have it in that state rather than its present one.  Potential appreciation in value or recovery of your investment is so conditional and speculative that it is a moot point.  Over the past 10 years I converted engines (postwar and modern) of my own as well as for customers to TMCC/Legacy and DCC.  I recently sold all but one that I converted without care or concern about gain or cost recovery.  Their value to me was in the added operational pleasure they provided.  If I had to, I'd say any monetized difference was negligible to none.  I doubt I recovered the costs.  But again, that's not why I did it.  Wise words spoken previously -- take heed in who you have do the work.  It seems an increasing number of people who can plug in a soldering iron and/or turn a screwdriver are now claiming to "repair and convert/upgrade" toy trains. Some customers brought me engines that had been "worked on" or converted two or three times prior to arriving at my workbench.  It's a pity what some pass off as work and charge somebody for.  Be sure to get referral customers to talk to first, particularly for precisely the kind work that you're interested in having done.  Also be sure to assess the general condition of an engine (especially postwar) before endeavoring to convert it or have it converted to command capability.  It's only as good in the end as it was to start off with.  Some require an overhaul in order for the upside of conversion to have a chance of shining through.  Click here if you're interested in viewing a slide presentation I made at the 2017 NASG convention on converting AF to DCC.  I use a FEF Northern as the example.  Hope it helps. 

The main thing is do what makes the hobby fun -- for you.  To quote the late great Tom Jarcho -- "Toy trains for financial gains is a folly".  

Buy what you like. 
Sell it when you no longer do.
Pay what it's worth to you.
Walk away from the rest.
Have fun running your trains.
They're trains, not trophies.
 
Dave

Dave

S happens

TCA, NASG, ACSG W&OD

x-Chief Wrench & Bottle-washer of Precision Flyer Repairs 

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