Estate Collection Advice?

sonofzell Jan 28, 2019

  1. sonofzell

    sonofzell TrainBoard Member

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    Hope everyone had a nice weekend! Last week ended being somewhat of a "good news / bad news" volley in terms of this project...

    The Bad:
    1. I finally got a chance to load up the "engine trunk" - a wooden footlocker full of engines that easily exceeded 250 lbs! As I expected, the majority of Pop-Pop's motorized cars were found inside, however, to my disappointment, many were in abysmal condition. I can't be certain, but my instinct tells me that most of this damage occured while the cars were in storage. I just can't see my grandfather packing things away in this condition without some type of rehab first. I should also note that, just like all his other "containers", nothing was packed with haste. The footlocker contained four vertical levels - each a thin plywood floor with foam on the bottom to protect the level below - and each car was surrounded by its own custom-cut corrugated cardboard sleeve. There were also tons of what I assume to be dehumidifiers in the locker; small and medium-sized "sandbags" that I presume were filled with silica or some equivalent substance. The only unique trait of this box was the wood material, opposed the the plastic / cardboard all the others were stored in.

    Despite his careful packaging, there was obviously some type of oxidation that infected many of these trains. This is definitely not the typical rust that I've seen on occasion... it's more akin to what you'd see on metal boat parts that are left untreated in salt water. Some cars have corrosion (what the gun guys would call "pitting"), while others appear to actually have protrusions or buildups. I won't even consider trying to repair any of these on my own until I learn more about the methods & risks, but sadly, I think there are a number of otherwise valuable trains that can't be worth much more than their scrap value in their current condition:

    [​IMG]

    This is one of the most extreme examples, but there are close to a dozen engines with this same affliction in various degrees of severity. There were also a number of trains with solid metal components like wheels & axles that had severe corrosion; some of which literally crumbled to pieces as I removed them from their wrap! At this point, I can't say if these are a total loss, or if I can restore them (or sell at a minimum to someone willing to rehab them), or if they are a "total loss". In either scenario, it doesn't look like I'll be moving these any time soon.

    2. As I move into what I hope to be the "final" stages of storage cleanout, I've realized that I grossly underestimated the number of vehicles Pop-Pop had amassed. Yes, I know - this isn't really a problem, per se... just a little of an unanticipated delay. I've gone through a few smaller boxes of his Winross trucks (there's about 300 in total by my estimation), and found that there are few reliable resources for assessing and listing these items. That's just one small example; the matchbox, corgi, hot wheels, ertyl, etc. as well as large-scale auto models are piling up in my home rapidly, taunting me with what is sure to be another lengthy research project.


    The Good:
    1. I decided to purchase a membership to the trainzauctions website. For a relatively heavy price tag ($60 for one year), it allows access to their community-driven database and pricing trends from their own marketplace site. While I can't comment on how accurate the pricing is in real-world terms, I'm optimistic due to the fact that the trends are based on actual transactions and not any speculative criteria. If nothing else, I've found that the vast majority - I'd say 98% (excluding, of course, Pop-Pop's numerous repaints and "custom creations") of the items I've searched for have detailed information on dating, identification and pricing. If I'm being honest, I can't say I have any buyer's remorse thus far - if nothing else, it's proven to be an immense help and time-saver in my inventory workflow. I am, however, curious to hear what, if any feedback you guys may have regarding the site in general. I love having a little bit of confidence in at least seeing "ball park" values, but I also don't want to be naive and assume this site is fully legit... not being in the hobby community, I wonder what the general reputation of that site is. If you have any insight or experiences with them, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

    2. Finally, I am BEYOND excited to say that I am probably about 4 carloads and one truckload (there are a kayak and motorized chair that I won't even try to fit in my SUV) away from an empty storage unit!!!! Granted, my basement and attic are rapidly approaching maximum capacity, but cutting out that $350+ monthly bill is something I've been looking forward to for almost 13 months now.... and it's just starting to come into view!
     
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  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    :( Ouch. Typical damage I have seen too many times. Moisture. Many can be "restored", but not always. Restored, worth is very minimal for the effort input. Value, just as parts or with some time and money invested, as runners.
     
  3. sonofzell

    sonofzell TrainBoard Member

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    That's honestly what I was expecting to hear. For the immediate future, I think I'm going to just tuck these away out-of-sight (and mind) until I'm caught up with all the other items.

    I was surprised at the seemingly random effect on the trains in that crate. There were examples like the pic above right next to other trains that had no damage at all. The trains on the bottom-most level were definitely the worst in terms of damage.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  4. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

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    What color was the foam? Is that foam damage? A lot of times you will see that with old brass trains, where the foam box insert degrades with age and starts to melt to the model. You mentioned a few wheels that crumbled. That is called Zinc Pest or Zinc Rot. It is due to impurities in the metal and is pretty much unavoidable. Some people mention dipping parts in vinegar to stop it, but once they start to crack, there is nothing you can do. Identical models, but from different batches, will often have different outcomes. It is all pretty random, based on the batch of metal used. It is more common in pre-war trains and die cast, but that is not to say that all pre war trains will have zinc rot, and it can still happen today too, but it is rarer.

    Regarding Trainz, I see it as more of an O Scale/Lionel marketplace. They don’t have as much in HO, which is what I model, so I don’t go on there a lot. Their auction site isn’t as large as eBay, but they do have an eBay page too. I don’t know how the postings there work. I’m assuming that the two are independent from each other.
     
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  5. sonofzell

    sonofzell TrainBoard Member

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    Interesting thought, although I'm not sure the foam was too much of a factor here. He basically had a sheet of thin wood (more a balsa type than plywood as I originally mentioned), with a flat sheet of styrofoam glued to the bottom side. Granted, most of the foam had devolved into little snowflakes littering the trunk - but he had cut cardboard slats that were folded around each train. They were taller than the trains themselves, so each layer was sitting on the cardboard "walls" instead of the layer below.

    As for the trainz site, you're spot-on with your assessment. It probably didn't even catch my attention since 95% of Pop-Pop's collection does fall into the "O Lionel" genre. I haven't decided if I'll actually use their marketplace auction site as opposed to eBay/LetGo, etc., but if I do, my membership excludes me from any seller's fees. I still have to say, my cataloging has been a ton more efficient since I've signed up. I don't think there's been one single Lionel item that I've searched for that didn't return a match. It's saved me a ton of time researching model numbers, associations & manufacture dates (plus I get the pricing trends, which I've begun adding to my database moving forward).

    [​IMG]
    If I do opt to offer any of the items there, I still plan to stick to my original strategy of posting just a few "common" items to get a feel for the response before I go crazy with listings. I know there's going to be a learning curve with shipping on the heavier stuff as well... all things I can worry about once I ditch my storage unit lol!

    Fair warning to anyone still watching this thread: There's a relatively large box filled exclusively with "tenders" that I've been putting off for a few days... once I start digging in, I anticipate bugging you guys again for guidance in matching up any that are specific to a particular engine.

    Side note (and a note of appreciation for you true enthusiasts)... I do have to say, I've had a few "victorious" moments in recent weeks with matching up items to their related parts/boxes, etc. The cigar box full of little plastic rockets (that I ALMOST didn't bother to take from his house), turned out to be the match for a bunch of flat cars that I had assumed were incomplete "scrap" cars. Turns out they were all cold war era rocket launchers (who knew?!). Just this morning I searched this little handcar and instantly recognized the figures in the photo on the trainz site. The car I had did not have any figures on it, but I instantly recognized them and remembered putting them aside in the accessories bin. Another piece of the puzzle put into place :cool:... it's quite gratifying!

    Thanks again to everyone for your responses and guidance!!!!

    K
     
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  6. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Happy to read that you've been able to pull together models and their accessories. This will definitely boost their worth. Boxes too will help your earnings, especially on the golden era items, say from 1945 to perhaps 1969. Though they're a good thing to have for any of your models.

    Looking forward to seeing what's in your Tender box. In the case of Lionel's N&W 746 4-8-4 (produced 1957-1960), the "long stripe" tender makes this prized model even more valuable.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Further proof about that admonition concerning haste.... Without those pieces, your item value plummets- no matter how good otherwise, box, etc. Pat yourself on the back, for wisely setting those pieces aside, and not lining the trash bin! (y)
     
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  8. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Speaking of haste, my B&O RDC-1 (Lionel 400, 1956-1958) came to me via our new neighbors when I was young. They moved in, unpacked, found their Lionel trains, but no track. Learning we had Lionels, they gave me the RDC, an FA-1 and their rolling stock. Months later they then found the track. Being good people, they then gave me the track. I've thinned out a lot of my Lionel, but treasure the RDC because it looks cool, runs great and doesn't take up much space.
     
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  9. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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  10. sonofzell

    sonofzell TrainBoard Member

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    <<<Sigh>>>

    So, I have to say: the "Box o' Tenders" didn't quite impress as I hoped it would... With so many VERY similar Lionel models, as well as my grandfather's love of repainting, identification was a bit tricky. I did manage to assign a model (hopefully accurately) to them all, but the puzzle pieces have yet to fall into place with a number of the engines I have found. If anyone has some time to kill and is up for having a look at my model number assignments, I'd welcome any corrections or suggestions as to anything I may have misidentified. I do have a short list of suggested tender/loco matches; when I have time to investigate some more, I may submit that here as well for collective feedback. As always, I sincerely appreciate any thoughts you have to offer.

    @Hardcoaler thanks so much for that awesome info! I actually had it bookmarked somehow, so it must have crossed my eyes at some point, but I doubt I would have remembered to use it as a reference.

    I've got another question that I thought I'd float out here: One thing that has become painfully evident is that I grossly underestimated the size of Pop-Pop's collection of die-cast cars & trucks! I've half-heartedly begun separating them into boxes by manufacturer, but unlike his relatively focused trains, there are A LOT of different makes, scales, & types. They could arguably consume a separate site of their own by the time I get through them all!
    Of course I have a million questions about their identification and value; certainly nothing relevant to this forum, but I thought I'd just ask if anyone here also shares an affinity for diecast collecting and may be able to suggest a starting point for a good community to hit up. I've found a few that look active and seem like they'd be helpful, but all seem to be specific to one or few specific makes (and I can't reasonably see jumping into a dozen different forums to research these items!). At any rate, if anyone has a suggestion or endorsement for any diecast collector communities, I'm all ears!

    Thanks so much, everyone!
     
  11. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Regarding die-cast vehicles, I know very little.
     
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    There are indeed "die cast" collectors. But some searching and researching will be necessary to find those folks, and pinpoint the best of them.
     
  13. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Here's some information that might help get you started matching some of your tenders to locomotives:
    • I see that you have Lionel's prewar 257 Tender. This was often mated to 2-4-0 Locomotives 257 or 258, but I see neither in the collection.
    • Your Lionel 2020 6-8-6 Turbine Locomotive (you have two of these) usually shipped with a 2020 or 2466 Tender. You have a 2466WX to mate one with.
    • Your Lionel 1872 4-4-0 General shipped with a 1872T Tender that would be an unmistakable match. Your photo reads "Locomotive and Tender", but there's no Tender photo I can see. If you have the Tender, it'd help boost your selling price.
    • Your Lionel 726RR 2-8-4 Berkshire shipped with a 2426W Tender. You have a 2426W, but it's been decaled in Reading.
    • Your Lionel 675 2-6-2 Prairie shipped with a 2466-Series Tender, but some came with a 6466WX or 2046W Tender. You have a 2466WX (see above, Lionel 2020 6-8-6 Turbine). You have a 6466T with all lettering removed. You have a bunch of 2046s in various states of condition.
    Hope this helps.
     
  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Didn't the 2466W tender also go with the 1666E?
     
  15. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    It's been 6-1/2 Months since sonofzell (the OP) last posted. Are you still out there sonofzell? Any luck with your selling?
     

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