Where do you tend to buy your rolling stock...

Sumner May 6, 2019

  1. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    I've bought a few diesels now and want to start adding some rolling stock. Do you buy new or used or both? On eBay or somewhere else if used?

    I'm going to start bidding on some on eBay and could use any advice for what to look for. I'm loosely modeling UP from the 50's to mid 70's. Is it reasonable to think I can find cars in the $7 to $9 range used that are worth having on the layout? I don't want anything rare, just some cars that represent the time period.


    tphmike likes this.
  2. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    Yes, it is certainly reasonable on eBay though more towards the $9-$10 each range than the $7 range. A lot of times people will list used but the cars have never be run before so if that happens it will just be a pleasant surprise.

    The key thing with eBay is the shipping cost. It ranges from $5 to $8 depending on the seller for ONE car but most combine shipping. You can get 5 cars in a Small Flat Rate Priority box and the seller will charge you $7.60-$8 for shipping. The point I'm trying to make is that try to buy a handful of cars from the same seller. Yes, it's a bit hard if it's an auction, to win a bunch from the same seller. But you can certainly do it with Buy It Now items.

    If you buy one off's from different sellers on eBay you lose in the end due to shipping for one car each time. You can easily pay $15-$20 per car with shipping factored in if you buy one'sies.

    Another place to get cheap bargains, and sometimes even better as you can see the item in person, is at your local train shows. Go to the bigger ones and make sure there are N-scale dealer and not a bunch of Lionels. :) After a while you'll know which shows have the good vendors for N.

    New or used doesn't matter to me but if it's something I REALLY want I would buy new as it'll be awhile before they show up in the used market.
    tphmike and Sumner like this.
  3. tphmike

    tphmike TrainBoard Member

    Yes. You can find some good deals on cars through ebay. I also agree you'll be paying upwards to $7.50 shipping, but if you buy several cars from the same person, they will combine the order to save on shipping. Also, if you are close to your hobby store, they sometime have consignments or a used car section. Trainshows too.

    I have found quite a few cars on ebay at reasonable prices as well as Trainshows.
  4. Lowell Johnson

    Lowell Johnson TrainBoard Member

    Hi Sumner,
    You have probably seen my posts here, and I am also a regular on "N scale yard sale". I buy and sell a lot on both. I have literally hundreds of pieces of N scale rolling stock I will sell. I usually don't mess with posting items with low $$ amounts like rolling stock, but I have everything from unboxed vintage pieces w/rapidos for $3-5, to brand new Micro-trains w/M-T Accumate couplers in their original jewel boxes for $10-12. Some large, collectable or specialty cars higher. Just send me a "wants" list, give me 24-48 hrs and I'll get back to you with what I have and prices. I can supply pics too. I will combine ship to save you money. Just email your needs to:


    Thanks. Lowell.
  5. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

    BoxcabE50 likes this.
  6. Rich_S

    Rich_S TrainBoard Member

    Hi Summer, As others have mentioned above I also purchase rolling stock on ebay. I guess I'm also one of the lucky ones as I have two well stocked hobby shops near my home. The one shop even sells second hand pieces of rolling stock at very reasonable prices. You can also find some good deals on some of the well known online hobby shops. Some of those shops also sell second hand pieces of rolling stock for reasonable prices. I guess the best advice is just look around and compare prices.
  7. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    Thanks guys. We are in southeast Utah's canyon country and 80 miles from the nearest Walmart and at least 300 from the nearest hobby shop as far as I know so that is out but the next time we are down in Phoenix I'll check there. Thanks for the link to the swap/sell area here. Looks like I might do well there over time. Also conversing with Lowell about what he has and looks like he can help me out also.

    I bid in two auctions last night and loss one by 50 cents but not sure how high the other person had his limit. The other auction was at abut $20.00 with about a minute to go and I bid $22 and the 5 cars ended up going for over $90 so I was way off. Not sure why those cars pulled in so much. I've bid on 3 diesels and won all of those and felt good about what I got and what I paid.

    Will do another auction in a few minutes. These auctions are helping me learn more about the different cars. I learned a lot about the diesels as I bid on those also,

    mtntrainman likes this.
  8. Rodeo Joe

    Rodeo Joe New Member

    No hobby stores near me that i know of, so it's all online. BLW, Hogtrainz, eBay, I like to shop around! :)

  9. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Supporter

    EBay... As mentioned, try to combine shipping if possible.

    I’ll mention something else. If you are buying s cheap older cars, they probably have rapid couplers. So budget for that conversion when you are pricing them mentally. I found that if I bought less expensive cars and did conversions, often I could have bought a newer better MT car for less over all.
    I have a couple I got for $5 making the conversion worthwhile. Otherwise, I was better off buying lots, or singles that were reasonably priced with free shipping... or several from the same seller even if a dollar more.
    Sumner likes this.
  10. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

    I buy on eBay and the above advice rings true for me.

    I learned from a non-RR-related seller that the shipping costs vary depending on what USPS charges. eBay calculates this and the shipping cost that you see may not be the same as what others will see, depending on location of seller and buyer. It won't tell you shipping cost until it knows the "ship to" address.

    I typically buy Atlas Trainman (their low-end) cars and target a total cost of $15. I will pay $5 more for one with MTL trucks as that is what it will cost me to convert. I am outbid at this price 9 times out of 10.

    When you lose an auction you never really know what the buyer's maximum bid was; it could be a lot higher than the price paid but nobody else bid it up.

    I have found that price varies a lot depending on road name, with some roads far cheaper than others. Also this time of year pickings are fairly slim. Patience is key.
    Onizukachan likes this.
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Getting five (freight) cars into a USPS FRB1 is an iffy proposition. It depends upon the size of their individual jewel box. And you must allow sufficient room for protective packaging materials.
    Bendtracker1 likes this.
  12. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Where do I buy my rolling stock? Anywhere I can.

    I prefer brick and mortar hobby shops but most of my favorites have closed up. Mail order houses of which I buy from are few and far away from me. E-pay is O-kay! Just not the perfect environment. You have to know what you are buying and how much the item is really worth. There are websites that can help you establish a realistic cost but not many.

    When I was in Southern California I enjoyed the train shows and swap-meets. One in particular where I felt at home and knew a fair number of the guys that had tables with good stuff for sale, The Roundhouse Gang Swap-meet. There we could get together and swap war stories and trade train equipment or buy that one item you can't live without.

    Now days? I was told, once upon a time, there was a really good train shop in Boise, Idaho. Unless I'm missing something, I haven't found it yet!
  13. jdetray

    jdetray TrainBoard Member

    I've bought nearly all of my small collection of rolling stock on either eBay or N-scale Yard Sale. I did buy a custom-painted North Stratford R.R. boxcar at the Amherst, MA, show many years ago.

    Google shows a few hobby shops in the Boise area, but I can't tell which (if any) is "really good."

    - Jeff
    BarstowRick likes this.
  14. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    I've googled a search and even went to my smarter then me phone, to get directions. The pictures that came up weren't that impressive. Sad to say.o_O

    I did manage to find a small hole in the wall on the east side of Boise. More of a hardwood store then anything else. He had all kinds of wood cut out in various shapes and sizes. You could find the wood to make a trestle. Lot's of dowels. Just not what I was looking for.

    There is one allegedly in a house. No sign out front that I could see but an address. Maybe it's a underground railroad? :eek: You know in the basement. :cool:
    mtntrainman likes this.
  15. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

    When searching for out-of-two hobby shops, I check the dealer directories for Micro-Trains, Walthers and Atlas.
    MTL shows only one dealer in all of ID: https://www.micro-trains.com/publicfiles/dealercontact/id.htm
    In the the metro Boise area, both Walthers and Atlas list what is probably the hardware store you found.
    Atlas lists another shop in Eagle that, according to google, is permanently closed - so trust, but verify.
  16. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

    I usually buy online...missing BLW a bunch these days but there are others. I will buy occasionally from EBay but with the shipping costs being so high now (usually $8+) I need to find several cars from one seller that will combine shipping in order to pull that trigger. The remaining brick and mortar shop in my area I try to support for scenery, track and other various items but paying full pop for rolling stock when I can get it for much less online...I have to REALLY want the car.

    One thing I'm looking for right now is undec MT rolling stock (20000, 28000, 39000). If anyone knows of a source that isn't too expensive (I refuse to buy already painted cars and paint over them), please LMK.
  17. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    In my area, Kato had listed a "store" (business?) which offered their products. After carefully looking over the situation, it appeared to merely be someone who was buying wholesale to further their hobby interests, a private residence nobody in this hobby within my vicinity had ever heard of... Not exactly the most honest way of doing things, yet still "legal". After trading some emails with Kato, they de-listed that "store".
  18. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

    Well I commiserate. BLW was my favorite supplier, I have also used Tex N Rails, but not sure if they are around anymore. N Scale Supply every so often, but mostly I am done with buying cars, anything new will go to the place in Maryland.
  19. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    Having downsized everything from motive power, both size and numbers, to limiting myself to only 40 foot and under freight cars I have more than adequate cars to populate my layout. Over the last several years I have been purchasing direct from Japan mostly the Bandai B Train freight and passenger cars, but also some structures and maritime vessels that are N scale.
  20. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    Tex N Rails is still around. I see them at train shows like Amherst but I don't know if they have an internet presence. BLW is now "moved over" to Pete's brother at Hog Trainz. He will now be carrying N scale.

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