Train show finds and a lesson learned

Kevin M Mar 10, 2014

  1. Kevin M

    Kevin M TrainBoard Member

    This last weekend I did a Operation Lifesaver booth at a local train show. While on my break I scored a few good deals. I found a LifeLike CB&Q SD9 with MT's and a MT brown TTX bulkhead flat at one booth for $25. At another booth I got a NIB Kato NP RDC for $35. I also learned a lesson. I was eyeing a ABA GN set of the old Lifelike FA's with the plastic frame and monster lead weights. The guy had them up for $40 but at the end of the show I offered him $25 and he took it. I had one of these once and it could pull the world and ran nice. He took my offer and I was happy.
    After tearing down out booth I took my stuff to my car and took closer a look at the FA's. First off I noticed the front couplers were gone, no biggie as MT's would be going on. Then I noticed the fuel tank was plastic, uh oh that's not right. Upon closer inspection I saw Made in Yugoslavia on the bottom so I quickly popped off the shell and sure enough it was not a LL frame but a Mehano rear wheel drive only frame. I found the guy that sold it to me and told him someone had scammed him (he is a well know gentleman and buys and resells all over the NW) and these were LL shells on a POS frame. I knew he would not be happy but what happened next threw mw for a loop. He tried to claim that they were factory that way and that I did not know what I was talking about. We argued back and forth for a minute and he refused to listen to my complaint until I showed him the back of the box where it says 8 wheel drive and these clearly did not have powered front trucks. Now this guy is no dummy, he is very involved in N scale Collector so I was suppressed that he tried to convince me I was wrong. In the end he gave me my check back and we departed ways. He definitely was not happy with me but I really did not want to be stuck with those things. So my lesson learned was never assume that what's in the box is correct, I will take a better look next time.
  2. RatonMan

    RatonMan TrainBoard Member

    Caveat emptor!
  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Bummer. At least you got your money back. Otherwise, sounds like a good day.
  4. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

    I think that guy has a relative who sells second hand trains at shows in Australia.
  5. brokemoto

    brokemoto TrainBoard Member

    I had the opposite happen. There was a Kato F-3A in a TRIX box. It had no price on it. I presented it to the guy at the table. He said $30. I handed him his $30 and ran. At least he was willing to give you back your money.
  6. RGW1

    RGW1 TrainBoard Member

    Twenty years ago when I was in my early twentys ( so not much train money) I wanted at least one N scale steam engine. I was at I think, Ham line university? St Paul,MN train show( normally Woodbury ) A guy had boxes of N scale steam, but with no marked prices, so I asked about a complete Atlas/Riv 2-8-2, he says $45 two minutes later a guy in his 40s or 50s asks the price on the same engine and is told $25,another guy asks how he decides his prices and he says he just looks at the person and throws out a price.I can only assume my price was higher because I was just a kid. So I bought a box with a Atlas 2-8-2 in pieces from him ,thought I could put together a engine for I think $10 or so, later I saw I was missing a small part and I found it under were the box had been on the guys table. He charged my $2 to get it.The whole thing Almost ruined my desire for N steam and going to Train shows.By the way the frame later fell apart in my hand. Finally bought a Kato mike. I do not think I ever saw the guy again at other shows
  7. Gizmo2011

    Gizmo2011 TrainBoard Member

    I have always found buying second hand locomotives to be a buyer beware situation. Especially at train shows. With all of the hustle and bustle around the tables and that strong desire to find a great deal it is easy to end up with a lemon. This happened to me a couple of years ago when I got an Atlas SD-50 for $40.00. On the outside the shell is darn near perfect but someone hacked the entire drive train and frame to the point it will not run at all. Unfortunately I did find all this out until I got home. I'm glad you got your money back Kevin before it was to late. You can't let an incident like that turn you off of train shows RGW1. There are people like that on every corner of the planet.
  8. RGW1

    RGW1 TrainBoard Member

    I have attend many shows since then and even had my own table a couple of times. As I have gotten older learned to be a little more careful with checking out the trains before I buy and have also learned to walk away from some people.However the majority of my train show experiences have been very good. I beleave it is only a very few who are out to take advantage of others.
  9. Gizmo2011

    Gizmo2011 TrainBoard Member

    I would have to agree with you RGW1, most people are good people and are not intentionally trying to take advantage of others. Train shows are a lot of fun and one certainly can find some great trains at great prices. I guess we both have learned a good lesson the hard way.
  10. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

    Back in 'the day', train shows were for hobbyists to sell off extra and unneeded train items. Then at some point the shows started being overran with 'venders' who did little else other than sell used trains. They asked high prices (list or sometimes even higher) and all too often were selling junk. I've seen one regular at the west coast train shows who has a huge amount of N scale and big signs proclaiming 50% everything...but his prices even at 50% off are still WAY too high (still more than list). Now I no longer even attend train shows. There's usually very little running trains and no private hobbyists selling off spares at reasonable prices. Just another aspect of the hobby that has gone the way of steam (IMHO).
  11. karnydoc

    karnydoc TrainBoard Member

    JMaurer, the reason why private individuals are seldom seem at train shows is one of law. In the past 10-15 years, state revenue agencies have been cracking down, as the states are strapped for cash, by requiring one to display a sales tax certificate. (it's not difficult to get one; I had one in New Jersey for a while.) The PITA part is the periodic filing of said taxes, whether monthly or quarterly, generally determined by revenue level.

    Dieter Zakas
    Seven Percent, NJ
  12. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

    Bought an old undecorated loco at the last train show that I got for a reasonably good price (find). Then remembered the $8 I paid to park and the $7 to get in the door (lesson). ;)

    I actually wouldn't mind paying those type of entry fees but the show needs to knock my socks off a little more than this one did.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2014
  13. PGE-N°2

    PGE-N°2 TrainBoard Member

    That seems to be another trend in any kind of exhibit show these days, as well. The last train show I was at was $10 a head at the door. Fortunately I was an exhibitor so I saved that particular head tax, but I guess the show organizers were also trying recover the untold sums they had to pay for insurance.

    I did manage to get an actual set of LL FAs at a train show once, too. They're CP, though, and I still have to replace the missing couplers, but at least mine were real. It's always a good idea to open the box first before buying, even if a seller does't like it. I have even ended up with new things from the hobby shop with dislodged wheels and broken stirrups that I didn't notice because I forgot to open the box, first. If the price seems too good to be true, and the seller won't at least let you do a brief inspection, then it probably is too good to be true.
  14. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

    Yep. At a show I went to before the one I mentioned, I picked up a Kato GP50 that was being sold for a surprisingly reasonable price. Upon close inspection, I saw it had a broken handrail that could be easily fixed but everything else looked good. When I got home I quickly discovered it had a broken axle gear which, luckily, I was able to replace with something I had on-hand. Now I won't buy locos at shows unless I see it run on a test track first....unless I'm familiar with and trust the seller.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2014
  15. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    Old Chinese proverb say, "Let buyer beware".

    Look we all get scammed even the sellers who do this for a living get scammed and in some cases end up passing it on to the next buyer.

    My advice. Stay away from yesterday's junk. It was junk back then, it's still junk today and no surprise it will be junk tomorrow. Get out and buy the new stuff. You won't believe the difference in how smooth the newer locomotives operate. They run great, I promise.

    Oh and paying today's prices for yesterdays stuff....don't get me wasn't worth the price they asked for it back when, it still isn't and it won't be tomorrow.

    Research, research and double check against someone's opinion you trust.

    Rick Howland
    Bear Valley Model Railroaders
  16. casmmr

    casmmr TrainBoard Member

    I have learned the hard way to always take the shell off any engine I am interested in. I brought an Atlas GP-9 from a dealer, brick and mortar location in the NE part of the state. The box said DCC ready and the shell number agreed with the box. Upon removal of the shell to put in the decoder, I found it to be an older GP-9 chassis, still China, but, not DCC ready. I saw the dealer later at another show and mentioned it to him. He had no explanation and he stated he must have received it from Atlas that way. I believe that a customer of the brick and mortar location purchased the DCC ready engine, switched the chassis and returned the item to the dealer. Now, I always look at the chassis to make sure it states what the box states. If a dealer/seller will not let me remove the shell or he refuses to remove the shell I do not buy.
  17. johnh

    johnh TrainBoard Member

    I had an identical situation at a brick and mortar here in California, but the unit had been labeled as a "demonstrator" and had supposedly ran on the store layout. It should have been DCC ready , but upon getting it home it was not a DCC ready mech. I had bought it at such a deep discount that it was still worth what I had paid so I never brought it up with them. Odd how that can happen, but probably a scenario like you mentioned with a customer return.
  18. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author TrainBoard Member

    Back when my son was much younger, I bought a Thomas set at a very attractive price from a dealer at one of those "traveling shows." At the time hard copy slips were still used for credit card numbers and the dealer wanted my phone number.

    After the show ended for the day the dealer called me, told me he charged the wrong price for the set and gave me two choices: (1) Return the set the next day and he would tear up the charge slip or (2) He would charge the difference to my credit card.

    Now that's unscrupulous... and arrogant. His mistake, and I take the hit. I didn't return to said "traveling show" for years after that.
  19. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author TrainBoard Member

    I think this depends on your operational definition of "Yesterday."
  20. RGW1

    RGW1 TrainBoard Member

    When buying used engines I like to figure what the valve of it is for just parts and not pay too much over that, this way if the motor is cooked at least I feel much better. Of course many of these stories on used engine problems Could apply to Feebay.

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