Buying a Model Train Set on a Budget

Model trains, although super interesting, cost a lot of money. With each new release of a different model, the prices seem to get higher and higher. However, the more money you invest in these trains, the better their quality is. Therefore, you truly get what you pay for. This is not to say that they are not expensive, but if you are a little crafty with your money, you can probably get a lot more while spending less. 

Buying new can be extremely expensive. Therefore, if you want to get a model train set that is good quality and within your budget, you might want to put down the Peco and Hornby tracks that are notoriously expensive. Instead, you can look into alternative sources. By surveying your different options, you can easily get a substantiation collection of model train sets that do not cost an arm and a leg. 

Read ahead to find out how you can get a model train set by staying within your budget. 

How to choose the best model train set

How to choose the best model train set

Model trains are a popular hobby among children, teens, and even some adults. It comes with this promise of excitement and creativity that you simply cannot ignore. With increased demand comes an increased supply, but model train sets are expensive. Due to the hefty price tag, you should ensure that the model train set is worth the money and exactly what you want. Especially if you are a first-time owner of model trains. When you are on a budget, choosing the right train set is even more important as you have a limited amount of money to spend.

Here are a few features you should look out for when making your model train purchase.

The scale of the train

Model trains come in various sizes, and there are several scales that manufacturers use in proportion to the actual trains. These scales include the HO scale, the G scale, the O scale, and the N scale. An HO scale is usually 1/87th of the train, while the G scale is 1/25th. The size of the train you get depends on who you are gifting to or the amount of space you have to store these sets.

The type of tracks 

The conventional model train sets are made to be compatible. Their built is such that they can easily work with each other. However, the newer model train sets have integrated roadbed tracks. These tracks make it easier for beginners who do not have much experience with modeling. However, they are not made to be universally compatible, which may be due to the patents, that differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. 

If you go for a conventional train set, you have much more liberty with your tracks, and you can expand them easily. However, if the receiver of the model train set is young, then the newer train sets are much more suitable and easy to play with.

The power pack

With the evolution of model train sets, the power packs and their capabilities have also changed. The power packs with older model train sets are quite basic and are enough to power a single train with a few accessories. The newer sets are much better in terms of their power packs. These can provide reliable power for many years and can power larger train layouts.

These power packs are also an indicator of the rate of speed, precision, reliability, and efficiency of the model train set. Therefore, always check the power pack before you make your purchase. 

Tips to get a cheap model train set

Tips to get a cheap model train set

Model train sets are expensive if you purchase them brand new. Companies like Hornby and Peco put a lot of effort and thought into their model train sets, which is often visible by how clean these sets are. However, they are often too expensive, especially if you are on a budget. 

Though, just because you are on a budget does not mean that you cannot get a model train set. Here are some tips that can help you get model train sets that are cheaper and in good condition. 

Ask around

Even though this tip may seem fairly obvious, you can get a lot of things if you simply ask people. Model trains are not a new hobby, and people have been collecting miniature model sets of trains for ages. Chances are that you will find many elderly folks who have old valuable train models sitting around. They would also be very happy to give them a new home where they are used and loved. 

Another benefit of asking around is that you must probably know the owner well and can ask them about the conditions and exactly how to take care of it. That way, you won’t get scammed into getting a model set that is in a not-so-good condition. Additionally, let people know that you like to collect model trains and to let you know if they come across something good. 

Visit a flea market

Visiting a flea market is also a great tactic when looking for something specific. Flea markets are also well-known for having stalls filled with toys and various sets. Additionally, the prices are low. So you can get a lot for next to no money. There are also a lot of elderly people selling their old belongings, and you may find your treasure among someone else’s trash.

A great tip for flea markets is to always negotiate. People are most willing to lower the price if you seem genuinely interested in getting something. However, it is pertinent that you check the model train set for damages before you buy it. 

Always run your finger over the top of the edge of the rails. By doing so, you can identify whether or not there are any dents or scratches. They can cause issues in the running of the trains. Furthermore, dents and scratches are a magnet for dirt. You should also check the spring mechanism of the points. These points should move, otherwise, the spring is damaged. Thus, the set is useless.

You should also check the rail endings. These endings should be square cut so that they can easily slide into the rail joiners and then connect to more tracks. The ends of the splits should not be bent or damaged or else you will have to do some cutting to make them fit again. The sleepers are also important to keep the rails in place. Check and see whether or not the tracks have well-secured rails. 

Car boot sales

Car boot sales are another great option to get valuable items at a much later price. Car boot sales are much like flea markets in that they are trying to get rid of old things for some cash. In these car boot sales, if you are lucky, you may find a train model set that is half or sometimes even less of its original price. Furthermore, you can also bargain to get the price even lower.

However, professional house-clearance sellers often inflate the prices of their items, so it is best if you avoid them and go for more casual and unprofessional car boot sales. 

Dealers

There are also many dealers out there who deal in second-hand model train sets. These people usually know a lot about train sets and can also guide you on the quality and upkeep. Additionally, they can also get you in contact with other people if you are looking for something extremely specific. However, these people are more difficult to haggle with as they know the true worth of these model train sets and are unwilling to go lower than their set price. 

eBay

eBay is an incredible online marketplace where you can find just about anything second-handed. However, when something is in demand, you have to participate in a bidding war to get your hand on it and that can get very expensive. 

The best way to navigate eBay is to find items that do not have a lot of competition so that you do not end up paying a large sum for a subpar set. Additionally, it takes time to make a good deal on eBay so the best thing would be to not rush a purchase. 

DIY 

When you can’t find something you want, you can always make it yourself. The task of making a model train might seem daunting, but it is not impossible. Be sure to start small and emulate a small and simple layout, so that you get a hang of the basics. Also, consider the size carefully as certain sizes have more parts available. Currently, the HO scale has the widest range of products on the market. Lastly, find material from unorthodox places. Many of the materials and tools you will need to build a model train set are often available in your own home if you know how to look for them. 

Conclusion

Even though model train sets are an expensive hobby, it has their own charm and fun that attracts both the young and the old. They are especially beneficial for young children while also being fun. However, if you are on a budget, indulging in this hobby might be a bit difficult. If you want to find quality train model sets, check out the article above to find the best pieces while remaining within your budget.