I never had model trains as a kid. My best friend’s brother did, but not me. I thought it would be cool if my boys, at some point, showed interest when they are older (so I could deny them the joy I was denied). Then, a couple weeks ago, I saw a flyer on a board at work: “Model trains for sale. G Scale, O-Scale –2 and 3 rail, HO scale, and N Scale. Give away prices.” It had a phone number, so I called it. It was Tuesday when I got a hold of the guy, but I couldn’t get to his house until that Saturday. By then, I feared, the good stuff would be gone.
Now, I know little about model trains. I know that most people have HO (1:87) Scale when they are kids and they run on electricity. I talked to a friend of mine in L.A, Tom. Tom has G Scale trains, which are huge in comparison (1:24), that he runs in his backyard. I mentioned I was going to look at these, and he asked that I get pictures in case there was anything he wanted.
I took my oldest (3 years old) up with me, reasoning that 1) I could use him as leverage if there was a train I wanted to bargain on and 2) he could see the trains of which I would ultimately deny him. This guy’s basement was · as the kids say · “Off ‘da hook.” It was full of trains and tracks and tables the trains run on. Most of the trains were on shelves on his basement. There were big ones (G Scale) and little ones (N Scale); diesel engines and steam engines; frieght trains and passenger trains.
The guy (John) explained that he and his wife, Barb, had sold their house of 22+ years and were moving into a condo for their retirement. As much as he loved his trains, the condo had no room for them (obviously). John has two sons (about my age, each with of son of their own), but neither showed any interest in the trains. John just wanted them to go to someone that would enjoy them. He and Barb had three weeks to pack the house. He didn’t have time to prep the trains for a sale or get rid of them on eBay. I conveyed how I didn’t have trains as a kid, but that I thought it would be cool if the boys would want to (I didn’t tell him about reason #2 above).
“If you see anything you’d like, make me an offer and I’ll take it,” he said. “I wouldn’t know what was fair,” I said, as my son peppered me with, “Dad, look at this! Can I have this? Look, a little one for Jack (my youngest)!” I didn’t want to insult him with too little of a number. I figured I’d get an HO train, some track and a controller, which I was to find out later, can be the most expensive single component. To establish a baseline, I asked, “How much for everything,” thinking that, an insanely high number would allow me to keep my money, but a reasonable number I could handle. He looks around at everything, then back to me and says, “A hundred dollars.” “Will you take a check, ” I blurted.
Some of the trains that were in those I purchased are located on my Phanfare Web site.