When looking to find model train stuff for your layout, there are many different options that are available to you to find everything that you require in creating your model railway layout. The following methods are ones that I regularly use when buying more bits and pieces for my layout.
Obviously the best way to get hold of the bits you need is to be able to see them first hand and handle them.
My preferred method to buy model train stuff is to go to a hobby shop that specializes in model railway equipment. Model train shops are an extremely useful resource for any model railroader. Depending on the size of the shop, most will have a good selection of everything that you need from trains to scenery available in all scales.
From my experience you will receive a better level of customer support from a hobby shop. The majority of people that work in them (particularly the owners in the case of independent hobby shops) are model train enthusiasts so will be very helpful to your needs.
As well as the help that you can receive from a model train shop, remember that you are also helping them (particularly the smaller independent shops) in staying in business during the current financial climate.
Model Train Shows and Exhibitions
Going to a model train show is not only another great place in which to pick up goodies for your layout, but it also makes for a good day out. Many model train shows will not only have great exhibition standard layouts on show, but there will also be many vendors of model train stuff there.
There are some great opportunities to be had to not only get your hands on some new items, but also to ask some questions about the layouts on show from the modellers that made them.
Second Hand Shops, Yard Sales and Boot Fairs
You can find some absolute bargains, particularly if the person selling doesn’t know how much they are worth and they are just having a clear out. However the chances of finding anything in mint condition is extremely rare. This is because anyone who would have kept their trains in good condition and is then planning on selling them will most likely go down an alternative route of selling them (on eBay, asking/advertising in model shops or a local model train club, etc.)
While trains and track are rare to find, these places are brilliant for finding bits and pieces for scenery on your layout. The main problem with finding model train stuff second hand is that you won’t have access to any after sales care and support.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to live near a hobby shop, and model train shows and exhibitions aren’t on all the time. however you can always get model train stuff on the internet. The main benefit here is that through buying online you have access to pretty much every single model train related product that is available (also you don’t need to leave your house!)
Amazon is one of the better places online to purchase items for your layout. You have access to a huge selection of products (not just model train related obviously), and in most cases you have the choice of whether to buy your items “new” or “used”. Most products will include reviews from people who have already purchased the product, so you can get an idea from other people as to what to expect from the model train stuff.
While Amazon have country specific sites/stores, it is possible to purchase items and have them delivered to a country outside of the Amazon country store that you order from.
While eBay is most often thought of as a place to buy items second hand, there are eBay stores from suppliers who send out brand new items. When searching through products you have a choice to set the condition for the product that you are after. Like Amazon, there are eBay sites that are country specific.
You can find some great bargains (usually a good idea is to find out how much the product you are looking at costs on amazon so you don’t end up paying more for a second hand train on eBay than you would if you were to order it new).
You may find that a seller has put a false description for the product (i.e. condition, scale, etc.), either through dishonesty (although you can check the sellers profile to see their ratings with other eBay users) or by them not knowing much about the product they are selling (this can be the case if you are dealing with a seller who has inherited model train stuff from someone, but has no interest in pursuing the hobby).
*you can use the eBay cheat sheets I’ve made to find some model train stuff bargains
Model Train/Hobby Forums
A lot of the model train forums will have a buy/sell/swap section where members can advertise and browse for things that they need for their layout. The members that use the forum will be model train enthusiasts/collectors and will know what they are talking about. Depending on the forum, you may find that forum users can be from all over the globe, which can cause problems with postage and packaging.
Please feel free to leave a comment to tell me about any other places that you can find model train stuff, or of your experiences using the above methods.
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