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Model railways in solihull
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Hints on Buying Second Hand 'OO' Locomotives

If you want a pristine collector's item, second hand is probably not for you. Some second hand locomotives and multiple units can be in excellent condition, but some can be good for little other than spares. The usual state is somewhere in between. Particularly useful for the kit builder or ready-to-run modifier are old locomotives, possibly with paint or body damage that can be purchased for a very low price, but can still be improved to make good models. Typical diesel and electric examples are the Airfix class 31, the Hornby class 25 'rat', class 29, class 35 'Hymek' and class 86, the Lima GWR railcar, class 08 'gronk', class 33 'Crompton', class 42 'Warship', class 52 'Western', class 55 'Deltic' and class 87 or Mainline/Replica Railways class 56 'grid'. Good steam examples are the Airfix GWR 6100 class prairie tank 2-6-2T and the Lima GWR 4575 class prairie tank 2-6-2T.

1. A good place to buy second-hand is a swap-meet or toy-and-train fair.

Prices are excellent as the stall-holders often do not have shops to run. The items on offer are usually in good-to-average condition and can be the basis of very satisfactory models. I routinely buy locomotives after the most cursory of inspections, sometimes not even opening their boxes and have had very few problems, but you might like to check more carefully before you spend your hard-earned cash. Sellers are usually very keen to point out why the price is so good anyway, for the sake of preserving their reputations. Store-holders are often open to reasonable offers, especially if they are about to pack up for the day. It is also easier to negotiate a better price if you spend a lot of money at one stand. It can be a good idea to strike up a relationship with regular store-holders as they will be keen to both look out for the kind of things you might want to purchase and offer a discount on their prices without you asking. Always look round all the stalls before you buy anything as prices can vary dramatically even between neighbouring dealers in the same hall. You can buy items even more cheaply from jumble sales, but the condition can be very variable.

2. Keep a good stock of spares.

Any opportunity to collect spares at a reasonable price should be taken by the committed second-hand buyer. Obvious parts that can go missing or get damaged are things such as buffers and couplings, which tend to bear the brunt of impact damage. Some items can be viewed as 'consumable' and so should also be kept in stock, such as traction tyres and motor brushes and springs. It also never hurts to keep a supply of wheels, gears, axles and even motors and complete power bogies. Motors and power bogies are also very useful for powering kit-built projects or double-motoring older ready-to-run locomotives. Good prices can be negotiated for locomotives if parts are missing.

3. Keep it simple.

Between them, Hornby and Lima, for example, have released a good range of products and if you keep the number of makes you own down to a minimum, you will not need as many spare parts to keep it all running. Steer clear from the very old, such as Tri-ang or Trix, and the exotic such as Fleischmann as only cannibalization will keep everything working due to a lack of spare parts.

4. Be selective.

Mainline 'Warship' Class 42 diesels are very accurate models, but Lima ones are more robust, will pull a longer train and can be detailed up to the same standard as the Mainline ones. Jouef class 40s look alright, but are over-scale width and it is nearly impossible to find spares for a long-obsolete model, whereas Lima made a class 40 that uses fairly standard parts and is an accurate model. Mainline and Replica class 45 'Peaks' are a good price and can be the basis of good models, but the mechanisms are poor, the noses too low and the buffer beams are incorrectly attached to the bodies. Maybe a more expensive 'late' Bachmann 'Peak' (after they reworked the body) would be a better buy as they are accurate models and very smooth and powerful.


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© Solihull Model Railway Circle 2000-2024. Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this website the publisher, Solihull Model Railway Circle, cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the information contained in the website, nor for any consequence arising from such information. The articles included and the views expressed on this website are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Solihull Model Railway Circle or its members or advisors. This website is intended to be a resource, but initially it is for promoting the Solihull Model Railway Circle.