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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am looking for advice on how to build a collection. Is there any rhyme or reason to your first purchases when starting a collection? I’ve started a collection for my son loosely based off of Grafton Wv. Every Christmas he gets a new piece. We started with a chessie SD9, and last year he got a CO GP35 and a BO GP30. This year I’m torn between some sort of switcher or a western Maryland piece to compele the 3 railroads that’s made chessie.

80s era grafton I could buy gp30s for days but when building a collection is it simply buying what you like or do you look for key pieces to add variety? I’m wondering if people go to shows and implement a plan like today I’m shopping rolling stock, today I’m looking switcher, today I’m looking for power. Any tips?
 

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I picked a time frame and a railroad (modern CSX) so I looked at what was running at the time as far as engines and freight. I'm in the process of building a layout, but I also belong to a club which I can run any time frame thus I have some Chessie System stuff.
 

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Amos

There's probably as many answers to your question as there
are members of the Forum. In my case I wanted to build
a fleet of mostly freight cars of all types. My layout was
based loosely on small City activity in the Southwest. I had a layout with
2 good size yards, and a number of freight using businesses
on several stub tracks. I wanted cars that would haul
products that would serve those freight shippers. So I
went to a lot of train shows. That's where you can find just
about anything for a model train. You can choose from locos of
most every design and many offer various road names.
There are hundreds of cars, maybe thousands, of all types...and at very low
prices. You can find every type of car wearing the road
names of just about every railroad. So I was able to
build a collection easily that met my wants and at
very low outlay.

Don
 

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My first love was always steam, so it became a matter of selecting certain steam locomotives that got under my skin for whatever reason. So, with that orientation, I have collected a hodgepodge of models from at least six different railroads during the period from 1913 to 1959.

In order to make it realistic, including in my photography, I had also to collect at least some rolling stock that each of those roads would have trailed behind such locomotives.

Currently, I have locomotives and rolling stock from: Canadian Pacific, New York Central, Pennsylvania, Chesapeake & Ohio, Norfolk & Western, Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, and several others.

The hobby is supposed to be fun, exciting, to elicit imagination and nostalgia, and ideally to help you to learn a bit to keep the brain young. If that means only one railway, and only during July 1943, and only in Ohio, then you'll not be disappointed with what is available over the next few years as stuff comes to market. Probably. But, if you want it all, you can have it all. Whatever floats yer boat.
 

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German, Swiss, and Austrian outline. HO/HOm
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I picked an era I wanted to model and looked at my choices between ÖBB, SBB, and DB. At the time, the most affordable (because I had just finished laying track and purchasing the DCC system) was a nicely detailed ÖBB 2143 locomotive and a few coaches for a short branch line operation.

Next, I chose a newer DB lokomotive and a few TEE coaches. After those two trains were running for awhile I started getting more serious with modeling real trains that were, or are, in operation in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

I'm running out of track space to store trains when they are not on a main line and I hate the thought of displaying them in a box on the wall like so many do. I will have to lay more track after finding more space or reconfigure my staging yard to hold more trains.
 

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My collection is starting with anything that I or someone in the family has a connection to or something I just like. So I have an Amtrak train because I used to ride it back when it was all phase 1 (well, they didn't call it that then because it was the only thing they had). Then I picked up a C&NW 400 minute train because my wife had taken it as a child. Added a PRR GG1 and some passenger cars because I think it is cool. My son (who is my partner in this) grew up about a block from a UP service yard, so we got some SD70Ace models. We picked up some steam stuff, just because we both like steam, and then I decided I liked the UP Excursion trains so I got both a Big Boy and an FEF-3. Just got an ES44AC that was one of the helper engines and have the SD70M as the other helper engine used.

We will continue to grow it with whatever appeals to me when I see it. I think we will get more from the 50s and 60s soon, though he may select more of the modern stuff first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
My first love was always steam, so it became a matter of selecting certain steam locomotives that got under my skin for whatever reason. So, with that orientation, I have collected a hodgepodge of models from at least six different railroads during the period from 1913 to 1959.

In order to make it realistic, including in my photography, I had also to collect at least some rolling stock that each of those roads would have trailed behind such locomotives.

Currently, I have locomotives and rolling stock from: Canadian Pacific, New York Central, Pennsylvania, Chesapeake & Ohio, Norfolk & Western, Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, and several others.

The hobby is supposed to be fun, exciting, to elicit imagination and nostalgia, and ideally to help you to learn a bit to keep the brain young. If that means only one railway, and only during July 1943, and only in Ohio, then you'll not be disappointed with what is available over the next few years as stuff comes to market. Probably. But, if you want it all, you can have it all. Whatever floats yer boat.
yes one of the biggest factors that I consider when making a purchase is has those road numbers been photographed in West Virginia. Every engine we have can be found in a photograph (exact road numbers) taken in West Virginia. I know that eventually we will have to abandon this but for now I really enjoy it.

I guess what I’m struggling with is what to do next. Western Maryland doesn’t seem to be the easiest to find. Do I get more gp30s?

I guess my question is is there rough outline of roster quantity? So like a pair of GP7s , an army of GP30s and then start filling in specialty items? Or is it literally what people want/ like. No real plan.
 

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It's what you want, or what makes it fun for you. I mean, we all have to be responsible, as adults, for finding our way through living, including being financially responsible, but if you have the funds, buy what you think is going to flesh out some kind of vision or scheme. If money is a bit tight, or you'd just like to keep a lid on spending or acquisition, then limit your stable to some representative examples of a given locomotive. On the other hand, I know at least two different people who have every UP Big Boy model anybody makes. Must be well over $30K invested just in that one type of locomotive.
 

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As Don said, each person has their own methodology for collecting. Some get whatever looks good. Some stick to one railroad or one geographic area or a specific era. Same goes for how one collects. Some go to shows with specific locos or cars in mind. Some go to shows a get whatever catches their eye. Some try to get one or a few examples of each model, but I’ve also seen some get several examples of one model. Some have a small roster and some have over 100 locos.

Personally, I started with mostly PRR, then added other railroads as the collection grew. I tried to stick with NE US roads (Reading, C&O, B&O, D&H, LVRR), but have strayed from that when something caught my eye. I also don’t usually get too many examples of a single model, but I will get a dummy to go with a powered unit.

You mentioned Western Maryland power isn’t easy to find. That surprised me since I seem to see a lot of WM. I would think WM can be found in a number of different models, but maybe not before Christmas.

What scale are you running?
 

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John Armstrong once said the the railroads with the most rabid fans were the Pennsylvania, the Western Maryland , and the Great Northern. I came from a town (Edmonds, WA) that had a GN passenger station.
 

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Once I picked my railroad I knew I wanted steam and diesels so I picked the best year for my railroad (PRR) that had them both as I want to try and remain as prototypical as I can to 1956. I even found a searchable online database where I can put in the steam engine's roadnumber and if it wasn't scrapped in 1956 and if it's a good deal I buy it!
 

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At the end of the day, you're asking us to tell you what your tastes and preferences should be. No one can do that for you.

Personally, I buy what appeals to me, within the era and railroad livery that I'm modeling (New Haven in the mid-1950s). My layout exists in a "what if" history anyway, so I don't worry about whether a specific loco actually WAS in service, as long as it plausibly could have been. And because I know I'm not going ever own hundreds of locos, I prioritize variety over building a "proper" roster.

If you're more dedicated to realism, then stick with what the WM did historically, a large fleet of GP-30's or whatever. You have to do what feels right to you, and what makes your layout suit YOUR needs. There are lots of records out there that will tell you exactly what a railroad's fleet looked like at any given time.

Although it sounds to me like you should learn to repaint and/or renumber locos so you can build a historically accurate fleet.
 

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We've, my wife and I, pretty much always just go with what we like or we think has potential for our theme. We browse online, shows, garage sales, anyplace that might have what we'd be interested in.
 
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As at least one other stated; the answer changes with the person answering.
As a teenager I, and my brother, both got into the hobby as a result of Howard Zane. We went straight for PRR and were collecting that road name almost exclusively. Although I developed a fascination with 1980s SP, though never purchased much.
Fast forward several decades; my brother is now modeling a short line subsidiary of the PRR in near rivet-counter fashion with a slant on historical education to his operation. So he collects stuff in a strict manner.
I on the other hand proto-freelance so I can tailor my locomotive roster to my personal preferences. That doesn’t mean I purchase whatever willy nilly though. I model a specific time & place, with actual real life industries represented reasonably close to scale replicas where possible. I will sometimes fudge on freight car build dates and sometimes not.
Some folks are more whimsical & purchase whatever they like.

It comes down to personal preference & what you enjoy. An important thing is that we’re all evolving, ever changing and growing. Consequently a persons interests may change over time. That’s something to file away in the back of one’s mind.
 

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Buy what you like. Keep buying every time you see something that you like. After a while start filling in where you have interesting combinations (you realize you have five Northerns and like Northerns, so, buy all the other types of Northerns that were made - there were only about ten distinctly different design made, its fun to research and track down models). If you like Santa Fe Warbonnet - buy anything you don't have that wears it.

That worked for me. Never started out to have a collection, just locos I like, but very proud of my collection now.
 
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