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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone,

I am stuck with the overwhelming task of selling off my father’s vintage model train collection.

Before selling the engines, I’d like to test them, but setting up his tracks is too much of a daunting task given everything else I must deal with right now.

I came across some videos online that show collectors testing engines with a 9v battery… but would this work with an O scale engine?

Most of the videos were N or HO scale I believe.

Thx for any help.
 

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This won’t work for two reasons. If these trains run on three rail track then they require AC power, not DC from a battery. A 9 volt battery does not have enough current to run these engines even if they could run on DC.

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hey Pete,

I haven’t seen any of these trains run since I was a kid, but I believe they were DC when I think back.

Is there any simple way you know of to test these engines without me having to dig around in his attic for tracks and such and try to build a track?
 

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You’d only need to have a terminal track and the transformer…..but that’ll probably require still digging around…..
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You’d only need to have a terminal track and the transformer…..but that’ll probably require still digging around…..
He may have a newer O scale set up there - could I just use that track to test his older engines?

Or would that be a bad idea? I have no clue what I’m doing so sorry for all the questions.
 

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While I see a lot of doubters, I use a 9V all the time on the test bench for just this purpose, especially on modern locomotives. Heck, I've used a 9V to power my massive Legacy Bigboy as long as the smoke units are off. Sounds, lights and even the main drive motor all can be tested. Legacy, LC, LC+, Williams, all MTH, are all fully DC capable.

Also yes, while I warn about some locos that say AC only (these are typically TMCC with TRIACS to control things like electrocouplers) as long as you do not fire the electrocouplers (and generally you cannot under conventional anyway) and on top of that, the 9V battery has limited current to burn anything up. So heck yes, you can test all post war, most TMCC, and sure it might blow the horn or whistle or bell depending on your DC polarity, but you can test that way for basic function.

Now yes, a real test bench transformer with proper whistle and bell is best, but I think just writing off the 9V concept of testing as dumb or impossible is a bit short sighted. It actually does work. Even if a motor cannot spin because it needs a lot of current, you can often see it twitch and try to move, and that is an indication of some level of function.

Heck, this is also good for a lot of accessories too.

My point is, this is a viable test power source, small enough to fit one in your pocket (don't short it out to your keys or change) carry around at a train show or whatever VS finding a wall socket and transformer. Heck, just Saturday I used a 9V to test a fastrack switch for a customer complaining it did not work and diagnosed the limit switches internally were bad. They wanted $20 for electrical hookup and we sure were not paying that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey everyone thx for the replies. I will be at his house again tomorrow, so I’ll see if he has that Polar Express set or the other Lionel set is O scale.

He has like 20 engines and billon box (?) cars, but I’ll have to see if his engines are even worth my time trying to sell.

I think they coukd be Lionel, American Flyer and Marx (?) from the 50s and 60s… but that’s going off my memory as a child when he told me.

Do these engines have markings on them that make it easy to look up? I think my father said something about three digit and four digit series markings, but that was 30 years ago so my memory may be failing me.
 

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Hey everyone thx for the replies. I will be at his house again tomorrow, so I’ll see if he has that Polar Express set or the other Lionel set is O scale.

He has like 20 engines and billon box (?) cars, but I’ll have to see if his engines are even worth my time trying to sell.

I think they coukd be Lionel, American Flyer and Marx (?) from the 50s and 60s… but that’s going off my memory as a child when he told me.

Do these engines have markings on them that make it easy to look up? I think my father said something about three digit and four digit series markings, but that was 30 years ago so my memory may be failing me.
Yes, on Lionel engines of the post war era (the 50s) under the cab window there is a 3 or 4 digit number. 3 Digits indicates O scale, vs 027 for 4 digit numbers.
Don't get too wrapped around the axle on that- both can run on O scale track all day, just the 027 variants were specifically marketed to run in smaller 027 track (27 inch diameter circle VS 31 inch circle for O). 027 was just the cheaper line aimed such that a 27 inch circle or oval also fits under a child's bed at the time. They are sometimes smaller and made to run that smaller curve.

In fact, most engines and rolling stock (cars) have numbers on the side, and those numbers can be searched on the internet and often find out what we are looking at.
These guys host a great site and I use it all the time Tandem Associates LLC - Lionel and American Flyer Trains and Plasticville
This is specifically the Lionel section LIONEL TRAINS POST WAR IDENTIFICATION GUIDE

Here is a second website, but I find searching this by number not as easy. It's a great page once you know what you are looking at and gives history and details of the item, but again, IMO, not as searchable.
 

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Now for the bad news. Maybe they are in great shape, maybe they are rusty and pile of junk. It's entirely possible you may have some semi valuable engines in that pile or sets, or you might have a pile of the more common mass produced stuff- that in untouched condition even if you test them, well they just are not some big pile of money.

To understand where I'm coming from, I get donations of boxes of trains on a regular basis to the local non profit 503C train club. We have to go through, inspect, test, and sort. There are 3 basic piles.
#1 high quality good condition that the club might keep to run for display reasons. Sometimes, these engines are sold when we have duplicates.
#2 lesser grade, but serviceable that we then internally offer to sale to members, and when they don't sell there, then go to a trainshow and hopefully get sold. A few members volunteer and clean up the engines, lube and service, replace any aged wiring, and we factor that into the whole cost ratio to recoup the investment. You don't put $50 into a fixing a loco you cannot sell for $75
#3 the scrap parts pile. The ones that make no sense to repair, become parts engines, or we sell as a scrap lot at a trainshow. It's simply not worth the time and $$$ These do get recycled into fixing maybe a #2 mid grade engine that needs parts.

Again, I see this at least weekly if not daily.
Family had trains, kids are not interested in the slightest, or have grand delusions of value and worth if they sell them.
So, they contact someone like TRAINZ or one of the dozens of other places that buy collections. Problem is, you must have good photos and an itemized inventory (based on those Cab numbers and item descriptions, along with graded condition). Some places won't touch a "collection" unless there is over $1000 value there- their number- not your number.
So then they get refused and come to a non profit like our club and donate boxes of trains in often marginal condition.

There is always the route of looking locally, taking lots of pictures, advertising yourself.
I also work on the side for the local hobby shop train store and if they are really good condition or extra rare, then maybe, just maybe they buy them, however, it needs to be that near pristine mint condition with box or so valuable that the shop owner thinks they can sell them. This shop sell 99.999 percent new only, so that 0.001% of used better be exceptional used condition.
You could sell on Bookface- I'm told there is a strong running postwar group on there.
You could list on a dozen other free sites.
You could list in a forum like here.
You could connect locally and find a trainshow and try your hand selling there- but again, work, money (tables rented at a show are probably in the $40s)
You can sell on the bay, but again, between fees, taxes, shipping, you aren't likely to make a lot of money for a lot of work (cleanup, pictures, testing, research for the descriptions and listing) and just wait until some buyer complains and demands a return.

There are always garage sales, flee markets, and other venues too.

At the end of the day, you have a pile of work in front of you. You must and I mean must, for any purpose, have an inventory minimally of those numbers. Then pictures and condition.
Donating to a non-profit, you can skip that, drop off a box, and get a receipt- but that's likely not the $$$ family members thought they might have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thx for the replies everyone. I can assure you there aren’t any family members who expect a fortune off these trains.

My bro and other family members don’t really care and my father was a collector of many things, so I have tons of other collectibles to sell off besides these trains.

He has a number of brand new sets he left in the boxes untouched that have some nice value and I’ll obviously sell them off first (LGB, Lionel).

I just haven’t had time to deal with the engines - he has about 20 or so as I said. He wrapped them in cloths and stored them away in a trunk.

All my wife and I are doing lately is research on his collectibles, so looking up these loose engines won’t be a big deal if there are clear markings.

It’s again the testing I don’t feel like dealing with - so I suppose that will come down to the value of these engines if it’s worth my time.

I’m obviously not going to waste my time with a $20-30 engine.
 

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Thx for the replies everyone. I can assure you there aren’t any family members who expect a fortune off these trains.

My bro and other family members don’t really care and my father was a collector of many things, so I have tons of other collectibles to sell off besides these trains.

He has a number of brand new sets he left in the boxes untouched that have some nice value and I’ll obviously sell them off first (LGB, Lionel).

I just haven’t had time to deal with the engines - he has about 20 or so as I said. He wrapped them in cloths and stored them away in a trunk.

All my wife and I are doing lately is research on his collectibles, so looking up these loose engines won’t be a big deal if there are clear markings.

It’s again the testing I don’t feel like dealing with - so I suppose that will come down to the value of these engines if it’s worth my time.

I’m obviously not going to waste my time with a $20-30 engine.
One trick for market price valuation.
I use the bay, I look up and sort for sold and completed items.
Font Rectangle Screenshot Parallel Number

You then have to have some common sense and look at your condition, vs the examples that sold. You can form a ballpark of what a given item has sold for in the last 90 days or so to judge the market.
Example, "Lionel 2035"
I paid $90 for a fully serviced used one from a shop in Ohio went I was first getting into trains. Typical paint chips, light rust on the side rods from fingers over the years, working whistle tender.
Search today came up with the lowest one sold for $20 and highest one, an eye watering $236, but those are the outliers. There is a bell curve with a price about $60-$70.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
One trick for market price valuation.
I use the bay, I look up and sort for sold and completed items.
View attachment 568413
You then have to have some common sense and look at your condition, vs the examples that sold. You can form a ballpark of what a given item has sold for in the last 90 days or so to judge the market.
Example, "Lionel 2035"
I paid $90 for a fully serviced used one from a shop in Ohio went I was first getting into trains. Typical paint chips, light rust on the side rods from fingers over the years, working whistle tender.
Search today came up with the lowest one sold for $20 and highest one, an eye watering $236, but those are the outliers. There is a bell curve with a price about $60-$70.
Believe me, I have been living on the EBay sold sections to research the value of all his other collectibles.

It’s been a wild ride so far, but at least he has some things of value, including his never touched train sets.

He has some mythical set he always talked about that he gave my mom years ago (like she cared) and he said he chased it all around until he finally found one because it was so rare.

After my mom passed he brought it up again and said he wanted to give it to my daughter so she could sell it one day.

I just said something like “sure, dad whatever you want” and kind of blew it off.

So maybe that set is among the ones I haven’t researched yet - probably be worth $100 bucks knowing my luck, but my dad did know his trains I suppose.
 

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That set you speak of may just be a postwar lionel girls set your dad searched for to get your mom and then give to your daughter perhaps.
I think lionel may have made a modern girls set as well.
Anyways if there is one in attic it will be a pink engine and some colorful cars .
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
That set you speak of may just be a postwar lionel girls set your dad searched for to get your mom and then give to your daughter perhaps.
I think lionel may have made a modern girls set as well.
Anyways if there is one in attic it will be a pink engine and some colorful cars .
You guys sure as hell know your ****. Don’t know how you knew from so little info, but it looks like you nailed the set he bought.

I explicitly remember him saying it was a pink train set for girls and it looks exactly like the remake pic above.

Here is a pic I took of the set.
 

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Is the plastic wrap still on it? If it’s the original run, that could be worth a bit of money to a collector! (y)

I’ll give you $50.00 for it! :ROFLMAO:
 
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