Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Train (-ing) Day

We had gathered all of Stephen's dad's trains from the attic.  Well, all that we could find.  He'd set up a small stretch of track to test all the engines.  There were two incomplete N-scale sets that had belonged to Stephen, not his dad, but they're "incomplete" in that there's no transformer to send juice to the tracks.  N-scale is really quite small, so it won't take much for us to transport those sets back home and fortify them with another set, so that, in his spare time, Stephen can start a "Train(-ing)" hobby.  Plus, they're not expensive.

The next size up, HO-scale, is a good scale for someone who has a little extra space and doesn't want to devote their life or lifestyle to "train-ing."  We found one complete set, in its original box, and promptly listed it.  It was up for auction for a week and held its starting bid for almost the entire week.  It had a watcher or two... or six... or ten... or twelve!  I received a message from someone asking me how much it would cost to ship to Malaysia!  The bidding started to climb in the final 24 hours, and it ended up doubling in price, which is probably more than we had asked for "Buy it Now" but not terribly expensive.  Like I said, it's a good size for someone with a small "hobby".  It got shipped out today.

The bulk of what we found in the attic was Post- (World) War (II) Lionel trains in the "O" scale.  That's the Big Boy of "Train-ing."  That's the size with all the fine detail, with specific mechanisms that allow the milkman to deliver cans of milk from the refrigerated car.  That's the size where the lights light and the "steam" engine delivers puffs of "smoke" and the setup can get VERY elaborate and VERY expensive.  It also takes up whole rooms, when done right.  Stephen's dad's house is an old Victorian, so he could easily have devoted one entire room to "train-ing," had he wanted to.  The old Lionels are not the kind of thing we'd want to have to research so specifically that we could list them online.  Packaging them for shipping would likely be as difficult as it has been to package porcelain dolls.  And again, they'd be expensive to ship.

So the first thing on today's agenda was carrying three boxes and one bin of engines, rolling stock (all the cars that don't have a motor), transformers, specific track pieces, and any other landscaping accessories we had to a man in Greensboro who deals in Post-War O-scale Lionels, primarily.  When we got there, he had another dude in his office (he doesn't have what anyone could consider a "storefront"), who was going to help him with his purchasing decision.  We had already had a couple of conversations about what we were hoping to get versus what we could expect to get.  It's kinda like the TV show "Pawn Stars" - as sellers of an attic "find," we of course value our items well over retail.  The dealer has to make a profit if he's going to make an offer, and he's got cleaning/repair/maintenance and storage overhead issues to deal with, as well as researching how much he can reasonably expect to get for each individual piece.  Had we just taken him one engine, one transformer, and two rolling stock pieces, he'd have probably cut a check right then.  But we took in FOUR large containers!  So we went through them together for a simple inventory so he could write us a receipt, and then he asked for a week to do what he needed to do.  We're happy to leave it all there, rather than carrying any of it back up our own stairs.  We're hoping that, because we've established a trusting relationship, he'll come back with a very reasonable offer.  We've already gained a lot from him; now we just need him to "show us the money."

We left there feeling good and headed up to the hobby store to give Stephen a feel for the items he'll likely acquire once we get settled in back home in LA.  I don't mind a bit that he needs to break the physical connection with his dad, as long as he keeps the mental/emotional one.  And N scale is cute!

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