Price of a Hobby

Discuss model railway topics and news that do not fit into other sections.
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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby Mountain » Sun May 26, 2019 4:55 pm

Thanks Dellboy. They are nice and simple.

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby GeraldH » Sun May 26, 2019 5:13 pm

I've been asked about ballasting with used tea-leaves so I thought I'd share the info here in case it is useful. I have found that loose tea is best, as it seems to be slightly coarser than the tea in tea bags, but either will do.

I take the used tea out of its bag (if it's not loose tea) and put it on a tray to dry out. I then store the dried tea in a old plastic bottle with a wide top until I'm ready for ballasting. When I'm ready to ballast, I mix up some wallpaper paste as if it's for vinyl wallpaper (i.e. the strongest recommended mix). The wallpaper must have fungicide in it (most of it does) or the tea-leaves go mouldy. I then add tea-leaves to the paste until the paste is completely absorbed and I cannot see any areas of clean paste. I then brush on the mixture with an old paintbrush 1.5-2cm wide, going backwards and forwards to fill all the gaps. I am very careful around points, so as not to prevent them moving. I then wipe the top and inside edge of the rails with a rag and leave the mixture to dry overnight.

The mixture can shrink when drying and leave a few gaps, so you might have to put a bit more on the next day. The result can look a little red, but this can be toned down with some powder paint. To my eye it looks like dirty weathered ballast. Apart from this costing peanuts, the other good news is that if you ever have to alter your layout, the ballast is easily removable. Do not use this with steel rail though as it will rust, but there's no problem with modern nickel silver track.

Happy ballasting :)
Gerald H - BNR Correspondent :)

My layout: ... hp?t=28854

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby Delboy » Sun May 26, 2019 5:24 pm

Hi Gerald thanks for sharing your ballasting technique with us, most useful. :wink:

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby Bigmet » Sun May 26, 2019 6:32 pm

Dad-1 wrote:...Compared to many other hobbies it can be quite affordable, but never cheap... that locomotive can last you 10 - 30 years...

I feel this is one of the secret joys of this hobby. My layout and stock is the result of a modest annual spend over more than fifty years. Much less than a golf club membership, running a classic car, footie season ticket, and many other common leisure activities: and here's the real winning aspect, when money is tight there's no need to spend very much at all to continue to enjoy the DIY modelling of layout and stock.

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby Firefly16 » Sun May 26, 2019 8:01 pm

One reason for the hobby having become so expensive may be that we have become just a little spoilt, expecting ever more new models, the cost of whose tooling has to be recovered by the makers.
No one should be deterred from scratchbuilding - you don't know what you can do until you've tried. All that is required is a little thought, some careful observation and above all, patience. And there is a wealth of materials to hand for literally nothing: the inner tubes of ballpoints, the siphon tubes from trigger operated detergents and the styrene from the lids and bases of ice cream tubs to name a few. My latest find is a bag of 40mm panel pins going by the name of Value Pac for just 99p - with beautifully finished heads, a plentiful source of buffers for some time to come, albeit with a little hacksaw work, the sawn-off bits providing ballast for scratchbuilt wagons etc.

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby b308 » Sun May 26, 2019 8:47 pm

Dad-1 wrote:E2E you surprise me that you don't have the confidence to make a half decent wagon kit.

And me, especially as you've produced some cracking layouts so the skill level is there! Take the plunge, it doesn't cost much!

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby sparkhill » Sun May 26, 2019 9:01 pm

Model railways are only as expensive as you make it, I agree with Dad1 the Hornby DCC starter sets are a fine introduction into the hobby.
My best mate spends all his spare money on Booze and fags and at $50au for a packet of roll your own tobacco that is what I call an expensive hobby, his and my needs are the same he needs his booze and fags to bring enjoyment and I play with model trains, no matter what hobby people are in they all cost money, I am in no way hanging it on my mate for his way of having fun as I was a smoker for over 30 years but always enjoyed a cuppa tea rather than booze.

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby TheDuke71000 » Sat Jun 01, 2019 1:53 pm

A moot point !

Obviously as a "Hobbiest" you are demonstrating a surplus of free time and capital. The near starving locals where I live in Spain are virtually unaware of this "Luxury".

Hobby Manufacturers as a result are after your "spare" capital. So this factor is also built into the price. Prices therefore do NOT reflect the concept that kids are the potential customer. It's understood that "Dad" and/or "Grandad" is the financier, the planner and the builder !

The "problem" is well reflected in the major changes seen in recent years with specifically the "British" model Railway market.

Back in the 1980's Hornby had got themselves into a perilously dangerous financial corner. Their "Salvation" came in two ways. Firstly an electrical engineer came banging on their door with the concept of "DCC". Hornby persuaded the Bank to finance buying this new concept which Hornby then launched around 1983 as "Zero 1". Obviously a supposed "Computer control system" would interest the youngsters, and Dad would pay.

Secondly Hornby discovered, around 1993, the huge producer of Model Railway equipment in Hong Kong called "Sandakan" (17,000 workers), thanks to Mark Boyle of Dapol fame. This immediately resulted in Hornby laying off their British workforce of around 250, and moving production to the Sandakan plant. Production by Sandakan using modern high-tech computerised tooling reduced Hornby's production costs by around 80% (Better tools & cheaper workers). Transport costs and Import Duty (4.8%) were therefore negliable. Hornby suddenly went from strength to strength, just at a time when most European and partcularly the large German market were in decline for various other reasons. But included is Germany's rising taxation, as Germany and the "Euro" money problem means Germans are now having to pay for the problems in much of the "Euro monetary zone".

Hornby therefore began a buying spree, buying up many European brands and even wholesalers (German law still requires wholesalers). Everything seemed "hunky dory", as Bachmann (Kada corporation) had been left behind technically and would have to spend lots of money trying to catch up.

However a number of new problems have surfaced in more recent years. Shipping costs have risen dramatically thanks to the Ethiopians Hijacking ships bound for the Suez canal in the Gulf of Aden. Many ships now carry expensive Mercenaries onboard for that leg of the journey. Suez canal costs have also risen dramatically to pay for another widening of the canal, and fund Egypt's chaotic Economic ideas.

Hornby then made another silly Boardroom mistake, by not keeping an eye on the situation in Hong Kong. A nasty little commercial war broke out between the Kada Corporation (Bachmann) and Sandakan. Bachmann won, buying Sandakan and promptly gave Hornby their marching orders. Hornby had no supplies and tried to hide this horrid situation even from their shareholders. In a panic they rushed around looking for an alternative. The only plant with the technology suited to Hornby's needs was the then NEW Piko plant. But that plant was limited in its size. However Piko, happy to take on all the extra work had to make some rapid extensions to the new plant. This resulted in a year or two of limited supplies for Hornby. (This info was obtained from the Editor of a German model railway magazine, whom I was having lunch with. He had just returned from a visit to the Piko plant).

The cost of production to Hornby as a result of all the problems in Hong Kong began to rise. The falling value of the pound didn't help. So for the last five years the price of models has been steadily rising in excess of general inflation values in Britain. Bachmann prices have also increased, but this is partly due to a change of owner at "Bachmann Europe". The new boss seems to be a German, with I'm pretty confident, German Economic concepts. These concepts dictate a highly anti-any discounting stance! In Germany kids are taught "if it doesn't say Made in Germnay on the packet and the price isn't high, it's rubbish". Bachmann Europe also control the ex Austian Lilliput brand.

So in summation, the British model railway hobby has changed to be much more commercially orientated. Virtually now dead is the expansive Cottage industry which provided British modellers with all those little kits and bits. But kits and bits that required skill and time. The kids now dragooned back into Model Railways via Dads financial pocket, "DCC" and high tech tooled real Models. Want it straight out of the packet yesterday. So the major manufacturers are still on a roll, at least in Britain, where the market has grown by an estimated 250% in the last 25 years since Hornby discovered Sandakan. Pricing themselves out of the market is however starting to become apparant to Hornby. The new and effective latest owner of Hornby has just announced a move to return production to Britain !

So in regards to your disability which obviously interferes a little with your desire to build a layout, is in one way being catered for. Everything you need is virtually all availble in "Blister packs". It's like painting (Model railways) by numbers........

The Duke 71000

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby muggins » Sat Jun 01, 2019 5:34 pm

Very interesting post, Mr Duke. Thanks for taking the time to do it.

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby PanzerJohn » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:22 pm

I've never paid full price for anything, I wait for sales and special offers or buy mint second hand. Ebay is your friend.

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby End2end » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:38 pm

PanzerJohn wrote:I've never paid full price for anything

I have a technique for new items I buy...
Search and find the 3 lowest sellers/shops
Get those 3 to price beat down to the lowest price. Always get an emailed / paper quote to show the competitors if you need to that you've been quoted a lower price from another seller.
You can play the 3 off against each other for usually 3 price drop "rounds" going back and forth between them, then choose lowest.
One seller might stick to a price in round 2 so they have then effectivley priced themselves out of the game as it were.
It works on all sort of purchases. My last purchase was headphones. £117 down to £85 INCLUDING pnp. :mrgreen: £32 off. :!:
"St Blazey's" - The progress and predicaments.
St. Blazey's Works & Depot thread

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby Free_at_last » Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:19 pm

Saw a trader today selling UHU glue @ £3.00 for 60ml tube, does he really expect anyone to buy this when it is only £1.00 in the shops.
Gauge is not spelt guage. Remember to put another "m" in remeber. Manufacturers has two "r"s in.
When you buy something, you have bought it, not brought it.
Before you post, are you really LOL and do you NEED to tell us?

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby sparkhill » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:04 am

All of a sudden Aussie retailers have decided to rob people even more than they did before, example last week Acrylic Paint in a tube was $2 today it was $3.50, Paint Brushes were $2 also same brush set today $3.50, I wont even go into the cost of model railway stuff on the main street shops (if you can find one) other than to say if it wasn't for eBay I would most likely take up playing Snakes and Ladders and Ludo.

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby Bigglesof266 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:24 am

LOL. ...true though.

It's not just model trains though. e.g. The price of plastic model kits has gone ballistic. Anything new mould will require refinancing and possibly a second mortgage on your house.

I've certainly cut back my model rail spending radically in recent years. Big temptation with Hornby's forthcoming release of their new Bulleid coaches though. Quite the dilemma. :roll:

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Re: Price of a Hobby

Postby dubdee1000 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 9:17 am

Something I found interesting was the recent approach of bachmann. We've seen the drifting upwards of prices for some.time and the usual baseless explanations for this are trotted out. The cost of 47s 37s and 66s now have a srp of around £150. And then out comes Hattons with a all new duplication of a 66. Suddenly bachmann find the ability to reduce the srp of a 66. But only the 66 - the 37 and 47 remain with a higher srp. Hard not feel there is a touch of exploitation going on here. Similarly with the launch of the sealed beam peak - a dealer network model, usually meaning no discount on srp. But already retailers are discounting, and you can't help but feel that with the heljan model around the corner, bachmann are happy to turn a blind eye to this to drive sales against the heljan model.

I understand all is fair in business, but taking a step back, it seems that where competition exists, the manufacturers seem able to limit or reduce price increases. For some time we've had the 'duplication' discussion which seems to have been a dirty word. Perhaps it isn't because when it happens, it's us as modellers that seem to be benefiting either through higher spec models or prices falling on older ones.

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