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Went to the local model RR show yesterday and I'm always surprised about the exorbitant prices charged for some of the rolling stock, like ~35-40$ for a single car !!???!!!! I prefer the $10-15 range myself (and the cars I have bought so far are in that price range). So I got to thinking, how much does model railroading cost compared to some other hobbies, and is it worth it dollar-wise?

Sorry if this sounds like a rant....


WYSIWYG Photographer
Between my roommates and myself, we estimate that we have about $20,000 CDN invested in model railroad "stuff" (layouts, rolling stock, engines, scenery)

And we have only been involved in the hobby for 3 years!


Registered Member
Staff member
I have no idea. Really I've been collecting odds and ends for years, just putting it together now. Other than my computer it's the only past time I have, so I guess who's counting. :D

Cheers Willis


Stay off the tracks!
As of today... about $50 more than yesterday. I bought a new hi-cube kit, 10 pairs of #58 Kadee's, a carton of Smooth-It (Woodland Scenics road material), a new drill bit (foot long, 1/8" thick), and some random electronics and soldering stuff.

OTOH, I probably got more done today on my layout than I have in several weeks.


Maytag "Danged Agitator"
I just spent over $150.00 on a Virginia & Truckee Atlas 2-6-0 Mogul, 4 old time V&T passenger cars for the excursion train on my layout and four used buildings. Now all I need to do is get back to ballasting the track.


Lake Shore Lines
I once did a printout of just my engine collection. :eek: that was before DCC. :eek: Just recently bought a BLI E7 - a quick $200+. But this is not the most expensive collection. My wife and i have a number of curios of sculptures which far exceeds the my railroad collection in $$$$.


5th Generation Texian
The old issue of the "$40 boxcar" comes up a lot, but:

My first car new cost $6,500 in 1978 (Olds Cutlass)
My first house cost $32,900 in 1979
My first job paid $1.25/hour
My first after-college job, Mechanical Engineer, paid $13,500 in 1977.
The 1st notebook computer I worked on (design and mfg) cost $7,000 retail in whatever year that was (early 90s, 386s/20)

Strict when-new value of the stuff "rolling" on the layout, exclusive of scenery, buildings, tracks, etc comes to $2,328 according to my meticulous records (an Excel spreadsheet).

In 2004 dollars that's probably $250,000. ;)

don't make me include the camera gear.....please!

point is, does it really matter? How do you define "worth it"? Do you enjoy the hobby? If so, continue, if not, well, there's pokemon cards, I hear they are quite the bargain now....


Coal Shoveler
$15,000, maybe. Most of it is in Locomotives (the most expensive of the lot).

Least expensive would probably be the layout itself, I haven't spent a lot on scenery, but the track is costly. The rest is for wood and benchwork, which is minimal since I'm using 2" pink foam.....




I have been pretty lucky so far, I have just started my first layout and have not had to invest much so far. In other words, I don't have much of a layout yet. I have only invested about $20 Cdn. A big piece of pink foam from home depot, a small craft knife, and I splurged at a yard sale this summer and bought 2 cars (a fruit boxcar, and a chemical car for $2 each and they were nice cars too). I have an old train set from when I was little so I am using that, so I only have one locomotive (the classic CNR Dash 8?) and a half dozen cars, oh and those 'great' telephone poles.

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