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Estate Sales and the Model Railroad

Estate Sales and the Model Railroad

My model rail rolling inventory has increased this year, due to estate sales.

It can be sad that people pass away and the rail dreams have faded,
but I can keep these items rolling along.

I still remember the fellow who had a pair of Atlas CBQ Burlington Alco locomotives,
bought the way I would, with both units powered, to be super useful on any heavy train.
They are now my favorites when I want a change of pace from my usual Athearn locomotives.
(they are also my favorites because they run good yet because I haven't put enough miles on them to wear them out.)

Thirty years ago, when I was a member of a railroad club that displayed trains at the county fair,
some little old lady would come by and say their husband had a lot of trains and that he passed away
and asked what can she do with the trains now?

Back then, I didn't know of many places to move out a train collection.
Now, there are a few people who handle train estates and sell them through the public model railroad shows.

The picture below is from a sale run as a regular home estate sale,
with tools and dishes and hardware and furniture. It wasn't a very big collection, under 2 dozen rail items.
The top row of cars came from the last day of the sale at 50% off, about $2.50 a car.
Several were simple Life Like and Tyco cars with talgo trucks and horn hook couplers,
but when the price and paint is good, I do take time to convert them to Kadee couplers and run them.
Except maybe that light-bulb yellow UP boxcar that's 40 feet long and not likely ever existed on the real railroad.


The upper cars in the next picture came from the Waupaca train show sale, via an estate dealer.

And the bottom car came from the first sale for $2.50,
I think it's a Soo Line Historical Society car but it was not assembled propery,
maybe because the person didn't realize what had to be trimmed and removed from the metal frame.
The brake wheel survived, even though it is bent.



Every thing I look at isn't for just the model railroad.

This barn or stable is for a girl with a Breyer Horse collection.
I put a few hours into it for repairs.
Instead of working on my model railroad.


Here's three items in a home estate sale in Nekoosa.
I was told the model rail equipment stayed with family members; that's a nice thing.
There were a few rail pictures and magazines for sale

And this copy of a Rudolph depot print. I'v seen this before, somewhere.


I didn't buy this, but took a picture to remember the little paper book that I once had in about 1967.
They had a dozen track plans that could be built on plywood, some as small as 4 x 5 feet
and the biggest about 10 x 6 ? feet.
My space at the time was more like 4 x8 and I always wished for more.
It took many years of waiting for a bigger railroad.
If I look real hard through my old books, I might find my copy.

I didn't buy the below item, and it was 'make an offer' price.
It's on a paper about 20" x 30". I took a crude picture, and didn't know who to contact to see if anyone else wanted it.

It's a Vulcan Chemicals track plan for Port Edwards, Wisconsin.
And I didn't see a date on it, but they have a different name now and about twice as many tracks in current times.

The below cars came from a special local estate sale for Dick H in Wisconsin Rapids.
Nice equipment with Kadee couplers.
It's some of the few that I bought this summer that didn't need a lot of wheel and coupler repairs and went directly into service on my model railroad.
I will keep them in service and put some more enjoyable miles on them
and keep some ones' memory rolling along.

Titanox National Lead.
And GCW Great Central Wisconsin Paper Cities Route,
I guess that's an old club that ran in the now defunct Wisconsin Rapids Mall.

Short 2-bay hoppers suitable for heavy loading have become my favorites. The trains also look and work good on tight radius track. Some of mine is 11 inch radius in HO Scale.

Blue Circle Cement.
I didn't look up the name on the Internet to see if it was a real company, but it looks realistic.
(and notice that I actually have a few feet of scenery on my model railroad)


This month, I am retiring my home-made remote control train throttle.

I used it for 22 years, but as the railroad expanded and went around the sheet metal of the furnace,
the signal receiver would go nuts and make speed changes all by itself.


It was originally a remote control model car.
The direction control was accomplished with two relays
to get an Off Forward Off Reverse Off action.
This month, I took it out of service after getting a Train Engineer remote.


Buying electronics is risky at a sale,
but I took a chance on this one.

I didn't buy it years ago when they were made new.



The remote controller box is fairly big
compared to modern bluetooth phone app remote controls.

But it works good for me with my old toggle block control railroad.
And it doesn't have dead spots or 'wild' zones like my old home-made one.

I salvaged my old screw hook plate from the old remote,
so I can hang it at several places on my railroad.

I like it for mainline trains.

For serious car switching, I still like a rotating control knob.


There was a bag of 5 switch machines for $10.
Rix Rax brand. I looked on the internet and these haven't been made in over 10 years.
I studied them and decided I don't have a good use for them
because my switches are usually Atlas, and the ones that aren't electric
are run by a push-rod inserted into a mechanical Atlas machine.

So, these are for sale or give away to someone who can use them.


And my wife was busy looking at miniature Christmas tree ornaments.

This was made in 2002.


And I didn't buy nor take a picture of the last thing I saw.
It was out of my price range ($150) for a picture album of about 1000 historic old pictures of the Wisconsin Rapids area. Much of it was about railroads.

I didn't know who to tell about it so it would be saved for historical use.
And a few days later, I read on facebook that Thomas B did buy it and was scanning pictures to the facebook Wisconsin Rapids area History group.

I am glad, he is very historically minded; and he has previously shared a ton of good rail information from the area.

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This page was filmed in June, July, and August, 2022