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How Much Is My Layout Worth?

Stan from New Jersey in the US writes:

“I know this site doesn’t run ads for buying/selling used train gear and layout, but am curious where is the best place to sell old layouts, trains, and accessories. Has anyone had any success with eBay or Craigslist? What would a 4ft x 8ft N scale Digitrax layout with 4 locos and 28 cars be worth? What about packing and shipping it? It all sounds too hard. My layout also has scenery and several plastic structures? Would like to hear from others who have sold layouts and gear for their guidance. Thanks in advance.”

13 Responses to How Much Is My Layout Worth?

  • Michael Carmonasays:

    shipping would to expensive. first we need to see some photos. and most people have home pickup only

    • Stansays:

      Thought freight would be expensive and probably risky. I haven’t decided to sell yet, just fishing for info. Appreciate your comment.

  • Carl R Branninsays:

    Look in the back of Model Railroader and other model railroad magazines. There are a lot of ads for people buying train layouts. But they will need pictures.

  • Alfred D Bowmansays:

    Check your newspaper, too. Here in Germany there’s always a couple ads from people buying collections/layouts, in the “Hobby” column. And they’ll pick it up.

  • It’s not easy to sell a layout, main reason is the size. I have bought layouts (small ones) and many collections, I once rented a U-Haul to bring a 4×8 layout home. Many people want to build their own layouts too. You can list your layout on Ebay and other market places, as “Local Pickup Only” but that shrinks the potential buyers down to locals. I’ve seen layouts donated to local clubs. The last option would be to dismantle the layout, and sell off all the components and trains.

  • Jon Bondsays:

    Hello all –

    Yours truly has been a model train enthusiast for 44 years, setting aside boyhood fascination with trains at Christmas time.

    Over the years, I’ve exhibited trains at model train shows and even made presentations at schools to interested students.

    With this exposure, I can tell you unequivocally, positively, and most assuredly that you WILL NEVER GET COMPENSATED FOR YOUR TIME, no matter how much or how little effort you put into your layout.

    The best example of this is a member of our model train club was once asked “How much would you take for your layout”? and the answer was $15,000. Another club member and yours truly looked at each other with that “you ain’t gonna get that” look”.

    Sure enough, when the member went to sell his layout, he started out at a price of $8,000 and lack of response forced the asking price to go down to $5,000, then $3,500, and finally to $1,800. It still didn’t sell so he told me confidentially that I could have it for $500. I didn’t take him up on the deal.
    At about the same time, while exhibiting our model train layout to the public, a stranger asked me if I knew of a layout For Sale and I referred the potential customer to my buddy. Nothing happened until the potential customer contacted me again and I, in turn, referred him to my fellow modeler (who had offered it to me for $500). Long story short, my fellos modeler ended up selling the layout the layout for $1,800.

    Feeling somewhat chagrined on missing out on a “deal of a lifetime”, I resumed my search for a layout and ended up finding just what I wanted in LaLaLand (aka Los Angeles) and I paid $300 for a layout that has $1200 in track alone.

    I’ve committed to having it up and running, complete with professionally made/installed scenery by 2023.

    ‘Nough said – Jon Bond

    • Stansays:

      Jon, really helpful. Thank you and to others too.

  • Lee Kulassays:

    Stan, as mentioned previously, take very detailed photos (an over view, and several others highlighting key features, write up a concise but detailed description (do the legs come off, how much does it weigh? will it fit into an SUV/Van or need a pickup truck, post on eBay for “Local Pickup” only. It may take some time, but eventually it will sell. Also, do an eBay “advanced search”. SOLD for N scale layouts 4×8…you’ll get some idea of what’s sold on eBay and for how much. If you’re located in a populous area (large metro city) then you’ll have access to lots of potential buyers; if you’re in the “woods” then your potential audience is limited. Be sure to put your location (City-town) in the description so interested bidders can calculate how far you may be from them. I’ve bought and sold about 16 N scale layouts over the last 10 years on eBay. Furthest I drove for one was 2,800 miles (Boston to So. California), closest was 10 miles, so be patient and make the listing accurate and compelling. Bests-Lee

  • Stansays:

    I’m blown away by the responses and knowledge out there. Will help me get my head around the next step. Thank you everyone… so kind.

  • don kaduncsays:

    Cregs list is more local and the buyer could pick it up. for Ebay sell only stuff that can be sent by mail.

  • David Stokessays:

    An 8 x 4 reasonably finished layout without rolling stock and controller (that is, track, scenics and buildings) in Oz might get you $500 if you are lucky.

    Those exclusions, if in excellent condition and working are worth about 30% of original retail value.

    I purchased a 20 x 12 N scaler in 1990s for $800, and had to give it away in 2015 for nix.

  • Frank Bsays:

    Someone at your local model railroad society might be interested, or be able give useful advice.

  • Russsays:

    just remember, the value anything you own is what someone else is willing to pay for it.

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