Your Model Railroad Hobby
is a Good Investment
in Leisure Time. 

What's a few hours of fun worth to you?

At first glance you'd expect a model railroad hobby to be an expensive proposition. Let's make some comparisons.

I first wrote this page in 2008.  Inflation obviously affects the prices of things but the basic idea remains the same. A random check on E-Bay (2008) tells me someone will sell me a full set of Taylor Made golf clubs including irons, bag and putter for $608.64. In 2015 the cost is considerably higher. For our purposes I'll stick with the 2008 numbers so I don't have to recalculate everything. The principle comparison remains the same.

A check of golf clubs in my area told me a round of golf averages $65 if I walk the course, more if I take a cart. That's an average of $3.61 per hole and 11.66 minutes per hole for a 3 1/2 hour round of 18 holes. Seldom do I manage to play a round in that time.

I could have bought a Digital Command Control Digitrax Starter set, the premium Super Chief set (5 amps), for $449.99.

My annual train club dues were $60. We met 48 Mondays a year for 3 1/2 hours each time. You do the math. [In 2015 our annual fee is $70 plus an extra $70 to build up some reserves. We have moved into a new clubhouse and are renovating and building a new layout at Bygone Days farm in Collingwood, Ontario.We're still one of the least expensive clubs around.]

Or how about a pair of skis and boots? E-Bay said I could have bought a pair of Rossignol Bandit B74 skis and Axium bindings from someone for $373.68. A pair of Nordica Beast ski boots would have set me back me $399.99.

 I could have purchased an A-B set of Canadian pacific FP9s with DCC/sound from Canadian Model Trains (CMT) for $344.98. So much for the new ski boots.

My model railroad hobby cost is looking better and better.

The Walthers catalog listed a Freight Runner train set by Life-Like Trains for $109.99. I'd get a GP-38-2 diesel, sliding door box car, two-bay hopper, tank car, Thrall door box car, stock car and caboose. The set includes a stock yard with pigs, cows and people, a snap-together passenger and freight station, working crossing gates, three trees, two automobiles, a truck and over 100 signs.

If I didn't buy the skis, I'd have about $300 left. With this I could have bought a sheet of plywood, some 1" X 3" lumber, 2 sheets of 2" insulating foam and built the benchwork. I'd need 4 packages of Kadee #5 couplers and a basic DCC decoder (no sound). There was probably money left for a couple of plastic building kits and some Woodland Scenics landscaping material. Maybe I might have bought their Scenery Kit for $59.98 so I could practice. It makes a 10" X 18" diorama where I could have displayed my trains and took some pictures.

Oh, I forgot. I can't go skiing unless I buy a season's pass. The early bird price was $159. 

On second thought, I could have bought the Woodland Scenics 4' X 8' Grand Valley HO scale Lightweight Layout kit for $498 and forgot about skiing. Spent the winter warm in my basement.

All tongue in cheek, naturally. I haven't even considered the cost of buying a snowmobile. Even a half-decent bicycle would have cost $150 in 2008 if you included the safety helmet. I know. I had just bought one at Canadian Tire.

What's my point?

The main point is that when it comes to cost we all find the money for the things we enjoy or find a way to do them without breaking the bank. 

Set yourself an annual budget to cover your model railroad hobby cost. Putting together a craftsman-type freight car can take a few evenings. A semi-difficult building like a Campbell wooden model can take weeks. A Bar Mills or Finescale structure can take months by the time you paint all the details.

Or you can join a local model railroad hobby club. Learn some techniques. Get your questions answered. Make some new friends. Have fun running trains. Probably won't cost you more than $10 a week and a cup of coffee.

That's my fifty cents on cost. {Call it a dollar for inflation]

What's enjoying a great hobby worth to you?

Here's a site by another "SBIer" you should know about in order to stretch your hobby dollar. (For an explanation of SBIer, read about Solo Build It in the right column)

Cheaper Scale Modeling By Increasing Spendable Income
From scale-modelers-handbook
model railroad Finescale chemical factory This Rollin Sawyer Chemicals kit by Finescale was built over a period of 4 months.
model railroad Finescale maintenance shed This Finescale maintenance shed kit had been sitting on my shelf for years. It is about to be "planted" in Underhill North yard.

Go from "model-railroad-hobby" to Building my new HO railway

Go from "model-railroad-hobby" to My Utopia Northern RR

Go from "model-railroad-hobby" to How to start a model railroad

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