Model Train Show Finds & Tips


Written by Nathan Wertheimer

There are many small to medium size model train shows around the Southeast of the United States, which provide a great way to purchase some discounted used train pieces and supplies. One never knows what they will find at these shows. It is hit or miss with any show. Why pay retail prices when you can save money on train parts and supplies. Admission to these shows vary between $6-$10 per person. Sometime one can even find a coupon for savings on admission. Check promoters website before attending any train show.

At many of the train shows, prices on trains and accessories will vary depend on the product and market value. Think of a train show as a flea market. One is able to buy-sell-trade. I enjoy going to train shows to see the great buys for my own collection. Expect to spend a couple of hours at any train show. Some vendors and collectors are repeat attendees who will be at most of the trains show. Some train vendors will even take special orders on rare and unusual items. It is recommended buying name brands rather than unknown brands in the train market. Some unknown brands are starting to pop up.

A buyer should beware when purchasing used train locomotives, train cars, and supplies. All sales are final. Look for honest dealers who are experts in model trains. Ask to the dealer many questions as you can before making a purchase. Some dealers may let you test run a locomotive on a test track they have on location. Also, I would ask to see the locomotive top taken off to see the condition of the engine. If you find a lot of rust and corrosion than you probably don’t want to buy it. Then check the condition of the wiring too. Frayed wiring is not good either. One dealer told me to oil certain parts of the engine. I listened to his advice and went through what he said. The train engine now has a burning smell when running it on the tracks. Not all advise to good. Repair at your own risk. Do your research before repairing it yourself and creating a bigger problem than it is worth.

I have previously purchased some $10 HO locomotive and found that some don’t work and were on its last leg before the engine dead. Some dealers did not know the quality of the condition of the locomotives engine they are selling. If interested in buying any $10-$15 locomotives be aware that they are not in the best shape. These are great buys to convert them into dummy locomotives. Sometimes these locomotives can be used for spare parts. I have found better-used working locomotives for $20-$40 per locomotive. They still have some life left in them. If you’re expecting a good used condition by hauling tons of train cars, then I hate to disappoint you and suggest buying a brand new locomotive.


Other deals I have found at train shows are used HO boxcars and other assorted train cars for around $1-$12. These are great buys compared to other retail prices, which are much higher. These train cars come without the original product box. Most of these train cars have horn shaped couplers, which are being phased out. However, attendees can buy some knuckle couplers to replace the old horn couplers. I prefer the old horn couplers compared new knuckle couplers because they hold up better. The knuckle couplers have too many pieces and the springs that can go bad. Also, it is recommended to inspect each train car before buying them. Some train cars have bad wheels, broken parts and or pieces. Some train cars can repairs if you know what you’re doing.

If your looking for a new or used buildings for your train layout than this the place to purchase them from. Some prices on the buildings will vary from $1-$60. Many of these buildings are plastic. However, these are some dealers sell hand-made wooden buildings too. If you find some old plastic buildings falling apart ask the dealer for the best price. Then when you get home fix them up to your liking. Some of these building can be repaired and modified to your train layout. Think outside the box. These are no rules for the model train hobby.

Anyone new to the model train hobby should learn the different types of train tracks material to buy and don’t buy. Don’t get stuck with the old metal tracks that rust away in the humidity in Florida. Most tracks today are made from either copper or nickel plate. Stay away from the metal tracks if all-possible. It is hard to sell the old metal tracks because no one wants them. One might even find a dealer selling a milk crate of assorted metal tracks for $20-$25 per crate. It is not recommended buying any of these at all. For HO scale there are two different codes of tracks. HO model train enthusiast use either Code-100 and Code-83 track. These can be bought used and or new depending on what you want.

If you have the tracks already you’ll need a transformer controller to run your train. These are used rare finds because some are vintage and may not work. The price ranges on these controllers are from $8 – $100. Some of them even have dust on them. I am not recommending buying a used controller without fully inspecting it to see if it works. Ask the dealer for a guarantee to see that the unit works.

One might think this is the place to buy a new train set at the best price. The answer is no. There is not a large amount of new train set in the box at a train show. The prices on these new train sets in a box go for fair market prices. Sorry, no big deals. However, one can make their own train set for less money on used train set without the track and controller. Most new train sets typically come with a limit number of tracks, one transformer controller, one locomotive, 3-4 train cars, and one caboose packed in one box. These train sets are great for someone who is getting into this hobby buy not for the seasoned model train enthusiast.

Many train shows have some of train layout accessories available to purchase. Most attendees are looking for plastic human figures, street signs, vehicles, trees, and much more. Do you homework on the correct scale before making a purchase. For the HO standard scale is 1:87. Other train scale sizes will vary. Some items from China are sometimes not in the correct scale.

If you want to get rid of your old train set this is the place to bring it too. Before attending a show get your train set appraised. Plus, do some research on the value it is worth. Don’t expect to get rich at one of these train shows. It is recommended to have your train set in fair to great condition in some sort of box and or plastic container so dealers can inspect it. If you have kept the original train set product box it is even worth more. Some dealers do not have a lot of cash on them to pay out. If you don’t have any luck selling your train set at a trainshow, then sell it on or other consumer websites.

While breezing the many table of vendors, some train club set-up their large train set layouts. Attendees are encouraged to ask questions and get ideas for your own train set layout. Don’t forget to bring your camera with a good flash to take some photos.

Another interest thing I found at the train show are bags of assorted parts and pieces in bargain bins marked $1-$3 per bag. There will be different parts and pieces in each bag. If you know what you’re looking for these are great deals. The dealer wants to get rid of their unwanted parts and pieces. It is worth a look to see if there is any good in these bargain bags. One never knows what they will find.

When attending any train show please bring some large zip lock plastic bags to separate each train cars or locomotives. This helps prevent the paint being scraped and scratched off of them. This tip came from a model train dealer I know well. Also, bring a backpack and or reusable cloth bag to carry your purchases. Some store cheap plastic bags tend to rip and could possibly damage your purchases when transporting them home.

After reading this article one will have a better understanding about the overall model train shows experience. A great model train show I recommend are the Florida Rail Fair Shows in Deland, Tampa, & Jacksonville. Plus, many more show locations too. Please visit their website at Happy train hunting and make it a good one! If you like this article, then like it on our Otownfun WordPress account. For more great events and places please check us out at .

Note: All written content and images are copy righted by either by the person and or company who wrote and photograph published for this article. Any questions please contact .


First Time Gun Owner Story

Written By Robert Voss

Buying a gun for the first time one should not be an overwhelming experience. I just wanted to pass along some tips to make it easy experience as a new gun owner. Don’t buy any gun until one’s knowledgeable in a few areas on purchasing a gun. This is a must read article for first time gun buyers.

First, I recommend taking a Florida State concealed weapons permit class and or the Security Officer G-License class before buying any type of gun. This will help you get your conceal weapon permitted to help you buy a gun and walk out with it the same day. There is a big difference between the to two classes. The concealed weapons permit class is a basically watered down three-hour class taught about gun ownership and concealment that include gun range time. While the other class is a 28 hours three day class for security officers which includes the classroom and gun range time. Many local gun ranges and security academies offer these courses.

Once you have passed the Florida State concealed weapons permit class and or the Security Officer G-License class one needs to submit to the State of Florida documents to receive a CWP license. Go to and make an appointment to have your fingerprints and photo taken at the same time. Once this has been done it will be processed and take about 90 day or less depending on the backlog of applicants. It is not recommended to mail your CWP application in the mail to the state. There is a chance it could become lost and take longer to process the application.

Now is the fun part looking for a gun for you. I suggest going on-line to look at the various handguns for sell. There are other gun articles out on the web to help one narrow down one’s choice. Price points maybe another factor in purchasing a certain gun. The cheaper guns are not always the best guns that will last long. One gets what they pay for.

Once you receive the Florida State CWP in the mail is where the fun starts. Now you can shop around for the handgun, which is right for you. Many shops have that have handguns that come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and pricing. There are many places to browse for a new and or used gun. I first tried looking at an independent pawnshop in my area. I found a used Smith & Swesson SD 9VE two-tone 9mm for $200 in the display case. The store associate told me it was barely used. I am not an export on the internal mechanisms of a gun. It is recommended to bring a gunsmith and or good friends who grew up with firearms to look it over. Another thing with this gun was there was a hold on it for 30 days. Plus, there was another 10 days until I could pick up this gun. This was a negative on buying this gun.

Another option is attending a gun show. This will give one an option to see what is out in the market place before buying. I suggest picking up several guns to see what is most comfortable fit for you. Not all the guns fit one’s hand the same. Some grips can be adjusted just ask the salesperson.

When walking into a gun shop one might be nervous for the first time. I checked out The Armory in Kissimmee. I walked into the door and told them what type of gun I was looking for. I had my mind set on the Glock 19 9mm handgun. However, the salesperson showed me the Glock 19 and a Smith & Swessen M&P 9 handgun side by side. He wanted me to be informed on the differences in both. In my opinion, I thought the M&P 9 was a better-built gun and was on sale. Another reason I went with this gun was that it was used for the military and police for duty work and was relievable. This is something to consider.

Once you have made a final decision on your gun purchase. One has to fill out a State of Florida Firearms form for all firearms sales. This is a requirement and not an option. The salesperson will assist you if one needs help on this form. Next, they will need your driver’s license and CWP license. Then the gun shop will run a background check on you for any major criminal offenses, which could take twenty to thirty minutes. When it comes back clean, one is good to go. Finally, pay the gun shop. One will notice the background check fee of $8 plus the tax on the gun.

Watch for the salesperson to up sell you on some gun related accessories and clean supplies. If you’re unsure what you need to buy. I recommend buying high-end gun oil in a spray can along with the snake. No, it is not a live snake! The snake is used to clean the barrel of the gun.

Once you take the gun out of the store, please keep it encased and out of view from the general public until you get home. It is not recommended keeping a gun inside of a vehicle after purchase. Take it home directly. One never knows who’s watching you.

Now before one fires the gun for the first time. One must clean the inside of the barrel of the gun with the snake to get out all the metal shavings out of the barrel of the gun. Before leaving the gun shop, ask them to show you how to dismantle the gun. If you forget check out the YouTube videos online.

One can’t forget to buy some bullets for your gun. Make sure one gets the right size ammo. The box of ammo will vary from .22mm, .38mm, 9mm, 22mm, and 357mm. A friend directed me to buy ammo from a big box retailer and or online from an ammo manufacturer. They recommended me to buy a box of Federal Full Metal Jackets (FMJ) 9mm with 50 bullets for $10.00 per box. These are used and accepted at any gun range. Plus, I purchased a box of Federal Low Velocity Hollow Point 9mm 20 Bullets for $20.00 per box. These bullets can be used for home safe deference and for security work.

Finally, check for a local gun range in your area. Prices will vary on the gun range. Most gun ranges change about $15 for 1-3 hours of range time. Plus, all gun shooter will have to sign a waiver and liability form from the gun range. Don’t forget to bring your drivers license. They need your driver’s license on file for legal purposes. The peak times at a gun range are on Friday thru Sunday. It is recommended to go on the off peak times which are Monday – Thursday. When walking into any gun range, make sure your gun is unloaded and in encase. The gun range attended may go over some rules and regulations at the range before going to your shooting lane. If you have any questions just ask the gun range attended. Always point your weapon in a safe direction. Be a responsible gun owner and keep up on the current laws. Lock your gun up around any children! Safety first. Happy shooting!

If you like this article, then like it on our Otownfun WordPress account. For more great events and places please visit us at .

Note: All written content and images are copy righted by either by the person and or company who wrote and photograph published for this article. This article may not be republished without written permission from Any questions please contact .