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WIMorrison

Cost of Modelling

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I was having a discussion with some chaps where I contended that modelling today is no more expensive, and possibly cheaper, that it was in the mid '60s when I started and I wanted to baseline my argument on the costs of a Hornby 2-6-4T as I owned one in then (actually my father owned, but I considered it mine!).

 

I can find the catalogue model number - 2218 - but I cant find that actual selling price to base my argument upon and I wonder if anyone here has an old catalogue or a better memory than me and knows the price in 1963 (that's when Hornby went belly up) to which I can then add inflation. This will give the raw price differential, but wont reflect the huge advances in the actual model casting, motors, running gear, etc. but I will hopefully show that the hobby is actually just as affordable now as it was then :)

 

Hopefully somebody knows the answer.

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Thank you very much - how did you find these?

 

the prices seem to be for second hand, but that is just as useful as I can baseline the 1960 second price against the average eBay price today :)

 

£2.75 in 1960 is around £55 now 

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Thanks, Iain, glad it's useful. I bought a copy of the mag on eBay because it had plans for a loco that the LBSCR built in 1852. The mag had a cover price of 2 shillings - I guess I ought to work out whether modelling mags have got cheaper over time.

Edited by Ian Simpson

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6 hours ago, WIMorrison said:

Thank you very much - how did you find these?

 

the prices seem to be for second hand, but that is just as useful as I can baseline the 1960 second price against the average eBay price today :)

 

£2.75 in 1960 is around £55 now 

But what has that got to do with things?

I would have thought that the more relevant question was :- How many people have £55 in spare cash today and how many had £2.75 in 1960.

The price is only important in relation as to whether you can afford it or not.

There would have been far fewer people past retirement age back in 1960 who could have afforded to indulge in any hobby for example.

This sector makes up a big tranche of the market these days.

In terms of bang for your buck I would say that many people are far better off today in terms of what model railway items that they can afford to buy.

Bernard 

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I don’t think that comparing the price of model then and now really gives an indication of the real ‘Cost of Modelling’.  What you are comparing really is how inflation has affected the hobby.

 

It is more interesting finding out just how much per hour your modelling costs.  For example.  If I buy a kit and the other bits and pieces  required to construct it for, say, £10 in total and I take 4 hours hobby time to build it then my cost is £2.50/hour. 

 

On the other hand buying an off the shelf locomotive costing £100 needs virtually no time to get it working so costs none of my hobby time but quite a bit of my capital!

 

I hardly buy anything rtr now but invest in raw materials and components to build from scratch.  My modelling costs works out at pence per hour but the value of the finished models adds considerably to my assets.  

 

Ian.

 

 

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@Bernard LambI refer you to earliet post where I discuss the affordability question - what I regard as affordable may not be the same as you consider affordable yet we may have exactly the same disposable income.

 

And the cost in 1960 compared to today is extremely relevant as too many people here are complaining that everything is more expensive now than it was without taking into account the effects of inflation. To be absolutely correct we should actually compare in terms of minutes or hours worked to purchase the item after taxes and necessary expenses (e.g housing, food, travel,!etc) This method will consider the effects of all inflation and not just price. When you did this then you would find that model railways are much more affordable now than they were when we were children - irrespective of when you start the calculation :)

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A price comparison is no use either. You can’t seriously compare a HD loco (a crude toy by today’s standards) with a contemporary ‘fine scale’ model.

 

It’s a completely different market today.... but I agree with your point about modelling now being no more or less expensive than back then... 

 

.... but I will add modelling today today is undoubtedly easier!

 

Oh and when people complain about cost I always remind them to ‘cut their cloth accordingly’ .... although it’s a shame I’m never going to be able to finance Clapham Junction in 7mm...I shall be quite happy with a shunting plank and be grateful for what I have if things get tight.

 

Griff

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Modelling is far cheaper theses days. (I'm not talking about buying rtr, or even kits). Plenty of useful packaging materials for free, and hand tools are pretty cheap thanks to China. Electronic components are now much cheaper, too. The rest of it seems more expensive (rtr, that is) because most likely as a kid back in the 60's you only had one or two loco's and was happy, but now you want more.

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1 hour ago, griffgriff said:

A price comparison is no use either. You can’t seriously compare a HD loco (a crude toy by today’s standards) with a contemporary ‘fine scale’ model.

Quite. Built to order locomotives and coaches from Exley would be the sort of comparison I would make. The current availability of off the shelf models of good quality still pleases me: it would cost much more to make them from kits. And that's before considering the items I could not match, lovely GNR Atlantic and Single...

 

There's an attitude aspect too. My parent's generation had all known real hardship in one form or another, and few would spend on anything as frivolous as model railways. Buy more gold or jewels and hide them away. Nothing like readily negotiable reserves should the going get tough.

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The proportion of disposable income is the key in my opinion, rather than a direct price comparison. The UK is simply a more comfortable, middle-class society now and a greater proportion of the population has more cash to spend on their chosen hobbies.

 

Having said that, modelling costs as much or as little as you desire. Some folk have 100 locomotives and huge layouts that gobble up their money. I have one loco, a handful of wagons and no layout at present....... so it's cheap and cheerful for me! :laugh_mini:

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I remember saving up for about a year as a kid to buy a Britannia by Triang. From memory it was about £5, and although the body was reasonably OK, the chassis was dogs' droppings and it was about as reliable as a Trabant with a dodgy cylinder head gasket.

 

You have to factor in quality, and I am in no doubt whatever that in appearance modern RTR is multiple times superior to anything available back then. (Whether it will prove as mechanically robust as Hornby Dublo 50/60 years on is a more open question.)

 

Most people back in the 60s had small branch layouts with just three or four locos. Only wealthy people, Lieutenant Colonels and their ilk, had the sort of massive collections of locos one quite commonly sees now, e.g. 75-100 locos. 

 

I would suggest the hobby is as expensive or as cheap as you choose to make it. Also things like DCC and sound (never dreamed of in the old days) add a whole new layer of expense that cannot be compared to back then. Against this, you can walk into a model shop and buy (for a relatively modest price) a loco which back in the 1960s would have been drooled over, and been  the product of the very finest craftsmen of the day. Such engines were only available to those who could build them, or who could afford to pay a substantial price in real terms.

 

 

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(Cue violins) I am a poor pensioner on a fixed income living in a rented flat, definitely towards the bottom layers of our pyramidical society.  That said, I can afford my railway, which is by co-incidence is the size I can fit into my flat without compromising it's suitability to live in; win win!

 

Were I in a postion to have 'lottery' railway (the lottery is the only way I'll ever be able to do this), I will still be constrained by the size of railway it is practical to operate on my own, so while spaces and train lengths would increase as well as the amount of open country the trains run through, the overall complexity, and the amount of locos and stock in service at any one time, is still limited; cash is not the only factor.

 

As with anyone on a limited income, any purchase is 'informed' by the things I will not be able to buy as a result.  I will be lashing out on Hornby Collett Suburbans in BR livery soon, but they don't just cost money, they cost new shoes, or taking the squeeze out for a meal, or other stuff for the railway!

 

Quality RTR was not available in my youth, and space, time, and cash not available for much of my working adulthood; in retirement a railway of reasonably scale appearance and performance is possible.  That is as much as I care about from a money spending point of view; the final deciding factor for any purchase is not so much 'how much do I want it?' but 'I want it, I've got the money, ergo I'm 'aving it'!

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Let's see, the Bachmann H2, my most expensive model purchase to date, cost me 20.5 hours worth of wages so pretty much half a week's worth. How does that compare to the 60s?

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There is probably a similar thread to this on all the Golf/Motor Cycle/Fishing/Photography etc etc Forums, and whilst I fully support the predicament the OP is in, there ain't really a lot we can do about it!

 

Mike.

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As an experiment a while back, I tried constructing a layout as cheaply as possible. There's a thread on it somewhere. I managed an Inglenook for just under £90, including controller, track, two locomotives, six wagons and all scenic materials, paints and glue. I didn't count tools, but even if I did we'd still be under £100.  

 

Now, none of this was especially finescale - the locomotives were a Lima 94xx and an industrial shunter by the same company and the wagons were all elderly Hornby, Triang or Lima, repainted and weathered using Poundland eyeshadow and Wilko watercolours. Many of the materials were recycled rubbish. There was a certain amount of scratchbuilding, but nothing more complicated than a lineside hut. I was quite pleased with the end result. It's not going to win any Best of Show awards, but it was a fun project.

 

What I'm getting at is that you can spend very little on the hobby and still have fun. When I think how much I spend on e.g. going to the pub with friends, grabbing a coffee at work or my monthly magazines, £100 over several weeks is nothing.

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I began  work age 18 in 1973  for 50p per hour,  tax was 33p or 35 p /£ of income, I think a magazine was 25p or 30p,   I need to find the price of a loco and work out the quantity of hours of work required to fund such a purchase

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Although I am not sure how productive this discussion is, it has some interest. According to a site I found, average wage in today's money in 1963 was £14,000. Having said that, there are plenty of other sites saying no reliable statistics were kept (which is not that surprising). Current average earnings are around £29,000, so about double in real terms. Applying that crudely £2,75 worth of loco or £55 in today's money would be double that or around £110 if it reflected buying power. So they are probably more expensive today, but the point that even the better 1963 versions don't come near detail and reliability of today's product (well, detail at least). Mind you, average house prices in 1963 were £57,000 in today's money and the average car cost £16,461 (in today's money). So houses are way off kilter, but judging by those passing my front window today, around £30,000 average would not surprise me (although maybe we spend more on cars in the West Midlands)...

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If you were earning £14000 per year in 1963 then you would be in the top 1% of the top 1% :)

 

the average wage was ~£800 per annum in 1963 which allowing for inflation would be around ~£17k per annum now therefore wages have kept ahead of inflation.

 

the average salary last year for men was ~£33k last year and ~£24k for women :)

 

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You were on 50p an hour! You were rich! When I were a lad .............

 

Seriously, when I started my Saturday job at Bud Morgan's (a well known model emporium in Cardiff) in 1965 a day or two after my fifteenth birthday (the legal minimum), I was paid the 'andsome sum of 10/- and that was for a 9.00am to 6.00pm day (hour off for lunch). I think shortly afterwards it went up to £1.

 

When I started a 'real' job in 1970, my very first month's salary was £66 pounds for a 37 hour week (tax already deducted) which equates to approximately 41p an hour after tax - not far off Pandora's figure.

 

I too, will look for my stock of old locos that still have their price tickets on their boxes and see if I can remember the dates I bought them (all post-decimalisation).

 

Cheers,

 

Philip

 

 

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This topic comes up about once every six months, and the conclusions, if that the right word, are usually pretty much the same:

 

- straight inflation as measured by retail price index or similar doesn't really work as a comparison, because it fails to address the question of genuinely disposable (after all living expenses) income;

 

- a comparison using average wages seems to give a better feel for reality, but is a bit crude because individual wages can be far from the average in either direction, which gets things back to affordability again;

 

- the combination of calculation and anecdote suggests that railway modelling, based around a core of r-t-r items, is more affordable for more people now than it was "back in the day";

 

- quality is a really difficult thing to factor-in, partly because it can be measured by so many different criteria, partly because it is subjective. For instance, someone mentioned Hornby Dublo above, in a way that suggests that they value prototype-fidelity above all else, whereas many admire the HD/Wrenn products for completely different reasons, robustness being one, and would suggest that quality has gone down hill ever since Binns Road closed!

 

- Overall, this is quite a complicated subject!

 

I'm willing to wager (very tiny stakes, please) that this thread will conclude similarly.

 

Kevin

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Perhaps we should consider what we actually get for our money these days; extremely realistic models. Having said everyone has their budgets.

 

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All I know is £1 15s 6d is a huge amount of money,

But £1 77.5p is not a lot.. 

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7 hours ago, HonestTom said:

 

 

What I'm getting at is that you can spend very little on the hobby and still have fun. When I think how much I spend on e.g. going to the pub with friends, grabbing a coffee at work or my monthly magazines, £100 over several weeks is nothing.

 

Totally agree. This hobby is what you make of it. It can be remarkably cheap if you cut your cloth accordingly and are sensible about purchasing.

 

It's just my opinion, but who really 'needs' tens of locomotives?  No one...... we can get just as much enjoyment from two or three.

 

However, we will all spend what we feel we are able to and can justify once the important and vital things in life has been paid for. This may be £10 a month or £1,000, but either way we can still gain enjoyment out of the hobby. 

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I need the number of locos I have, plus one.

 

To explain, my layout is a semi-imaginary South Wales 1950s branch (semi-imaginary means that the location actually exists but the railway, village, and coal pit never did) based loosely on Abergwynfi, for which I have a 1960 WTT.  Tondu would have provided the motive power, and all my locos are numbered as Tondu locos from the period 1948-58.  The shed's allocation varied but was around 50 locos, all tank engines, and as the extra demands of this branch would have generated about 10% more locos, I have scope for 5 non-Tondu incomers but have not availed myself of this.  

 

The daily timetable needs 7 locos if one assumes that there are two separate coal clearance duties, a morning and afternoon one; these, an auto, a loco hauled miner's workman's, another workman's for the ROF factory at Tremains, Bridgend (real train ran from Abergwynfi), a pick up, and a clearance from a small trading estate up to twice a day.  That's 7.  

 

But steam locos need to be taken out of service every 10 working days for boiler washouts, so I need spare locos to cover this.  That's right, I operate a timetable and count days; I don't get out much...  Tondu doesn't have the staff to do all it's locos on Sunday and anyway a boiler washout means the loco has to be drained down while the work is done and fired up from cold when it's finished, so it is out of service for at least 48 hours.  So I need spares, just like the real Tondu did, and have another 2, making 9 locos in all.  This is complicated by not having enough auto fitted locos (the real Tondu seems not to have either), in fact only one is auto fitted, 5555.  This means that I would be justified in buying another 4575 at some time, the plus one.  64xx were used at Tondu, but after my period on the Porthcawl branch.

 

There is also a Bachmann 94xx on the shopping list when it arrives, but this is not a plus one as there is a Limbach (Lima body with Bachmann chassis) 94xx in service which will be withdrawn from service when the new loco turns up.  That will leave an unemployed mechanism which'll probably find it's way beneath a Bachmann 57xx or 8750 as another spare loco, taking us to 11 locos, 4 of which you could argue are surplus but for my obsession with boiler washouts as I only need 7 to run the timetable.  

 

Personally, I couldn't get as much enjoyment out of 2 or 3 locos as it would have been unfeasible to operate the real Cwmdimbath branch, had it ever existed, with that number.  Of course, huge enjoyment can be had out of layouts that have very small amounts of locos and stock, but my layout is not designed for that sort of operation.

 

Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice.

Edited by The Johnster
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