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How much is it worth?

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giles b

Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 2277
Location: London

PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:03 am    Post subject: How much is it worth? Reply with quote

This topic came to me after an overheard conversation at a show this week-end. The owner of the layout opposite was selling it, and was explaining how he'd come to his valuation. This was the cost of the ingredients and then premiums for it having been seen on the show circuit, with the possibility for further invitations (the more shows attended, the higher the premium), and for having been featured in the model press. Not sure how much I agree with his methods - if the buyer doesn't want to exhibit the layout he's essentially buying what in the commercial world is called the "goodwill of the business" with no real need for it.

Another factor in valuing models is the value vs. the insurance value. Is it the original cost of the model, or that sum adjusted for inflation during the layout's life? In my case I purchase almost everything second-hand, so when an exhibition manager asks for an insurance valuation do I give the actual cost or the "as new" value.

If a layout was destroyed, would I want to rebuild it all over again, or get it professionally done? Should this be part of the equation? Actually I would probably move on to another project, but the value of the damaged/destroyed items would, I suppose still have to be determined, and how do you go about explaining yourself to a loss-adjuster: "It's a train set." " No, it was a very well researched fine-scale model with lots of extra hand-applied details" - I don't think so!

I did have a layout destroyed a few years ago, when a leaky garage roof flooded my stored models. The LGB trains, just brushed it off, while my Lazy River baseboard and scenics were only fit for the bin. Track was salvaged as were most of the (styrene) buildings, although all the paper/card signage was ruined. The rolling stock also seems to have survived as the locos run, but the Kadees may need to be replaced as they have turned white and operate stiffly.

I did not bother to claim on our house insurance as we were in a rented property at the time, and it had been several days after some heavy rain that I realised that dancing light reflected on the inside wall round the flat roof of the garage might indicate a problem. We all know what insurance companies think about flat roofs, and I suppose you can see why!

Is this a subject worthy of discussion? I'd be interested to hear what others think.
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Joined: 31 Aug 2008
Posts: 384
Location: the land that time forgot

PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With regards to the first para.....[goodwill, etc].....that implies, to me, that exhibiting a layout generates some sort of income?
Is that the case?

It's such a shame [personal view, not shared by, or with, the rest of the world].....everything today boils down to 'value'.

I find the same attitude towards old cars ...at one time, one would be asked, 'wottlitdo, Mistah?'......now, it's 'wotsitworth, Mistah'.....street credibility has taken on a whole new set of criteria.

I wouldn't buy a layout....so a purchase price would be irrelevant...especially when one considers the first thing that would be done, is to change things?

But I have built layouts to order....a long time ago.....biggest problem was putting a price on my time...and I steadfastly refused to do scenics!


Well, everything about a layout is 2nd hand....if trains have been run.
I guess the value is down to 'scrap' value?
My views are my own, and usually reprehensible
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Joined: 19 Jun 2010
Posts: 120
Location: Warrington, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have bought a total of 4 layouts now, sold two and been a member of four clubs (to boot!).
Firstly, I'd say that, like anything, any layout is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
Secondly, an ex-show layout is "secondhand". As Alistair says, you could buy and then spend time, money and effort developing it into what you really want.
If a layout happened to be a commisioned piece of work, that is a different story and would undoubtedly be very expensive.
If a layout is by a person who is known as a very reputable modeller, who has spent hundreds of hours of research, used the finest materials - then arguably it could be a valuable object.
However, I really believe that some folk have a highly inflated sense of their own worth: Back in the 80's a friend (Graham) and I went to Ally-Pally and my mate was quite enamoured of an Austrian layout being sold by such a 'name'.
This chap asked my mate to make him an offer and I cringed as I thought Graham would say something ridiculous so I was surprised and impressed when he said "How about 350" - to which this chap said, "Oh no, I was expecting something over a thousand"!
This guy was clearly what I call a charlatan but I dare say someone was found to fork over the cash. If you can afford it - fine but personally, I think that was utterly ridiculous.
My personal opinion: If you like building layouts and showing them, great but all you should expect back is to recover some of your outlay - the "doing" is the pleasure and the aim, not profit.
John E.
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giles b

Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 2277
Location: London

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alastair, John, thanks for the input which is basically in tune with my thoughts on the subject. A layout is only worth what a potential purchaser thinks it is, no matter who built it and where it has been seen. The other factor is that everyone has a different way of operating, and a layout's wiring (by another) may not be what the purchaser wants; here I'm thinking of experiences operating other people's layouts, or guest operators on mine - we all tend to do things in slightly different ways.

It's been a while since I sold a complete layout, so I can't remember the factors used to determine the price, but at the back of everything was the desire, at the time, to be rid of it - which tends to keep the price at the reasonable end of the scale. Great Sutton was sold, but just the plywood top with the track - I asked 5 for it and even the purchaser asked if I didn't want more. No, I didn't want to take it home from the show!
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Blackcloud Railways

Joined: 25 Oct 2006
Posts: 2083
Location: Sandbach UK

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a serial layout builder in the past I have sold a few layouts, given some away, dismantled a lot to reuse the parts and scrapped more than a couple. Putting a price on your time is what makes a realistic commercial value virtually impossible to ask for. Do you just include time doing stuff or, more critical when creating scenery, time waiting for paint and glue to dry?

Just because a layout has been exhibited and published in a magazine does not add value, quite the reverse because it diminishes the potential for future exhibitions (unless moving to a different area) and magazine articles.

Sandbach took four weeks to create, exactly four weeks, but a lot of that time was spent on the low relief trees on the backscene. The layout could not be moved while these were drying so I couldn't do anything else at the same time. Four weeks wages for a layout less than four feet long? I don't think that would be viable. I've still got it but it hasn't been played with for quite a while.

Lochside took a lot longer to make because of the harbour, adding one layer of PVA every 12 hours then waiting for it to dry... There was about a month's wages on doing the water alone! I did sell Lochside, for roughly the cost of the materials used in its construction.

My share of the Ferrocarril Internacional exhibition modules were used to start the FCPyF as a static home layout, several years down the line my garage layout is still evolving. What price on scrap timber and loft insulation salvaged from a skip (i.e. most of the scenery) and, as Giles says, what price on second hand models that have been kitbashed out of all recognition?

What's worth more? A rare toy, like the one above, and an HO scale loco chassis or an On30 railcar?

If we find it hard to calculate how the heck can an insurance clerk work it out?

What it boils down to is actually that we don't do it for money. It's a hobby. We do it because we like it. If anything were to happen to the FCPyF I'd clear up the mess and start again. It's never going to be finished anyway. No layout ever is.
Bob Hughes
Playing Trains

Once there were mountains on mountains and once there were sunbirds to soar with and once I could never be down.
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Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 147
Location: North Nottinghamshire

PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2018 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is an interesting topic and one that has weighed on my mind for some time, I was only saying to someone the other day that selling layouts was a tricky subject and that to me a layout has a finite life and once at the end of it it might be better to strip and re-use items rather than sell.

I had a "if you ever want to sell 'Shifting Sands', let me know..." query over the weekend whilst it was on (static) display at Cleethorpes. I have considered the option of selling but I have some reservations about this, some based on the experience of selling a layout in the past that was (in my eye) ruined by very visual rewiring for DCC. Part of me likes to think it is worth a small fortune but the reality is 350 would probably be closer to the mark.

I've gone to buy layouts in the past but always thought better of it in the end as I would want to make so many changes.

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Joined: 28 Sep 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Kingston upon 'ull

PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have sold a number of my exhibition layouts in the past and been involved in the sale of group exhibition layouts. It all depends on the layout. Let's say it is an exhibition layout in P4 that is 30' x 10'. The market is very limited for this as you need to
a) model in P4
b) have the space

That layout may have had several thousand pounds spent on building it but you wouldn't get that back.

If the layout was 00 then the market increases. Same if the size was 10' x 1'
It would also depend on what someone is prepared to pay as well.

As for the "exhibition" premiums - crock of ..... If said layout has done many shows, the realistically how many more is it going to do before exhibition managers tire of it? The layout is also more than the wood and track - the stock often makes or breaks a layout. You could by a top drawer exhibition layout, say Hornsea Broadway by Kier Hardy. That layout is set in the 1970's and has stock appropriate to North London. Someone buys it and immediately starts to run Class 66's, Pacer units, Hst measuring trains (you get my drift) and it would be totally wrong. I wouldn't invite it on that basis and I certainly wouldn't stand in front of it for 20 minutes.

East Riding Finescale Group
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Joined: 29 Apr 2013
Posts: 13
Location: Reading, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've built layouts, bought layouts, been (permanently) loaned layouts, salvaged/broken up layouts and given away layouts.

My current layout has cost me c100, inclusive of stock (much of the latter donated) - my insurance value for shows is 250, as that's what I've worked out it would cost to replace the lot in the current market (combination of new/secondhand)

I'd agree with the statement that any layout is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. I occasionally have a trawl of certain popular online auction sites and the ads in magazines featuring layouts for sale and am regularly astounded at the very optimistic valuations some layout owners have! Either their time is hugely valuable or the layout is largely made of platinum??

And as for the idea of exhibition appearances/magazine articles adding 'value'... utter nonsense.

And there are a few sad examples around of Tappa's mention of layouts sold-on and exhibited under new ownership with inappropriate stock.
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