Old Lionel Track

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by ScottyB, Nov 5, 2005.

  1. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    When I was younger, I inherited from my grandfather his collection of Lionel trains and track from the early to mid 1950s. Except for a few straight tracks that I am going to use as part of a display of his collection, I really have no use for the rest of the track.

    All the track is stamped Lionel on the bottom, and most are in good condition, but some are showing signs of rust. Is any of this track worth anything? It is taking up valuable real estate in my basement, and since I'm not going to use it, I was hoping to at least help someone get some use out of it.

    I model HO so I don't know much at all about O scale. I have approx 100 pieces of various track, plus a number of turnouts, however the turnouts are not in very good condition at all.

    Ebay, giveaway, or throw away?

  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Scott, I often see old Lionel track for sale at train shows at a couple of dollars for a bundle of pieces. Is it O or O27? O might be desirable for someone.
  3. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    Excellent question and it took a little research since I didn't know the difference. Following the guide used on this page I am fairly confident it is all O27 track.

  4. spankybird

    spankybird OTTS Founder

    Most of the O27 track has brown color ties. Very old O27 track has black ties. The big difference is the height and dia. of curves pieces.

    The O gauge track ties have a curled lip on the length of the ties, O27 does not.

    With all the new types of track out there, tube track has lost almost all its value. Very good used track can be bought for $0.10 a peice.

    Hope this helps.:thumb:

  5. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    I am confident this is older O27 track with black, but uncurled ties. Upon closer examination, the base of most rails is already rusting, but the top of the rails are still clean.

    I'm thinking this is either a giveaway, or headed for the trash heap. I just hate to see it go to waste.

    Thanks all!
  6. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

    Check out e-bay and see if it is worth listing there. Folks who collect only vintage stuff, and run it, may find what you have to be worth something. If you throw it out, recycle it.

  7. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Usually the thing that keeps a bunch of old track from selling seems to be shipping. To get around this, get a flat-rate Priority Mail box from the post office (they'll give it to you). Fill up the box, then list it. Start the bidding at 99 cents. Emphasize in your listing that shipping will be exactly $7.70. At that price, if 1/3 of the track is usable from the get-go, it's worth it to most people. Take pictures, and make sure you take a picture of the best piece of track and the worst one (so people know what they're getting), and give an estimate of how many pieces of track fall into either category. Be sure to give a creative suggestion for the used track too. Nothing stops someone from harvesting the ties from the rusty track, repainting it if needed, and using it to add extra ties to clean track to make it look more realistic.

    Whether to clean up used track or throw it out and replace it is a matter of religious debate, but there are people willing to do it.

    The odds of it selling are pretty good, especially at this time of year when people are thinking about pulling their old trains out of the attic and setting up a layout for the holidays. It may even fetch more than the 99-cent opening bid.

    Turnouts are usually worth something, if only for parts. Throwing those in sweetens the deal considerably for a Mr. Fix-it.
  8. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    Excellent advice Dave. I hear you on the shipping thing. That is the one thing I wish eBay would enforce more. Looking at things like blenders, they sell for $2, but the shipping is $25? It's all to get around the eBay fees. And it's entirely against eBay's rules. You would think they would enforce it, just to bump up their bottom line (as if they need to...)

    Thanks for the advice on the pictures as well. I might do that next weekend when I get a chance. I have never had a problem selling things on eBay, so I might give it a shot.

    Is there an easy way to perhaps clean this track up before listing it? Sure has a bid of gunk where the ties join the rails. Maybe WD-40 or ??? But perhaps it might be too much work to clean up 100+ pieces of track...

    Thanks all,
  9. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    Steel O gauge track is worth about $.35 a section on ebay, maybe less.... to me at least.
  10. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    Sometimes they do. But like you say, people get away with it. I paid $20 shipping for my postal scale when I ordered it (it could probably be shipped for under $6), but everyone was doing it.

    The shipping fees on large lots of O gauge track are legit though. A box of it really could cost $20+ to ship without using the flat-rate box.

    As far as cleaning it up, there are a couple of options. Spraying it down with the sprayer in the kitchen sink and then blowdrying it will get rid of a lot of crud quickly, but you need to blow dry it quickly to keep it from rusting. Especially if it's already rusty you may get some anyway. Experiment on one or two pieces. I've cleaned up old track that way before.

    A better (and more time-consuming) option is to use a green scouring pad and some household cleaner. I usually use rubbing alcohol. That takes out a lot of the crud and a surprising amount of rust too.

    To get it really looking good, get a can of Bar Keeper's Friend from the grocery store (it's next to the Comet). It's a cleaner/rust remover/polish all in one, and it does a remarkable job, but it can take 10 minutes to clean one section of track. Not worth your time on regular track, but it might be worth the effort on the switches.

    I'm not sure how much effort I'd put into cleaning up anything but the switches though. Your chances of spending a couple of hours and only having five bucks to show for it are fairly high.
  11. ScottyB

    ScottyB Member

    Thanks for the advice all. I think I'll just monitor eBay for a few weeks to see if similar lots show up, and the prices they sell for, just to see if it's worth my time.

    And I think Dave is right, it may be too much work to clean for little (or nothing) in return.

  12. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest


    Why not dissemble the track, put the rail on a flatcar or gondola, and save the insulators to
    use later (in insulated outside rail track)

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