Surviving the Internet Part 2:

More on eBay

Since our previous article about using the Internet, eBay has had some remarkable items pass through. Among the most notable are OO gauge pieces. A pair of OO gauge switches without the box had a reserve of less than $150.00 and they ended up selling for (I hope you're all sitting down) $502.00. A OO gauge presentation set sold for $14,400.

There are many features that eBay offers in addition to the auction. Their community chat offers a forum for eBay users to ask and answer questions of each other. You need to be a register eBay user, which is easy to do and it's free.

Websites

Every manufacturer, most businesses and some hobby stores have a website today. What's particularly valuable to consumers is the information that comes fast and often on the web. Our TM Links page to manufacturer's and organization's websites can get you started surfing what various companies and clubs have to offer. They in turn also have pages of links to many other sites.

One useful site in particular is the toy trains website. This is sponsored and maintained by the Train Collectors Association. It is a bulletin board format that is regulated to weed out unrelated or inappropriate posts. Those who post must register, which is free. A lot of information and serious discussions pass through this site.

What are Bulletin Boards?

Bulletin boards are sites that have individual comments or posts from people interested in that particular subject. They are sometimes moderated by appointed "police" who try to weed out the trash that can sometimes find it's way onto the board. If you are an America On-line member, you can reach the list of bulletin boards related to the hobby by typing the keyword: scale models and clicking on model railroading.

The AOL board often has useful tips from others and interesting questions. We understand that it was this particular forum that the news about the Korean Situation broke in the United States.

One of the most annoying aspects about the bulletin board's posts is when you access a post for something like a 700E and the text only has "say hi to your folks for me." So what does that have to do with a Hudson? Who knows? Many users of the AOL bulletin boards like to conduct conversations and share them with everyone else. It can be aggravating to sift through that waste to get to the meaningful posts.

AOL has recently added a search feature to their bulletin boards which can be very helpful, especially if you have questions about a specific topic.

The bulletin board sponsored by O Gauge Railroading is another very popular Internet location for toy train aficionados to share knowledge and ask questions about various facets in the hobby.

Chat Rooms

Contrary to what you may have heard, chat rooms offer more than just 50-year-old guys pretending to be 16 year old girls -- thankfully. For the O gauge hobbyist, there are four separate chat rooms available on AOL. TCA Quarterly columnist Mike Spanier regularly promotes them, inviting everyone to "bring your questions and your answers." They happen at 8:00 CST. On Sunday nights is for "Lionel chat," Tuesdays are for "MTH chat," Monday is for "toy train chat" and the remaining days are simply known as "toy train talk" sessions. Generally, Sundays and Tuesdays are the most widely attended. I've jumped into these a few times and they can be fun. For AOL members, the keyword: "private chat" and then type in the appropriate name for that night.

Newsgroups

There is only one Internet newsgroup available today. rec.models.railroad features discussions on all aspects of model railroading. So even though it's not all Lionel and O gauge, there are many posts on this topic that are worth looking at. Since it's an Internet newsgroup, it is available to everyone around the worked regardless of server.