I think if Oldies are getting sticker shock, Newbies will get a real shock, but then brass and stainless (SS) are getting close enough to be competetive, I think we may see SS inch downward in price of rise in demand increases production. It may in a few years become the standard.
I think it will just slow down any expansions, and newbies who give it a go will just have to start on a smaller scale. We may see a dent in the "Bigger is Better" trend if people cannot afford to build layouts large enough and opt for smaller layouts.
I personally see the price of track dropping. If you look at the flex track that folks are coming out with I think its cheaper than when I bought pre-shaped curves 3 years ago when I started. I think flex track will help and that's what I'd like to use for a small expansion I'm planning this summer.
In fact, I am considering dismantling my layout. Between the cost of the track and the shoddy equipment that is supplied by the major manufacturers it is very frustrating. My interest has shifted to the 2 1/2" scale equipment.
It impacted me. I couldn't afford enough LGB or Aristo track - even off EBAY, let alone new - to go that route for the full layout, so I took to using Bachmann track for some of the yard spurs and picked up some cheaper Lionel track to muck about with as well. As it is, I figure I *almost* got about all the track I'll ever actually use.
Now...had I been faced with these prices when I first got back into model railroading, I quite possibly would have gone with 'O' scale.
I doubt that I would have bought and built as much as I did at the current prices but then again I started out with a lot of used track and used switches which kept my initial cost down.
When LGB track and switches got hard to find and Aristo prices doubled I bought a large quantity of heavily used LGB track at a bargain price and then recurved the track to put the worn inside rail on the outside.
If we want something bad enough we will find a way to get it. If new is too high there will always be someone dying or otherwise getting out of the hobby. That's just the way it is with a hobby that has a lot of old (and getting older) hobbyists.
this all started when a certain company got gready and increased there price by 100% and said it was because of cost of materials!!!!!! that was B.S. IN MY OPION, kinda funny that no other scale had a increase any were near that? but i think now more than ever people are starting to relize they are getting ripped off...and such companys will not be around in the future due to there greadyness... would not hurt my feelings to see then go by by.. most of what they make others due too, and the others make items that work...
I doubt that I would have bought and built as much as I did at the current prices but then again I started out with a lot of used track and used switches which kept my initial cost down. When LGB track and switches got hard to find and Aristo prices doubled I bought a large quantity of heavily used LGB track at a bargain price and then recurved the track to put the worn inside rail on the outside. If we want something bad enough we will find a way to get it. If new is too high there will always be someone dying or otherwise getting out of the hobby. That's just the way it is with a hobby that has a lot of old (and getting older) hobbyists. Jerry
Regrettably, for a few of us way off the beaten path, we almost always pay the premium price, being seldom in a position to take advantage of the good deals (although I constantly, it seems, ply the internet on the prowl for odds and ends that I (think I) need at any given time.
In all honesty, had I any idea how expensive my ultimate commitments to this hobby were destined to be, I would never have started. It is little wonder there are so few of these layouts this far north. Fortunately, my decision to go to remote battery power enabled me to proceed with far less expensive track for what has turned out to be a relatively expansive (and, yes, expensive) outdoor layout.
It's not just the track. Look at some year old GR mags and compare the prices with what you see today. I've got about 150 feet of brass track -- since 2002 or so -- and don't think I'd be getting into the hobby at today's prices. One of the reasons I went with traction is the lack of commercially available equipment -- I build my own, and you don't need a garge full of rolling stock to duplicate an interurban line.
Yes, I think the track prices have been bumped up, just because they can. Luckily, I won't be needing any for a long time.
However, I always find it strange that so many folks think this hobby is expensive. When I compare it to almost anything else I can think of ( car racing, water skiing with a boat, snow skiing, HO or any other indoor layout, motorcycles, hunting, fishing, traveling, golf) it seems pretty low cost to me.
I probably spent 80% of my investment in this hobby during the first two years. Now it is just tinkering and maintenance for me. I think the initial outlay for track is definitely a shock for most though. And now, even worse.
I started out with a lot of used stuff and track I inherited. Even so, I bought a good bit and the price was always a shock. The high price has definitely deterred me. In fact, I bought a Train LI track bender just so i could reuse old R1 curves. I just finished a car barn and it was cheaper by far to buy the bender, and bend 60 feet of old R1 curves than it was to buy new track.
I don't think it's gouging though. Just the price of oil alone is going to bring the price of track and everything else up
I am working on a huge expantion. It will just take me longer to finish it. I will buy it in small bunches. I just don't know what to use at this time. Aluminum is not good in desert heat. So it will be brass or SS.
I'm expanding my layout in a few weeks - several new sidings and spurs. However, I have all the track and switches I need for the next expansion, that I purchased at the old price last year. I will be buying new #6 switches later this summer to build my switch yard. I'll need about 8 of them and they seem to be about the same price today as I paid for them last fall, so I'm not worried (these may be old stock, but I found a place to get them and I plan to purchase them soon). In truth, my price constraints in the hobby are not really associated with track, but rather with remote control and power equipment. I'm not switching to battery because I can't afford to buy all the batteries, the charger, the controller cards, the sound, etc. So track really isn't limiting me at this time.
Having said all that. I think the rising cost of anything decreases activity and if this happens during a slow in the economy it's even worse. We see a real fall-off in the number of people enjoying the arts, other hobbies, sports, etc. The good news is that history shows that all metals rise and fall. The price of copper will one day come down. The real test will be to see if track manufacturers lower prices, or just increase profits when this happens.
Just my take. Keeping in mind that I'm not an ecomomist, and I just got a nice raise to help pay for my hobby.
I have a small company that markets a number of products for athletes. I don't produce the products myself, I have a PLM (private label manufacturer) produce the product to my specs and lable the products with my lable. I then see to distribution and sales. We're quite new and small.....
I have a LLC established to place a firewall between my business and personal assets. My Corporation is a LLC holding company and the product distribution company is it's own entity under the LLC..
I have seriously though of establishing a seperate company to look into the production and distribution of gauge 1 track. There has to be at least ten manufacturers in Tiwan and Korea that could produce an acceptable quality track at a better price than we are currently seeing. There's definatly room in the market for another choice...
I don't think it will hurt the hobby. There will be sticker shock, but no more than what one gets when one prices locomotives. Newcomers to the hobby look there first, so if they're frightened by high prices, they'll have run away long before they even looked at the track. I do see it "pulling in the reins" a bit. The trend towards larger and longer equipment has fueled the push for the "mega railroads" we read about in the magazines and ogle on line. That tends to breed the perception that you need tons of space and boatloads of track for a "proper" garden railroad. I think with track being a bit more expensive, it will tend to draw railroads back to a "reasonable" size, which will do a few beneficial things for the hobby.
First, it will almost force people to start small. This will allow them to get going and work their way into maintaining the railroad. I've seen many people scared off because they built this enormous railroad because they've got tons of space, then leave the hobby because they didn't have the time to maintain it. My old railroad back in Rochester was a bit more than I could chew. Had I been a newcomer, I likely would have eventually gotten frustrated and sold everything off.
Second, it will work to get manufacturers to work on producing smaller prototypes to fit the smaller spaces. A K-37 will fit on my railroad, but aesthetically, it's too large for it. I gravitate towards smaller locos that don't take up half my sidings just by themselves. I would rather imagine that if people were building smaller railroads, we'd see more smallish prototypes produced to fit them.
Third, it will drive the market towards alternative track. Personally, I think we need sectional code 250 track. A smaller rail profile--having less material--would be cheaper. Yeah, you'd have to get past the "but it's smaller, so it's not as strong" argument--which in my experience is complete bunk--but if you can bring it in significantly cheaper than what's out there now, then people will buy it regardless of their perceptions about its strength.
So, no. I don't see the price of track hurting the hobby. When you adjust for inflation, the price of track is pretty darned near where it was 30 years ago. Considering how limited our choice of equipment was back then (and how expensive), the hobby still gained traction. Today, we've got a very good selection of equipment to suit our personal tastes, and it's comparatively inexpensive. People will find a way to run the models they like.
That's an interesting argument. I'm a newbie, and I started out with a few LGB four wheelers and short cars I inherited. They looked cute on R1 curves. But I wanted American mainline, and got an Aristo Pacific and a Mikado and a bunch of rolling stock. I laid down a lot of 8 ft curves which looked enormous compared to the R1 stuff. But now I think the Pacific and the Mikado look too tight on my layout, and I don't have the space to do it differently. I'd probably have been better off going narrow gauge, or sticking with smaller engines and shorter trains. My Bachmann "annie" suits the track much more. Probably over time I'll migrate back that way. I'd like to see more of the smaller mainline stuff, like a good Atlantic or the 2-8-0 consolidation Aristo is supposed to be bringing out. So I agree, for most of us small is better and the high price nudges things in that direction