There has been a number of messages lately about $5. kits and the overall
prices of trains today.
I found an excellent web page put out by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve
Bank titled "What is a dollar worth? Using the consumer price index, you can
calculate what services and products of another time were compared to today.
Just enter the proper figures and it will calculate the amount. The web
site is http://www.FoundCollection.com/
I think many of the people who complain about the cost are younger modellers
or people new to the hobby.
Let's look at the 'good old days'. I grabbed my April 1955 issue of Model
Railroader and plugged in the prices and here's what I got.:
An MRC Model Pack power pack. It was rated at 2 1/2 amps, with an on-off
switch and direction control. A fuse holder was mounted externally on the
metal cabinet housing the rheostat. The price was $21.75. According to the
above calculations, today's price would be $145.51. Wow! That's comparable
to a low-end DCC system.
A Hobbytown Alco RS-3 was $24.95 and an E-7 $29.95. That's $166.92 and
$200.37 respectively. That's with an all metal shell with no added details.
A Varney F unit KIT was $14.95. That's just the drive system; no shell.
That's $100.02 in today's funds. AND, the trucks on the drive system had no
side frames. You had to buy a dummy unit to get the sideframes.
Twin coil switch machines were $2.95, that's $19.74 each; much higher than a
Tortise drive of today.
A Penn Line K4 kit was $34.50 or $230.82 today. A Challenger locomotive kit
was $52.50 and the tender an additional $8.50.
for a total of $408.11 in today's funds.
That's just a sampling. You can see where things were not only more
expensive then, but the quality wasn't even close to what it is today. Many
youngsters at that time didn't have as many job opportunities as today's
***s have (less fast food restaurants then), so a paper route could only
buy so much.
The only items that are comparatively more expensive today are brass
locomotives, but the brass of the 50's was very crude by today's standards.
So, pull out your old magazines, get some prices and make some comparisons.
You can also plug in a price from today and see what it would have cost in
other years. Truly, I believe, this is the Golden Age of model railroading.
Of course, unless it gets even better.