Orphans

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When it comes to sharing my love of the hobby with my non-railroading friends and acquaintances, I’m not shy about it. They all know where I’ll be on November Sundays. When an Amtrak crash makes the news, they ask me for details. They send me sympathy cards when a hobby shop burns down.

They also send their orphans to me.

It’s not like I have an “Old Trains Wanted” T-shirt that I wear around, or anything like that. I’m not in the buy/sell business. Stuff just shows up. Somebody is cleaning out their basement, and a box of forgotten ’60s-vintage Lionel, or ’70s-vintage Tyco, or ’80s-vintage Life-Like show up. Invariably, it’s low-end stuff, purchased from Sears, or K-Mart, or Toys-R-Us for some distant Christmas. It has little to no collectible value. What to do with it? Shame to just throw it away. Maybe Jeff will take it.

And Jeff does. Because I love trains.

Coming as I do from a long line of packrats, I have to fight the urge to simply let it pile up. I have too much hobby material already, and most of the orphans aren’t useful to my hobby activities. There are a few items that I’ve hung onto, but most of the time I turn it around and give it away again. I’m kind of like a cat shelter, only without the hassle of spaying and neutering.

Today’s arrival is a surprisingly diverse box of Lionel O-27. A quick survey of the box’s contents revealed items spanning from the ’30s all the way up to 1970 or so, with at least three incompatible styles of couplers. The donors are a retired couple preparing to sell their home of 49 years. They were quite grateful to have the box off their hands. There’s nothing there that I can use myself, but I have some ideas of where it can go.

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