Sunday, February 19, 2012

In Praise of Hobby Shops

A poster on the Atlas HO Forum has a problem: An Athearn locomotive he recently purchased keeps derailing. Could anyone help?

As is usual on the Forum, he received a number of replies. They included disassembling the truck, removing the middle axle, filing the gears, cleaning off any burrs, filing the bearings, checking wheelset alignment, etc.

The same thing happened to me a few years ago. But my fix was much siimpler. I just took it back to the hobby shop where I bought it and got a replacement.

I'm guessing the poster in question likely bought his unit online. Otherwise, he would just take his unit back to the store where he bought it, too.

I know--when it comes to prices, online is much better than storefront. You can save a lot of money by buying things over the Internet. And most of the time, I'm sure it works out just fine. But when it doesn't, you can have a real problem.

When it comes to online purchases, there's no going back. And I use it, too, mostly for books and music. But when it comes to expensive items with lots of fine moving parts--things like locomotives--I like to buy them at the local hobby shop. Not only does this help it stay in business, it gives me a sense of security in case things go wrong.

One day, there will probably be no hobby shops. I'll miss them when they're gone.


  1. OTOH, just to be the Devil's Advocate, the person has had the opportunity to learn some skills to fix what was probably an assembly error. These sort of skills once learnt are priceless. For everything else there is Mastercard. :-)

  2. True enough--I've taken apart my share of Athearn Blue Box units for maintenance and upgrading over the years. But I also don't mind taking it back if it doesn't work.

  3. And then there are others who are modeling US railroads but living in the middle of Sweden :-) For us buying online is great!

    But I agree with you, and do the same with things I do buy locally that don't work.