Saving Money On Model Trains – Ebay Guide To Bidding And Winning

Probably the easiest way to get the trains you want of the internet is on EBay. This popular auction site has tremendous amounts of trains in just about every scale imaginable. You will be able to obtain many of these trains without paying an arm and a leg as well. If you don’t want to mess with the auctioning process, several of them come with a Buy Now price that will allow you to pay a set price for the item, stopping all auction process.

Not just trains

You won’t find just trains here either; you can find everything you need to build your own railway. Scenery, track, power supplies you can get it all here. Often these items are new or only gently used so you know that you are getting a good quality product from the sellers.

When you shop on EBay it’s important to do your homework. Check out the sellers that you are considering purchasing your items from. You want to make sure they have good feedback so that you can be sure that you are getting the best for your money. This will also help to ensure that if you purchase one of their products you are only doing business with people who are guaranteed to send you your item in a timely manner.

Also it’s best to keep business dealings on EBay. While it might seem more convenient to talk through an instant messenger or e-mail, should you have a problem EBay can’t take those records into account while settling the dispute. Be sure that you pay the person in a secure manner such as PayPal. Also if you don’t really want the item or are unsure don’t bid, you could be keeping someone who really wants it from winning at a fair price or worse with merchandise you really don’t want.


When it comes to bidding on EBay it can be a little intimidating, especially if you’re new at it. Doing your homework before placing your first bid can make the difference in not just winning the bid, but not paying too much for the item you’re bidding on. If you’ve never bid on an auction before you don’t want to just rush in there and bid on the first item you like. It might be a good idea to find something you are sort of interested in but not so interested that you’d be upset if someone else won it. Don’t bid on it, save the bid to your favorites so that you can see how the bidding goes. You can watch the back and forth without risking any money on it. This should help you get a feel for how an auction will run.

Another good way to research the bidding process is to find one that is recently closed. Here you can review the back and forth bidding and see how the auction went without having to constantly come back to it.

Before you can make your first bid on EBay, there is a term you need to understand. This term is called the reserve price. This is probably one of the most important terms you need to know prior to making a bid. The reserve price is a price that sellers can use to void the bid if their ideal price isn’t met. This is an optional price the seller does not have to set it, and those that do not have a reserve price will usually have a NR on their item description somewhere. It’s an abbreviation for no reserve, and not all of them let you know there is no reserve.

The rub is a reserve price is secret, it’s not revealed at the beginning of the auction. An opening bid does not mean there is a reserve price and the opening bid requirement is not the reserve price. If you have been following some auctions you might have noticed after a few bids the phrases “Reserve not met” or “Reserve met” have appeared at the top of the item listing. This is an indication that there is a reserve on the auction, but the amount is never shown.

There are also a wide variety of abbreviations used to describe items on EBay. The list is extensive and can be found at the following link:

It probably would benefit you to make yourself at least somewhat familiar with the commonly used acronyms before you make your first bid.

After you’ve watched a few auctions, or at least enough to be comfortable with the process, it’s time to try your hand at one yourself. You have poked around EBay and you’ve found the train you’d like to bid on. Now for the difficult part, you have to make a bid. You will notice on most bids there is an opening bid, or a minimum amount most sellers will accept. Since you’ve got your eye on that train, you’ve probably done your homework to determine how much the train is actually worth; the whole point is to get it at a bargain right? You’ve read the description and have determined that the train is in good condition. You’ve looked up the seller and read all the feedback and have found that the person is a reputable seller. You also know how much you can or are willing to spend on this item. It’s important to have a budget in mind before you start bidding.

For the sake of example let’s say the opening bid is $10. You know the going rate for the train is $100. It’s best to start on the lower end, close to the opening bid. If there is a reserve and your maximum bid does not meet it you will see the “Reserve not met” notice once the bid is placed. You might want to place another bid with a higher maximum or you can choose to wait and see what the next person does before trying to at least meet the reserve price. If your maximum bid is out bid you can bid again. If your bid is the winner you will receive an e-mail from stating you won and instructions on payment and receipt of your new train.


Now that the basics of bidding on EBay have been explained there are some techniques people have suggested to ensure that you win the bid. It’s called sniping. It is not recommended for the beginner but after you’ve gotten used to the bidding process it might help you ensure the big win.

Sniping is when you put in a winning bid in the last few seconds of the auction. You usually have been following the auction for several days and have an idea of where the bidding is going. You need to log on a few minutes before the end of the bid to monitor the activity. You’ll have to refresh often to ensure that you see the most recent highest bid. With a minute or less left on the bid is when you need to make your move. Place a bid just higher than the highest bid. Doing this with only a few seconds left in the auction will get you your train.

There are lots of softwares out there that can help you time your sniping just right if you are interested in going this route. Or you can simply open two browsers to the site and place them side by side on your screen. Keep updating one so you can have the most accurate and use the other to place your bid at the right moment.

Discount Train Links (Ebay)

Lionel Trains

American Flyer Trains

Bachmann Trains

L.G.B. Trains

HO Scale Buildings

Brass Trains

Marklin Trains

Athearn Trains

15 thoughts on “Saving Money On Model Trains – Ebay Guide To Bidding And Winning”

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