Frequently Asked Questions
Using the Catalog
What is the purpose of the Catalog?
The Trainz Auctions Catalog is a structured, searchable resource for model train collectors. It aims to make collecting easier by being a reliable, comprehensive catalog for collectors to discover new items and information about them.
The Catalog also serves as the foundation for Trainz Auctions’ collection management and Marketplace. With living linkages between the Catalog and the other key sections in Trainz Auctions, as the Catalog gets better, collectors’ understanding about their collections and wanted list gets better. Importantly too, a strong Catalog streamlines mundane tasks such as listing items for sale and estimating the value of items. With a common, rich resource, even mundane tasks like removing ambiguity about item names gets easier for everyone.
The task of creating and maintaining this Catalog is immense. In order to simplify the maintenance of the Catalog, it is set up to allow the passionate and knowledgeable collector community to contribute to its maintenance (much like Wikipedia, but tailored specifically toward model train collectors). One day, we hope that even model train manufacturers will help keep the Catalog accurate, especially as they launch new items. As a free resource for collectors, it serves like a 'Library of Congress' for the community. With great photos, video reviews, and user reviews, the Trainz Auctions Catalog is an indispensable resource for the community.
What is a Trainz Auctions ID and how can I use it?
One of the key challenges for collectors is in the identification and communication of which specific item they have. The collectible market has a number of particular idiosyncrasies that make this identification and communication particularly challenging.
Consider these Atlas boxcars:
These cars are exactly the same except for the road numbers, but have different model numbers (Atlas 0527-1 and Atlas 0527-2). Similarly, MTH has made cars with different road numbers, but they did not use unique model numbers to distinguish between the cars. Additionally, if you had only one of these cars, even knowing the existence of the other is useful.
Here is another example of problematic model numbers.
Lionel reused some model numbers in different years for totally different items. Shown here is the Postwar 1665 0-4-0 switcher and the Lionel MPC-era 1665 NYC Empire State Express Set. To help deal with this and to be consistent all MPC-era and modern-era Lionel trains use Lionel’s prefix numbers.
“6-“For O Gauge
“8-“For G Gauge
“4-“For S Gauge (Where they were used on the box)
Most new trains have UPC barcodes on them, which are supposed to be unique to each item. We have captured thousands of UPC numbers, but usually when there is a UPC number, the model number is also printed on the box. UPC numbers are a poor identifier anyways, as many manufacturers do not assign a UPC number to each unique item.
Some trains came without any catalog numbers printed on the box (especially Williams and Weaver trains). For these, we have used the road number on the cars as the model number.
Trainz Auctions eliminates the confusion by assigning each item a unique “Trainz Auctions ID.” All items have an ID that starts with "MT" and has a six-digit number. For example, the Lionel MPC-era NYC Empire State Express Set is MT-0582006 and the O Gauge version of this set is MT-0571366.
Using the shorter Trainz Auctions ID can greatly simplify the communication between collectors. Plus, rather than seeing a seller listing their Weaver freight cars using one naming convention while a potential buyer was searching using a different naming scheme, Trainz Auctions has established naming guidelines that help collectors communicate in the most accurate and efficient way.
I can’t locate the item(s) I am looking for in the Catalog. What are some tips and tricks to finding them?
There are two main ways to find items in the Catalog: browsing/filtering and search. If you have several items of the same brand, you may find clicking through the linked series to be the most efficient way. Start by choosing either one of the top categories as shown, or you can peruse from the items from more than 600 different manufacturers.
As you click on different series, you will notice that the items in the list below are filtered. The great thing is that you learn as you explore, and once you find the series you are looking for, all the items you are looking for are right there. We'll be expanding the depth of the Catalog's taxonomy to help collectors explore more efficiently.
At any time, if you see a train from the series you are looking for, you can click on its series to see only the items in that series. (Note too, that once you are in the right "deepest" part of the taxonomy, you can do searches within just this most constained subset.) If you are looking for a particular model train, search works really well.
Type the most specific part of your model train’s name into the search box. For example, if you are looking for the classic Lionel 2343 Santa Fe diesel locomotive, searching for “Lionel Santa Fe” will return more than 400 items. Instead, if you search for “2343” the search will return only 7 items – the actual 2343 Santa Fe diesels and all the sets that had those diesels in them.
We’re doing our best to add UPC codes to the database too, so if you do have a good UPC number, searching for your model train’s UPC code is a good strategy (be sure to type in the full 12 digits).
Some items don’t have UPC codes, but do have manufacturer or road numbers. You can also search using those numbers. In the event that a brand, series or item is missing from the Catalog, please add it using our wiki functionality. Please do a thorough search before you do, as we don’t want to add duplicates to the Catalog.
I think an item in the Catalog has inaccurate or missing information. How can I help?
Our catalog is built as a “wiki-enabled” community resource. We have internal audit capabilities and a team of experts to help review updates made to the catalog; however, we rely on the contributions of our users to keep the Trainz Auctions catalog the most accurate and comprehensive resource for model train collectors. Editing information for an item in the catalog is easy.
Click on the name of the train to display the Item Details screen for that particular model. There, you can simply click on many of the fields to edit or add to the catalog. Make your change and click OK. Your updates are now live for everyone. As mentioned, we routinely audit this information for accuracy. All edits are tagged with the user name of the person making the edit.
Adding items to the Trainz Auctions catalog is easy too. Before you add an item, we ask you to do a thorough search for the item first! We are working hard to remove duplicate entries, and many times, users will find the model train they think is missing in a different series.
To add a model train to the Trainz Auctions catalog, click on the Catalog tab. Find the category in the catalog where you think the model train you want to add should be. For example, if you think the Catalog is missing a Weaver Milwaukee Road 2-Car Add-On Passenger Set, click the Add New Catalog Item button. Fill in the information on these screens and click OK. We will generate a new, unique Trainz Auctions ID for your new entry and display it in the series you are in. Tip: You will notice that, if you click into the Item Details screen for an item very much like the one you are adding to the Catalog, you will see an "Add New Catalog Item" button here too. By clicking on this button, we will pre-fill more of the detailed info from the currently selected item which speeds up the process.
What are the item naming standards on Trainz Auctions?
We strive to follow a simple rule when naming items in the catalog. We try to name the train by the name on the box. That means that some items share a name with other items (e.g. there are a lot of items named “Pennsylvania Boxcar”). You will also see some long names (e.g. InterMountain 25139S-07 SF Single Door Boxcar-Scale Version) because that is the name/description given on the package. Because all items have their own unique Trainz Auctions ID, users do not have to overload the name with extraneous information, introducing numerous inconsistencies in the Catalog. You will also notice that, when we felt it appropriate to add more information to the title, we have done that using the format “Manufacturer Model Number Roadname Description Road Number”. An example of this would be “Athearn 14193 C&O 50' PS-1 Plug Door Boxcar No. 23296”
Managing My Collection
How do I add items to my collection?
To add items to your collection, first register for an account. Trainz Auctions needs to know who to credit the collection to! Next, click on the Catalog tab. Pick a model train that you have and click on the Add to My Collection button. If you have two of that item, click the Add to My Collection button twice.
When you add an item to your collection, a copy of that model train is recorded in the My Collection section of Trainz Auctions. You will notice that, for example, if you clicked Add to My Collection from the “Weaver 24293 Pennsylvania Boxcar” model with Trainz Auctions ID MT-0393278, you would see that model train listed under your My Collection tab with the Trainz Auctions ID of MT-0393278-XXXX. Any collector of that model train will share the first seven numeric digits of the TrainzAuctions ID, but every unit across collectors will have a unique last 4 digits.
How can I remove items from my collection?
To remove items from your collection, click on the My Collection tab and click on the model train you want to remove. Next to the Trainz Auctions Unit ID for that model train, you will see a red X button. Click it and you will be asked to confirm your deletion. Click OK and the model train no longer is in your collection.
I see that I can record different information for my items. What do the fields mean?
The items in your collection inherit all of the great info that you see in the catalog, but in your collection, you can add specific information about your specific items. Click on each of the following fields to record this information for your items:
Grade: Please see the Trainz Auctions Valuation and Grading Guidelines for the specific definitions for this scale. We recommend using the TCA published guidelines.
Condition: Whereas “Grade” is a short-hand term for an item’s condition, the Condition field enables a collector to write a freeform description of his item’s condition. There are a number of abbreviations collectors may use in the Condition field, but the important thing is to accurately and honestly describe your model train. In the event you ever sell that train, you will save yourself and your potential buyer a great deal of grief by accurately and honestly describing the condition of your item.
Boxed: If your item is in its original packaging, you should choose “Boxed.” If you don't have the original packaging of your item, choose "Unboxed." This designation is important in describing your items accurately, but it also affects the total valuation of your collection.
Date Acquired (private field): Pick the day you acquired the item.
Acquisition Cost (private field): Record how much you paid for the item.
Location (private field): For collectors with extensive and distributed collections, this is a field that helps them find their items. For example, a collector may record “In box #3A in the basement” for an item's location.
My Value (private field): We have more than 50,000 items in the Catalog with value ranges for either Boxed or Unboxed items. These values are based on actual past sales of like items. If we are missing values for some of your items, please click the Comment link next to that item in the Value column. That will trigger our team of experts to evaluate the values for that item. Of course, you might not agree with our values either or your item could be custom-painted, restored, or materially better or worse than the average item, so you can "override" our valuation by filling in your own value for your item. If you fill in the My Value field, Trainz Auctions will use it when reporting your collection’s overall value.
Custom Field 1 and 2 (private fields): The two custom fields are for collectors and sellers to record other types of information about their items. Many sellers opt to record their own SKU number in one of these fields to help them manage their inventory across multiple sales channels.
Note: If you sell an item, all non-private fields and photos will be moved to the buyer’s collection. Private field information is not shared with anyone.
How can I upload photos of my own items?
When you are in My Collection and click to see a model train’s Item Detail screen, you can click on the Upload Photos button. Pick JPG or PNG files to upload for that item. If you have better photos for an item than are presently in the Catalog, please upload your photos for that item into the Catalog. There are no size limits to the size of photos uploaded, and we love high-resolution photos that look great in our full-screen viewer!
How does having my collection managed on Trainz Auctions benefit me?
Of course the biggest benefits are being able to keep track of what you have and what you want. Instead of having to try to remember it all, collectors can access their full collection and wanted list from any web browser, or from their iPhone and Android-based mobile phones. No more guesswork. Beyond that, because your collection is integrated with the Catalog and Marketplace, it becomes a dynamic collection. As the information for your items is improved in the Catalog, the data in your Collection is enhanced. As users add video reviews of items or other reviews, that information is linked to your items.
One interesting benefit of managing your collection alongside thousands of other collectors is that you gain insights about your own items, based on the aggregate activity of the community. For example, Trainz Auctions shows a collector how many other users have marked his or her items as wanted. Trainz Auctions also gives collectors a feel for how commonly their items are pursued by the collecting community. Collectors can also rate all items in the Catalog, so collectors see the community’s overall average rating for each of their items too.
Additionally, as items you want are posted for sale or reduced in price, Trainz Auctions can automatically notify you. Lastly, because Trainz Auctions also maintains the world’s largest, impartially-managed, online value guide for model train items, collectors can get what amounts to a third-party estimate of the overall value of their collection. In particular, this report makes getting insurance for your collection easier and often less expensive (often 20% less in your insurance rates!)
I get alerts on some of my Wanted Items. How does that work?
By default, when a user adds an item to his Wanted List, Trainz Auctions turns on ”Marketplace Alerts.” Whenever a new item is listed for sale or reduced in price, a user who wants that item gets a brief notification with link to review that listing. You can turn on/off alerts on an item-by-item basis in your Wanted List, and you can turn off Marketplace Alerts by default in your Account Settings.
Buying & Selling
What makes buying on Trainz Auctions safe and secure?
Buyers and sellers can feel safe using Trainz Auctions because it leverages the most popular and proven payments platform in the world, PayPal. All money flows directly between buyers and sellers, and both parties are bound by the PayPal Dispute Resolution Center. All user-sensitive, confidential information is transmitted using encrypted communications, and it is stored in a secure format on Trainz Auctions systems. Both buyers and sellers are able to communicate through the messaging system without revealing personally identifiable information. Importantly, there is a feedback mechanism for both buyers and sellers. Both parties are incented for good behavior knowing that the other party can hurt their “reputation” on Trainz Auctions with a negative feedback rating.
When a buyer or seller disputes a feedback rating they have received, we will review the transaction details and messages between both parties. At our discretion feedback may be amended from negative to neutral, although the original comments will be left intact. In these cases, both parties will be notified of the change, as we always seek full transparency with the feedback system.
How do I pay for items I buy in the Trainz Auctions Marketplace?
Both buyers and sellers must have active PayPal accounts. On PayPal, payment can be made with credit card, bank draft or e-Check. We may add other payment methods later.
Buyers should attempt to make payments within 3 days of an auction closing. In cases when buyers are waiting for multiple auctions to close in order to take advantage of combined shipping rates, please pay as quickly as possible after the last item ends. Trainz Auctions considers 10 days the maximum amount of time a buyer may wait to pay, but sellers may outline more specific or timely deadlines in listing details, so please refer to each listing individually.
How can I contact a seller?
Users can contact the individual seller of any item in the Trainz Auctions Marketplace. Click on the “Contact the Seller” button for a listing and write a note. This communication shows up in the seller’s Inbox, where they can reply to you securely, using only Trainz Auctions usernames.
How do I leave feedback for a seller?
Feedback is critical in online marketplaces. It provides a way for buyers and sellers to grade each other, establishing a “trustablility reputation” for each of the partners in the transaction. To leave feedback for a seller, click on the drop-down menu at the top of the screen. Click on My Account. Click on the Feedback section. There you will see a link for “Feedback”. The feedback model in Trainz Auctions is two-part. First, was your experience Positive, Neutral or Negative. If the seller communicated adequately with you, dealt with you honestly, and was reasonably responsive, we encourage you to consider that a “Positive” experience. Even if the item wasn't exactly what you'd hoped for or if there was a shipping error due to the post office, did the seller work in earnest to resolve any issues to your satisfaction? If so, then a “Positive” rating is likely appropriate. If the seller really did not try to gain your satisfaction and you will not likely do business with that seller again, then a “Neutral” or “Negative” rating may be in order. The second part of the rating is a comment field, and what your write there is very important to both future buyers and that seller. Please take the time to fill in feedback for every transaction!
What happens after I buy an item on Trainz Auctions?
When you click the Pay with PayPal button, we will ask you to log into PayPal to authorize payment for your order. We will have set up your order(s) through PayPal for you, so this is a simple process. The seller will see the orders well-documented in PayPal too, enabling them to take advantage of PayPal features such as label printing, customs documentation, etc. Check the Purchases link at the top of the Trainz Auctions screen to check the current status of your purchases.
What is a Buyer's Premium?
Trainz Auctions auctions are modeled after live auctions. Just like how the auctioneer will often extend auctions based on last minute bids, we too automatically extends the duration of an auction by 5 minutes whenever a bid is placed within the last 5 minutes of the listing. “Going, going... etc.” Additionally, "Buyer's Premiums" are also commonplace in live auctions. Based on the final selling price of the item, we will add an additional 18% "Buyer's Premium" fee to cover additional marketplace and seller expenses. PLEASE KEEP THIS FEE IN MIND AS YOU BID ON AUCTION ITEMS IN Trainz Auctions! The extra fee is calculated only on the item price (not shipping or any other fee), and the Seller retains the Buyer's Premium fee.
What is the Trainz Auctions Community Fee?
To help cover the costs of maintaining its database, collection management and marketplace, Trainz Auctions adds a $.50/item Community Fee to every item purchased in the Marketplace. This fee is paid by buyers to sellers during purchase, and Trainz Auctions invoices Sellers for the Community Fees they have collected as part of our routine monthly Seller invoicing.
How does combined shipping work?
Some sellers offer combined shipping discounts when you purchase multiple items from them. Trainz Auctions will automatically calculate these discounts when you create an invoice and check out in the Marketplace. In order to take advantage of combined shipping on all the items you purchase from the same seller, you will need to wait until all the auctions have closed to create your invoice and checkout. Please do not wait to pay for more than 3 days just to take advantage of a combined shipping discount.
Combined shipping is calculated in one of two ways depending on the eligibility of items in your invoice.
Method 1: When all items are eligible for combined shipping
Items have a "default" shipping price and a "combined" price. The item with the most expensive "default" shipping price will establish the base for an order's shipping, and each subsequent item will add the "combined" shipping cost. Consider the following three items in an invoice.
- Item 1 - Default shipping: $10, Combined: $3
- Item 2 - Default shipping: $8, Combined: $2
- Item 3 - Default shipping: $8, Combined: $2
The total shipping cost for this order would be $14 ($10 + $2 + $2). No matter the order in which the items are purchased, the combined shipping will always calculate with the highest default shipping cost as the base.
Method 2: When only some items are eligible for combined shipping
If an item in your invoice is not eligible for combined shipping, it will have to be shipped in an individual box, which means it will not trigger a combined shipping discount for subsequent items on the invoice. If there are three or more items on an invoice and one is not eligible for combined shipping, the remaining items will use the standard combined shipping calculations described in Method 1. Consider the following invoice.
- Item 1 - Default shipping: $10, (No combined shipping)
- Item 2 - Default shipping: $8, Combined: $2
- Item 3 - Default shipping: $6, Combined: $2
The total shipping cost for this order would be $20 ($10 + $8 + $2). Note that Item 2's shipping is charged at $8 because it is the first item which can be combined and sets the base price. Item 3's shipping is then combinable and charged at $2.
How much does it cost to sell in the Trainz Auctions Marketplace?
Sellers pay Trainz Auctions a Final Value Fee for sales they complete on the Marketplace. The base Final Value Fee is 7.95% of the total invoice amount (calculated to include the item's sales price, Buyer's Premium, and shipping charged). On top of this low rate, sellers pay no fees to list items for sale, and all auction sales on the marketplace are awarded an 18% Buyer's Premium which is kept by the individual seller, not Trainz Auctions. We will accrue records of your completed sales and will bill you periodically via PayPal.
How do I list an item for sale in the Marketplace?
Anyone can sell items on Trainz Auctions. Although we at Trainz are a large seller, you're welcome to sell on it too!
The first step to sell items on Trainz Auctions is to register and configure your account for selling. After logging in, click sell in the header at the top of any page. You will need a valid Paypal account to accept money from buyers through the site. Don't hesitate to Contact Us with any questions.
What happens after someone buys my item?
After a buyer has authorized payment to your PayPal account, you will receive a message in your Trainz Auctions Inbox (as well as through your email) informing you of the purchase. This email will list the item(s) purchased from this user, give the transaction details, and it will give you the shipping address of the buyer. If you log into your PayPal account, you will find that we have created an order for you in PayPal. The purchase information is filled in should you want to use PayPal’s shipping or customs forms features.
You should pack the item for shipment to the buyer and communicate with the buyer about the status of their order through the transaction details available under My Account.
I sold an item I’ve listed on Trainz Auctions somewhere else. How do I remove it from the Marketplace?
If you have an item for sale on Trainz Auctions and sell it elsewhere, click on the drop-down menu and click on My Marketplace. There, you will see your Active Listings. Find the listing you want to remove and click the "End" button that appears when you hover your mouse pointer over its picture.
I don’t want to sell to people in some countries. How can I keep that from happening?
In My Account, you will find Marketplace settings. Be sure to uncheck the geographic regions you do not want to support. Buyers from countries within those regions will not even see your listings in the Marketplace and will be unable to purchase from you.
How do I communicate with the buyer about the status of their order?
In My Account, you will find a section called Accounting/Invoices where you can post updated shipping status and information (e.g. tracking number) for the buyer.
How can I promote my listings on Trainz Auctions?
There are several ways sellers can promote their listings today. The team at Trainz Auctions is working on additional opportunities as well.
Send Prospects a Web Address with Your Listings: Every seller can send (or post to web sites) a listing that showcases only the items they have for sale.
Share Your Collector Showcase on Facebook and Put a Link to Your Showcase in your Forum Signatures: Every user gets his or her own "showcase.” It’s a super way to let others connect with you as a collector and check out the items you have for sale.
How do shipping costs work?
Please refer to the information about listing an item for sale. These shipping features accommodate the most typical transactions. In the case that buyers and sellers work out different shipping fees for a transaction, we recommend that the buyer/seller simply process a refund to the other party through PayPal to account for the difference, or Sellers can adjust the invoice based on the resolution to the Buyer's inquiry.
What is the best browser to use for Trainz Auctions?
We regularly test with Firefox, Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Safari. We find that Firefox and Chrome are the fastest and most reliable, but Edge and Safari work well also. We know people use browsers other than these four to use Trainz Auctions, but we don't test or try to fix bugs on any browser other than the four we regularly test with.
How can I send a message to another collector?
Trainz Auctions has an internal messaging system to enable communication between users without divulging personal information. Right now, conversations can only be initiated to a user who is selling an item in the Marketplace. Once the conversation is initiated, the two users can exchange messages.
If you have any other questions, please contact us.