Frequently Asked Questions
Using the Catalog
What is the purpose of the Catalog?
The Trainz Community 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 Community’ collection management and Marketplace. With living linkages between the Catalog and the other key sections in Trainz Community, 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 Community Catalog is an indispensable resource for the community.
What is a Trainz Community 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 Community eliminates the confusion by assigning each item a unique “Trainz Community 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 Community 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 Community 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 Community 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 Community 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 Community 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 Community 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 Community?
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 Community 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 Community 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 Community. You will notice that, for example, if you clicked Add to My Collection from the “Weaver 24293 Pennsylvania Boxcar” model with Trainz Community ID MT-0393278, you would see that model train listed under your My Collection tab with the Trainz Community 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 Community 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 Community 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 Community 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 Community 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 Community shows a collector how many other users have marked his or her items as wanted. Trainz Community 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 Community can automatically notify you. Lastly, because Trainz Community 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 Community 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 happened to the Trainz Community Marketplace?
In 2020, we retired the Trainz Community Marketplace and no longer facilitate the sale of merchandise between collectors.
Where can I buy model trains?
You can search or browse approximately 140,000 in-stock items to fulfill your model train needs.
Where can I sell my trains?
If you are interested in selling your train collection, please visit sellmytrains.com where you learn about the company, our buying process or get answers to Frequently Asked Questions. You can also use the Get A Quote link to begin the process of receiving an offer on your collection.
What is the best browser to use for Trainz Community?
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 Community, 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 Community 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.