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Khaul

Model train shops in Southern California

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Khaul

I am travelling to San Diego in a few days to attend a conference. I'll have some time so it may be a good idea to visit a model train shop. Katy USA has some magnetic couplers that come in packs on 10 for $6. Another thing to maybe look at is thin flange wheel sets. I should probably bring one or two freight cars to see what fits.

 

Any recommendations for shops in the San Diego area? Excuses to take a train trip to LA are also welcome :)

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Kiha66

Very few model train shops left in LA sadly.  The Original Whistle Stop in Pasadena is probably the only one worth a visit in the Los Angeles area.  It's a nice shop to browse, but the prices aren't very good and the staff tend to be a little rude.   For train rides I'd recommend taking the Amtrak Surfliner to San Clemente or San Juan Capistrano if you want to ride along the beach, and spend an hour or two looking around the town.  Let me know if you decide to visit Los Angeles, I'd be happy to meet up and drive you around the city. 

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toc36

Khaul,

 

I don't know how much time you will have to wander.......

 

I lived in California during the 80's and 90's.  Haven't been back since.  Like Kiha66 said, there used to be a bunch of train stores around LA, but I think the internet has forced most of them out of business.

 

You may want to visit the San Diego Model Railroad Museum:

http://sdmrm.org/exhibitions/4592670233

 

Also, I googled train stores in San Diego in San Diego and came up with Reed's Hobby Store.  Never been there, don't know anything about them.

http://www.reeds-hobbies.com/

https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/reeds-hobby-shop-la-mesa

 

Mark

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Khaul

Thanks for the tips. I can see that the model shop situation in the LA area is similar to the one in Sydney, but at least here we have a big shop in the very centre of the city. It is pricey and caters mostly for older gentlemen who cannot deal with online shopping, but is much better than nothing. There are also a couple of suburban shops selling Aussie stuff and second hand items from deceased estates. They are also expensive but once I was able to negotiate a good price for a few japanese freight cars. 

 

I also found Reeds Hobbies, but it does not seem to have very good reviews. On the plus side the shop is near to a tram stop so I may just go for the ride. 

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Kiha66

I'll second the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, definitely worth a visit!  Totally forgot about it in my first reply. 

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Kiha66

Found a new shop today, Arnie's model trains has quite a selection, including a few (marked up) Kato and Tomix buildings! Also has a sister store next door with even more models.

 

http://www.arniesmodeltrains.com

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Khaul

I went to the San Diego model railroad museum and to Reeds Hobbies. Thanks for the suggestions! The museum is very interesting. Some layouts are great, others a bit too bonkers :). I had a fantastic time there overall.

 

Reeds is a fine shop, but the elderly man there was much more interested in talking to other elderly men than in selling stuff to me. I've got a couple of things anyway.

 

I did all the tour with public transport starting and finishing in my hotel in La Jolla and riding the fine Siemens tramcars as much as I could. The old ones have a very German feeling. Many of my fellow trolley and bus travellers were, err... a bit, how to say? sketchy? and I got slightly worried about my belongings at times...

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Kiha66

Glad to hear you had a good time Khaul!   Sadly the sketchy characters on public transit seems to be a pretty common trend here, anyone who has the means tends to drive instead.  As one driver told me "we can update our cars, but can't upgrade our passengers."

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toc36

Maybe you can try Uber next time.  

 

Glad that you made it to the museum.  The only time I went was back in the 80's when I was stationed in California.  

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Khaul

Maybe you can try Uber next time.  

 

Glad that you made it to the museum.  The only time I went was back in the 80's when I was stationed in California.  

 

Yeah, well, "what can beat going to a train model shop in a tram?" I thought...

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Kiha66

The best ride I've had in a San Diego tram has actually been at the Western Trolley Museum near San Francisco, strangely enough.  A scenic ride through the country side without all the bums abroad! 

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Claude_Dreyfus

I stopped off at Train Shack in Burbank, LA, last year...on my way to see the ET house at Tujunga. It had a good selection of trains, I got myself an H0 memory of our holiday. Staff seemed knowledgeable, but not hugely talkative, despite the shop being quiet.

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bikkuri bahn

*a bit of nostalgia here, so perhaps of little use to the OP, but anyway...

I grew up in Southern California (1977-1993), so many memories of the hobby shops there.  Maybe the most memorable was Allied Model Trains on Pico Blvd, later moved to Culver City on Sepulveda.  Closer to home was South Bay Model RR Supply in Redondo Beach.  Later, in my college years, there was a shop further south in Torrance, perhaps SBMRRS moved there?  I have been to the Original Whistle Stop in Pasadena more recently (twice?), I guess it's still in business.  There was the hobby shop out in Riverside County that advertised often in Model Railroader, I went there once after it moved out of its original location in a Longs Drugs to a standalone location (Moreno Valley?)  I think it's gone now.  There were also many general hobby shops, I especially frequented Paul Freilers Historical Models in Torrance, and there was a Karls Toys and Hobbies in Westchester near LAX that had a great selection of plastic models (this being the early eighties) including Tamiya, AMT 1/25 big rigs, and the wonderful Monogram 1/48 Century series jets.  Actually it was a great time to be growing up with an interest in kit building, as even the local drug stores had selections of model kits with paint (Testors mainly, and rarely Pactra, which had more authentic military colors) and glue supplies. Now the drug stores have no models and the toy section is filled wilth cheap made in China toys for kids under 8 years old. 

Edited by bikkuri bahn
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Kiha66

*a bit of nostalgia here, so perhaps of little use to the OP, but anyway...

I grew up in Southern California (1977-1993), so many memories of the hobby shops there.  Maybe the most memorable was Allied Model Trains on Pico Blvd, later moved to Culver City on Sepulveda.  Closer to home was South Bay Model RR Supply in Redondo Beach.  Later, in my college years, there was a shop further south in Torrance, perhaps SBMRRS moved there?  I have been to the Original Whistle Stop in Pasadena more recently (twice?), I guess it's still in business.  There was the hobby shop out in Riverside County that advertised often in Model Railroader, I went there once after it moved out of its original location in a Longs Drugs to a standalone location (Moreno Valley?)  I think it's gone now.  There were also many general hobby shops, I especially frequented Paul Freilers Historical Models in Torrance, and there was a Karls Toys and Hobbies in Westchester near LAX that had a great selection of plastic models (this being the early eighties) including Tamiya, AMT 1/25 big rigs, and the wonderful Monogram 1/48 Century series jets.  Actually it was a great time to be growing up with an interest in kit building, as even the local drug stores had selections of model kits with paint (Testors mainly, and rarely Pactra, which had more authentic military colors) and glue supplies. Now the drug stores have no models and the toy section is filled wilth cheap made in China toys for kids under 8 years old. 

 

 

Allied Model Trains folded a year or two ago sadly, all the current stock got sold to the Original Whistle Stop.  Allied had moved out of the original station building into a much smaller store across the street quite a few years earlier, back when I was in high school.  I actually grew up just down Hawthorne Blvd from the Torrance shop, my first few train sets were from there!  Sadly they closed while I was still quite young, so I never got to do much more than window shop all the models, but I remember the older gentlemen who worked there were always very nice and let me look to my hearts content.  I think I still have a paint can or two from that shop.

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bikkuri bahn

Yeah, I was in college when Allied was in the faux Union Station building on Sepulveda, being a poor college student I couldn't afford the trains, though I did once purchase a nice used book published in the 1950/60's that had more information on railway locomotives than anything available today.  I would take the Culver City municipal bus down from UCLA on the weekend to browse, and then feast at Taco Bell across the street (a princely $5). I once saw Gary Coleman there, he was a regular customer. 

 

The hobby shop in Torrance I think was just south of Del Amo, it was located on an oddly shaped lot IIRC with a diagonal street crossing in front.  I remember it required one or two transfers of bus to get there from UCLA, luckily it was a cheap fare and Culver City and Torrance ran excellent and very clean services, much like Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus and unlike RTD (now Metro).  The Torrance train shop was in the process of building a 4x8 train layout when I visited once or twice, I remember they were using hand laid track on top of homasote.  I don't remember if I purchased anything, but I think the prices were more reasonable than Allied (which was overpriced but I guess matched well to the Westside clientele).

 

Now I guess you have to drive all the way out to Pasadena to go to an actual bricks and mortar storefront hobby shop. If I was still living in the South Bay/Airport area, I probably would pass rather than fight the atrocious freeway traffic (the hellish 10 especially).

 

Luckily, when I visit the folks in the Bay Area now, I can still go the Train Shop in Santa Clara, which is about a 30 min drive down the freeway from where they live.  Hopefully that shop will survive, unlike D&J in Campbell and San Antonio Hobby in Mtn. View.

Edited by bikkuri bahn

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serotta1972

Actually it was a great time to be growing up with an interest in kit building, as even the local drug stores had selections of model kits with paint (Testors mainly, and rarely Pactra, which had more authentic military colors) and glue supplies. Now the drug stores have no models and the toy section is filled wilth cheap made in China toys for kids under 8 years old. 

My first train set was purchased from Woolworth's Department Store, they had a small hobby section in the basement on Powell & Market in San Francisco.  It was a Tyco Train Set with a Southern 0-6-0 steam locomotive and I still have one of the cars from set.  Yeah I miss spending countless hours just drooling over trains, cars and planes at hobby shops - now I do it online, not as exciting though.  :)

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