I'm a 59 year old Grandfather and barely 3 years ago I was so computer illiterate that I didn't know how to even turn on a computer, let alone find eBay on it ( for that, I had to ask a friend ! ). Now ( with close to 300 transactions under my belt, and with a 100% feedback rating ) I consider myself very successful in my particular hobby of collecting model engines. This has become a great passion of mine, helped by the fact that being a "baby boomer" I now have the money to spend that I didn't have as a boy ! Even before I found eBay, I collected model engines, but I now realise just how restricted I was, when to negotiate a deal involved up to a month of letter writing, added to which I was basically buying a "pig in a poke". One of the greatest virtues of eBay (apart from actually seeing what I'm buying ), is I now have so much more to choose from - 10 years ago my choice was restricted to maybe a dozen items of interest in a monthly magazine. Now, by merely clicking onto several different countries, I have a choice of around FOUR or FIVE THOUSAND, and with more and more International sellers accepting PayPal, I don't have the hassle or expense ( up to nearly $30 for a bank draft or close on $9 for a Money Order ) of paying the old fashioned way. In return, when I sell an item, my money can be in my PayPal account in the blink of an eyelid, even from the other side of the World. Another advantage in being a regular buyer on eBay is, I get to know the other "regulars" - people of like interest, and this can be a distinct advantage when both bidding AND selling ( more on that later ). So listed below are some of my recommendations on the specific hobby of collecting model engines.
Most of the regular "big" buyers of engines are experts in their field. Sure, anybody can buy one of those "toy" engines, but to be able to talk the talk ( like in any specialised field ) you will most likely have been involved in this hobby since you were a kid - in some cases, thats 60 or more years. Having said that, conversely, most of the sellers of model engines are not expert, with a large proportion of them being merely dealers, who have bought a deceased estate and now wish to sell at a profit. A lot of times too, the seller is a family member who knows nothing about poor old dear departed Grandpa's engines. This is where ( if you're not in the know ) you need advice from an expert, because you may be paying an arm & a leg for a very common or non valuable item. Another important aspect for the novice when buying old model engines is that quite often the engine itself has been sitting in a glass case somewhere for 50 or so years, all the oil has congealed like cement, and the engine is literally locked solid. If thats the case, you will need someone who knows what they're doing to free it up, but PLEASE ! don't try and turn the engine with a pair of pliers or multigrips. This will not only damage the engine but also lower its value considerably ( you've just bought it, remember ? ) so don't try any home cures on your new prize. Most buyers on eBay think that the best and ONLY time to put in a bid, is in the last few seconds of an auction, but in my experience this is not always the case. If the bid isn't big enough, by the time you've found out, there simply isn't time to "reload & fire". As I said earlier, I've got to know some of the other people involved in this hobby and I've found that a certain degree of "Gentleman's Agreement" comes into play here, ie. if I spot an item I like, and its just been listed, I will place an early bid on it which quite often has the same effect as "marking my territory". My friends will then tend to steer clear, and I return the favour in kind. This early bidding too, can be much more effective if the bid is high. What most early bidders do is bid just the opening or minimum bid (or maybe a few bucks more), then sit back and watch as their initial advantage is wasted, as another bidder bids a few cents more than he did. My strategy here is to seize the initiative and don't let it go ! To do this, you need to decide exactly how much you are prepared to pay ( and remember, everybody on eBay is looking for a bargain, so it pays to go a few bucks over the going price ) and fire that maximum bid in straight up ! What happens then is, the ever cautious "tiddler" bidders will slowly increase their bids, but get more and more nervous and uncertain as the bids creep higher. Eventually, they tire of receiving a "You have been outbid" notice, and drop out to look elsewhere - doesn't always work, but I have bought a lot of stuff that way. This may sound obvious, but the interest in an item can be gauged by the number of views its had, and if I think there is intense interest, then I will go with the last split second bid. Once again, you need to do your homework and if you REALLY want that item, the attitude you need to develope is, not - "can I buy this item for the cheapest possible price", rather - "yes, I'm prepared to pay a bit extra for premium quality". Finally, one last piece of advice - many times I have seen eBay items sell for far less than I expected, whilst sometimes they sell for much more. The reason for this is, not the item itself but ; who got stuck in a traffic jam - who was having dinner at the in laws - who was out jogging and forgot ! This is the one great, indisputable rule of eBay.