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Slot Cars Exposed to Water

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  • Slot Cars Exposed to Water

    Hi Guys,
    Unfortunately I got hit very hard with the remnants of storm Ida yesterday and was able to access the damage today. While the basement received a couple inches of water, there was no damage there. However, my detached garage and retaining wall were another matter. Let me explain what happened and then I will need your advice on what to do with the mint packaged cars of my collection which were exposed to storm water. And any other advice you would like to offer.

    I live in a corner house with a dead end on the left side (as you look at the house). We are the only house on the right side of the dead end. The street in front of my house ends once it intersects with the street on the side of my house, while the street on the side of my house continues through the neighborhood. At the end of the dead end is a barricade and a chain link fence behind it which stretches across the road. The driveway of my house has its entrance at the end of the dead end (right at the barricade) and slopes down to my garage. Beyond the chain link fence is the parking lot for an office building. The parking lot sits at a slightly lower elevation than the street and is at the same level as my garage. Except for the parking lot, my house is located at the lowest point in the neighborhood.

    Before there was an office building, there used to be a golf course there. This is important.

    When we get a storm, especially a big storm, the water runs down from the rest of the neighborhood, overwhelms the sewer drains up the street, and heads straight down the dead end, even turning the corner from the street in front of my house into the dead end. When the neighborhood was built and the golf course was at the end of the dead end, the water would rush through the end of the street and onto the golf course. There was no barricade, chain link fence and/or trees to block the flow of water. There is no sewer drain on the dead end to siphon off any water.

    Fast forward to today, some 50 years or more later. Trees have grown up across the entire dead end. A chain link fence was installed around 1966 during office construction and never removed. Now tons of leaves and debris rush down the dead end during any storm, many getting caught in the fencing and blocking more and more of the opening which allows the water to flow into the parking lot and away from my house and the house across the street.

    Last year I alerted my councilman and the public works department that I feared all the debris caught in the fencing could cause the water during a bad storm to back up and with no where to go, would head left and right, jump over the curb onto my property and the property across the street. And with both our driveways sloping down from the street, the threat of flooding the garage was a real concern. I was told it wasn't an issue, there was plenty of room for the water to flow and there was no need to clean out the debris. Which they never did.

    Just as an aside, the office building folks are not happy about all the storm water running down into their parking lot. Especially after yesterday.

    Then came yesterday. The exact scenario I warned about came to pass. There was more water flowing down the dead end than could pass through the restricted openings. With no where to go, the water rushed down my driveway and the driveway across the street. The water rush was so powerful it obliterated a concrete block wall my dad built 60 years ago, sending blocks as much as 200 feet through the parking lot. This rushing water also flooded my garage. I do not know the exact depth the water got to inside my garage, but there was enough to knock over stacked rubber tubs and soak everything on the lowest shelf of each rack.

    This morning, people from all over the neighborhood came down to the dead end to reteive their garbage cans. And there are still a half dozen sitting there.

    Now comes the slot car part. I store a lot of my slot car stuff in the garage. I made sure everything in the garage would be safe from at least 4-6 inches of standing water, with the top of the rubber tubs, which hold MIB packaged slot cars, at least a foot or more off the ground. Everything sits on at least 2-4 inches of blocks.

    The water evidently was either so deep or had so much force that it toppled the stacks of rubber tubs. The tubs were stacked five high and the bottom tub of each stack took on water. The tubs contained packaged cars mostly from Tyco, Tomy and Lifelike. As I started the cleanup today and went through each of the bottom tubs, most of the packaged cars in the tubs which took on water had water which got inside the packaging. I also had six master cases of JL pullback cars sitting on the lowest shelf and each of those took on water. And with the JL cars in cardboard packaging, those packages are ruined.

    As a collector, I was proud of having all these cars in pristine condition and still in the package. I had everything cataloged, neatly stacked and waiting for the day I either opened them up for display or decided to sell he duplicates. However, I now believe it is imperative I remove from the package every car which took on any type of moisture. It is something I thought I would do in the future once I had the proper display cabinets but it seems fate has forced my hand. As a collector, I realize removing the car from its original package will diminish its value but I believe in order to save these cars, they need to be removed as quickly as possible.

    So I ask for your advice. Should all the cars be removed from their packaging?

    As to the reason the garage got flooded, I will be dealing with the township to seek compensation, not just for the wall (which I understand is not covered by my home owner's policy) but for the massive cleanup I will need to do in the garage (think of all the mud which came in and all the shelves I will need to move out and back in), as well as for the damage to cars I will never be able to replace. Having warned the township of the exact scenario which occurred, they will need to address why the situation was never corrected. If that takes a lawsuit, that is the direction I will need to go.

    The township is now on the spot to explain exactly what their plan was for handling storm runoff on the dead end. Was it their "design" to have the water continue to run through the dead end even after the golf course was gone? If so, they have a lot of explaining to do to the office management as the flood waters from the dead end flooded their first floor and knocked out their generators causing them to close the building. And if that was the plan, what was their maintenance schedule for keeping the dead end clear of debris?

    Or was the plan to ignore the dead end and if the water backed up, let the home owners deal with it?

    Having just lost my mother a few weeks ago, for the first time in 15 years I was no longer caring for either parent...a responsibility I was honored to perform. Once all her affairs were handled, I could get back to doing some of the things I put off for all those years, including getting back into the hobby and attending shows. The damage to so much of my collection at this time to a completely preventable disaster has really hit me hard.

    Sorry for the long read but it has been a tough couple of weeks.


  • #2
    When I still worked in the lab I often had to dry delicate materials. The best way to do that would be in a vacuum oven or a vacuum dessicator. A vacuum pump with a cold trap to catch the evaporated water would also be needed. I expect that you are lacking all of those things. The danger to the cars would be corrosion and mildew if they stay wet for very long. If you take the cars out of their packaging they would be easy enough to dry. The cars would be more valuable to a collector if they were still in the original packaging. If you can spread the cars out in a dry sunny place they may dry out quickly enough. Possibly you could contact a company that remediates water damage.


    • #3
      Here are some pics to give you an idea of the aftermath of the damage. Behind the tubs in the garage are many racks of slot car sets and cars, as well as vintage computer equipment. The entire contents of the garage will need to be taken out, the garage cleaned and everything put back.

      Be aware the pictures of the junk at the dead end was taken after many people came down to claim their garbage cans and other items.

      I have been advised by my insurance agent nothing is covered by my homeowners policy. However, he believes strongly the township will need to make compete restitution due to the negligence of maintaining a clear pathway for the storm water. With the proper maintenance, the water would not have gone into my yard.

      You do not have permission to view this gallery.
      This gallery has 11 photos.
      Last edited by Grandcheapskate; 09-03-2021, 07:05 AM.


      • #4
        Sorry to see all that mess. Seems it is impossible to predict what water (and trees in our case a few years ago) will do. Afraid I don't have much to add to Rich's suggestion as far as drying the cars. I would imagine the cardboard packaging will be shot even if you can get things dried out. I guess I would be tempted to remove those cars that are wet inside the package to "save" them at least. Good luck and I hope you get satisfaction from the township (but I bet it will be a big hassle).



        • #5
          Sorry to hear about your run of hard luck. Like it was stated before I’m not too sure you are going to be able to save the cardboard back to its original condition. The cars I believe can be salvaged. I know from my own experience with electronic devices that white rice can work wonders in pulling the moisture out. It has saved a few cell phones for me in the past and I’m sure it would work on slot cars as well. Best way is going to be if you disassembled the body from the chassis and then submerged the chassis into the rice. It might take a day or two but this might be an option for you to try.


          • #6
            I would remove them from packaging and clean the bodies with soap and water. The chassis spray them with WD-40. Blow both chassis and bodies with compressed air.


            • #7
              I would remove them from packaging and clean the bodies with soap and water. The chassis spray them with WD-40. Blow both chassis and bodies with compressed air till dry.


              • #8
                Sorry to hear about your losses, it seems these things often come at us many events at a time.

                Rice does not remove water from electronics, but more importantly it doesn't do anything about the side effects of being exposed to all the stuff that is IN the water. Pure H2O you can actually submerge working electronics into it, but the minerals and contaminants begin the process of corrosion.

                Alcohol absorbs water, and evaporates quickly. Of course I would not put the bodies in that, but I suggest an alcohol bath for every chassis asap so as to soak out the water and prevent further corrosion (and yes, they are now already corroded not just from the air of all these years, but now the water). Soak then blow them dry and let them sit a day or two, then look at them and see if there are any signs of green. If there is, you can clean this out with a brush and baking soda and vinegar. Then soak in alcohol again, etc.


                • #9
                  Hi Guys,
                  Thanks for all the replies so far. I am going to get a video camera and set it up to take a continual video of me opening every car so there is a record of how many I needed to open, as well as the cars which were inside.

                  I have been seeking advice from those I know personally in the hobby about how to estimate the value loss from removing a car from it's original packaging. My estimate is, on average, the loss will be 60%-70% of the value once the car needs to be removed from the original packaging. A car valued at $100 in the original package may now be worth $30-$40 (at best) now that it is loose and has gotten wet, as long as it is still completely intact and suffered no body and/or chassis damage. Plus the fact you will never be able to prove the car is new.

                  The issue is going to be estimating the current value of every car in the original packaging. We have no official slot car appraisers in this hobby so our best guide in this area is, unfortunately, eBay. I am hoping to enlist the advice of those who have been collecting in this hobby for 30+ year to also provide their opinions on how to estimate value.

                  When you realize many, if not most, of these cars are either impossible or extremely difficult to locate today, the task of finding them even on a place like eBay will be a nearly impossible task.

                  For example, new Tomy cars run about $45. Even if I applied this value to all the Tomy cars I have and did not take into account how much more valuable most of the cars are in my collection, using the 60% loss threshold we would still be talking about a loss of $27 per car. Multiplied by about 160 Tomy cars in the two bins and you are talking over $4,300 in Tomy alone. And anyone who looks for vintage Tomy cars knows almost all go for more than $45. Last I remember, Lifelike listed for $28 a car for their last production run.

                  One example will be the exclusive Lifelike Bass Pro twinpack. I had about 40 of these and almost every one got wet. I would estimate their current value in the package (if you could find one) at around $60-$75. The loss on this alone would be $1,800.

                  And this does not include the six master cases of JL pullbacks which got wet and those will probably all have to be removed from their cardboard packaging. At least I do have to worry about electrical chassis damage. Or the cases of Lifelike cars which were still in their original 12 car cardboard cases. Luckily I only lost a handful of sets but they included four Harry Potter sets.

                  This is not the greatest disaster and other are suffering far worse. But the part which bothers and angers me the most is this was completely and easily preventable and predictable.

                  I have spoken with my town councilman and other than being able to provide me with town contacts, he doesn't have any other advice to offer. I cannot blame him because he is dealing with people who have lost everything.

                  I spoke with a friend who is a lawyer and while he would not take the case as he believes a local lawyer would be a better choice, he agrees if I was willing to do all that is necessary I could have a valid case. The issue of course is how to value the cars and the loss from being wet and removed from the package.

                  Last edited by Grandcheapskate; 09-04-2021, 11:23 AM.


                  • #10
                    I don't know if this will help or not, but here are a couple of guys that buy/sell HO slot cars. Both are reputable and I think they might be willing to help you value your collection. Note I have not talked to them about this so am just guessing based upon offers they have made to folks in the past.
                    Guy Graziano: 908-246-0678 Cranford, NJ
                    Bill Graffus: 330-207-7013 NE Ohio I think.

                    Good luck


                    • #11
                      Thanks for giving me the name of the guys who could help. I've met Guy at many slot car shows. There are a number of others I have met over these past 30 years who are also quite knowledgeable collectors. I have been speaking to some of them over the past few days. In fact, I am often asked my opinion on the value of a car. There were of course a few price books which were published years ago but their prices in today's market are completely outdated. However, it may be possible to use those books to show the difference between the price of the cars when they were published and the current SOLD price of those cars.

                      For example, if you had a book which said a particular car was worth $15 around the year 2000 but you could show that in today's market that same packaged car sold for $90+, you could build a case to show how much prices have increased. With enough examples like this (and I think 30-40 would be enough), I could build a dataset from which I could extrapolate the value of every car which suffered water exposure.

                      A recent example would be the JL cars. When first introduced they were retail priced at 12.95. Now new, common AW cars are at least $28 with other more desirable cars going for insane prices.

                      Everyone I talk to who has been in this hobby as long or longer than myself is shocked at the prices not only being asked for on eBay, but in the prices people are willing to pay. For a hobby such as ours which, I would argue, is not growing in participation, that is quite amazing. If I needed to rebuild my collection today I could not afford it and even if I could, I could never justify spending the type of money being listed.



                      • #12
                        Of course the insurance agent said nothing is covered Frigging useless!


                        • #13
                          Today was a nice sunny, breezy day so I took all the cars out of the bins and laid them out on the lawn. It appears many of those which only seemed to have condensation started to dry out. Many of the Tyco twinpacks look good and most of the Lifelike look good (except for the Bass Pro twinpacks), but the Tomy cars seem to be holding the condensation and they probably will need to be removed tomorrow if they don't show improvement. The Bass Pro twinpacks seem to have taken on the most water and I think those will also need to be removed.

                          The JL pullbacks in their cardboard boxes have almost completely dried out without the packaging showing any water damage. This may be because they were on the bottom shelf inside the master case and then inside the inner box and never actually sitting in standing water.

                          The most amazing thing is I have a Bianchi track which I was given and it is made from MDF. We all know that once MDF gets wet it is done. Somehow even though the track was on it's side and sitting on the floor, it appears to have suffered no damage. I cannot figure that out.

                          I am receiving very depressing advice from those who have experience dealing with their municipalities. It seems no matter how obvious the neglect on the part of the town, they will make it as hard as possible to recover damages. Even if I forget about trying to recover any value for the slot cars and just concentrate on the physical damage suffered (such as the lost concreate block retaining wall), I am not getting any encouragement the town would be willing to do anything for me. And of course the town has yet to send a crew around to remove the debris which is now blocking the end of the dead end.

                          And with the amount of damage suffered here in NJ, you know finding anyone to do repair work is going to be impossible for the foreseeable future. I can only hope without the retaining wall I do not start to lose parts of my driveway as it was supported on one side by the retaining wall.

                          Tomorrow I speak with a lawyer and find out what I may be up against. I will also be contacting the office building behind me to find out if they will be talking to the town looking for compensation or a solution to the uncontrolled flow of water onto their property and into their building which comes off the dead end. The trickiest part of this will be the building and I have both a common purpose and an opposing purpose. The common purpose is our need to have the torrents of water which flow down the dead end directed away from the homes and building. Our opposing position is I need to have the dead end open and clear so all the water flows through the dead end onto their property (as it was designed to do) and they obviously cannot have that happen. However, even if the dead end itself remains blocked, the water will find an alternate route onto their property, only it will also cause damage to the homes before doing so.

                          Last edited by Grandcheapskate; 09-06-2021, 08:50 PM.


                          • #14
                            Very sorry to hear about the damage you sustained during the Storm. Thankfully no lives were lost, as happened elsewhere.

                            The power of nature is difficult to imagine.

                            With regard to your damaged Slot Cars, I feel if still in moist packaging corrosion and mold will be serious issues. A flood damage specialist may be your best resource but you need to act fast.

                            Silica Gel could help, even rice which will absorb moisture could help. But damp packaging will probably be damaged and once open the cars, as Collectibles are going to loose value.

                            Very sad to hear this, I hope things work out for you.

                            Sadly many lost homes, real cars, and some family members in this latest Storm.

                            Wishing the best for everyone exposed to this natural disaster.
                            Last edited by Scaleracing; 09-11-2021, 11:38 AM.
                            Alan Smith
                            SCI Owner.



                            • #15
                              Looks like quite a number of the packages dried out once they were placed in the sun for a couple days. It appears most of them only had moisture and condensation rather than actual pools of water inside the package. There are a couple Tyco twinpacks which don't seem to want to completely clear so those will either need to be completely removed or I'll need to puncture some air holes in the packaging. When you look at them now, you would never know they got wet - even the paper inside does not show any indication of water.

                              Even nearly all (if not all) the JL pullback cardboard boxes have dried out and you would never know they got wet. With these the water probably got filtered through the master case box and the inner box before it got to the individual packages.

                              I did open a couple of the Lifelike Bass Pro twinpacks which did have water inside and removed the cars. Both body and chassis appear to be clean. A quick test of the chassis will let me know if they suffered any ill effects.

                              The major exception is Tomy cars. These do not seem to want to give up the internal condensation and I'll probably have to open them up. Even the one package where I poked a nail sized hole in the package is not allowing the moisture to escape.

                              Because the clamshell packages are sealed fairly well (although we now know they are not waterproof) I'm guessing very little, if any, dirt got inside. Even the computers which got wet do not show signs of dirt inside (although they all need to be cleaned and tested). I attribute this to the fact the water must have gone into the garage and then once the retaining wall collapsed the water rushed back out.

                              Since it was not sewer water or river water which entered the garage, the water itself may have been fairly clean, especially considering it must have been raining for quite a while before the water overflowed the curb and went into the garage. Not a lot of dirt on the garage floor either.

                              I am still waiting to speak with my lawyer to find out what damages I may be able to claim. Even though it looks like I may have avoided losing as many cars (and computers) as I thought, they all still probably need to be removed from their packaging and cleaned. And if they are ever sold, will need to be advertised as having been exposed to water.