Haha! more cameras for me then! jk
I really liked jp's take on it, hands on history. Handling something really is very different than reading about it or seeing pictures of it. It brings your mind to that time period, and you think about all the other people who might have handled it in years past, or where it had been before it was in you hands.
Is that time you spent going through all those cameras really squandered away? I think a lot of the time its about the journey. plus you have educated yourself in the use of many different systems and formats, people pay good money for in schools to pick up the same skills.
Had I stuck to the same darkroom or cameras I had when I started would I be at the same level or higher than I am now? I doubt it, moving onto better equipment made my photography more enjoyable, work flow more streamlined, and increased the quality of it. Having the experience of using lower end stuff, makes you appreciate higher end gear that much more, when they come along. Having the experience of stripping a camera and fixing it also gives a sense of great satisfaction, to resurrect something from the trash bin.
I dont go overboard with gas, but I can think of many times where having interesting cameras out with me were great ice breakers. Something that you could share with a complete stranger and chat about in a park, on the train, or on a ferry. Cameras and the urge to photograph have brought me out to places and and experienced events I might not gone to as well.