View Full Version : Machinist's tools -- a little OT

09-10-2006, 02:58 PM
How would you handle this? A friend of mine died, not a close friend, mostly an acquaintance, and his three tool boxes were still at the small machine shop where he was employed. His widow and his daughter asked me to help put a price on the tools.
I do not know what exchange was had, if any, between his family and his former employer but they brought the boxes to me and left them for me to evaluate. They were not quality tools. There was a 7-drawer Kennedy box which mostly had drills and HSS cutting tools in it. And there was a lot of just the kind of junk a guy will accumulate over several years and which had no real value to anyone but him.
I told the owners that I would pay $150.00 for the lot but not to take my offer until they had other opinions. The daughter was insulted!! She said that she knew that one of the gages in one of the boxes was worth $400.00. She did not identify which gage.
I really wanted to be helpful but wound up being the villain in the story. The offer I made was fair and I was actually relieved when it was refused because I do not need nor really want the stuff. But now I am the SOB of the community.
Just wondering if anybody else has had similar experiences.

09-10-2006, 03:02 PM
That happens every time when you give your honest opinions...but that's the only way to live.

John Stevenson
09-10-2006, 03:14 PM
I am going thru this at the moment but fortunately the guy is still alive but downsizing due to eyesight troubles.

The problem is they don't have real world values to put to these things.
This guy has a reasonable, not mint, step speed bridgy he paid about 3,000 UK pounds for from a dealer when prices were higher so he thinks it worth 2,000 now.
Problem is used Bridgies here in the UK rarely fetch over 1,200.

His other machine is a nice Myford 254 lathe, bought new for 4,000 UKP so he thinks it's worth 3,500.
Problem with this is it's now an orphan as Myfords have dropped it from the range and there are no bits for them.
It has two chucks and that's all.
No chance of steadies etc and it's a weird bolt on spindle.

I have printed out some advert for the UK sites on current machines and thrown it back in his court.

I want to try to get across to him and his wife that they are not sitting on a fortune.
If anything does happen to him, or should I say when, it will take at least three days to empty his shop as all the shelves are full of tins of nails, paint odds and ends etc but all want dumping.


09-10-2006, 03:50 PM
Not only does that apply to tools and equipment. Somebody just sold a very nice collection of copper and ores from the U.P. The old guy wanted to sell it to a collector because of the mines and sites now closed. the guy that bought it gave him a 100.00 bucks for it. he later was bragging that that was the fastest 300.00 he ever made as he said that he stopped at the scrap yard on the way home from the guys house and sold it as scrap but wasn't happy about the amount the dealer removed because of the martix material attached to the native copper.
I haven't been able to locate the dealer and he won't tell which one it was I hope the dealer was smarter then him as it was worth probably 5 times the amount he got if sold each.
Sad thing is I'm an s.o.b. because I didn't tell the guy who sold it. About what he did.
I didn't know he was selling it!
I didn't find out till after the guy scrapped it.
And I didn't know who had it originally till after his nephew said it was his uncle that sold it. As I had the story told to me, by a thrid party.
And now I 'm a s.o.b.:D
Don't know how that works, only that no good deed goes unpunished even if you don't do a good deed. LOL
I only do reviews of collection of anything for money and give them a low to high. And charge them up front. As it seems any more that people are only
happy if they pay for advice.
It also cuts down on the pissed about the free truth.:)

09-10-2006, 04:54 PM
I was involved in one like Randolphs only it was for some firearms. Nice guns, but hardly collectors items that the owners widow thought they were. I wound up telling her to go to a dealer and see how much they would offer. It turned out that the dealer gave her much less than I would have, but I'm still the bad guy.
I don't get involved anymore. No matter how much I would like the item I tell them to go sell it on ebay. Family and neighbors are a pain in the butt where money is concerned.

09-10-2006, 05:17 PM
Rustybolt, I think you have nailed it. The part about family and neighbors and money. Total strangers are much easier to get along with sometimes.

J Tiers
09-10-2006, 05:41 PM
It's teh old, old, value, worth, and cost deal.

The VALUE is what you can actually get for the item.

The WORTH is what it OUGHT to go for.

The COST is what was paid for it back when it was still good and the dinosaurs were nibbling plants.

You can Absolutely never get the COST, that's just silly.

Normally you cannot get the WORTH, either, because there are others selling cheaper.

You can only get the "value", which is right then, right there, that buyer.

Nobody liikes bad news. Refer to my thread a while back about a sale I went to, where unknown shop-made fixtures for something inscrutable were priced at $30 or $40..... and considered by teh would-be seller to be cheap at the price.

She just bragged that if we didn't buy, she'd get even more on ebay..... our loss when we didn't know a good "deal" when we saw it, basically.....

The only way you can come out on that pricing deal is to give all three prices..... Make up a "worth" if you have top, at maybe 1/2 new.

Take along an Enco flyer, so that reality gets injected into the price of that clapped-out Starret dial indicator with the cracked yellow crystal that is worth $500........... Show the same functional thing selling for $20 from China, and use that to explain why the "worth" is impossible to get. That's hard, because they argue that the china one is a cheap copy that does not work...... but..........

They will still hate you, but at least some of them may decide you are a fair thief, and not an out and out skunk.

09-10-2006, 09:33 PM
The trick is to sell all you stuff your self a week befour die.

09-10-2006, 10:46 PM
The rule of thumb that I was always told was that half of catalog price (if in excellent condition) was fair for used stuff. As the condition goes down, so does the price. On stuff like bits, parallels, home made angle plates, and the other flotsum that we acquire, put it in grab bags and price it to sell. Most of that stuff came to us for little or no money anyway.

We always value our "good stuff" far higher than the rest of the world does.

09-10-2006, 11:03 PM
The rule of thumb that I was always told was that half of catalog price (if in excellent condition) was fair for used stuff. As the condition goes down, so does the price. On stuff like bits, parallels, home made angle plates, and the other flotsum that we acquire, put it in grab bags and price it to sell. Most of that stuff came to us for little or no money anyway.

We always value our "good stuff" far higher than the rest of the world does.

You're buying used tools. Unless you know who used them and how, they aren,t worth very much. Offer them up at auction. That's how you find out what they're worth.
I told my daughters to put as much stuff as they could in my coffin with me.That way my nephews will finally do some heavy lifting.(the ones that aren't in jail) I told them to put the rest by the curb.

09-10-2006, 11:33 PM
A friend of mine had a old guitar and asked me what I though it was worth, hell i didn't have a clue but it was in good shape and played well. I said there is a blue book on a lot of things out there lets google it. I put in "blue book guitars" nothing, "value guitars" and found a appraser site. He thought it was worth at least 400 or 500 hundred. We put in the data and it spate out 43 bucks! We took it to a guitar store and asked them, they looked it up and said 43.50. But said they didn't like the way the neck looked and said $23. Sure glad I didn't take a guess!
He took it home with his tail between his legs and were still good friends.

09-10-2006, 11:33 PM
Been through that recently.Son was selling his fathers old lathe.It was a 1920's Monarch gearhead,threaded spindle,bronze bearings,qc box,no tooling,one wornout chuck and the headstock was full of water(under a leak in the roof).
He wanted what his father had paid for it(paid too much when he bought it) which was $4500.Way too much for this machine,even in working condition.At best it was a $500 lathe,if everything worked.He was insulted when I told him that and thought I was trying to cheat him until I added that I had no need for it and wouldn't touch it at any price even if he paid me to haul it off.

Moral is,I would rather they be insulted than think I'm a crook.

Those toolboxs of junk come in all the time,I show them the pile of junk and the reciepts for what the Gerstner boxes brought on Ebay after I had cleaned them up.That's when I tell them $25 and not a dime more.Sorry,it's just reality.

09-11-2006, 11:46 AM
Two kinds of friends for these kinds of transactions.

The first kind has no realistic idea of value and will expect you to tell them a number much higher than is realistic. If you don't, they are offended. I send this group to eBay, and just tell them I have no idea what the fair value really is (because I don't), but that eBay often sells things above fair value. On no account would I offer to buy from this group, because they're just going to get upset at whatever number I would offer. BTW, this group is best filed under "acquaintances" rather than "friends."

The second group of friends, really are friends, and would typically do anything for me, and I for them. They would tell me straight up whether they really need to get as much cash as possible from the item, or whether they just need to move it along to a good home. If the latter, they will offer to just give whatever it is to me, and I will insist they take what I think is a fair price for it. If the former, I will again suggest they list it on eBay, although with this group I will go to considerable trouble to help them get the items listed for the best possible return. Even if I pay this group a fair price for the items, I will consider myself in their debt for having thought of me, and I will look for a way to make good on that debt moving forward.

The main thing is I just won't register an interest in buying unless its with someone I know is a real friend and who I know doesn't care what they get for it, at which point I'll go out of my way to pay them fair +. Life's too short for the bad blood otherwise, and you just can never seem to avoid it.



09-11-2006, 12:21 PM
I think that there needs to be some details that go with the sort of honesty that needs to be involved here. The information you gave us really is important supportive information and you should just provide that info to the family. Let them know the difference between its usefulness to the previous owner, and its market value. Encourage them to ask someone else to price it specifically because you don't want to risk being the heavy because you care for them.

Encourage them to look up a few items that actually sold, on Ebay. You and I both know those prices may be higher than they would sell for locally, but they then have Ebay as an option.

You may want to ask them about the $400 item saying that perhaps you missed seeing something of greater value and ask them to show you the item they are sure is worth more. Take that one item and do an Ebay search and send them some example sale prices and just tell them that the market value has seemed to drop on some of these things as more and more machinist tools are being abandoned.

You are in a better situation if you really don't want the stuff and you can use that to your advantage in this case.