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Buying used equipment

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  • Buying used equipment

    I am building a shop here on our farm and will be buying some used equipment in the near future. Probably a lathe or two, a vertical mill and maybe a surface grinder. Are ther any tricks to telling if the equipment has been abused?

  • #2
    Check out the guidelines Dave Fricken has posted at

    Also go back through the archives here -- the question has come up before, but I can't remember exactly what's been said.
    Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
    Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
    There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
    Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
    Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


    • #3
      Thank you for the reply. I've been checking out the web site you suggested and it's really been helpful.


      • #4
        I have bought a reasonable amount of used equipment, and I can say that it does not have to have been "abused" to be undesirable, it may just be worn out.

        Usually it will show the signs, feel sloppy, show ridges on the sides of the V ways (except for Logans, they don't) and so forth.

        Wear does not have to be bad, every machine has it unless new. You can do good work on a worn machine, but as it gets toward 'worn out" it gets tougher to do.

        Best advice I can give is that if the seller utters the words "surface rust", its time to wind down the conversation and get back in the truck. There ain't no such thing as "surface rust", that is just a term invented to make their chunk of rust sound salvageable.
        Rust on the ways is always bad, unless you are not worried about holding tolerances or having the machine last. Possibly a light wash of orange rust can be accepted as long as you clean it off right away. It has done damage, but you may not have to sweat it. Any red or brown rust and it's back to the truck.


        • #5

          I just bought an 11" Logan earlier this year and I used the test described by Dave Ficken from the Meridian Machinery website. The carriage never stopped the whole length of the bed although it did get a little bit stiffer. Since that time, I have cleaned the lathe and adjusted the front and rear gibs and the carriage seems pretty smooth all the way down only getting a little tighter near the end. My question is: Do you find this test to be a fairly reliable indicator of bed wear? If not, could you suggest a better way?


          "The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is." Winston Churchill


          • #6
            Its a pretty good test, actually, for a quickie evaluation.

            I think it is best when nothing bad happens, fewer decisions....
            If it DOES hang up, then the question is, how bad is it?

            BTW, my Logan 10" also goes the length with minimal drag. I am pretty sure there is about 0.002 to 0.003 wear on the bed near the chuck. So there is a calibration point.

            Of course, mine always has a good film of Vactra #2 on it, which will help keep it sliding, so it may not be the same as a dirty lathe you look at somewhere.

            BTW, I put Gits oilers on the carriage, and have been very happy with the results. Much better film, and easier oiling.

            Back one needs a little bit of copper tube to get where it needs to be under the carriage, front one I just carved a couple distributor grooves for.

            Little scary to be drilling on your machine, maybe, but the results have been outstanding.


            • #7
              All of my machines are used. I never would have been able to afford new equipment.
              My shaper was a basket case literaly. It came in 2 baskets and a box. I could in no way tell the shape it was in. It was bad enough the ram was froozen with rust to the column. It took what seemed like years to teare it down and refurbish it. I now have a wonderful little shaper. It has some wear but not a great deal. If I had just quickly looked at it and dismissed it from the awful mess of dirt, gunk and rust not being able to check anything, I would not have the nice tool I have now.
              It is sure always best to check things the most you can. I think as they say you can't always judge a book by its cover.
              I really felt lucky to even find a small shaper around here. Everyone always wants to know how far I had to get it shipped from. When I tell them I drove 13 miles and picked it up, they just can't believe it.



              • #8
                Well, I sure didn't mean to not look at bad machines.

                BUT, you gotta avoid getting into more than you want to. It is easy enough to find a good machine with only minimal problems, only to find a major kludge hiding inside that you need to fix.

                If you get a basket case, or a rusty machine, don't pay much over scrap for it. It may end up as scrap.

                If the seller is so ignorant as to think that that scabby rust on the ways will polish right off, so the machine is really in good usable (expensive) condition, then let him mess with some other chump.
                You can get your missing parts from a different donor (you wouldn't by a rust ball to use, right?)

                EVERY used machine I have bought, and mine are ALL used, has had some stupid kludge in it. No matter how perfect they seemed to be and work.
                So ALWAYS buy at a price that allows you to fix the problem and still not take a bath.

                With an obviously bad looking machine, a big discount is in order. If it's in pieces, you should expect to find a piece or three missing, no matter what the seller says, so get an even bigger discount.

                Sounds rough on the poor seller, but business is business, and machines are around for the moment. This is probably the time that most will get melted instead of absorbed into another shop (there aren't any), so your chance is now, not later.


                • #9
                  I didn't think that was what you ment, sorry it came across that way. All of my machines meet your standards. I got the shaper at a super price and most other stuff reasonable enough to be able to afford to fix problems.