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Auctions for used machinery?

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  • Auctions for used machinery?

    I'm on the serious hunt for a vertical milling machine and possibly a newer lathe than my old Southbend. I keep seeing these ads on craigslist from professional "flippers" who get the machines from auctions, throw a paint job on them and then double or triple the price. I'd like to know where to go or how to find the auctions and just go to them myself and bid on the machine I want directly, cutting out these middlemen.

    Any inside scoops on finding a good used machine? Or the best websites/auctions etc? I live in Maryland but would travel a considerable distance for the right machine. Thanks.

  • #2

    When it comes to good used machines they are where you find them and nowhere else.

    Auctions can be a source, but you better be good at doing on the spot evaluations in real time. Bring cash and be ready to either spend it all or walk away. Know what local values are.

    If you wish to find them yourself, fill up the gas tank and start driving up and down the coast. You will eventually find something. Or buy a plane ticket and head west. There seems to be a lot of used machines on the left coast right now. But you will put on the miles before you find something.

    Otherwise find a used machine jockey you can trust and pay his premium for his work.

    If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.


    • #3
      Just get on eBay and start looking for what you want. It always seems like the good stuff is in New England or California. Last time I looked, Maryland was somewhere near New England.
      Kansas City area


      • #4
        Start here


        • #5
          You could try Cook in Sicklerville, NJ.
          Never did business with them.


          • #6
            Lots of auctions but you need to go look at the machines, is the auction a dumping ground for clapped out machines? And don't forget loading & rigging charges In other words it can be a crap shoot. We have a weekly auction in GR that sells pure junk & high loading fees. I tried a few but never did well. I don't like to buy repainted machines with a rattlecan overhaul either so what I've bought was from individuals & done well. I never dis another's machine, always polite & if I make an offer & don't get it oh well another day another deal. When I've upfraded I've never painted a machine either. I love buying machines & my hangers show it. Good luck on your quest as it is an adventure & addictive!


            • #7
              Lost creek machine is still around and looks like they have plenty of stock. No affiliation or experience with them.


              • #8
                Google search machinery auctions. Names like Kitmondo, Surplex, some government surplus resellers.

                The main issue is getting that 3,300 lb Clausing lathe, or 3,500 lb Kearney and Trecker horizontal mill from Los Angeles to Florida, or wherever you live.

                A little "horror story". I bought a Bridgeport from Craigslist, from a seller 72 miles away. Calls to riggers got pretty much the same story. 72 miles? $1,000 to $1,200, to move an 1,800 lb mill. Tractor-trailer, all terrain forklift, three men. All day. I had bought the mill for $1,800. Uh ... no.

                We moved it using a special Sunbelt drop floor trailer and a pickup truck. Total cost, $300. I offloaded with my engine hoist shop crane.

                A lot of auction sites are such a (expletive deleted) waste of time. They deal with estate sales, small company liquidations, and just junk. Junk. Junk. So rarely do you see anything worth bidding on, and then, their email gets to you only hours before the auction, halfway across the state.

                If you can focus on machine and fabrication company liquidations, or machinists' shows with auctions, you may luck out.


                • #9
                  Have a look at

                  Auctions for facilities that are being closed or retooled present opportunities to purchase machinery that was operated just as it is presented for sale. No lipstick, other than having the chip pans emptied and maybe getting wiped down. Sometimes able to be powered up on request. Related tooling and consumables near by in separate bid lots if desired.

                  I believe that BidSpotter provides the technology, enabling local independent auctioneers to extend their reach to a far larger market. I've seen the rise of this development in my community over the past ten or so years.

                  At first, just big dollar events hosted by national or international auctioneers who parachuted teams in were in a position to give buyers elsewhere a chance to participate in real time. In time, hosting sites democratized the situation by providing the means for local auctioneers to advertise & broadcast sales on line.


                  • #10
                    action tip: talk your way on site a week or two before the auction and chat up the plant manager, machinist, whoever you can who knows the machines. Otherwise its a pig in a poke
                    located in Toronto Ontario


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Machine View Post
                      I'm on the serious hunt for a vertical milling machine and possibly a newer lathe than my old Southbend.

                      I live in Maryland but would travel a considerable distance for the right machine. Thanks.
                      Busy on the 25th? How does Dayton, OH stack up in terms of your def'n of a considerable distance?

                      Thompson Auctioneers is selling off the assets of Toney Tool Mfg. 997 lots laid out over 17 pages. It is like looking through a candy store catalog for HSMers


                      • #12
               is another good source for auctions. Most local and many industrial auctioneers use them. Always try to either go early enough to give a good inspection or visit prior to the auction if possible. Especially with industrial auctions, read the brochures carefully check for buyer's premium as it adds to the knockdown price some are charging as high as 20% nowadays. Many industrial auctioneers will not take a personal check, but require cash, wire transfer or certified check. Most industrial auctioneers also will not allow removal on day of auction and might require licensed, insured riggers to disconnect and remove machinery.
                        Jim H.


                        • #13
                          Look out also for the folks who, while "inspecting" the machines, move all that nice tooling out of the cabinet and into a lot they will be bidding on.

                          After the bids are accepted, you get whatever the lot number tag is laying on top of, basically. If it's not all there, that's on you, you should have investigated first (and maybe you did, but the moving of goodies happened later). You may even be offered the tooling, at a price, by the thief.

                          And some outfits REQUIRE an insured rigging company to move anything off the site. Some can be such A$$pits that they will not let you yourself carry off the small box of tooling you paid for..... no rigger, no takee.

                          Not all bad, but auctions are usually a rough market. I have not been to one in years.
                          CNC machines only go through the motions.

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                          Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
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                          I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
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                          • #14
                            I got my Bridgeport and Cadillac 14-30 from local machine shops. Make a list of all the shops in your area and start calling. There are a lot of shops that will have manual machines they wouldn’t mind parting with but aren’t pushing to sell so they are just sitting there. The guys are usually friendly and you have time to assess the machine.

                            The lathe turned out to be a steal; came with lots of tooling. The Bridgeport turned out good too but was a bit different in that it was pretty clapped out. I was lucky in that I had a friend that was a scraper and he did the whole machine including the knee for $1K. I had $4K in it when done and wouldn’t trade it for a new machine. It was a lot of work so you have to love the journey.

                            Anyone making a business out of turning machines are classic used car salesmen. There is (was) such a guy in my area who was always calling my scraper friend to come “flake” a machine. Outright fraud.

                            Get yourself a rigger first. Bridgeports can be broken down and moved with a p.u. and a cherry picker. Lathes you need a rigger.


                            • #15
                              I used to learn of local auctions in the back of the NY Times Sunday Business section, but they seem to have far fewer. Either there's way less shops left to go under or the ads have migrated, I'll check out some of these links. I never bought anything I couldn't move myself, but did pretty well with tooling and smaller items. Best deals were a cone drive sensitive drill press for $35, Ettco tapper head for the same, and a 12x18 vacuuformer for $60. You can do really well on storage shelves and drawers, the dealer aren't interested, I got a 5' x 2' steel chest of 4" high drawers for $5. There was a lot of heavy iron but I didn't have the knowledge or stones to play. It was a lot of fun just visiting the closing shops and taking in the scene, if you have the free time.
                              Location: Jersey City NJ USA