Most of you have only known me as the “Goodson Guy” for the last 21 years. But did you know I was also the Sales Manager for Winona Van Norman? Did you know I also worked the Southern California territory as an equipment rep for 5 years? During my time in the streets of Southern California I also bought, traded, rebuilt and sold both new, rebuilt and used equipment.
Therefore, I get a lot of questions about buying new equipment versus buying used or rebuilt equipment. They all have the same concerns and they are very real. Let’s face it; that investment in the next piece of equipment is critically important to you, and especially to your customers because that next piece better be ready to not only do the job you need it to do but also be able to maintain the new standards in machining that are being dictated by the hard parts and gasket manufacturers in today’s marketplace.
Machines need to updated, upgraded or simply replaced. They can – and do – wear out, even with the best maintenance. Depending on the machine you may find yourself replacing or upgrading to a new or newer machine every 5 to 7 years for several reasons. More demand in your shop and not being able to get jobs out on time is one reason to upgrade. Not being able to hit or achieve the necessary tolerances is a top priority.
I always suggest to review each department. By doing this you will note several things. Go through each department and actually listen to your machinists because they will generally give you a laundry list of the good, the bad and the ugly about a particular machine. Once you’ve gathered the facts from each department, go to your office, sit down and list them according to what is needed first and so on down the list. Now you have created a game plan and should have a pretty good understanding on what machine needs replacing first.
Price should never be your deciding factor when purchasing a piece of equipment. You need to look at the specs of the machine and determine whether or not an investment of this particular machine produces the finish I need to seal the head gasket? Will it create the necessary Ra, RpK, Rk and RvK for my piston rings to seat? Will it hold the necessary concentricity needed for the valve seat? Will this machine grind my valves concentric with the valve stem? These are very important questions that need very exact answers.
Another important question I get a lot is about the sales representative. You might ask, “Why do I need a sales representative just to buy a piece of equipment? Allow me to give you several reasons.
They have been highly trained.
They have great automotive backgrounds.
Most all have been machinists in one form or another.
They see and talk with a variety of machine shops in their territories.
They understand your business.
They know and work with the various finance companies that can lease or provide you with funds.
They provide the set up and training needed for you and your employees.
They are your “go to” for follow up questions and support.
They are there to deal with any warranty issues.
They want to you to be successful in your business today and tomorrow and do business with you today and tomorrow.
So where can you go to buy new, used or rebuilt equipment? eBay? Classified ads? Auctions? Trade shows? All very good questions indeed. So let’s take them one at a time.
Online auctions such as eBay are scary places in my opinion as you only get to see what the seller wishes you to see. It can be very difficult to understand the use or abuse the machine may have lived through during its life so far. Prices are at times very attractive (cheap) and also can be very out-of-market as well. Most of the time you are dealing with someone who may or may not know much about the machines. So I always say “buyer beware,” especially if you cannot actually see the machine work. And keep in mind, you will be asked to pay for the machine in advance without any real recourse if the deal is not what you thought it would or should be. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
I like classified ads better as most of these ads are placed directly from the machine shop selling the equipment and most still have them hooked up so you can go see and run the machine. Plus you will be able to look the guy right in the eye to better understand the history and maintenance schedule. And you get to see how well he takes care of the rest of the machines in his shop.
Newspaper ads – again, if you can’t see it and operate it first, do not buy from the newspaper…period!
Auctions are an area where you need to be on top of your game. Auctioned machines will have no warranty, no tooling guarantees, and yes, sometime during the bidding frenzy you can actually pay more than you would for a brand new machine. Do your homework and do the research the best you can before you go to that action. Know your spending limits and stay true to your school as these auctions can be a real bargain or a real nightmare.
Trade shows are the best place to shop for your new machines. At nearly every trade shows the equipment is hooked and running. Equipment manufacturers have their best techs doing demonstrations and they can answer your questions right there. You can also actually run the machine yourself to see if it is what you and your shop are looking for. You have the ability to overhear other questions from shop owners just like you and they can provide financing if needed right there on the spot.
What should you look for when shopping for used or rebuilt equipment?
A rebuilt machine should be just that….rebuilt. This means, of course, that the machine has been fully disassembled, cleaned and fully inspected. I am talking about checking the alignment of the ways, slides, beds, cutter/grinding heads, etc. Rebuilding means confirming the bearings are up to snuff or replaced and the electrical has been gone through and the motors have been rewound or checked by a certified electric motor technician. The machine would then be re-assembled and fully tested. After everything is confirmed as good to go, the machine is generally re-painted and the tooling inspected, sharpened and organized. Now you can know the machine is complete and ready to go.
Do your homework for used or rebuilt machines. Compare the price against known values for similar listed rebuilt equipment and also compare this price to that of a brand new machine.
Ask about any warranty.
Ask what tooling is included in the purchase price because tooling can be expensive.
Get a list of the rebuilding procedure and if they have any before and after photos.
Find out the exact year, make and model of the machine.
Call the original manufacturer to make sure that spare parts are still being manufactured and will continue to be available.
Make an appointment to run the machine and meet the previous owner/operator to ask direct questions on maintenance.
Inspect every part inside and out.
Ask about loading, delivery and unloading.
Have your financing all lined up before you arrive.
If you’re looking at used machines, these are generally sold as is and where is. This machine will not have anything rebuilt and the tooling may be compromised or missing altogether. It may not even be cleaned up as these used machines are generally taken off the line and pushed off into the corner until they are sold. Yes, the used machine may have an attractive price but be very cautious, and if you cannot run it first then I would stay away completely. Same rules apply here as they did for rebuilt machines.
You need to understand if new machines are available then there will be used and rebuilt machines available. Just be heads up and do the diligence and if you shop wisely maybe you can find the next great machine your shop needs.
However, in my opinion, I would always advise that you step up and buy the new machine. Buying a brand new machine has all the advantages you will need to stay up on the ever-changing world of today’s engine rebuilding procedures. I know for a fact that manufacturers today are on their game, making sure the machine will not only do the job today, but it will also do the job for the intended life of the machine. New machines will always deliver:
Latest abilities to hold tolerances.
Redesigned tooling and holding fixtures.
Set up and training included.
Complete support from the manufacturer.
Follow up and assistance from the sales representative.
Potential upgrades as technology improves.
Shows customers you invest in the latest technology advancements.
If you think you’re ready to buy equipment, make sure you have the money to buy that machine. If you don’t have your financing lined up, you are not ready to buy the machine.
I know this is lots to think about. But hey, you got time. Think it through, go to the PRI Show and kick the tires and light the fires. I know for a fact if you follow these suggestions your next machine will be a great addition to your business for you and for your employees; and most of all for your customers!
See ya in the shop. ν