Buying used heavy machinery: 4 professional tips

Ahead of this week’s Ritchie Bros opening used heavy equipment auction in Melbourne, Ferret took some time out to talk to the company’s regional sales manager Finlay Massey about what to look out for when buying used machinery.

Massey has sold everything from an excavator bucket to a D11 and has spent over 20 years in the used machinery business.

While every piece of machinery is different, Massey gave us some advice on what to look for when buying second hand industrial machinery.

1. First impressions count:

Look at the aesthetic appearance of the machine, Finlay explained there are a few questions to ask yourself when you conduct a visual inspection of machinery, including:

  • Is it in good condition, straight and tidy or is it rough, dirty and dinted?
  • How is it presented? Do a four point walk around.
  • Are any panels damaged?
  • Has the machine been repainted? If so ask why.
  • Look at the condition of any ground breaking tools and engaging components, check for wear points and the state of bucket teeth
  • Inspect the drive train, are there any oil leaks? What’s the condition of the pin and bush wear?

The way a machine looks gives a prospective buyer an insight into how it has been maintained and used.

2. Let’s get physical: Test drive the equipment

Operating the equipment to see how it handles and bares weight is critical, so don’t forego a test drive, Finlay explains.

  • Load the machine up, check its performance
  • Drive the machine, move it backwards, forwards, lift the machine’s moving parts
  • Checking the steering arms
  • Inspect the under carriage for idler wear
  • Check the position of the track adjuster, as tracks wear out they are tightened, Massey explained it’s just like keeping air in your tires.

3. Get under the hood

To run efficiently and cost effectively a machine’s engine needs to be in prime condition.

Massey explained a buyer needs to look at the engine smoke, is it blowing excessively or is the smoke coloured? Generally this can be a tell tale sign of engine issues.

Oil leaks are another element to look out for; this can be checked by looking underneath or around the machine. If oil is leaking it can affect the transmission.

Modern machinery has computer logs which need to be analysed, getting an ECU reading enables buyers to check hour meters.

Massey said up to 5000 hours is a good reading.

4. Do your research

Machinery up time is critical for productivity and a company’s bottom line.

Doing comprehensive research is important not only so you know you’re buying the right piece of equipment for the right job but also so you know it will work and you’re paying the right price.

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