Buying Used Equipment - Weight the Risk
If you are just starting out and are on a tight budget, buying used equipment can be a great way to build up the fleet. However you have to be prepared for the risk you are taking. Buying anything used means that someone else had it first. They may have taken perfect care of it or they may have abused it. It may be working fine now, but normal wear may mean a failure in the near future. You don't know and there is not warranty to fall back on.
If you expect 100% perfect stuff 100% of the time I suggest you stay away from used equipment. If you are willing to take a chance and get a little burned now and then, it can be fun and it can save you a bundle.
Most of my used buys are to stock, that is for future use. When I am shopping for something I need right now, I am more likely to go to new because timing is more important than price at that point.
Over the last two years I have purchased used:
1 - 7 channel computer radio - Hitec Prism 7X
1- 3 channel standard radio Hitec Focus 3 FM
1 4 channel standard radio Futaba Conquest FM
7 receivers - Hitec mostly
30 servos - mixed Hitec, GWS, JR, Futaba
batteries - Receiver and motor batteries
battery charger - Hitec CG 340
9 airplanes - Sailplanes and Electrics - Either worn but good condition, or fixer uppers.
misc other stuff
Overall it has gone well and I have gotten some great deals. Most of the purchases were on e-bay. The planes, 2 receivers and 15 servos that were in the planes were from club members or at other club's swap meets.
Has it all been perfect? NOT! However overall I think I am ahead. But I knew the risk and was prepared for some bumps in the road.
For example, on e-bay, recently I got a 3 channel Hitec Focus 3 FM radio, 2 HS-55s, feather receiver, switch and a battery. $30 with shipping. The hs-55s are perfect - $ 17 each new. Switch is fine - $10 new. Battery is fine - $24 new. Receiver is fine. $28 new. Crystal is fine. $8 new. Radio has a third channel that doesn't work so well. Radio is about $50 new for 3 channel - 2 channel would be about $30. So I got a fully functional 2 channel radio with a funky third channel. Could be the slide lever.
So I got $34 + $10+$24+$+8+$30 = $106 in value for $30 Good deal even if the radio is only useful as 2 channel. Now, if I had been counting on the radio to fly a 3 channel plane, I would consider myself burned. But I was really after the servos, switch, receiver. Radio was a bonus. And the rechargeable battery in the radio, a $24 item, fits my Prism 7X, so I can throw the radio out and still come out ahead.
I bought an Airtronics Legend sailplane with 6 servos in it AND a Sagitta 600 AND a fiberglass slope plane for $100 from a club member. All fully built sailplanes that were old. The Sagitta and the sloper needed the wing tips repaired. The Legend was worn but no major damage. Turned out the servos in the Legend had been sitting so long that eventually I replaced 4 of them before I ever flew it. - Burned? No! 3 Planes, fully built with 2 good servos? Good deal for $100 as far as I was concerned.
The 7 channel computer radio, Hitec Prism 7X, purchased 2 years ago, was $100 with an 8 channel receiver. Receiver and Crystal alone would be $60 new. I did have a problem with the computer radio, about a six months after I got it. Cost me $15 to have it fixed. That can happen with new radios too. My brand new $300 Futaba 9C had to go back for warranty service 3 months after I got it.
I wanted a buddy box to help train other flyers. New buddy box is about $30. I bought a used Futaba Conquest FM radio for $10 + $5 for shipping. Works perfectly. Now I have a buddy box and a fully fundtional radio. I also use it with my flight simulator. Good deal!
So price is everything in used equipment, especially if you are buying over the internet. How much risk will you take for what $. I shoot for a 50% savings but have done much better than that on many occasions. I also buy stuff I don't need right now but know I will use in the future otherwise I end up pushing to buy rather than looking for a great deal.
I bought an Electron 6 receiver with crystal on my channel. $40 on e-bay. New price is about $70 combined. Works perfectly!
Bought a Futaba AM receiver to use with an AM radio I had at the time. Turns out it was so old it was illegal to use it. Combined $10 receiver and shipping. Right into the trash - my fault for not asking more questions. Wrote it off and never looked back.
If you are not willing to take a chance, stay away from used equipment. Get a good price or it isn't worth the risk.
I think it is important to have as much information about the person you are dealing with before you initiate a purchase.
If "I" am the seller, my full contact information is made availible (including PH#) to anyone who has expressed a sincere intrest in purchasing what I have to offer. If the item still has a warranty on it, I'll send the original packaging and sales receipt.
For payments, I normally only accept guaranteed funds (M.O., Cashiers check, cash) for payment.
As a buyer I look for high post counts if through a message board. This usually tells me that the person has been in it for the long haul and not out to make a fast buck. Also if buying electronic items that are easily damaged in crashes, you must be ready to accept that risk.
On e-Bay the seller rating MUST have a 99% positive rating. I prefer to buy only from verifible commercial sellers and try to avoid private partys unless their rating is in the hundreds.
None of this is a guarranty that you won't be ripped off, but it will lessen the chance of it.
Count me in on the "good experiences buying used" column. Both of My Hitec Flash 5x transmitters were excellent buys at $60 and $45 respectively. I've bought batteries and recently an Aiptek 1.3Mb AP camera for $16.50. I also picked up a great New Hobbico Accu Cycle Elite for only $109 and they retail for $149 plus shipping.
I see lots of items on E-bay that are priced at the same prices as can be found from our reputable online stores where I buy most of my gear or from my LHS.
But, I would say that virtually all of my buys have been excellent value and great products.
Yes, there is risk (watch the shipping cost which to me is where most people try to rip others off), but that's true of everything we do in life, right?!?
I have bought many things here off the groups mostly motors ie Himaxx and axi ,and have not been stung yet. but i buy most of my electronics from todds .and i really like the electron six receivers haven't been shot down once yet with these ,but before with a feather i couldn't kkep one in the air yes you are taking a risk buying used but do your homework just like when buying new ,you all know you shop for the best price on new anyway so do your research and somebodys loss is your gain a lot of people trade parts around as they change airplanes and so on. just use that feedback when you buy or sell and contact who you bought it from if there is a problem cause most people will work with you on it and you just might make a new buddy that could help you out in a jam thanks for listening and just my HO
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