Buying Used Equipment

When it comes to purchasing welding equipment instead of buying new, you might consider the used equipment market.  The used market can give you what you want at a very attractive price.  For the individual who has looked at cheaper brand welding machines he can, for the same price,  get a better quality machine.  For companies that want another machine without hurting the cash flow used equipment is a great choice.But buying used equipment can be disappointing: in the machine and in the salesperson.  You purchase a machine in good faith, and can receive equipment that will never work.

Doing some research, on buying used equipment, will help you know what to look for and what to expect.  This article should be just one of the articles you read on used equipment.  There are articles on what to look and listen for; personal experience with certain equipment;  and appropriate machines for certain type of welding. This article is based on our experience  (1) in selling used equipment and (2) in  repairing many types of welding equipment and (3) in lestening to others, who’ve purchased used equipment that never worked.


Where Can You Get Used Welding Equipment?

1. A welding supply store selling new and used welding equipment. The equipment will have been checked and tested.  They should have a fair warranty and return policy.

2. This should be the best source for used equipment.  Just remember, no matter how cheap it was or who it once belonged to, it still can have a lot of expensive problems.

3. There are at least 2 things you need to do to increase your chances of success at an auction.  One, know the cost of the new equipment.  This will save you from spending too much money.  Two, before the sale, check out the equipment.   Most auctions allow you to come and look at the equipment ahead of the sale.

4. Private sales. They have the least amount of financial incentive to be honest and upright.


How Can You Reduce the Risk of Buying Used Equipment?

1. Test the welder before you hand over your money. This advice, believe it or not, gets ignored when one of the 2 following conditions apply:

• The price is ridiculously low. The buyer thinks, that even if it has to go to the repair shop, it’ll still be a good deal.  But, no matter how good the repair shop is, there are some things they’ve no control over: like the cost of the replacement part; and if the part is obsolete.

The buyer says if the machine isn’t working, you can return it. This is a good promise when the machine works.  This is a lousy promise when the machine doesn’t work.  Why?  Because you have to determine the machine isn’t working.  How much unpaid time will you be spending to arrive at that answer?  After you are sure it’s not working, you begin another unpaid project: returning the equipment.  Your last and final step is persuading the seller you didn’t damage the machine; you had correctly set up the equipment.  The promise has now become an insult.

2. Purchase Well Known Brands

The well-known brands are also popular brands. This popularity has created a much richer source of help.  It’s easier to find an owners manual, replacement parts, and assistance with your equipment.  Also, the top manufacturers have an online chat board that is an excellent source of free and helpful information.

In welding machines, the established brands are Miller, Lincoln, Hobart, and Esab.

In plasma machines, Hypertherm, Miller, Lincoln, Hobart, and Esab.

In welding equipment, Victor is the most well known in North America. Every welding store will have some Victor on its shelf.

Is there anything else I should know?

Here are some of the Pros and Cons of used welding equipment


Welding Machines Older than 25 years


These machines have old technology in them but they last and last.   Don’t be dissuade by their looks: the faded paint job and old style knobs and gauges (if they have any).


The working life of a welding machine will be ended if a crucial part is missing and is no longer being manufactured, disppite the fact that that part may not be worth very much.

They consume a lot of electricity and can take up lots of space.

Repair shops are reluctant to spend any time working on them. Their shop rate is usually more than what the machine is worth.


Welding Machines from the Last 10 years


These machines are run by inverters and PC boards.

They won’t be hogs when using electricity

They are cheaper than a new verson of the machine.


These are 1st generation machines. Today, newer and better machines are being made.  So, that means some parts are no longer available for the older models.

These machines use expensive PC boards. A replacement PC board can be more than what you paid for your used machine.  And if you need more than one board, it can be more expensive than a new machine.

PC boards, generally, are not repairable. There are parts on the PC board that are proprietary to the manufacturer.  Manufacturers are not selling those repair parts.

Some smaller machines (200 amp and lower) have been worked hard all their life. The reason they’re being sold is they want to upgrade their machine.  But the real reason is they’ve been to the repair shop too many times.  Yes, the machine is still working but no one knows for how long.


 Engine Drives


There’s not a huge demand for used engine drives. So, buyers have a little bit of an advantage.

New noise regulations on the job sites are forcing some older engine driven machines into early retirement. Their owners are looking to sell.

Some owners are wanting to upgrade their engine drives: they want a diesel; they want more welding options; they want welder/air compressor. But they’re not buying a new machine until they sell their existing machine.


Engine problems are easier to hide.

Gas engine problems can break your heart. Problems appear to be simple but the repair quote is outrageously high.  The combination of the tech’s labor rate, the need for specialized equipment to do the repair, and the amount of time needed to complete the job, will make it often not worth repairing.


Plasma Machines


These are great for cutting different metals

Some of the older ones, even though they could fill a barn, can still cut


Every time they make a new and better machine, another machine becomes obsolete. And so repair parts for the older machine also become obsolete.

At some date, your torch will need to be replaced. Can you get a replacement?  Will you need to purchase a kit to hook up the new torch?  If so, is the price of a new torch more than what you paid for the machine?

The torch uses electrodes and nozzles. Can you get replacements?

Yes, it worked. Cut 2 pieces but it won’t be cutting another 2 pieces again.  It can’t produce enough power to cut.  If you can get a new PC board, it will be more than you paid for the machine.


Oxy-Acetylene Outfits


There should be good deals out there. Oxy-Acetylene equipment is an old way of cutting and welding.  Today people want to do these tasks with plasma and MIG machines.

New good equipment, especially cutting torches, is expensive.


This is an area where lack of knowledge can be costly. The oxy-acetylene equipment (torch, tips, handles, accessories, etc.) has to be made by the same manufacturer. Once it’s established that they’re made by the same manufacturer, you need to determine what series they are: light, medium or heavy duty.  If they don’t match, they will never work.  And trying to buy the missing pieces could be expensive or impossible (if it’s no longer being made).

The number of manufacturers has become a smaller group. So, even if it looks new, you may not be able to add pieces to it – such as welding or cutting tips

To use the equipment, you will need oxygen and acetylene tanks.

If you decide you’re going to use propane over acetylene than you need to make sure your torch can burn propane and the tips for your torch are available.

The biggest take away you should have from this article is (1) Check that there are still parts being manufactured and they are the right ones for the equipment you are about to purchase. (2) Make sure you can return the equipment if it doesn’t work (3) Test and inspect the machine before buy it.

You can find good deals in used equipment.  Just be patient.  When you eliminate patience you increase the chance of a bad deal.  When you can’t wait, maybe you should consider renting or leasing.  The bottom line is don’t waste your money and energy on a bad deal.  You need those resources for more important problems.


If we can give you a hand in buying used equipment, contact us. And be sure to check out our current used equipment.




Ron-Son’s Torch


A Few Brands That We Are Proud To Carry

  • miller
  • victor
  • esab
  • avesta
  • hypertherm
  • hobart
  • walter
  • weldmark