Buying at Online Auctions

Tips on loading and delivery and on checking equipment value when you purchase used woodshop equipment from an online auctioneer. May 4, 2011

I am wondering how many shops out there use the online industrial auction sites like IRS. It looks like some incredible savings on really nice, broke in, machines. One question I have is this, are there ways to get machines to my door without having to pick them up myself? Seems like most of the auctions I have been watching are on the coasts, I am in the Midwest. Does anyone have past experiences or ideas?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
Someone has to pick up the equipment. You or a company you can hire that will haul machinery. There is usually a millwright on location that does all the loading. They carry the insurance and, of course, charge for it. Maybe they will let you load it with your own forklift, probably not. If it is a small item that can be loaded by hand, then you can. Its almost always cheaper to take a trailer and pay the mill right. Then plan on unloading with a rented forklift or use a tilting trailer.

From contributor F:
You have to be very careful with online auctions as you have no idea really what you’re buying. Having said that, there is potential to buy good equipment for short money if you’re willing to gamble. You can hire a rigging company to pick up machinery for you. This can quickly eat up anything you saved buying the machine sight unseen! You can also call the auction house and ask if they have anything setup already. Some auctions will state in the details that they will load equipment onto your vehicle. Again it comes down to doing your homework ahead of time and knowing what's involved.

Another thing to be aware of is the buyer’s fee is usually several percent higher on online auctions. You want to account for that in your bid. I have bought several items from IRS and the transactions went well and I saved a lot of money. They were however all within driving distance.

I have watched and participated in enough auctions to have a feel for what type of auction it is and how likely the equipment will be plug and play. But I can say from some live auctions I've attended that the online pics are not reliable. I went to an auction last year to bid on a shaper. After giving it a quick look I changed my mind, the online bidder who won was probably not a happy camper. So again it comes down to a gamble. I also haven't bought anything costly enough to justify having to pay a rigger to move it, yet.

From contributor O:

I have had good experiences with IRS. The largest piece, a Diehl ripsaw, was shipped to us from North Carolina. The shipping cost almost as much as the saw, but the saw went for a very low dollar (1/20th of new) since it was one of a group of 8 that sold that day. In this case, I gave the serial number to Diehl and they could tell me what kind of parts they shipped over the years for the saw. I anticipated spending some money on it after I got and had a Diehl tech replace bearings. It is now one first rate piece of equipment.

Talk to IRS on the phone and they can tell you more and hook you up with transport. This is a great example of buyer beware, since buying unseen has its risks. Of three machines, two were brand new - one never unpacked, and the third - the saw - I was able to learn about. I knew about that type of saw from previous shops, and that helped.

From contributor R:
I have bought several machines at their auctions. Just make sure if someone is there to load it and what they charge! I get much better shipping rates through Freightquote than the ones they use. I am in the Midwest also.