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How to know if you're getting a bargain or buying junk

How to know if you're getting a bargain or buying junk
Trick is in knowing how to judge remaining usable life in a piece of equipment.

You won’t find junk lying around Dan Gwin’s farm near Linden. But you will find some valuable pieces of disassembled equipment neatly stacked, waiting for the right time to be used. That includes a grain leg Gwin purchased from a facility that was being dismantled.

“First, you need to know whether you will have a use for something in the future before deciding to buy it, even if it’s cheap,” he says. In this case, Gwin has plans to install another leg. Buying a used one in good structural condition cuts the cost dramatically.

BARGAIN OR JUNK? This grain leg turned out to be a huge bargain. The steel is still in good condition, and it will be a grain leg again someday.

“The biggest thing you need to keep in mind, if you’re looking at buying used equipment for a grain center, is how much useful life is left,” he emphasizes. “Is there still a lot of life left in the steel components? Or is it so rusty and worn that it’s really about used up?”

If there isn’t enough useful life left in something, Gwin leaves it sit. That applies whether he is at an auction where things are being sold piecemeal, or he is working through private channels, looking at equipment being dismantled from an existing facility.

Sometimes the best thing is to walk away, even if the price is cheap, he says. Every bargain doesn’t turn out to be a bargain. If it doesn’t fit what you envision using it for, or if there is so much wear it would either need lots of repairs now or would have a short life span once installed, passing on it might be best, he adds.

The grain leg stacked by a building near his soybean storage facility has lots of useful life, and he was able to purchase it for a very reasonable price.

CHECK KEY COMPONENETS: Dan Gwin says he always looks at the boot section of a grain leg before deciding how usable it is. While they often rust out, this one is still in good shape.

“One thing I look at on legs is the grain leg boot section,” he says. “Often they are rusted because they sit below the ground. This one was in good shape with little rust. It has lots of usable life left in it.”

The major expense Gwin will have when he puts up this leg will be in installing a belt with conveyor buckets. He may be able to salvage some conveyor buckets from the original leg, but not the belt. “They had already cut the belt in 10-foot sections,” he says. “But the leg itself was still a good deal.”

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