Buying used Radios

My recent experience with the Drake TR3 brings to mind some less fortunate experiences.

I have always regretted selling my old, unwanted radios. I never sold anything that was not in prefect operational condition. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for stuff I have purchased.

This includes stuff purchased from dealers.

In general, hams dont sell stuff that works. Those used offerings on the hamfest benches are there because the owners do not want them. Depending on why they are not wanted may effect your desire to own them. My experience has been that most used stuff is problem stuff. This is particularly true if the equipment started out in kit form.

I have seen far too many Heathkits that were built by folk who could not read or solder. By read I mean understanding the thoughts generated by the words presented. Just mouthing words without comprehension is not good enough. There is a huge difference between building a radio and assembling a kit. Not everyone recognizes that difference.

Commercially assembled radios do not always escape the wrath of the uneducated operator. This is especially true of rigs that run on the hairy edge of specifications. Used Linears and transmitters that use sweep tube finals are almost always shot before they hit the hamfest tables.

Beware of the seller who claims ‘it worked the last time I used it’. Or, ‘I don’t know its history, I am selling it for a friend’. Or, ‘This is part of an estate sale’.

The only thing a buyer should be interested in is if the radio is working now. You cant take the word of a seller who does not know what ‘working’ is. If you cant power it up and check it out yourself before purchase all you can offer is salvage value.

If you are not sure what ‘working’ is, you might want to enlist the aid of a seasoned ham who is more knowlegeable about such things. I am not saying that everyone is a crook. Some people are just ignorant. It is up to you to make sure someones ignorance does not end up costing you money and ruining your day.

The reason my recent TR3 purchase was an uquallified success is because I paid salvage value. The seller presented it as a parts radio and only requested salvage value. In short it was an honest deal. No one was trying to hood wink or cheat. I am not saying that you will always be cheated at hamfests but the opportunity for dissappointment does present itself all too frequently.

Just because you buy from a dealer does not mean you are getting a fair deal. Many years ago I took in my SB-102 as a trade-in toward a pair of used Drake twins. The sales guy at the dealers checked out my SB-102 and wanted to dock me the price of new finals because it only put out 50 wats on ten meters. I showed him that the Drake rig only put out 50 watts on ten meters as well. That shut him up and convinced me that the place was crooked as a dogs hind leg. I still went through with the deal but I never went back there for anything again.

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