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The penny has finally dropped

The penny has finally dropped

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Bill Chugg06/11/2018 18:51:21
1215 forum posts
8 photos

Buying a part finished engine on ebay is, I have finally realised, a bad decision.

Better to start from scratch rather than spend hours on rectifying errors

Would the team agree?


Jon Lawes06/11/2018 19:13:46
348 forum posts

I'm spending quite a lot of time reworking the previous owners engineering decisions, but where he got it right he saved me a lot of time and effort. I guess it depends on the price. I managed to get my brit, main frames complete and assembled and all castings unmachined and present for £100 on eBay. Had it been £500 I would have been cursing a lot more. As it is I'm quite content.

Maybe buying a part built one that you can inspect fully first is fine, but sight unseen and a large outlay would be a gamble...

I should qualify what I am saying by pointing out I'm a complete novice, so don't take what I say too seriously, just adding my experiences.

larry phelan 106/11/2018 19:17:13
598 forum posts
11 photos

That,s what they call "Buying-a-pig-in-a-poke"

See first,buy second [or not at all ] cheeky

Pete Rimmer06/11/2018 19:25:17
589 forum posts
26 photos
Posted by Bill Chugg on 06/11/2018 18:51:21:

Buying a part finished engine on ebay is, I have finally realised, a bad decision.

Better to start from scratch rather than spend hours on rectifying errors

Would the team agree?


I would say yes, but before you condemn the previous builder, understand that you don't know the circumstances. They might have been well-intentioned but incompetent, lack skill or mechanical sympathy or there might be other reasons why the work is poor. My father was trying to complete a Jinty whilst he was on heavy meds for the cancer which eventually killed him. The quality of work was shocking but it wasn't because he was not a capable engineer - after all, he did a lot of work to renovate a 1:1 scale Jinty years before.

I couldn't bear to scrap it so I donated that part-built frame and all the bits to the The Gravesend Model Marine and Engineering Society with the understanding that it would need to be re-worked from the start.

Brian G06/11/2018 19:32:36
657 forum posts
26 photos

If you want the model, and there are enough unmachined castings to justify the price, it is a bargain. As far as the machined parts are concerned, if you can use them they are a bonus, if not and they didn't cost any extra, don't worry about them.


Norman Rogers06/11/2018 21:48:27
17 forum posts
2 photos

I have 'adopted' three part finished projects and would never condemn the previous builder; you need to accept that he/she was having a go and that is what really mattered, particularly to them. Yes you can end up doing a complete re-make on some of the work but like Brian says you will often get a bargain that is hard to refuse .... that's how I come to have three on the go right now!

Mark Rand06/11/2018 23:06:49
854 forum posts

I've got a set of Quorn castings where the original owner was a little bit enthusiastic with Professor Chadwick's advice to have a bit of clearance on the sliding fit of the left hand base casting and the bed bars. No problem, since it'll get an oversize bar in the relevant location.

I also picked up a complete set of Minnie traction engine bits with a failed boiler build. Bought myself a new set of boiler bits for my birthday the following year and I'm still ahead of new prices.

All I need now is the time to build them after I've finished rebuilding my cheap milling machine, surface table and surface grinder. laugh.

Hopper06/11/2018 23:35:10
4116 forum posts
89 photos

I've never bought a used model engine but I do know from long experience that motorcycle repair/restoration can at times involve more time rectifying "work" done by previous owners/mechanics than repairing the ravages of time or normal wear and tear.

The things that some people do are beyond belief. Latest example was a pair of BMW carburettors that someone had attacked the throats with a Dremel grinder where the throttle butterflies seat in the body. Result: two junk carburettors that will never ever idle because of uncontrolled air flow around the butterflies.

Another BMW one that my mate discovered: Previous owner had overtightened a cylinder stud so drilled out and tapped the 12mm stud hole in the crankcase to fit a massive 18mm OD threaded insert -- in the process completely blocking off a drilled oil way that connected the oil pump to the crankshaft.

Or:: Cylinder liner not pressed all the way in so the stepped spiggot on the top stood proud of the head gasket surface. Easy fixed, some previous mangler exclaimed, before milling the top of the sleeve down level with the surface. Except when the engine ran and heated up, the sleeve came loose and rattled up and down by the amount that had been milled off the top of the sleeve.

How about roller cam followers and guides installed sideways so they rubbed on the cams and totally destroyed the lobes, the hardened particles going on to destroy the rest of the engine?

No end to the risks of buying something secondhand. But if the price is right, it's worth a punt. I once bought a Featherbed Norton twin for $200 because the previous owner could not get it to run. I cleaned the carbs and turned the float needles right-way up and rode on.

Ady106/11/2018 23:42:17
3562 forum posts
514 photos

Whichever route you pick will give you skills

Buying a dog of a lathe or mill because that's all you can afford will also give you skills

The main thing is you have a plan and make the effort to reach your ultimate goal

It's not the destination, it's the journey! (groan)

Edited By Ady1 on 06/11/2018 23:43:52

Mark Rand07/11/2018 01:03:56
854 forum posts

To the late professor Chaddock. I apologize for misspelling your namecrying. (Too late to edit post)

SillyOldDuffer07/11/2018 10:34:00
5301 forum posts
1086 photos

I don't think you can or should generalise. Buying second-hand is always a risk, doubly so if you can't inspect the item or lack the skills needed to spot nastiness. Second-hand selling is a good way of off-loading junk, stolen goods and other dodginess, so purchasers should approach with caution.

However, second-hand is also a good way of picking up genuine bargains and finding rare items. But if you take a punt and it goes wrong, no tears please!



Ian S C07/11/2018 11:02:33
7468 forum posts
230 photos

From what I'v read on here, buying new can be just about as big a gamble as second hand.

Ian S C

SillyOldDuffer07/11/2018 11:17:51
5301 forum posts
1086 photos
Posted by Ian S C on 07/11/2018 11:02:33:

From what I'v read on here, buying new can be just about as big a gamble as second hand.

Ian S C

Not in the UK. There may be a certain amount of hassle but there's a wodge of Consumer Protection Law that means you get a swap or your money back when an item isn't fit for purpose. Usually, (unless buying from a business), a second-hand buy leaves you on your own. Sellers are often honest, but if one tells you to spin on it, you'd better enjoy the sensation...

Buying direct from abroad can also be risky for the same reason - UK Consumer Protection has a limited reach.


Neil Wyatt07/11/2018 11:44:09
17307 forum posts
690 photos
77 articles

Posted by Hopper on 06/11/2018 23:35:10:

I once bought a Featherbed Norton twin for $200 because the previous owner could not get it to run. I cleaned the carbs and turned the float needles right-way up and rode on.

My dad has a similar story about his Vincent Rapide. A couple of local wide boys were running up and down the dockside trying to bump start it without success, it was on the verge of going into the dock when he got it off them as scrap for a few notes. The valves had been changed but the push rods hadn't been shortened so they weren't getting any compression.

As far as we know, after he passed it on it ended up being fully restored.


Bill Chugg08/11/2018 11:17:35
1215 forum posts
8 photos

Thanks for all the replies - perhaps I did not explain myself properly or some members did not read it as I intended so to clarify

For me, starting from scratch is now the oreferred option rather than spend hours rectifying.

I was not being critical of others work and Pete Rimmer , please note I was not condeming their work. I found your post particularly relevant and poignant.

S O D - definitely not in tears about it. I learnt a lot but in your twilight years spending time effectively is now a priority.

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