Buying a hydraulic hammer at auction has its perils
Jun 18, 2023
In heavy-duty construction, hydraulic hammers, or breakers, are indispensable tools. But acquiring these tools can be a complex and costly process. To save money, it can be tempting to get them at an auction. But weighing the potential costs and complications that could arise is essential.
At first, purchasing a hydraulic hammer at an auction may seem like a steal. The prices are lower than buying a new or refurbished one. But the actual cost of ownership is not limited to the upfront cost. The price tag at an auction does not factor in extra costs such as flow testing for optimal hydraulic flow and pressure, maintenance or the need for technical support.
Even if you score a renowned brand, this doesn't automatically grant you access to the local dealer's support. The after-sales service can sometimes be nonexistent, leaving you alone to grapple with any arising issues.
Used or rebuilt hydraulic hammers purchased at an auction often come without a warranty. This lack of assurance can feel akin to playing Russian roulette. You may end up with a hammer that's ready to connect and hit, or you might get one that will only function with demanding extensive repairs.
An auctioned hydraulic breaker can also present a dilemma when it comes to replacement parts. The availability and cost of these parts can be a significant consideration. There is often a good reason a hydraulic hammer ends up at an auction. It might need large repairs or be from a brand that struggles to sell independently.
If the hammer needs rebuilding, finding a reputable place offering parts at a discount becomes essential. Otherwise, the cost of parts for the rebuild can escalate beyond your initial budget.
Having accessible and up-to-date technical documentation, including a parts list, is another overlooked factor. Knowing the cost of major replacement parts before purchasing any hammer is wise, whether you are buying from an auction or from a dealer.
A hydraulic hammer is not a one-size-fits-all tool. You might need to engage a fabricator for a custom bracket or a pin set to make it work with your carrier. Quick couplers that need special adapters are becoming common on carriers, but these are not standard on hammers.
The hammer size that aligns with your carrier also needs careful consideration. While you might have a general idea of the carrier size alignment when purchasing at an auction, other variables such as pin size, impact class and top bracket compatibility can affect the carrier range.
As mentioned before, what may look like a steal at first, can be an expensive purchase in the long run. Here are some indicative figures:
Remember, these are just estimates, and actual costs can vary. The key point is that while the initial auction price might seem like a bargain, the total cost of ownership could significantly exceed that initial price due to potential hidden costs and complications.
If you still decide to buy at an auction, proper inspection is essential to avoid potential issues and hidden problems. Here are some tips:
Remember, a thorough inspection can help you make a more informed decision and save you from future problems and unexpected costs.
No matter the route you take in buying your hammers and breakers, it is always a good idea to be well-informed and consider all costs associated with the purchase. Auctions may seem like a way to save money, but far too often, they cost you more in the long run.
About the author: Rodney Johnson is the CEO of RJB Hydraulic Hammers, a wholesale supplier of hydraulic hammers and replacement parts based in Largo, Florida.