Buying anything second-hand can be a bit scary sometimes, almost like a blind date, you are very hopeful that the model is in great shape and looks as great in real life as in the photos plus, you don’t want bigger issues with it down the line. Over the years I’ve learned a couple of things to look for when buying second-hand and I thought I would share some of my knowledge. The guidelines that I will mention in this article are by no means foolproof and I’m sure more can be added but, it’s what I’ve used when buying second-hand and I’ve been very successful so far.

 

It’s always fun when you have a bit of cash to throw into the hobby and finding a great second-hand deal is the cherry-on-top. The first step I take when I find a second-hand model of interest is to look up the model on the internet that is advertised. I do this to see what the model looks like coming from the factory and what it comes with as well. This can help me to catch anything out of place on the advertised model and if something is missing that should be there. I then either give it a pass and move on or, if the missing “item” is acceptable, I’ll try to negotiate the price accordingly. Another reason I try to find the model online is to see what it costs brand-new to also figure out if I’m getting a good deal second-hand or not. And lastly, it is to find out if the model is supported locally and which hobby-shop supports it. For planes, this is not always a big deal because when they crash, its either a write-off or repaired using materials, but when it comes to helicopters, quadcopters or any model which has replacement parts like plastic, carbon-fiber or alike which cannot be easily repaired in a case of a crash, its very important to know that you can get the parts if the need ever arises.

 

Armed with all this information and knowledge of the model that I’m interested in; I give the photos of the advertised model another thorough glance to see if I can spot anything out of place before I contact the seller. I will sometimes ask the seller for more images if I feel the need, in-doing so, I can also confirm if the seller has the model that he/she is advertising. A lot of people have been scammed through advertisers and buyers alike, this just gives me that peace of mind and sometimes gives me different angles to see the model from, more investigation if you will.

 

Once I’m happy with the deal, I go to look at the model. If the model comes with electronics such as servos, receiver and so forth, it’s a good idea to take a servo tester and your radio with so that you can test everything before, taking it home and finding out some of the equipment is faulty. On inspection, if it’s a plane, I try to spot any patched-up areas that could indicate either a small repair or a crash. I will continue to inspect the inside of the fuselage to try to spot any other damage that might not be visible from the outside, I would also check the landing-gear and wings as they are normally the first parts to take the impact of a crash. If the plane comes with a motor, its always a good idea to ask the seller to run it for you.

On helicopters I would inspect the main-rotor and tail-rotor assembly by rotating them to see if I can feel anything grinding and to spot if anything is bent, not always that easy but, you have to try what you can to spot what you can. If the model comes with rotor blades, I check them for any crack or damage. If the seller has attempted a repair on the blades, I will ask them to remove it and deduct it from the sale. Rotor blades on a helicopter model rotate at a very high velocity and if they have any damage big enough, they can disintegrate in the air and cause a crash or even an injury. 

I will continue to inspect the servo control linkages to spot any bent ones, this could indicate a crash and possibly a faulty servo, if the model comes with servos, I will also inspect the canopy to try to spot any repair work or damage which again, could indicate a crash. Lastly, if it’s possible, I will ask the seller for a demo hover.

On helicopters I would inspect the main-rotor and tail-rotor assembly by rotating them to see if I can feel anything grinding and to spot if anything is bent, not always that easy but, you have to try what you can to spot what you can. If the model comes with rotor blades, I check them for any crack or damage. If the seller has attempted a repair on the blades, I will ask them to remove it and deduct it from the sale. Rotor blades on a helicopter model rotate at a very high velocity and if they have any damage big enough, they can disintegrate in the air and cause a crash or even an injury. I will continue to inspect the servo control linkages to spot any bent ones, this could indicate a crash and possibly a faulty servo, if the model comes with servos, I will also inspect the canopy to try to spot any repair work or damage which again, could indicate a crash. Lastly, if it’s possible, I will ask the seller for a demo hover.

I know I’ve talked a lot of inspecting for crashes, and they don’t always cause the model to fly bad, dependant on the size of the crash and the skill applied to repair it but, you want to know what you’re dealing with before giving your money away and sometimes a seller could be trying to hide something that could affect the model very badly.

 

Always try to test everything that comes with the model that you are wanting to buy and always try to be as thorough as possible to make sure you are happy with the overall sale. You can never be 100% sure and there will almost always be something you have missed but, if you do your research, check the model thoroughly and test all the equipment that comes with the model, then the chances that you might have missed something big will be slim. One last thing, if you can, take a friend that is experienced in the hobby with you to meet the seller, to help find anything that could be problematic.

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