You'll find a wide range of used cranes online. Bookmark a few sites (see links) and keep your eye on the inventory. Just looking at what's available day by day will give you a good sense of what the market is for used cranes, and the particular crane you're interested in.
- Assess your needs first. Once you start looking, you're going to see some bells and whistles that will seem like you can't do without. Before you look at any used cranes, figure out exactly what qualities you do -- and don't -- need in your used crane.
Establish a budget. Although at first you'll want to look around so as to understand the market for used cranes, establish a budget early on and keep that budget number in the back of your mind so as to prevent heartache later.
Get the specs. Fortunately online sites for used cranes tend to have fairly detailed information. You'll want to know the model of the used crane, how old the used crane is and approximately how many hours it has worked.
Find out what's new. Let's face it. A used crane has been around the construction yard a few times. But that doesn't mean that once some important parts are replaced, it can't work like new. You can expect that certain parts will have been replaced -- find out which ones.
Get the paperwork. Find out how many miles have been driven on the new parts, and ask for the paperwork. Ask about the crane's maintenance history and the records to back it up. The more your seller can verify with paperwork, the more assured you'll be that the crane is in good working order. A savvy seller knows you'll want paperwork and will have his ready to send.
Assess the seller. Does the seller provide several different photographs of the crane or does it seem strategically positioned to hide one aspect? Here you're not only getting a sense of how well the crane has been cared for but of how straightforward your seller is. You might end up saving yourself hours of follow-through if you can sense early on that the seller is less than 100% honest. Asses the integrity of your seller -- along with that of the used crane -- from your very first contact.
Get references. If the seller has sold used equipment before, get the names and numbers of the buyers. If the seller hasn't sold a piece of equipment before, ask for references of people that he performed work for or worked with. By talking with them, you can get a sense of what they think of your seller and how the piece of equipment you are interested in was used and cared for. Don't be shy about asking for references. This is a major purchase and you deserve more than a cybershake to go on.
Hire a mechanic. If you've gotten this far, your final step will be to take a look at the used crane in person. Only then will you be able to do the close-up examination that the purchase of a used crane requires. It's worth setting up an appointment with a mechanic in the area who can help you assess the following items:
- Seals and bearings
- Air filters
- Hydraulic systems