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Tools or opportunities that got away?


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What are the items, tools, opportunities, that you either passed on or got away?

Mine was a large industrial lathe at the scrap yard, sitting out in the rain.  3 phase motor, very long end to end distance and could handle very large diameter stock.  Came with a T slot bed.  The hand controls were broken on with a hammer so no one could easily use it.  No way to transport it back home, or even a place to store it.  It was taken out of service working and scrapped.

Cost was scrap price.

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  • Glenn changed the title to Tools or opportunities that got away?

When my mentor Isaac (Ike) Doss passed away, the family held an auction for everything, except his 400 pound Columbian anvil. At the time, I didn't have the financial resources to compete with the prices everything went for. The Columbian is still in the family with his daughter in law the current caretaker of it. Maybe some day who knows.

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One of my Scrapyard Rules is: Never expect a piece to still be there the *next* time you visit.  Even if it's been sitting in the scrapyard for generations, it can disappear from one visit to the next!  (I actually have such a relationship with my local scrapyard that they will tell me to "Take it and pay us next time."  Which I do ASAP!)

A variation of this is part of the TPAAAT; if you run across a great deal you need to be able to CLOSE IT immediately!  Before that nosey neighbor tell them to double the price---or to keep it.  Generally this means having some cash you can access quickly; or even putting a down payment on an item with a written and signed receipt saying that you owe $XYZ for the item described---and I've had folks try to get out of those too!

Since I am usually finding stuff that is not on the open market; I have fewer incidences of "one that got away".  However when I moved from Columbus Ohio to central New Mexico I still knew about an anvil in the sub-basement of a local hospital I wanted to check out.  I had talked with a smith who used it during WWII for orthopedic smithing. I then tracked down a maintenance guy working at the hospital who said it was still there; but then I changed jobs and moved.  Then there were the rumors of a 1000# anvil that I was never ever able to nail down...

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A freind stopped by the house with an old tombstone welder one day and said he would take $20 for it. I said i had no use for it. Yep, kicking myself for that one. 

I also have a good habit of needing something, going to get it, then when i find it, change my mind, get home then decide again that i do need it and have to go back and get it. 

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I used to own a wheelabrator rotating drum shot last, got it at auction for £500 with 50 hours on the clock. I contacted wheelabrator to get a manual for it and they knew the machine, it was only a couple of weeks old and they offered 5k to buy it. 

Didn't sell it and we used it for years but the direction of our business changed and I ended up selling it for 1k (quite worn after the years of work) because we were moving to a smaller workshop. Also sold our 3 phase lathe and 3 phase buffing wheel. 

Things changed again though and we never moved and I don't half miss having the tools around. 

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When I was first tooling up as a teenager, there were two things that got away. The first was a ~200 lb Fisher in excellent shape that I might have bought had I known at the time that Fishers don't ring when tapped. The second was a wooden box with about twenty sets of matched top and bottom tools for which my dad was unwilling to spot me the $40.

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A cement company had an anvil outside of the maintenance shop that even from 200 yards away looked big. Company changed hands and it disappeared. I never did drive to the office to ask about it.

The guy who had two Little Giants that someone had cut the arms in half. He wanted $1,200 for both. I called him a year later when I was up near Placerville and they were gone.

Most everything else I have picked up.

Now if we were talking cars..... Man I have some deep regrets there.

 

As for opportunities. I always wonder how different things would be for me if I had enlisted when I got out of high school in 1983. 

 

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I picked up  quite a bit of good loot from the Seward Machine Shop when the owner operator was retiring and closing it down. There was going to be an auction in a couple weeks but he gave me a tour and just couldn't help trying to sell me anything he could. 

Of all the tools and equipment a machine shop that'd been working for well more than 100 years had to offer I walked away from a 1,200 lb. Fisher anvil and probably 12 power hammers from a 25lb. LG up to a 5ton steam hammer. It wasn't just a machine shop it was a ship's Chandlery and did some heavy work. 

I could've had the anvil for $500 and I didn't even dicker because I lived in a trailer park and . . . If nothing else reselling it would've been worth driving back down with trailer. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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A couple years ago the owner of a local junkyard came by my shop to let me know he was shutting down, because he knew I loved to dig around for blacksmithing stuff in his junk yard and wanted to give me first shot before the auction, 

I went and over spent and dragged home a truck load of stuff,

he told me he had some anvils at home and offered to take me there and look them over, he told me the biggest one was 400 pounds, and he wanted $700 for it, 

well I was already sweating on how much I spent so I told him that I’d have to wait till I had some more cash, 

well I tracked him down this last spring and asked about the anvils and he told me he sold all of them for $1200 to an auctioneer In Arkansas… 

my other recent story is one of my customers had a forge and post vise and tongs and anvil setting in the barn, and he had offered to sell them to me and I said I’ll get over there as soon as I get around to it, 

well he came by the shop recently and I asked him about the stuff and he told me that someone had come by and offered him $100 for it all and he had sold it… 

long story short, I’ve learned my lesson about hum hoeing around an from now on I’ll try an get stuff while the gettins good. 

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Boy. the one that got away. I closed my shop in order to build my log house and twards the end an architect I'd done a lot of work for came up with a couple Ladies who were involved in the rather large restore and remodel of the Arch Diocese ( lol, names may be wrong). No way I could stop and no why they could wait. Timing is all. I can't even begin to describe my feelings as I watched them walk away.

Then there's the one that im glad got away. A pink Caddy Mary Kay lady commissioned a chandelier. When I bid something, I do a Detailed drawing and a sample. If they accept my bid, the design time is included in the bid and I keep the sample. If not, I keep all drawings, the sample and they pay me 10% of my bid. When the drawing is done, I get my first approval and continue with the sample. She kept my drawings to show hubby et all, which is standard. About a week later, I got a call from a Santa Fe smith who I knew. He had my drawings and the pinko caddy um, er, person wanted a bid from him. He said he couldn't do my design then, asked if he could use it as the basis for a bid. I told him sure and use any part of it you want, then thanked him for the heads up. A bit later I went down and got my drawings and no bid. I was pretty bummed by the whole deal, but hey,,, When I got home I had a call on my answering machine from California( I'm in Colorado). A cheerful Rocky the Flying Squirrel "Hi! Im from Beverly Hills and I want some, well maybe a lot of your iron!" Thus began my 4 fireplace screens job that I've shown pics of here once or twice. From our very first meeting, I knew I should pass on the job..

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I'm going to throw in a slight twist. About 25 years ago I went to a auction pre sale. The first thing I saw was a Boxford oil filled ark welder with a price tag of £50 on it. I went directly to the office and paid for it. As I was paying a fabricator that was on the same industrial estate as my workshop came in to the office to buy it. 

He was gutted. He had seen it earlier on but decided to go round the whole sale before going to pay. 

I still have the welder, when our shop got broke in to every power tool was stolen except the welder. I suspect 200kg was too heavy for the thieves 

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