How to buy a second-hand HDD rig

By Bob Martin - General Manager of HDD Broker LLC - November 26, 2013

There are many benefits to purchasing a HDD rig in the second-hand marketplace. Bob Martin of HDD Broker reminds readers about the important factors to consider.

The option of purchasing a second-hand HDD rig is not a new one, and many companies have had great success in doing this. And for those that have been considering entering the second-hand HDD market, there's no better time to do so than now, according to Bob Martin.

"The used HDD market is definitely in favour of the buyer right now," says Mr Martin.

"There is a surplus of equipment and many dealers and re-sellers are overstocked with inventory. Pricing is as aggressive as it has ever been over the last few years and great bargains are to be had, provided the buyer is willing to shop around. Many of the popular models such as the Vermeer D24x40 Series 2 and the Ditch Witch JT2020 Mach 1 are well represented on the pre-owned marketplace, putting highly productive machines in the hands of contractors at a fraction of the price of a new drill."

One of the challenges Australian buyers have traditionally faced is that there can be a distinct shortage of necessary equipment needed for projects domestically. This often means that importing equipment from overseas is one of the most common and cost-effective solutions.

For some people, however, sourcing equipment from thousands of kilometres away can be a daunting proposal. Fortunately, there are resources out there that can help to make purchasing this equipment a more manageable, safe and problem-free process. Outlined below are some of the key factors to consider when purchasing second-hand HDD equipment from overseas.

Do your research

First, get a good idea of the cost of bringing the equipment into your country. To begin with, research used HDD prices on the internet. Dedicated used HDD equipment sites, such as, are an excellent place to start, as there are hundreds of pieces of equipment, including pricing information, available for viewing. In addition to the actual cost of the equipment, shipping charges, cleaning fees, duty, tax, and miscellaneous service and repair costs must also be considered.

How will you pay?

Firstly, consider exchange rates. They fluctuate on a daily basis, and even a small shift can result in thousands of dollars difference between the buying and selling currencies.

When buying used trenchless equipment, a direct cash purchase can be a dangerous proposition if you are not fully informed and trusting of the company selling you the equipment.

An alternative to pre-funding the purchase is an International Letter of Credit (ILC). An ILC is basically a contract between your bank and the seller's bank. The contract outlines the terms of the sale in great detail, ensuring that both parties adhere to it.

Find a trusted partner

One of the best things that you can do for yourself is ensure that you're looking for equipment in the right places. Seek out a reputable brokerage company or dealership that has experience exporting equipment. Be sure that they have shipped to Australasia in the past, as there are very specific cleaning and packaging requirements that need to be adhered to in order to ensure swift and trouble-free importation to your location. Be aware that your equipment will most likely be delivered to port, and you or your customs broker will be responsible for clearing the equipment through customs and transporting it to your facility after it arrives.

Make sure it is what it is

Once you find a solid and reliable vendor, you need to determine if the piece of equipment is actually as it has been described. In the case of used equipment, there is virtually never a warranty of any kind, and most equipment is sold as-is. It then becomes the duty of the buyer to ensure that the equipment meets their needs in regards to condition.

There are three options available: purchase the unit sight-unseen, perform a personal inspection or have the unit evaluated by an independent third party on your behalf. The third option can be a convenient compromise between purchasing sight unseen, and having to travel halfway around the world yourself to inspect a single piece of equipment.

Getting it home

Before the equipment can be shipped, it needs to be cleaned to the standards set forth by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS). These cleanliness guidelines are intensely specific, and most sellers will not be aware or capable of performing proper cleaning of equipment. Proper cleaning requires specialised knowledge and equipment and should not be undertaken lightly. Improper cleaning of equipment can result in huge delays, costs, fines, or even refusal of the equipment at port, the result of which sees your equipment shipped back to its origin at your expense. These challenges can be overcome by utilising the proper shipping partner, which will ensure that there are minimal delays or costs at port, if any.


While buying equipment from overseas is not as convenient as going to the local dealership, there are a number of advantages. Overseas equipment can provide a vastly superior selection to choose from, at prices that can work out to be cheaper than local options. With the aid of an experienced seller, transactions can be smooth and painless. Provided you, as a buyer, go into the transaction fully aware of what to expect, there is no reason that the overseas market cannot become a viable alternative to the local marketplace.

Published on Trenchless International.

This commentary is presented for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a comprehensive or detailed statement on any subject and no representations or warranties, express or implied, are made as to its accuracy, timeliness or completeness. Nothing in this commentary is intended to provide financial, legal, accounting or tax advice nor should it be relied upon. Neither HDD Broker LLC nor the author is liable whatsoever for any loss or damage caused by, or resulting from, any use of or any inaccuracies, errors or omissions in the information provided.

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