at a swap
meet. Here is
(L) with a
A typical swap meet table with airplanes, motors, and even boats!
Buying and selling
Buying and selling helicopters is a large part of our hobby. Although there is nothing better than opening a box with a new model inside, there is plenty to be said for
getting a good deal on a used one.
Selling a model can be equally satisfying, and brings its
own set of challenges. I’ve purchased and sold many models
throughout the years, and I thought I would share what I have
learned along the way.
Many people consider buying a used RC helicopter a risky
gamble—you just never know what you will end up with. If
you are smart about it, however, you should come out of the
deal with what you expected.
There are two ways to buy a used model. The first is in
person, and is generally the better way. Nothing equals being
able to touch the model you are interested in buying. You also
have the seller’s undivided attention, and you can quiz him or
her about the model.
Useful questions to ask might be, “How many flights do
you think it has had?” or “Has it ever been crashed?” A more
obvious question would be, “Is there anything wrong with it?”
Seeing the model in person gives you the chance to inspect
it from nose to tail. Does the main gear show any sign of
excessive wear? Do the servos move back and forth without
skipping any teeth? Do the head and tail turn freely? Does
the swashplate travel freely? Basically, does everything that is
supposed to move do so, and everything that is not supposed
to move stay put?
Often, the seller will offer to demonstrate it for you so that
you can see it in action. You can inspect every nut and gear,
and be sure that what you are buying is exactly what is being
Where can you buy and sell models in person? Fly-ins are
great places to start. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a fly-in
where there wasn’t a model for sale. It’s usually a laid-back
atmosphere, and deals can be struck without any pressure. I
prefer this setting for buying and/or selling a model, because
both parties are usually knowledgeable about the deal at hand.
Another great place to buy and/or sell a model is at a local
swap meet. Many RC clubs organize swap meets throughout
the year, and it can be a great place to either increase or
decrease your fleet. You can check with local RC clubs to find
out where and when the swap meets occur.
They are generally held at some sort of large public facility
such as an indoor gym, and they usually draw decent crowds.
Tables are crammed in the space from wall to wall, and will
likely need to be booked in advance (they sell out quickly).
You never know what you will find at a swap meet.
Sometimes it will be the little gem you are looking for, but
much of the time it will be something that isn’t worth much
of anything to anyone. You take the good with the bad, and sift
through until you find what you are looking for. It’s also a great
opportunity to catch up with flying buddies, and maybe meet
some friends along the way.
Buying and Selling Online
I’ve always had great success buying and selling online, but
it can be something of a minefield sometimes when trying to
navigate through the inevitable scams. A good place to start
is a public auction website, such as eBay. There are pros and
cons to using such a site. The pros are that you can get a fairly
good feel for bidders or sellers based on the kind of feedback
that they’ve received. The more positive bids they have, the
more at rest your mind will be. If potential buyers or sellers
have negative feedback, it’s probably a safe bet to steer clear of
The downside for these types of websites is that they will
charge you for selling your items through them, and depending
on the price, that can be a big chunk of change. Additional fees
will be incurred if you use an online payment site, so you must
take all of these charges into account ahead of time.
The alternative is to directly target the RC community by
using the free services offered by many of the online forums.
It is important to note that, unlike the big auction sites that
charge for their services, you will have little recourse if the deal
goes awry on the RC forums, so you need to shop smart. The
forums will sometimes have some sort of feedback system too,
so this is the first thing to check.
If I am buying something, I will ask for the seller’s telephone
98 Model Aviation SEP TEMBER 2015 www.ModelAviation.com