How do I determine the condition of a used La Marzocco for Sale??

I have been in the market for a replacement machine for our shop. I have found what appears to be a good deal (3 group EE La Marzocco FB-70 for $5500). The machine was built in 2005, and pictures do not show any sign of major flaws. The seller either does not know much about what she is selling or is not giving out much info about the machine. 

Short of kicking the tires, I am not fully sure how to distinguish a good machine from a bad one.  
What things could I ask to look at to help determine the true integrity of the machine? What should I see if parts are showing signs of poor maintenance? I am familiar with the internal structure of a machine, just not how parts should look. Any advice is greatly appreciated! 

Logan 

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Quite honestly, I think you should pass.

First of all, you don't know enough about espresso machines to evaluate whether or not the machine is in what condition and worth X value. $5500 for the machine also seems quite a bit on the high side.

Bear in mind that the espresso machine will be a centerpiece of your coffee program. It is not using the best value of your money to chintz on the unit by buying a used machine that you think is a "good deal" but have no experience to measure the value of that deal.

If upfront cash is a concern, I suggest talking to equipment leasing companies. You should be able to put together a good deal from the leasing company for the equipment - and, depending on the deal, you can "buy" the equipment at the end of the term for a buck. Remember that leasing companies are separate from the equipment dealers. Negotiate the price of your equipment with the supplier and get a solid quote beforehand, then take that to the leasing company for the deal.

This method will give you the best equipment at the most flexible way possible.
You can't.

So many things can determine how much a used machine will take to bring it back to usable condition: the machine quality, the cost of parts, what kind of water it ran on, how it was maintained, its condition when it was taken out of service, how it was prepared for storage, what conditions it was stored in, how long it was stored, etc. You can't tell much about these things unless you or your tech goes over it first.

I've been surprised recently by two machines - one that looked immaculate but took hours worth of work and internal cleaning to get working, and another that was old and dirty on the outside, yet fired right up and was making awesome espresso after 2 hours worth of light maintenance and cleaning. At this point, I look a machine over and give them a best and worst-case scenario that tends to be between $200 and $1,000.

I've never seen a used machine that was prepared properly for storage. It may happen, but I've not seen it. Machines don't like to sit idle dirty and with water in them... the longer they sit, the more expensive they get.

A used machine is a reasonable bet under 3 conditions:
1. You buy from a tech that has reconditioned it and will stand behind it.
2. You buy it "alive" (still in use on a bar) and can send your own tech to kick the tires, pull it, perform maintenance, and install it.
3. You are a tech and can recondition it yourself.

I'm with Jay. Pass.
Brady said:
A used machine is a reasonable bet under 3 conditions:
.

I'd add that you cold buy it form a knowledgable source with a serious espresso CDO problem. My machine is in better shape now than when I purchased it three years ago. It gets care like a handi-capped child. Cleaned each use, etc.

OTOH, you could pay a local professional to research the machine. Offer him his usual maintenance visit fee for his local customers to inspect the machine, and ask him to work up an estimate for any work he sees as absolutely necessary, one for absolutely necessary and probably should happen, and a third for absolutely necessary, probably should happen, and cosmetics. If his estimate is over a few hundred bucks, talk to the seller.


Brady said:
You can't.

So many things can determine how much a used machine will take to bring it back to usable condition: the machine quality, the cost of parts, what kind of water it ran on, how it was maintained, its condition when it was taken out of service, how it was prepared for storage, what conditions it was stored in, how long it was stored, etc. You can't tell much about these things unless you or your tech goes over it first.

I've been surprised recently by two machines - one that looked immaculate but took hours worth of work and internal cleaning to get working, and another that was old and dirty on the outside, yet fired right up and was making awesome espresso after 2 hours worth of light maintenance and cleaning. At this point, I look a machine over and give them a best and worst-case scenario that tends to be between $200 and $1,000.

I've never seen a used machine that was prepared properly for storage. It may happen, but I've not seen it. Machines don't like to sit idle dirty and with water in them... the longer they sit, the more expensive they get.

A used machine is a reasonable bet under 3 conditions:
1. You buy from a tech that has reconditioned it and will stand behind it.
2. You buy it "alive" (still in use on a bar) and can send your own tech to kick the tires, pull it, perform maintenance, and install it.
3. You are a tech and can recondition it yourself.

I'm with Jay. Pass.

Thank you Brady. This was helpful, and gives me a lot to consider in the future!
Not sure that really answered the question posed by the OP. I'll chime in tomorrow.
jumping jimminees, I didn't reload the page before posting. sorry

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