Rebuilt vs Refurbished vs Reconditioned Centrifugal and Reciprocating Industrial Pumps

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Is there a difference between rebuilt, refurbished, or reconditioned? “One guy thinks that refurbished is a higher grade than rebuilt and the next guy thinks exactly the opposite, so I don’t know if I actually have the answer” is our President Don Toews’ initial response when asked about the ongoing debate within the used equipment industry.  He is quick to point out that if it is done right the only difference between a new and used piece of equipment is one starts with molten liquid steel and one with solid steel… and if you can’t get it back to new condition don’t sell it as such. Here are some ways to understand what should be done to restore a pump and what to expect when buying used.

Steps to Zero Hour Condition

So what goes into fully rebuilding a pump to zero hour condition?

  1. Full Disassembly of the Pump: This includes a full inspection and cleaning every part. At this stage you are able to fully diagnose the condition of the pump and what may need to be replaced.
  2. Remachine the Split Line: This is not always necessary but once the pump has been disassembled you can properly assess if it is required.
  3. Replace Parts: To bring the pump to a “like new” condition often casing rings and wear rings need to be replaced. Any replacement parts should be documented in the final report you provide the buyer. 
  4. Refurbish Surface Wear: In both centrifugal and reciprocating pumps the underlying body is generally in original condition and will never be affected. It is the surface area that is eroded, corroded, or damaged in some way and you need to bring it back to the original condition. 

New Pump Technology vs. Older Pumps

There are some advances in the pumping industry such as material selection, cooling systems, and bearing arrangement but overall pumping technology in how you create pressure with positive displacement and centrifugal systems essentially haven’t changed for 60 years. If you have an old pump that is back to its original condition it will operate as good as a new one.

Knowing A Pump Is Fully Reconditioned

When buying a used pump you should know what to ask of the seller to guarantee you are getting the pump in the condition you’re paying for. Here are a couple tips. 

  1. Pictorial Record: You should be provided with images that document every step of the way as your pump is being reconditioned and parts are replaced.
  2. Customer Inspection: Used industrial pumps still cost thousands of dollars. Requesting an onsite inspection should be welcomed by the seller.
  3. Rebuild Report: This report should be detailed with parts replaced, numbers, and clearances. Matched up with a pictorial documentation and your onsite inspection, it will allow you to have a thorough understanding of what has been done to restore the pump.
  4. Research the Seller: “If you set out to hide flaws you can hide flaws” Don points out, so try to do some research on the company who is selling you the pump. Ask for examples of projects they have done and look at customers they list on their website.

Buying used equipment of any kind can save a lot of money and it can cut down months of lead times but it can also be challenging to know what you are actually paying for. The more you understand what goes into restoring a reciprocating or centrifugal pump the more clarity you can have during the purchasing process. Even more so; if you know what are accepted as good industry practices you can make a better judgment on the company selling you the product. Following these steps will greatly reduce your risk of purchasing anything below your exceptions or requirements. Whether the term rebuilt, refurbished, or reconditioned is used, knowing what to expect and which questions to ask will far outweigh the importance of the terminology.

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