Buying Positive Displacement Pumps at Auction

Tuesday, November 2, 2021 | Blackbird TV

David is joined by Otto Cuyler to discuss positive displacement (sanitary) pumps, and what to look for when buying them at auction. #foodprocessing #BlackbirdTV

About this segment of Blackbird TV

Guest: Otto Cuyler, President, CEO, Cuyler Food Pro. To learn more about our guest, visit, or call 585-265-0715.

Recorded: September 21, 2020

Published: November 2, 2021

Segment transcript

Otto Cuyler, my friend from Cuyler Food Pro, it’s a pleasure to have you on board, thank you so much. Thanks, David. I wanted to ask you a question about buying something if I want to buy a pump. I think they’re called sanitary pumps. Usually, Waukesha is a name that comes up if you need to buy one of those. Tell us what to look for when we’re buying a sanitary pump like that. That’s a good question, David. I think that this exercise applies to all equipment, except for we’re going to be specific to these types of pumps. Waukesha is, at this point, a generic name kind of like Kleenex for a sanitary positive displacement pump, meaning that it has mechanical rotors that turn, two rotors that turn together that push the viscous products through a pipe, could be yogurts, could be something heavier than water, right? That stated, in order to create any kind of pressure, it has to have very close tolerances like you have in pistons on your car. And they don’t have rings like cars have, it’s direct tolerance. In the case of a Waukesha pump, if you look at a cutaway of that and you remove the outer cover. This speaks to your question, what should you do? Pull the cover no matter what. If you have to go get tools, go get tools. There’s like six or eight bolts around the cover. You remove the cover, there’s the rotors. There’s another nut that holds each of those rotors on. You have a feeler gauge in your pocket and you put a feeler gauge between the outer casing and the rotor in order to determine what the tolerance is. That tolerance is stated by the manufacturer online. So you can get to it on your phone while you’re standing right there. So you’re looking for .004 or .010, so there’s a minimum maximum level where you start to get cavitation or start to lose efficiencies. The other thing that you look at is a visual inspection of that rotor and you don’t have to remove them specifically to do it. You can rotate them and you can see if there’s any wear from direct contact or abrasion from products or metal in products. And some of them can be pretty bad. If you buy one that’s really bad, the rotors are no good and the outer casing is no good, which is all the parts that are stainless essentially right. So you have to replace everything but the cover and the main drive unit that’s behind it. So you’re looking for something that doesn’t show… that shows modest wear and tear, you can sand a little bit of that off at the risk of increasing your tolerances. But if you have a good tight tolerance, then you’re good to go. The cost to repair that is replacement from the manufacturer. And it’s thousands of dollars. So you’re better off moving to the next pump and buying one where there isn’t so much wear on it. But it’s like a car that burns oil. I mean, it’s just a matter of time before it’s exactly when you’re going to have to replace. You have to replace the motor for $6,000. And why did you buy that car in the first place? It was, it was. It was a bad. It was a bad decision. So I know that your your business in years past you were a stocking dealer of food equipment and you’ve migrated more toward appraisal work now and you’re not stacking as much. But is it an unreasonable question for a buyer to call you on the phone and say, hey, Mr. Cuyler, I see that you’ve got this pump? Can can you please pull the cover, shoot me a picture of that? And can you can you put a feeler gauge in there and tell me what the wear is on that? Is that an unreasonable question? No, that’s not an unreasonable question at all. In fact, any appropriate used equipment dealer, that’s what they do. Cuyler food machinery. That was always our protocol. We take excellent pictures. We take a lot of excellent pictures. We’ll take the cover off we’ll get you right in there like you’re looking at it yourself. We’ll do videos if that’s what you want and we’ll remove those and give you an inside view if that’s what you want. It doesn’t take very long to do it. I think it’s good service. It’s not inappropriate because there’s nothing more awkward than a customer coming to your location flying in from someplace. Pick them up at the airport, bring them all the way out here to our warehouse. He looks at the pump and you knew that it was not very good, but you let that go until he came and looked at it. And then he looks up at you and he goes, “This is a piece of crap,” and he leaves without buying it. That’s bad karma. You left the really bad. Even if you paid for his airfare, you left a huge bad taste in his mouth. You need to be completely upfront. If it’s a piece of junk, you should buy it accordingly and sell it accordingly. OK, there’s there’s people that look for things to rebuild. They want to spend $500 on a pump instead of $4500. I have a $500 pump, here’s the pictures. Here’s the condition. Don’t say I didn’t tell you when… ’cause a lot of people will… Here’s the other thing, David, is that a lot of people in this industry with the advent of web sites that equate to almost an eBay where you buy this from pictures. Yeah, you ask a few questions, but it’s not like a relationship, a dealer-customer relationship, and they buy it sight unseen for thousands of dollars and they go through the freight, and they take delivery of it. And then whatever their expectation was that gets dealt with after they spent all that time and money and it might not meet their expectations. And you’re seeing the real estate market do that now to where you would buy the house and you would agree on all this money, but then you would send an inspector in after. Sight unseen. I always found that preposterous. Just like if you want to buy this property, it’s going to be without an inspection contingency not to be difficult. It’s you need to bid according to the condition of this house. I’m more than happy to accommodate your inspector prior to you making your offer. And that’s the way we like to do business. And I think that most of the other dealers will the ones that won’t do what you just what you asked. Buyer beware. Big time buyer beware. Yeah. Caveat emptor is there for a reason, and I guess it goes back to, you know, it’s you got to really ask the right questions and those are good questions to ask. Otto, thanks for your help today. My pleasure, David. Thanks.