Shop Doc – Why are there big differences in price from one rebuilder to the next?

Today’s Machining World Archive: May 2010 Vol. 6, Issue 04

Dear Shop Doc,

I recently decided to shop around for quotes to rebuild my 1-1/4” RB8 Acme-Gridley.
I sent the RFQ out to three different rebuilders and received three very different prices.
Why is there such a big difference in price from one rebuilding company to the next?

Confused in Cleveland

Dear Confused,

This is a very common situation in our industry today, but a little knowledge can go a long way towards helping you evaluate quotes for your rebuild projects.

Many companies mistakenly assume that the term “rebuild” means the same thing to every supplier. This is not the case, and there can be a great deal of difference between machine tool rebuilders as to what constitutes a machine rebuild. These differences have a substantial impact on what it will cost a rebuilder to do the job, what will actually be done to your machine and what condition your machine will be in when you get it back. For Rebuilder A, it may be standard practice to replace every bearing in the machine, and just about every part with a new part, while Rebuilder B might have the practice of evaluating all of the current parts in the machine and then reusing the ones that pass inspection. One rebuilder may always strip the machine completely down to the castings, inspect them carefully for damage or needed repairs, then repaint the machine inside and out, while another rebuilder may consider that to be more work than necessary.

The differences in opinion about what work must be done when “rebuilding” a machine is the main cause of the wide range of price quotes. Some of the better rebuilding companies offer a written procedure detailing what they do when they rebuild a machine. Many also offer what is commonly called a machine “re-condition,” basically a mini-rebuild, which is also subject to discrepancies from company to company regarding what work is included. A written procedure for machine re-conditioning may also be available.

A great way for a customer to deal with these discrepancies is to write their own detailed outline for what work they want to be performed, and use that as the platform for every rebuilder to bid on. Be sure to include as much detail as possible and outline what is acceptable to you with regard to reusing any current parts on the machine. Also, consider if you want the electrical system to be addressed, if there are attachments that will need to be rebuilt or added, and if there are any other upgrades such as adding a PLC, that need to be outlined. The more detail you have going into the quoting process the more accurate your quotes will be, and the fewer surprises you will have down the road.

David Johnson
Champion Screw Machine Engineering, Inc.

David Johnson is the Rebuild Manager for Champion Screw Machine Engineering, Inc. in Wixom, Mich. He can be reached at

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