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Thread: Grey market excavators

  1. #1
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    Grey market excavators

    I've been looking for a cat 312B or C excavator and I'm finding a lot of grey market machines for sale. I have a relative that used to be a cat mechanic and he suggested I stay away from them. His reasoning was parts can be difficult to track down on some machines making repairs very difficult. Do any of you have grey market machines and have you found chasing parts difficult? I've found some nice low hour machines that are 15-20K less than comparable north american versions which is very appealing financially. My preference would be to purchase a north american version, but we're talking about a significant chunk of change for a solo operator like myself. Thanks

  2. #2
    Founder Steve Frazier's Avatar
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    I had a John Deere 310 that was imported from Belgium. Every time I needed a part for it, the counter man couldn't find the serial number listed in his parts source. Often times the parts ordered for the machine wouldn't fit, the North American version was that much different.

    Once we established what the problem was, ordering parts became a bit more reliable, but usually resulted in a 2 week waiting period. There also was a hefty shipping fee involved each time.

    I wasn't relying on my machine for income, it was mostly for grounds maintainence here at home. I doubt I could afford the lay up time for each repair if I were depending on it for my livelihood.

  3. #3
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    That has been the big thing with gray market machines the parts for them .You would think that they would be the same but they are not.
    2005 F350 powerstroke Diesel
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    1985 Leroi 185 compressor

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    The 312 and 320 are very close to the US models. A friend of mine has a 320 the only thing different was it had 30 inch pads for swamp warks and a blade. The only thing with the blade was it had an extra cricuit for the hydralics in the rotary valve. It had to take a metric seal to fix that leak.
    Some of the Yanmar and Mitsubishi models Ill stay away from But weve owned a few Komatsus and Hitachis.
    THe hardest things Ive found to get parts for is the European grey market machines like MF, some of the JD equipment.

  5. #5
    Charter Member BKrois's Avatar
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    My friend is a heavy equipment/ truck mechanic. I saw this thread and when i was at his shop today i asked him about grey market machines. He said a few of his customers have grey market caterpillar machines and they didn't seem to have a problem getting parts.

    I got my Rock and Dirt mag. yesterday and there are a lot of ads for caterpillar parts. One advertiser even specialized in grey market excavator parts, here is their website- www.cscparts.com



    Hope this helps.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the information and the link. It's funny how I keep flip flopping back and forth and can't decide what I want to do I've decide to wait till spring (no use buying a machine that's going to sit for 4-5 months) to purchase a machine, so I've got lot's of time to decide which route to go. Thanks again for the information.

  7. #7
    Charter Member BKrois's Avatar
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    If you're looking to save money, remember-

    Hitachi and John Deere are the same

    Caterpillar and Mitsubishi were the same also in the 80's and early 90's i believe.

    Link-Belt and Sumitomo are the same

    Many Japense brands are the same or very similar to American machines, just different paint and names.




    You might want to look around now, sometimes equipment dealers try to make sales before the end of the year for their year end sales totals, might be able to get a good deal now.

  8. #8
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    Nothing wrong with JD/Hitchi and I'd buy one in an instant if they wouldn't have closed the local (15 minutes away) dealership a couple of years ago. Right now the closest JD dealer is about 70 miles away and cat 30 miles in the opposite direction. JD is in Tukwila where traffic can really suck and the hour+ drive can easily turn into 2+ hours. Even in the worst traffic the cat dealer is a 40 minute drive tops. I've also developed a pretty good working relationship with the cat dealership and they treat me well, so I'd like to keep giving them my business. Thanks for the idea though.

    I think this forum is going to be a real asset to a lot of us

  9. #9
    Charter Member dozerman's Avatar
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    grey market

    Be careful of these machines with questionable histories. I went to see a cat 307B with 1000 hours on it and found a rust bucket with (I am guessing) 5000 hours. This was from one of those direct importers (had 150+ machines in stock).
    You have to wonder, are the Asians so done with earth moving and selling idle iron cheap, so cheap that a broker can buy it overseas, step on it, ship it to the states, step on it again and still sell it 30% cheaper than local?

    As always, look over the iron and assume nothing.....B

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    I used to own a 311B (North American) and a grey market Yanmar mini.
    The mini's are OK to do, larger size like the 312 would be out of the question for me.

    If all warnings are in Japanese, don't buy it!
    John

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the responses everyone. Between your responses and my own predjudice, I've made up my mind that the gray market machines are out. I'm not a gambling man (especially with my own money) and there's too much risk for me. My luck I'd pick a gray market lemon and be double jinxed

  12. #12
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    They are cheap for a reason
    I've had luck with the mini but once I had to wait 2 to 3 weeks for a track roller.
    John

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    Komatsu PC75UU-1

    I bought a Komatsu PC75UU-1 from Canada and have had pretty good luck with it. I did have it throw a rod and had to scrounge a motor from Canada but otherwise my local dealer, Modern Machinery, has taken care of me. There have been some high shipping costs getting parts from Japan.

    I only use this as a personal machine to work on my acreage, not as a commercial machine, so my experience may not be relevant for those of you who will use ths machine harder than I do.

  14. #14
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    we have 2 grey market machines, one ex 160 & one ex 150 Hitachi Both were purchased thru a dealer, and parts are no problem. I thought the only difference was political, ie, dealers circumventing the official North American inporters, which would explain the cost savings. The only difference I am aware of is that the factory radios are tuned to odd frequencies, so they never really pick up our radio stations! Also didn't get the same warranty.

  15. #15
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    Thumbs up

    Well, I just sold my Yanmar after 5 years. It was a great machine.
    I replaced it with a new Kubota KX121 5 ton class excavator.
    I'm about to do the first oil change today and it's a good machine so far.
    John

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