Finding Used and Reconditioned Electrical Components Can Be Well Worth the Effort
The challenge of locating replacement parts for old, discontinued, or obsolete equipment has always been a given for electrical and instrumentation contractors.
On one recent hospital renovation project, Omni Instrumentation and Electrical had to track down several old Westinghouse distribution breakers and buckets to provide a new tie-in. It took some time and effort, but in the end, it saved substantial time and money had it been necessary to purchase new gear.
While common electrical parts such as contactors, relays, disconnects, starters, fuse panels, and lighting switches can often be used in older equipment, many components defy easy replacement. These can include substation breakers, main distribution panel breakers, and CPUs, as well as equipment-specific plugs, wire harnesses, and mechanical hardware. When these types of components fail or are needed to tie into an outdated piece of equipment, there’s often no other choice but to find an original replacement.
The first step is to identify the equipment. If you’re lucky, it will be tagged with the make, model, and serial number, or perhaps a date stamp or old sticker, but more in-depth research may be needed. Once the model has been established, the search for parts can begin. For equipment under 15 or 20 years old, many used and reconditioned parts can be located relatively easily from large online dealers.
However, locating parts for older equipment dating back to the 1980s or '90s is typically much more challenging and requires a good deal more sleuthing. These components can sometimes be found on more obscure websites for used and reconditioned parts, on eBay, and from companies that harvested old electrical gear from remodeling or demolition projects. Try asking your usual sources for refurbished parts if they can point you in the right direction. Like a good detective, look for clues and follow the trail. Be prepared – it may take hours, or even days, to locate the parts you need, but in the end, the effort is usually well worth it.