Selling Ham Radio Equipment

As an auctioneer based in Kansas City, David Schulman, WD0ERU knows a lot about selling things. But Schulman is a little different than most auctioneers: his specialty is selling ham radio equipment.

His business, Schulman Auction, offers an end-to-end solution for those families or hams who want to downsize their current estate, or completely liquidate their amateur radio or vintage electronics gear. They pick up estates from all over the country and take care of all the logistics of the selling process.

Although he’s been a licensed ham for four decades, he didn’t immediately appreciate the amateur radio community’s need for full auction services.

“I had a very large ham estate that I was selling at a weekly consignment auction,” Schulman says. “It did so well that I started thinking about taking ham gear online and see what happened.”

His auction business has grown substantially in just over a decade and he now has buyers from around the world and sellers from all over the United States.

While it can be easy to list gear on eBay or Craigslist, sometimes sellers don’t realize that they’re losing money when a buyer can’t verify that an item is actually “as described.” Schulman related one such case where he was working with a seller to auction a Hewlett-Packard signal generator.

“You could buy them for $300-$400 all day on eBay and other venues,” he says. “This one particular unit brought close to $1,000 dollars.”

Why did this particular one sell for almost three times the going rate? Schulman says for many buyers, getting the best price is about seller credibility. “When I asked what was so special about this unit, he said, ‘you tested it and provided all the data I needed, and I was willing to spend the money necessary to get it because I just never know what I’m getting on eBay.’”

What’s hot in the market right now? He says there are a few different things that seem to get the attention of serious buyers:

  • Collins gear, both S-Line and the black boxes, such as 75A-4’s, generate quite a bit of interest, as do the “newer” vintage gear from the 80s and 90s.
  • Anything Kenwood, Icom or Yaesu
  • Equipment that is difficult find such as a Hallicafters SR-2000 Hurricane Transceiver with matching PS-2000 power supply or a Hammarlund HC-10 SSB Converter
  • Military R-390’s and R-390A’s command decent prices and get a lot of attention
  • Hewlett Packard test equipment from the 80s-90s does extremely well. They were built tough, and are still extremely accurate if they were kept in decent shape

Schulman says that no matter how you sell your gear, you should watch out for some common shipping pitfalls.

“Always check with the shipper and get an estimate first. You don’t want any surprises,” he says. “In each lot listing we have in an auction, we include the dimensions and weight of an item. The shippers contact information is also included. Some folks are truly surprised when they only spend $10 on something, to find out that it will cost over $50 to ship.”

It’s important to remember that the value of an item doesn’t dictate the shipping cost. “All shippers — UPS, USPS, FedEx — charge based on dimensional weight of an item,” Schulman says. “If your 10 pound item that cost you $10 has to be packed in a box that is 20 inches on all sides, you’ll get charged at the 60-pound rate. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is in the industry now, and we have to keep that in mind when bidding on these items.”

Another piece of advice: don’t skimp on the packaging. Here are his tips:

  • Let the pros do it. Not just any UPS or FedEx location, but those that have the knowledge of packing and shipping this type of gear. Even though a vintage radio might have only cost the buyer $25, that radio might be one of a kind and irreplaceable.
  • Use double wall cardboard boxes and double box when necessary.
  • Wrap your radio in bubble wrap or plastic sheeting so that the packing materials don’t get lodged inside the chassis — but be careful because in some cases bubble wrap can chafe against the face of a radio and cause permanent cosmetic damage!
  • Styrofoam peanuts are difficult to remove from chassis due to static and breaking down and disintegrating — don’t use peanuts if at all possible on items that weigh over 30 pounds.
  • Use Styrofoam planking or foam inserts instead. It’s much more difficult for a heavy item to move around inside the box using these materials.

Buyers really like to know what they are getting as opposed to buying on self-service sites like eBay and Craigslist where they often see “I have no way to test this” or “powers up” — or worse. “I think this is one reason why our auctions have become so successful,” he says.

“I’ve talked to many families of SK’s who would have just scrapped their loved one’s ham gear if they didn’t find me,” Schulman says. “That is one of the things I love about doing what I do. I can’t save it all, but I know what I do sell will generally get into the hands of other hams who will use and enjoy the equipment.”

Matt Thomas, W1MST, is the managing editor of AmateurRadio.com. Contact him at [email protected].

18 Responses to “Selling Ham Radio Equipment”

  • Bob. Heil, K9EID:

    Just finished working with David since last fall. A very good friend had a lot of equipment, – high end, vintage as well as current transceivers plus many parts, tubes, etc. Most people wanted to come in and cherry pick the lot, which sometimes leaves a lot of odds and ends of no value. Contacted David, he and his crew of great guys came to the house with a 24′ truck. Cleaned out the basement. The gear brought excellent returns for my friend’s wife and family. We all have to be very careful about selling our gear today but no worry with David. He is the real deal.

  • Bob AC5BG:

    I’ve bought many items from David. Always a good deal and exactly as advertised. He takes a lot of the uncertainty out of buying ham gear online.

  • Robert Brackett KD2IM:

    Sounds like a good way to handle those SK estates.

  • Steve Herrington, KH6VK:

    I’ve bought various radios from David, and was quite impressed with the selection, information provided, and the ease with which the entire transaction was handled. The UPS store he uses for shipping to those who buy online is a little pricey in their packaging, but if you’re buying a old radio that is hard to come by, it’s worth it.

  • Lyman C Chancellor Kn4BSM:

    Would like to know how I could receive information on the items

  • Dee Cannice:

    Hi, have an enormous selection of ham radio equipment and electronics, gadgets from the very beginning of radio. My husband passed away and am left with everything imaginable including large antennas on our roof. I would like some direction as to how to sell this whole collection without going to have to sell them piece by piece. He has a fifty year collection of traffic signal controllers and boards. You name it, we might have it..even morse code items and first ww2 pilot microphone and transceivers – we keep on uncovering more and more. Need help in selling all of this accumulation. We read information on your site and became more educated. Makes more sense buying items from rather on ebay from someone else. Thank you very much.

  • Dee:

    Would anyone be able to help me buying the whole lot of ham radio gear, test equipment/meters/so many early communication items. I have an enormous amount – it’s been over 2 mos sorting things out and seems like we’re coming across more and more.

    Would anyone want to buy this whole lot – you could start your own business..it’s like a gold mine with everything I have..please try to help.

    Thank you

  • Cheri Fodor:

    Trying to get info on how to sell my deceased fathers equipment. A lot of vintage stuff. Help please!

  • Barry H./ W2DJQ:

    Want to clear out radio room. No longer active. 6 meter tube transceiver and other peripherals. Also have test equipment and box of tubes.

  • Kenneth Hess, KE6LEY:

    Trying to sell the following equipment for my dad, do you have any interest?
    Alinco DX-70 Transceiver – S/N T001942, SSB Transceiver Kenwood TS-520 s/n 240588, Comet Antenna model CA-HV, Bird RF Direction Thruline Wattmeter Model 43 s/n 247675

  • Ed Adelman W3HBA:

    I have used equipment to sell. A Yaesu FTdx 1200 with mic, power cord, manual. I do not have the manual.

    A Kenwood TS-590S with mic, power cord and manual. Original box.

  • Mark was W6NAT:

    I have a 3-500Z tube for sale $250.00 EIMAC

  • David:

    I have some equipment I would like to sell, icom 7700 many extras,… Need a fair price.. I will send a full list if interested.. thanks

  • Bill Carroll. Nu5c:

    My father passed away last year. I have 8 different keys for sale. One of them is a rare find. I can send you pics if interested. Thanks much, Cindy smith

  • Adrianus Schrauwen W6AJS:

    Selling all ham radio equipment dated 1990-2018 Sat, Jun 1, 2019 at Palo Alto, California citywide yard sale. Addresses featured on the official yard sale map that will be issued on the website and in the May 31 edition of the Palo Alto Weekly. Thank you.

  • John Brady WB1GCJ:

    Following Ham gear to sell:
    Kenwood TS-520S / VFO-520S / AT-200 / SP-520 / MC-50 / DS-1A DC-DC Converter.
    ICOM IC-255A 2M
    BENCHER IAMBIC PADDLE
    NYE STRAIGHT KEY
    SWAN SWR-1A METER

    Please let me know how I can sell the above gear.
    Thanks, John

  • BRIAN SMITH wb4ruz:

    looking to sell complete station

  • Harold (KA2ZFT):

    I have the following to sell
    Kenwood TH-25AT (2 meter radio)
    Icom IC-02AT (2 meter radio)

    Please advise if you can help

    Thank you
    Harold

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