If you find yourself wondering “Should I buy a longarm?”, that’s a good question, and perhaps a post for a future day. If you find yourself wondering, “Should I buy a used longarm quilting machine off of the internet?”, then this post is for you!
I am far from an expert on longarms or longarm purchasing, but I thought I’d take a minute to address the topic of buying a used longarm quilting machine off of the internet, and my experiences related to that.
A little background: I purchased my used Gammill Premier back in April off of ebay of all places. I was regularly trolling many different sites and tracking longarms that were for sale, trying to find a machine that had what I wanted in my price range (which was not very large, by the way. We had just purchased a new home and had a lot of moving and home improvement expenses). I didn’t actually expect to find one that would magically accomplish that; that would be one that I could afford and would have features that were important to me (reputable brand, all-metal head, all-metal frame). But lo! One day, I found exactly that. The price was so unreal, I thought, “Buy now, ask questions later.” And so, the following weekend, my husband and I drove 5 hours away to pick this thing up (after picking up a U-Haul trailer), and lugged it back.
Us on the road!
I was half-afraid that this thing wouldn’t work when we got it home, but that wasn’t the case at all. The seller was actually the granddaughter of the previous owner, and she gave me an invoice showing when the machine was last serviced, along with the manual and some nice extras, but she wasn’t a quilter herself, so she couldn’t give me much information really. Thankfully, the machine runs like a champ.
Which is to say, it worked fine and the motor ran, but it wasn’t immediate quilting bliss. I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t have growing pains with it. Because for sure, I did. And this brings me to my overall thesis in this story of buying a used longarm off of the internet. To answer the question of whether or not I think someone should, I say: maybe.
I didn’t buy from a dealer, so I didn’t get any beginner’s lessons or classes. No one showed me how to load quilts onto the frame, or told me how to maintain my machine, or how to deal with tension issues (which is huge with a longarm), etc. It was me with my manual, the Internet, and YouTube. I mean, even above and beyond how to use and keep up the machine, no one showed me how to assemble it. The manual showed a frame different than the one I have because it’s not the original manual, so you can bet that was a super good time to figure out.
Buying a longarm quilting machine off of the internet literally means buying one with no support and no guarantees. It ended up being one of the best purchases I have ever made, but it might not be for everyone. So, if you’re thinking about it, here’s some questions I think would be helpful to ask yourself first:
- Are you a patient person, not easily frustrated or if frustrated, not prone to giving up?
- Do you do well teaching yourself how to do things?
- Can you generally make things/learn how to do things from pictures or reading?
If I had to guess, and I could be wrong, I’d guess that most people who are looking at purchasing a used longarm online are doing so because they’re passionate about quilting but don’t have the money to buy a new one from a dealer. I understand! Even so, no matter how passionate you are about quilting, I just hope that this little glimpse of my experience helps prepare you for what you might expect, because even used longarms are a lot of money, and it would be terrible (not to mention inconvenient- these things are huge!) to have buyer’s remorse.
If you’re not someone who thinks that they could assemble a frame by yourself or learn all of this by yourself, take heart. If you are patient and thorough in your search, you may find a seller who is willing to help you somehow- either with assembly or with lessons or who will help show you the ropes. Also, I happen to live near a Gammill dealer who also services Gammill machines- so even though I didn’t purchase from them, I have recourse for repairs that I can’t do myself, which is a comfort! It couldn’t hurt to find out if there is a dealer near you who could repair your machine should the need arise. Additionally, many dealers sell used machines themselves.
In short: buying a used longarm off of the internet was worth it for me (so far, knock on wood!), and if you have a certain personality and realistic expectations, it might be worth it for you, too! The best advice I can think of if you’re taking up the search is: Look carefully and thoroughly, don’t settle, but strike while the iron is hot.
I hope this was helpful, and good luck!