Model Plane Engine Buyers Guide

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Model Aeroplane Engine Buyers Guide


This guide is intended to help people when buying Model Aeroplane Engines from eBay. As many people are aware eBay is a great place to buy Hobby goods but it can also be a dangerous place. Most sellers are aero-modellers so they are generally pretty good reliable people, but as in all walks of life there are a few unscrupulous types around.  As with everything in life, purchasing on eBay involves an element of risk.

Who am I?

I am an aero modeller who has been at it for 30 years.  My first passion is building balsa wood flying model aeroplanes. I fly Control Line and Free Flight, and have flown R/C but prefer the simpler stuff for reasons I'm not going into here.  I am registered with the MAAA and fly competetively in Control Line Aerobatics, also known as F2B.

Basic Rules:

  1. Always try yo buy New In Box with all paperwork included.  This is the best chance you have of getting a good buy. Providing the price is right that is. DONT FORGET TO RUN THE ENGINE IN if you are going to use it. 
  2. For Engines that aren't New in box or just not in a box, you are buying a lucky dip. Try to find out the history of the engine.  ie how much use it has had, what it has been used for and who by.  Some people sell Brand new NOT IN BOX engines. How do you know for sure that it is new?  You can't usually tell, you have to take the sellers word - usually.
  3. Beware of engines that have been modifed.  What looks right on the outside could be totally screwed on the inside.  I have heard stories of engines with incorrect, missing or damaged internal parts. Buyers obviously need to avoid sellers who do this - Always check seller feedback.
  4. Check Sellers Feedback - someone who has sold a lot of stuff and has a high percentage positive feedback rating is obviously doing things right and care about their feedback. ie their reputation. Take the time to read the tings that have bee said, don't just look at the numbers.  Beware of people who have a very low feedback rating or people who changed their eBay username.
  5. Ask lots of questions and ask for more photos to be emailed to you. If the seller is serious about selling a good engine they will have no problem telling you all they know about the engine and providing more photos.  If they are blunt or avoid the question, be afraid, be very afraid.

Things to watch out for:

  1. Beware of people who say things like "I'm selling it for a friend so I don't know...". Why cant they ask their friend? Don't they want to sell it for a good price?  This is a lazy way of selling on eBay.
  2. Beware of items with poor quality photos with very basic descriptions.  It doesn't cost the seller anymore to list and item with a good well lit, clear photo and a clear and accurate description of what they are selling.  If it looks suspect, then it probably is - make sure you get it for a good (ie cheap) price.
  3. Beware of things that sound too good to be true or something you know to be just un-true. Ask questions - put them on the spot. You want to be sure of what you are getting, before it arrives.
  4. Beware of sellers with low feedback ratings and those who have changed their eBay userID a number of times.
  5. Don't believe everything you read. Just because the seller mentions something in their ad doesn't mean it is true. Check information with other sources.

Novice Hobbyist and Buyers:

If you are new to the aero modelling hobby then eBay is not the best place to buy. You are not going to get accurate and reliable information from sellers on eBay.  You need to be a little bit higher up the learning curve in my opinion unless you want to waste some money.  eBay is really for those who know what they need and have some experience up their sleeve. I recommend new hobbyists join a club and or speak to someone they can trust before buying anything. It can be quite costly otherwise.

My Advice:

It's ok to buy the shonkey or dodgy looking engines, just be sure you don't pay too much.  e.g. I purchased an OS MAX 20 on eBay which had been advertised as "2nd hand - Don't know anything about it - selling for a girlfriends dad." I got it very cheap, and it turned out to be Brand New Unrun in box.  A great score for arounf $30.

However, in this example I took a chance and it paid off.  I asked the seller what can you tell me about this engine?  The seller replied, it looks newer than the other one I currently have on Auction. So yes I dd take a chance, but I was prepared to lose $35 for the chance.  It could have just as easily been a worn out engine.

The best chance you have is the photo of the item in the Auction. Try to get a good look at the actual item you are buying so when it arrives there are no surprises.


There are so many different things on eBay it's best to create complex searches and Save them for using to find a specific item.  You can also have the results emailed to you daily.  Here's one that I use: To find anything in O.S. Engines:

Type this into the search line on eBay >  (os max,o.s. max,os,o.s.,os max,o.s. max, osmax) engine 

Good things to buy on eBay when the price is right:

There are some really good things you can get on eBay that come up from time to time.  The secret to getting the right price is patience. Some engines like the Super Tigre G15, Doonside Mills, Cox Racing Venom, Cox RR-1, Saito 4 strokes, to name some of my favourites, sell very well and pull really high prices.  Just remember the one you see on eBay this month is not the last one on the planet.

Shop around, eBay is not the only place to shop and  there may be other sellers on eBay selling the same item.. There are modellers forums on the internet and there are a lot of people selling stuff in places other than eBay.  

However, don't forget the safeguards that are built into eBay as well. These are the real plus for buying on eBay. 

Thank you

This guide is currently under construction. I will be adding more information to it as time permits.  I hope you find it useful.  Please Vote below if you do.

Kind and Sincere Regards,
Warren Leadbeatter
Port Stephens NSW



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