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Space Technology

Great Surplus Stores? 518

An old friend of mine, Todd San Martin, passed on a link to me of a great surplus place in Orlando that has lots of old nasa gear and more, and it made me think that it's probably time to talk about great surplus shops again. Not just the aforementioned skycraft or the well known Weird Stuff , although feel free to dicuss those too, but I thought it would make a cool post as a jumping off point for people to talk about their favorite shops especially those near aerospace facilities, both online and off.
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Great Surplus Stores?

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  • by checkyoulater ( 246565 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:12AM (#5500758) Journal
    This place has everything an electronics nut could want. And more.

    Not sure if they have an online presence. It wouldn't matter. Most of the fun is going there and scouring through the thousands of bins full of assorted electronic components. Whenever I've needed parts for any electronic project I have never failed to find the parts at Active Surplus.
    • by BSDevil ( 301159 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:18AM (#5500797) Journal
      Active a wicked place. Whenever I go in there, I always come out with exactly what I need, as well as a few things I don't. C64 games. Circuit components galore. And a NES headset with integrated light gun, primitive heads-up screen, and voice command to fire. Bought that beauty for about five bucks, and saw it later in a video store for fifty as an antique.

      As the Parent said, who knows if they have an online presence. Frankly, I hope (and have a feeling) they don't - if you only go to that place to buy certain items (without an open mind about what else is there) you're missing most of the fun of the place.
    • by MadCow42 ( 243108 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:23AM (#5500835) Homepage
      Man I love that place... anyone know of anything even REMOTELY similar in Vancouver?

      • Man I love that place... anyone know of anything even REMOTELY similar in Vancouver?

        I'm afraid the least worst in Vancouver is R.P., which carefully hides the surplus (what there is of it) in the back corner. Satellite Pete went out of business years ago. Sigh.

        You can also save your pennies and go to Boeing Surplus in Seattle. Radar used to be a hoot, but are no longer open on Saturdays. Sigh again.

        Saving more pennies and flying to Silicon Valley for the weekend isn't as much fun as it once was, un

      • Surplus in Vancouver (Score:5, Informative)

        by dstone ( 191334 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:46AM (#5501185) Homepage
        anything even REMOTELY similar in Vancouver?

        One place comes to mind... Cal's Computer Warehouse on the north side of Grandview Highway west of Costco and east of Superstore. Open late 7 days per week. Wacky place. Some new product but mostly surplus and used. Hardware and software by the scoopful. NICs, audio cards, cables, adaptors, and monitors galore. I picked up a bunch of Wyse 60s there once (they dozens to sift through) for a team of programmers' serial debug terminals. Prices are so-so, but they've been willing to haggle. There's also an old microcomputer museum in the back with some treasures that aren't for sale. Check it out.

        SFU used to have science & tech equipment auctions once in a while. UBC might also.
    • by Nutter9182 ( 621637 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:37AM (#5500912) Homepage
      Actually, I find that if you go in there with a specific list of components, parts, etc that you need, you'll be lucky to find even half of the 'common' components. They have a lot of stuff, but are missing even more.

      You're completely right about just going in there to browse, rummage, and scour their bins - it's my favourite store in Toronto for that very reason; you never know what you're going to find. Last time I was there, I came out with a massager and a squeaky rubber duck.. :)
      For electronic components (transistors, ICs, etc) though, they're not much good.
      • Agreed. If you want common electronic components, go a few stores east to Supreme. They have a decent selection of that kind of stuff.

        - Ed.
      • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:14PM (#5503530) Homepage
        Actually, they're pretty good for components - the problem is you have to saddle up to the front counter and ask. They're also very good about looking up equivalents for you and suggesting stores that will have what you are looking for.

        I have been going there for over thirty years and I've noted a few things that people new to the store should be aware of to make their experience a positive one:
        • Go there often - at least once a month. Make sure the guys behind the counter know your face by asking not stupid questions. A "not stupid" question is "Where can I find geared motors?", not "what does a resistor do?". They don't expect their customers to know everything, but there is a certain basic level of knowledge and intelligence expected before somebody can walk in the doors.
        • As part of the previous point, accept that everything there is "ASIS" unless they tell you otherwise. Asking what "ASIS" means will get an explanation geared for somebody with an IQ less than 50 that is delivered at a LOUD volume with questions afterward to make sure you understand what you have been told. Nothing pisses them off more than somebody bringing back an old cassette drive transport, demanding their money back because a pinion gear is missing inside it. They'll generally let (and help) you test stuff if it's reasonable to do and there isn't a huge lineup at the counter.
        • Don't ask complex questions between 11:30 AM and 2:00 PM. A "complex" question is anything that requires an answer longer than "Aisle 2". This is their busiest time and if they're answering your questions they're not taking in money and that pisses them off.
        • If you're buying something and you have people behind you, have your money/cards ready. Watching you fumble with your wallet pisses them off.
        • If you are looking for something and they don't seem to have it, ask when they'll have it in. There's always a good chance that it's upstairs or they're expecting a shipment sometime in the future.
        • Despite what they tell you, they're always getting in new stock. If you see something you like, but the only ones they have are incomplete or apparently damaged DON'T BUY IT! - they'll probably have more in stock in a few weeks or they'll pull more down from upstairs when the current stock is sold.
        • Learn Polish, Ukrainian or Russian. At the very least it's entertaining to listen to what they think about their customers (I caught them saying that they wished a certain customer, who was no better than a misbegotten dog (literal Ukrainian translation), and all their descendents would be hit by a bright bolt of lighting. This is a mighty powerful curse.)
        The simple rule is, don't piss them off.

    • by GraZZ ( 9716 ) <> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:39AM (#5500920) Homepage Journal
      Their site is here [], but it's less a web presence than it is their store hours and contact info.

      I'm working on my 2nd year ENGSCI design project (as a U of T engineering student) and have been going to Active and nearby Supremetronic a few times a day for the past week :P

      Active has an excellent assortment of odd motors (stepper/AC/DC/etc), keypads, odd electronic components scavaged from old stereos and computers, and they have all kinds of cheap, odd sized pieces of plastic. It's the kind of place that an electronics hobbiest can just walk into, wander around and be inspired by :)
      • Funny, until a couple of years ago, I TA'ed that course. I saw some wacky projects being built. A few good fires, too. That course probably doubled Active's revenue. The downside is that, instead of paying a few bucks more and getting the right [motor|gear|component] for the job, the students would bring back the closest thing they could find from Active and try to press it into service. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. Usually it broke during evaluations. I hated seeing that, especially if
    • This place has everything an electronics nut could want. And more.

      That includes a giant ape []! And no, I'm not making this up. =)

    • Active Surplus is great for motors and random electronics bits and pieces, but their computer-related product selection leaves a bit to be desired. If you're looking for computer stuff, you might want to check Above All Electronics at Bloor and Bathurst (on Bloor, north side, slightly west of Honest Ed's). A lot more computer-related stuff there. They had a pile of gutted 486-era laptops and laptop displays the last time I checked - great fun! :)

      - Ed.
      • The guys at Active Surplus are also pretty friendly.

        A big reason to like them is that they are one of the only places that stocks Mac parts. The suppply is a bit variable, but every now and then they'll have shelves full of Mac Pluses for $10 or bins full of Mac parts.
    • Activate Surplus rocks! I know it well and go there several times per year.. and I'm from Australia :)

      I wish there was something like that here :(
    • I used to visit Active Surplus regularly when I was a teenage geek (80s). Now I only visit Toronto once or twice in two years so I try to make the pilgrimage when in town at least to see what stuff is still their from the 80s, 5 years ago, and what's new and interesting.

      In the early 90s an aquaintance told me that Active started out in the 70s buying old computers in order to recuperate the gold plating from Connectors, Components, PC boards.

      Some of the neat things that I actually remember buying from t

  • In Austin TX (Score:2, Informative)

    by PD ( 9577 )
    Goodwill Computerworks has great stuff. No website though.
  • AxMan (Score:4, Informative)

    by Golias ( 176380 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:16AM (#5500782)
    In the Twin Cities, there are several AxMan stores that are just awesome. I had a Traynor bass guitar amplifier that had these massive vacuum tubes in it that needed replacing. Nobody else in town could help me, but rather than resort to mail-order, I went to AxMan, who had a wide selection of russian-made tubes, including the exact type I needed.

    They are the first place I look for mechanical or electronic parts, speaker wire, or just to browse through bizarre military surplus.

    If they don't know what something is, they'll just make something up and sell it off cheap. A very fun surplus store. I strongly reccomend it if you are in the area.

    • Re:AxMan (Score:2, Informative)

      by jarnies ( 626975 )
      got to give props to the axman reference. great store. for those in the twin cities area, take 94 to snelling, exit north and turn west on university ave. axman is on the north side after a few blocks.
    • Amen to that. I'll never forget seeing a bin of Teddy Ruxbin mouths they had one time I was there.

      Good stuff, sense of humor.

    • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:55AM (#5501216) Journal
      I used to run the Fridley store, then the Bloomington store. Many of the hilarious signs were made by me. (and many of the not funny ones too.) I still have a few good ones made by other employees...

      Alas, the Bloomington store is no more - I went there recently and there was just a hole in the ground. I guess my evil Teddy Ruxpin automaton finally took over the store, drilled a hole in space-time and destroyed it.

      You can see some of my (admittedly crummy :) handiwork at the St. Paul or Fridley store - just look for the display with the dozen car speakers attached to a metal screen.

      The nice thing about Ax-man surplus is that you can find other things there too; marbles, wooden blocks, plastic bits, nuts and bolts, baby doll heads, stepper motors, flat files, chrome trash cans, prom dresses, tons of laboratory glassware, aluminum stock, rollerblade wheels, nylon washers and blocks, remote control car starters, 500 gallon tanks, and really nice employees who are always full of suggestions for your project/halloween costume/plans for world domination.

      I worked there for 2 plus years, and have yet to have a job that challenged my brain and body like Ax-man. It's like a museum where the gift shop is all around you. If you are in the cities, it's a must see! Say hi to David and Bill :)

  • by thenerdgod ( 122843 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:16AM (#5500784) Homepage
    You want a generator? They got that. You want a Xerox Star? They've had 'em. You want an AT&T unix workstation from god knows when? They got 'em. Need 10Kv capacitors? Sure! Need a freezer? No, no, I mean a WALK IN FREEZER! They GOT THAT? Mannequin parts? THAT TOO!
    • by swg101 ( 571879 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:43AM (#5500945)
      Here [] is the site for the actual Mendelson's store.
      And you are so right. I love that place. I had heard about it, and just was able to go there last Saturday. Great fun!! everything from restaraunt equipment to the individual electronic components I needed (and plenty of stuff that I didn't know I needed until I was there)
    • I live 5 minutes down the street and not only is Mendelson's cool but within it is another cool store partsexpress at If Mendelson's doesn't have a part I need PE will. Mendelson's is an amazing place inside, it used to be more interesting but has multiple floors the size of a large walmart with aisles and aisles of things you would not believe. Geek heaven.
    • by killbill ( 10058 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @10:30AM (#5502565) Homepage
      Rumor has it there is an entire Huey somewhere on the second floor, completely dis-assembled and in carefully marked and tagged ziplock bags.

      The place is amazing... the electrical / electronics floor is probably about 2 acres (seriously). Electrolytic capacitors the size of a trash can... all sorts of very cool stuff (and lots of total junk also).
  • Not exactly NASA stuff, but Mendelson's in Dayton, Ohio has just about every electronic device I've ever looked for. If you want a resistor, for instance, they probably have a hundred thousand of the resistor you want.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:17AM (#5500790)
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  • halted specialties (Score:3, Informative)

    by mauztek ( 227918 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:17AM (#5500792)
    for those in Silicon Valley, halted specialties co (HSC) is a great place. It beats buying fans online where shipping is outrageous, and you can buy resistors individually.
    • It beats buying fans online where shipping is outrageous, and you can buy resistors individually.

      There's nothing I hate worse than getting stuck in the checkout line behind an old lady who's buying a few hundred assorted subminiature surface mount resistors. The clerk usually wastes a bunch of time trying to pick each one up with tweezers to attempt a barcode scan. This never works, so each one has to go under the microscope while he manually keys in the UPC. One time, the guy sneezed and scattered most

  • Surplus is excellent (Score:5, Informative)

    by buffer-overflowed ( 588867 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:18AM (#5500796) Journal
    Disclaimer: I did not RTFA.

    Around where I live the state holds an auction every week. You can get some great hardware if you're a geek there. Older AIX mainframes, SPARC-III's, etc.

    I bought 12 Pentium-2's there for $50 total (no monitors). Also bought a bunch of Cisco 2501s on the cheap there as well (I think they went for 1/pop, no one else bid on them).

    Basic procedure was:
    Show up, see equipment, submit a sealed bid, get contacted within a day, go pay, go pick up your hardware.

    If you live in a state capitol here in the US of A, check to see if they have auctions. If they do, go there, greatest thing next to sliced bread.
    • Universities do this too...
    • Older AIX mainframes

      AIX has not and shall probably never run on a mainframe. They DO call the racks that hold the servers frames. But then I did know what you meant! :) I would not mind finding a older workstation to mess around with. Also, I do believe that the AIX license is tied to the hardware so if they don' t have the disk with it you can probably call IBM and work out a deal for AIX 5.1 if the hardware handles it. Most anything that's beein out in the last few years will run 5.1 fine. Failing
  • by singularity ( 2031 ) <> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:18AM (#5500798) Homepage Journal
    If you are near Chicago or Milwalkee, check out American Science & Surplus [] for all of your unneeded science surplus stuff.

    I have been to the Chicago store and wandered around for a good couple of hours. I need to get to the smaller store near Fermilab (although I have heard it is not as big)
  • by John Miles ( 108215 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:18AM (#5500801) Homepage Journal
    ... is about the only electronics surplus outfit in the Seattle area, as far as I'm aware.

    In fact, Vetco [] is about the only decent electronic-component reseller of any kind around here, now that Future-Active Electronics [] has wisely decided that only Canadians are interested in buying electronic parts.

    The last time I was in Vetco, they were planning to expand their overall component inventory greatly to pick up some of the slack from the former Active Electronics store just up the road. Go buy some stuff from them now so they don't vanish too!
  • Go to Computer Surplus Science (not positive about the last word), located in the industrial district.

    They have literally thousands of computers of all types..from old Commodores to 1.5 GHz machines, all at 40% or less of retail price. I got the Dell Inspiron 8100 that I am using right now for a mere $800, and this was when 8100s were top of the line. Believe me, they're niiiice.
  • I wonder... (Score:2, Funny)

    by lommer ( 566164 )
    whether weirdstuff [] carries any surplus servers. They could use an extra few right about now...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:19AM (#5500813)
    As much as RadioShack sucks, if you know how to shop them, they will devalue most of their products to ridiculously low amounts at a steady pace. When I used to work there, we would on slow days, check the "devalued list" and find everything that has been devalued below 99 cents. These could all be products which had at one time been very expensive, upwards of hundreds of dollars. Eventually they make it down to the 99, 49 and even 0 cents range. (At 0, we would only have to check them out, pay nothing and take it home with us) Rarely would this produce anything really useful, but we got some interesting things, usually in surplus (a box of 50 old leather cell phone pouches that still kinda fit our modern cells for 1 cent each, originally 69.99) , various universal remotes for 49 cents each. We even found a couple old analog cell phones for 99c. My friend got a box of 50 mini butane torches for 0 cents each! Note: good luck finding a way to do this in store, but stuff used to appear on the website occasionally as "web specials"
    99, 49 and 0 cents - almost what radioshack merchandise is worth
  • Dumpsters (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aiyo ( 653781 )
    Dig in the trash behind the computer science and engineering buildings of a local university. You will find a lot of good stuff that can still be useful. I was able to pick up a large hunk of copper and some ibm model m keyboards just last week.

    Its free.
    • Actualy us engineers tend to make sure stuff never hits the dumpsters. Actully a good source is anything that sits in the halls on a campus marked for salvage. 4am smorgus board
      • I work in IT for a electrical, electronic and computer engineering department.. pretty much nothing computing ever gets thrown out.. except hard drives of 1GB capacity, broken floppies (drives and media)
  • Boeing Surplus (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:21AM (#5500822)
    Boeing surplus in Kent, Washington.

    You can get anything from an outdated computer to slightly used machine tools to airline seats to chunks of titanium. il /
  • Halted (Score:5, Informative)

    by rabidcow ( 209019 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:22AM (#5500826) Homepage
    I think HSC Electronic Supply [] is fairly well known around here, they mostly sell electronic components, but they have a lot of other stuff too.

    I always check there first when I need a new computer power supply or keyboard, or if I want a card that doesn't need to be the newest. I dunno if it'd be worth it if I had to go through mail-order tho.
  • by ocelotbob ( 173602 ) <ocelot&ocelotbob,org> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:23AM (#5500831) Homepage
    It's definitely one of those awesome little surplus places filled with quirky electronics items. Solid steel keyboards that put Model Ms to shame, old satelite test equipment, hell, they even have a generator to drive an industrial laser. Plus, they've got more traditional surplus fare, like military garb and the like. Great place to shop

    Addy for the interested is:
    10805 Central Ave NE,
    Albuquerque, NM

    There's another surplus store a few doors down that I haven't been in yet (hey, stop throwing things at me), but seems to be better kept up. Judging from experience in now closed surplus places, well kept-up means that their prices are higher and they have less interesting stuff.

  • This is a great place to find all sorts of strange stuff. I took my kids (10 and under) there not too long ago. They dreaded it before they got there. Oh no, another strange place that Dad is dragging us to. When they got there, they just about freaked. We spent much more time there than I'd planned, and they didn't really want to leave. It's not that there were any toys or other kid things there, but the wide variety of "junk" to look at and fiddle with really captured their attention and imagination
  • MSU Salvage (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pathwalker ( 103 ) <> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:26AM (#5500849) Homepage Journal
    When I was in college, I hit the MSU Salvage Yard [] (Located here []) every couple of weeks.

    I've seen everything from (lots of ) lab equipment, to a PDP-11, to the old clock from the campus belltower, to whole pallets of workstations for sale there over the years.

    I still try to swing by there a couple of times a year, to see if there is anything really really cool lying around.

    While it may be a long trip for many people, check with large schools near you to see if they have public sales of stuff that was lying around.
  • by pi_rules ( 123171 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:28AM (#5500861)
    But, this is the first thing that came to mind. . They themselves don't actually sell rifles, but have provided me with a lot of fun information about old WWII and earlier rifles that are still available.

    I'm really geeked really, because I picked up in a 1946 M44 Soviet rifle last weekend. Unissued... never been fired. The weapon's been around for 56 years wrapped up in paper and passed around but never actually handled, cleaned, and fired. I'm geeked... really geeked. I've taken it apart a few times, cleaned greasy goop out of it for about 6 hours, and just totally enjoyed the whole process. I'm hoping this weekend, weather permitting, I'll get to take it out and finally test the thing out.

    I tell ya what... I got that thing home, tore the wax paper protection and twine off it, then the underlying paper wrap, rubbed a cloth over it to get some extra grease off and was amazed. Here is an unfired Soviet weapon with a hammer and sicle on it. It's almost like finding a PDP-11 at a gargage sale to me... that had never been used. Granted, an unused PDP-11 doesn't exist; but it's almost that "neat" to me. Fifty six years sitting in a storage bin and I'll be the first human being to fire it.. how neat and geeky is that?

    I can pull it apart and inspect the workmanship that went into it so long ago. The engineering that has gone into making it over the yers before it's actual production... the circumstances that lead to it's creation and it's reason for being stuck in a bin for so long. Totally geeky to me.

    Granted, I'm going to use it to punch holes in inatimate objects rather than try and make a Beowulf cluster out of them... but it's still a huge amount of fun.

    • Oh no, I thought you were never supposed to take stuff like that out of the packaging. :) Erm.. or maybe that only applies to Star Wars toys geeks.

    • And may I ask why you didn't sell it to a collector, museum, or otherwise for probably a heck of a lot more money than you paid for it? Assuming it was at some cheap sale, you might have picked it up for a couple hundred bucks or less? I would imagine you could sell that to some enthusiast who is more interested in having an artifact from that era than just looking at it and shooting it for several thousand at least. If I ran across something like that I would have never opened it until I could find its re
  • When in Portland, visit Wacky Willy's []. Or Honoloulou for that matter, though I haven't been to that one.

    I can't begin to describe the incredibly varied assortment of things they sell -- from bins of plastic dolls heads to old vaxen to lab glass. They host some really cool events [] too.
  • Great Surplus stores (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Geminus ( 602334 )
    Gateway Electronics (not the moo moo store) here in San Diego has an excellent treasure trove of older electronics and parts. Really cool stuff!
    • Murphys surplus @ 401 N. johnson in el cajon, san ddiego CA is a great place,
    • If you're in San Diego, Industrial Liquidators is fun. Mostly mechanical stuff, but some electronic gear. I bought a World's Fair icepick there (ever try to find an icepick?)

      Then there's Murphy's in El Cajon. Want the voice hardware used in talking coke machines, or a gas cap with a built in mechanical fuel guage?

      There used to be another one down the street from Murphy's that was more electronics oriented, but I don't recall the name, and I'm not sure it's still there. I try to make a pilgrimage to one or
  • Minnesota (Score:2, Informative)

    by shirameroix ( 595121 )
    Here in the Minneapolis/St Paul area, there are a few cool surplus places around. My favorite happens to be Ax-Man. They have a lot of total crap, but they also manage to have a lot of neat electrical stuff too. A lot of that is also crap, but there is enough cool stuff floating around to make an EE major like me think up some cool ideas :)
  • Finest store I've ever been in, they just switched locations and look much less ghetto, although they have less space. Related story []
  • by shepd ( 155729 ) < ... com minus distro> on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:33AM (#5500888) Homepage Journal
    U of W surplus sale, on certain Wednesdays at lunch. You'll need to call up and find out more. All kinds of strange, used, and broken, university stuff, especially computers and furniture.

    KW Surplus
    666 Victoria St.
    Awesome selection of, well, surplus stuff. Computers, electronics, audio, hardware, all sorts of... stuff.

    Sayal Electronics
    Philip St.
    Some old used telco and other hard to find test equipment. Mostly overpriced. All sorts of regular electronics, though, and really cheap.

    Horizon Electronics.
    Victoria St.
    Used to have piles of strange electronics parts. Now mostly computers, but electronics may still be there (ask the salesguy).

    Princess Auto
    Victoria St.
    All sorts of hardware and a selection of strange electronic stuff. They have CC terminals for sale for some reason...

    Overall, this is a really strange thread. It seems like we're just asking for trolls...
  • WeirdStuff (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SynKKnyS ( 534257 )
    WeirdStuff used to be good back when it was owned by the original owner. After he passed away, the store went downhill. Recently they tried selling a Commodore 64 to me for $50 as is and refused to test it. Ran to the local Salvation Army and grabbed a working one for $10 and that included the disk drive as well. WeirdStuff doesn't seem to sell anything useful unless you have a need for flakey monitors, Sun Workstations/Macs, Pentium/486 class PCs, or obscure computer parts. Don't expect to pay surplus pric
  • One of the best places, and when they lost the lease on their old location across the street from the old (chip motif) Fry's in Sunnyvale they moved to a warehouse location right around the corner from work. I recently bought a used print server off Ebay that required a 16v AC adapter. Yup, Weird Stuff had it.

    Not far away at Lawrence and Central (also near the Sunnyvale Fry's) is HSC Electronic Supply []. Some old stuff, some new stuff, and if it's electronic they probably have it. You can occasionally get a

  • The Black Hole (Score:2, Informative)

    by bitchbat ( 619762 )
    If you are in northern New Mexico the classic is Ed Grothus' Black Hole, aka Los Alamos Sales Co which is overflowing with surplus crap from Los Alamos National Lab. Links and pics here: -hole/ ord.html ?pg=5

    and LANL itself has a great surplus sale once a month on the third thursday, or it was at least when I worked there.
  • it's called 'eBay'... []

    Gone are the days of walking thru musty warehouses full of neat stuff you can take home for a song.

    After all, this is 2003, and virtual rummaging from the comfort of home is all the rage.
  • College surplus (Score:2, Informative)

    by jjeffers ( 127519 )
    Big colleges generally have pretty good surplus sales. At Iowa State University [] we have weekly Surplus Sales []. University related departments and organizations get first dibs, but then the public and the students have free reign.

    Some prices are good, but other prices are ridiculous. I picked up an old HP Netserver this afternoon for $30, and they are currently selling on eBay for a few hundred dollars. By the same token, they had SGI O2's for $500 which can be had cheaper from other places. If you were big

  • by zollman ( 697 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:39AM (#5500921) Homepage
    From memory, when I was 16... close to 10 years ago:

    - capacitors the size of pint glasses
    - a wall of "building block" chips, like you'd play with in 1000-level electronics classes.. at really cheap rates
    - mini-switches by the handful
    - random keypads, with or without protruding cable
    - a wall of magnets, ranging from magnetized-paperclip strength to "do not operate near pacemakers"
    - Oscilloscopes clearly designed for use by squid or other multi-tentacled beasts
    and racks and racks of things which, to this day, I don't think I could identify. My brother and I spent hours there dreaming up the things we wanted to build. Which, I suppose, is the sign of a good geek.

    Anyone know of a place like this in the DC area?
  • by NeuroManson ( 214835 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:40AM (#5500929) Homepage
    These guys have a constantly moving stock of computer hardware and technology from up to 20 years back. One such piece that they have on display (unknown as to if it's for sale) is an ancient 16" 5MB IBM HD. They also have ancient Sun systems, servers, server racks, and a ton of miscelleneous hardware that one could spend a lifetime decyphering the usage of. It's in Tukwila, on Andover Park West, just a block south of Southcenter Mall.

  • Northern California (Score:4, Informative)

    by HotNeedleOfInquiry ( 598897 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:43AM (#5500937)
    My two favorites are Surplus Stuff in Sacramento and Mike Quinn's in San Leandro. I've been trading at Mike Quinn's since 1972. It is an icon of East Bay electronics. Mike Quinn passed away about 20 years ago, but the torch has been carried by his daughter and Jay. About a month ago Jay sold me a 1hp 3-phase motor, brand new, for my lathe. Cost - $10. Retail price - $288.00.
  • University Surplus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xunker ( 6905 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:43AM (#5500939) Homepage Journal
    Here at the University of Utah [] they have the "Property Redistribution" bullding, aka 'Surplus []'. They sell everything remaindered by the university, usually really old; They've had every manner of medical electronics, musical instruments, computers and office furniture -- even cars )if you don't mind Ford Tauruses and Chevy Luminas). Right now they have a Sun 690MP and SGI Iris up for bid.

    I've bought at least 500 bucks a crap fromt eh in teh alst two years: 3 Powermacs, 1 laptop, 2 monitors, 2 hubs and an SGI Multilink adpater (for $10 bucks that I sold on eBay for $300).

    I've heard similar stories about UCLA, Oregon State and Texas A Basically, the universities strongest curiculae will have surplus from that, and for the UofU it's medical and computers.
    • Hah, who would BID on a 690MP, a friend of mine picked up the refridgerator sized 690MP @ our local Uni surplus for $50, because he wanted the case. They had 4 of them available. I Gave him $20 for the box inside from which i gutted a couple microsparc proccesors, a couple sbus nics and an sbus serial card.
  • American Science and Surplus on Milwaukee Avenue. Be prepared to waste large amounts of time there.

    Still looking for the equivalent here in San Francisco...
  • The Black Hole (Score:3, Informative)

    by jeffmock ( 188913 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:45AM (#5500959)
    I haven't been there in about four years and at the time Ed Groethus, the owner, didn't seem to be in such great health, but I think the place is still there.

    The Black Whole [] near Los Alamos, NM is quite a site. Most of the surplus stuff is from the nearby national lab. The place has been there maybe 40 years and is filled with crazy nuclear related stuff. Ed Groethus, the guy that owns the place seems to be very fond of much of his junk, so it can be tricky to get him to part with the good stuff.

    Everyone calls the place "The Black Hole", but I think the real name is something more boring like "Los Alamos Salvage". It's definitely worth the trip if you're within 500 miles and are mesmerized by bits of shiny metal.

    • Re:The Black Hole (Score:2, Insightful)

      by eecue ( 605228 )
      los alamos sales rocks...
      i used to work there [] sombody else mentioned UCLA... i'll have to check that out. there used to be a place in southern california (artesia) that is no longer in existence. anybody know of any good socal places? -eek
  • by zatz ( 37585 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:53AM (#5500987) Homepage
    SkyCrap is indeed a fun place. They always have what looks like a row of ancient disk cabinets lined up out front, and a huge bin of useless popcorn boards just inside the door. Their capacitor aisle is really scary, I'm sure it would be useful for those backyard railgun projects. I mostly find myself there when I need some weird connector or a length of cable cut. Ony my last visit I picked up some case fans, and considerably cheaper than I could have any place that sells them as PC hardware.
  • Back in the day, I used to go to Collins Surplus in Cedar Rapids. This is the Collins that makes aircraft avionics and a bunch of radio-related products. I remember they had stacks of HP o-scopes from floor to ceiling, and you could always find some oddwad prototype (or pieces thereof) in the parts bins.
  • Skycraft Kicks Ass (Score:3, Informative)

    by sfe_software ( 220870 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @01:56AM (#5500997) Homepage
    I moved from Kissimmee, FL to Alpharetta, GA a little over a hear ago, and the one thing I miss the most -- being an electronics geek as well as a computer geek -- is Skycraft (linked in the summary). That place kicks butt.

    I found many things there that I haven't been able to find anywhere since. RF transistors, various ICs, and even neat little LCD displays (50 cents each!) that I used in a couple MP3-player projects (via parallel port)...

    I so miss that place. The poor guy at the Kissimmee Radio Shack who told me about that place doesn't understand the amount of business he lost from me ;)
  • Anyone know of a similar place (electronics surplus) in the Atlanta area? I miss Skycraft very much since I moved from the Orlando area, and have been looking, without success, for a similar place here for the last year...

    Down there a Radio Shack employee pointed me to Skycraft (I was looking for RF transistors), and I'd been going there weekly ever since. Now that I'm in Georgia, I'm desparately seeking a similar store...

  • Anyone know of an electrical surplus in Denver Colorado? I could really use one.
  • It doesn't get any better than this. Some really cool stuff ends up here. Pretty much every type of fitting, wiring, harness, computer, rack cage, etc etc etc etc etc ends up here. It's truly like being in a candy store. Bring your cash though, 'cause that's all they accept.
  • [I'd like to say that I haven't been to one of these for YEARS so I don't know if they still happen...]

    Well, it used to be a closely-guarded secret, but the secret's out now, so I don't care anymore. They have surplus sales on the first wednesday of every month. GOOD stuff, too! The last time I was there, there was a HUGE non-working laser for sale, make an offer, only qualified offers accepted(ie: you could reasonably hope to fix the damn thing - the prof offering it didn't want it sitting as a curious
  • Unclaimed Baggage (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tmack ( 593755 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:21AM (#5501094) Homepage Journal
    Ever wonder where Lost and Found Items end up after sitting at the airport/train station/where ever? Scottsboro, Alabama, just outside downtown [sic] Scottsboro in a store advertised for many miles around as "The Unclaimed Baggage Store" [].

    While not necessarily Surplus, they do normally have alot of strange stuff turn up (including a puppet/costume used to make the movie Labyrinth). They normally have thousands of CD's, tons of clothing, lots and lots of camera equipment, camping stuff, random computer stuff (got a IBM3725 terminal there for $5 couple years back, and a 24port cabletron management switch for $90) and other junk. I usually go by there a couple times a year just to see what turns up.


  • Don't let the name fool you. Sure, the selection may be limited at times, but in general, this place rocks. Everything you would want to find from drill bits to keyboards to the same SEGA Channel adaptor that's been there for years. There should be one in every Canadian city if you go looking. Otherwise, try Here []

    Also, from what I can remember, Ribtor Surplus [] in Calgary is a fantastic shop. I picked up an old WWI-vintage helmet just for kicks but they have much more. More like a Princess Auto for non
  • by KC7GR ( 473279 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:37AM (#5501156) Homepage Journal
    At the risk of blowing one's own horn, I have listings of Bay Area (California) and Puget Sound region surplus stores and swap meets at this link. [] There's also links to other resources.


  • There *used* to be a whole street of them along Canal, of which the kings were Canal Surplus, presided over by the friendly and way-overinformed Stan, and Space Metal.
    Of the once mighty twenty or so, only Industrial Plastics, which isn't really surplus, is left. Down on Chambers ( few blocks south) there used to be Alexander's Hardware, largest, cheapest, and sometimes best of them all for mech gear.
    Tell ya, though, I'm selling off everything I ever bought at those places this very month, from steppers to 1/4 horsepower to gears, to screws and bolts, to tiny Japanese demon faces. Anybody want to buy the stock of an entire prototyping lab cheap better contact me now. The drill press is already spoken for, as are the three milk crates of SCSI and monitor cables, the bags of glass tubes, the fine rod stock, ...

    The times, they are a changin.

  • by Brett Johnson ( 649584 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @03:02AM (#5501242)
    Building 19 (and all its fractional branches scattered throughout the Boston area) would sell the most bizaar stuff - mostly insurance salvage. When the windows started popping out of the John Hancock tower in Boston and crashing to the street below, they would be replaced with 4x8 sheets of plywood. After a while, the Hancock tower looked like it had some kind of plywood pox. Eventually it was found that the windows were not up to spec and all needed to be replaced. Shortly thereafter, Bldg 19 advertised 4x8 glass table tops. They weren't allowed to say where they got the plate glass, but they did say it would look much better as your dining room table than a sheet of plywood. That was 12 or 15 years ago, but I still laugh my ass off when I think about it.
  • by drwho ( 4190 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @03:02AM (#5501247) Homepage Journal
    Forget, in Cambridge, MA (Boston) -- while it was good when I was a kid and went ther ein 1982, it sucks now. I live in the area and let me tell you, what they charge for their overage sparc 20s and old crap just isn't worth it. Not even close. I know they do a lot of business mail order these days, maybe that explains the horrible attitude. When ever you try to get someone there to ask a question it is like pulling teeth. On top of that, they sell stuff as new that doesn't work. These guys are cheeseballs, I don't know how they stay in business sell Sparcstation 10s for $120. Twenty years ago, this was the tech mecca of mass, but now they suck, and not just a little bit. I hope they go out of business.
  • London (Score:3, Informative)

    by Usquebaugh ( 230216 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @03:10AM (#5501271)
    Distel [] was always the place to go. About twice a year I'd trudge over to them and see what they had. Mind you that was 15+ years ago and they're still going strong.
  • by mindslip ( 16677 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @05:14AM (#5501635)
    I've been going to "Freddie's" (Active Surplus for the uninitiated) since I was about 5. I'm now 28. Freddie was one of a big handful of electronics surplus stores in the late 70's/early 80's on what is now a *much* different Queen St. West strip. The earliest computer stores in Toronto were all on Queen St, from McCaul (by the City TV building) to Bathurst, about a kilometer over.

    Freddie always (and still does) specialized in surplus junk, but the store used to be divided half-and-half with a double-door sized entranceway between them. One half, resistors, capacitors, all neatly sorted in cardboard bins (as they are today), and random electronic type junk. The other half, power tools, sheetmetal stuff, mechanical junk of all sorts. Nowadays it's mostly resistors, caps, discreet parts, and bizarre job lots of strange old electronic throwaways. You think it's interesting now? Try a quarter century ago!

    Anyways, along with Freddie, there was Jackson, who I only knew as such (my Dad would know his full name, I was like 5-10 yrs old), who had a huge shop on McCaul St, a bit bigger than the electronics side of Freddies, but more oriented to complete bits of electronic junk, rather than discreet parts. He closed down late 80's if I recall, and I think he's somewhere in Vancouver now.

    Electronics surplus wasn't the only game in Toronto in the 70's though. My Dad was one of the first people to bring in Apple ][+ clone motherboards, with an outfit called Aftek, which was on Queen more towards the Bathurst side. Nazir, the character behind Aftek, had his guys physically trace an Apple motherboard, with pencil and tracing paper, and with parts from Active Surplus, Dad and I soldered the chip sockets and resistors by hand in our basement.

    I was still in the single digits at the time, and even before that, at 4 1/2, we had built a ZX81 kit which was bought from Active Electronics (not Active Surplus), about 10 doors east of Freddies.

    That whole stretch of Queen was the introduction of personal computers to Toronto, and probably in a large way, to Canada. From East to West, Active Electronics, "Joe", who ran Perfect Electronics (I think it was called that... it's still there, but it's now a PC white-box and accessory shop), Active Surplus, albeit slightly changed but with the same guys behind the counter, Aftek, long gone although Nazir is still a friend of the family and still in computers, and then "Albert's", or "Supremetronics". He was at the corner of Spadina and Queen, and stuck it out for the longest time, I think he was nearly 70 when he closed up shop a few years ago.

    I'm not 100% sure of the accuracy of all this... I was so young it's all blurry memories and urban legends to me now.

    There's no more hand-soldering of basement-etched cloned motherboards, but that stretch of Queen St., and a bunch of guys who *loved* collecting junk (you should see my Dad's garage and basement!), and had a real passion for these "new computer things", introduced a big city to a big industry.
    They were the pioneers of gadgetry in Toronto, and a big bunch of idols and friends in my childhood.
  • by smartin ( 942 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:10AM (#5502126)
    Wierd stuff used to put a sticker on things saying "This is guarenteed not to work, if it does work you are welcome to return it for one that doesn't?"
  • DoD Surplus Sales (Score:5, Informative)

    by stress4dad ( 572234 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:29AM (#5502204)
    Check out for information on US Dept of Defense surplus sales. In my former life in the military, I used to go to the surplus warehouse regularly to look for electronics. You could get a pallet of ~3 year old PCs for under $100 sometimes, and if you open these babies up, sometimes you will find some nice upgrade parts in them (large, newer harddrives, memory, etc...). One time I bid on a sale lot of office equipment ( I wanted a couple of filing cabinets). I won the bid for under $150...but then I realized I needed a full sized UHaul to move all the stuff. Had to have my own surplus sale after I got all that stuff (mostly desks and cabinets) to my house.
    • Cool!!! (Score:3, Funny)

      by evenprime ( 324363 )
      Check out for information on US Dept of Defense surplus sales.

      I'm really glad that they have FSC 8810 [] - I always wanted to buy an army surplus cow!!! ;-)

      Seriously, though, it is a really good site. I just wish I could save enough pennies to buy something in the FSC 1810 catagory.
  • by zogger ( 617870 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @09:43AM (#5502262) Homepage Journal
    guys! There's more to fun than just electronics, real surplus stores also got military surplus. Geez I had so much fun at the old real army/navy stores used to be around. When I was a kid you'd go in one they had freeking bazookas hanging on the wall and torpedoes hanging from the ceiling and carried REAL STUFF. Oh man it was neat, I bet 3/4's of the stuff now is politically incorrect. sigh. Oh well, the better ones:

    here's some larger ones with online presence:

    check this one out, some amazing stuff

    Now this isn't a surplus place, but it's pretty spiffy. Catalog that carries Xtreme low tech but functional devices, thing geek stuff for the amish, too cool, check it out

    There used to be and might still exist an atlanta area electronics and stuff surplus stores called "Peachtree Salvage", they used to have several stores, I looked on google but didn't find a link that looked good, and it's been a few years since I have been to one,or atlanta for that matter, but if they still exist they had tons of odd stuff

  • by gatekeep ( 122108 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @11:45AM (#5503250)
    In Chicago, I've found nothing that beats American Science and Surplus [] and you can order online now too! Not only do they have cheap surplus parts and scavenged 'junk,' but they carry a lot of new chemistry equipment and supplies, all sorts of glass lab products, telescopes, etc. It's a goofy store to describe, but when I need something, it's easy for me to figure out if they'll have the type of thing I need.

    I once found a couple 12VDC fans there for like $4, then went next door to radio shack and found the SAME FANS for $12. Can't go wrong with that!
  • Ottawa, ON (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gray ( 5042 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @12:42PM (#5503778)
    Computer Recyclers, 163 MacFarlane Road off Marivale. (613)723-3135

    Not even in the same league as Active Surplus in Toronto, but not too shabby either. Lots of neat old corperate stuff, cheap U racks, steppers, power supplies, etc.

  • C&H Sales, Pasadena (Score:3, Informative)

    by angst_ridden_hipster ( 23104 ) on Thursday March 13, 2003 @02:17PM (#5504735) Homepage Journal
    When I was growing up, this was The Place.

    They're still around --

    I live a ways away now, so I haven't been for a long time. But back when we were assembling computers by hand (S100 type stuff, and tricking out our TRS-80s), you could get great stuff there. Then in college, when I needed stepper motors, they were there for me.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982