Refurbished Fitness Equipment - Steps to Recondition an Elliptical

In a previous article on remanufactured elliptical trainers, I discussed the various kinds of used ellipticals: remanufactured, refurbished, and recondiitioned. I also strongly advise you to be very cautious when dealing with used ellipticals. Since they are most always sold "as is" without any warranty you are taking a very big risk.

The other side of the coin is refurbished or reconditioned ellipticals. Remanufactured ellipticals - machines that have been essentialy rebuilt at the factory by the manufacturer are pretty hard to find and don't come as inexpensively as reconditioned machines. I was very fortunate to have been put in touch with Bob Antelman of Pro Fitness Wholesale of Maryland. He graciously offered to put together an in-depth write up on the process he goes through to recondition an elliptical trainer.

In this article, Bob has painstakingly documented each step in the elliptical reconditioning procedure. I've had to shorten things a bit for publication here since there are just so many little details that Bob hits in the process that I can't publish them all here. However, hopefully I can present a good overview of just what's all involved in the process.

refurbished elliptical startThe elliptical trainer reconditioned in this article is a Life Fitness 9500HR, which is one of the true workhorses of the fitness club circuit. It's a solidly-built elliptical and can hold up very well to 1000s of hours of heavy club use. However, like any piece of fitness equipment it will eventually show signs of wear and may eventually experience the breakdown of one or more of its components.

In this photo you can see what the elliptical trainer looks like and its relative conidtion before the reconditioning process was begun. This particular unit appears to have seen some heavy usage at a health club.

Below is a list of the major steps in the reconditioning process (click on the thumbnails to see a larger image):

Steps For Elliptical Trainer Reconditioning

The first step in the process is to remove the plastic shrouds to expose the internals of the drive mechanism and pedal arms.

Here the front of the elliptical where the battery is located has been exposed. There's quite a bit of rust here that will be cleaned up later.

The Life Fitness 9500HR uses an alternator to provide electrical current to the eddy current brake, which is very similar to a car alternator. The alternator in this elliptical will be removed and inspected prior to reassembly.

There are 4 electrical components for this ellitpical: The "Alternator Control Board", the battery, the console, and the resistors that vary the load on the magnetic brake. This is a picture of the "ACB", which controls the load on the alternator.

This elliptical has 2 drive belts, one for the alternator and one attached to the foot pedals. Again, somewhate similar to the belts on a car.

The bushings on the lower pedal arms are removed. This assembly consists of brass bushings, a metal sleeve, and a bolt. On this unit, the bushings and bolts were replaced and the metal sleeves were cleanup on a bench grinder.

Here are the new pedal parts prior to installation.

The alternator is disconnected and removed for cleaning and inspection. Many Life Ftiness ellipticals use a Mando alternator made in South Korea. The rear bearing on these models typcially wear out so this alternator will be rebuilt.

Compressed air is a must when reconditioning an elliptical trainer. Here the entire machine is being blown clean.

All of the plastic parts on the elliptical, including the rear shrouds, are cleaned with an industrial cleaner and then set out to dry.

All rust is cleaned with a rust remover using a wire brush and sandpaper.

Cleaned up rusty parts are then repainted.

The entire machine is then given a good cleaning using an industrial cleaner such as "Mean Green".

The remaining moving parts such as the pivot arms and rear cam assembly are taken apart, inspected, and their individual components are cleaned, lubricated, and reassembled.

The of the mechanical parts are inspected and in this photo the drive belt is being treated with an automotive belt conditioner. The battery is also tested prior to reinstallation and the alternator is put back into place and its belt reattached and tightened.

On many Life Fitness ellipticals, the plastic shroud posts eventually break off. A fitness equipment repairman once told me this is common in health club situations where the ellipticals are placed too close together. Members will then kick the shrouds accidenatlly while getting on and off the machines. Here the post is repaired using "JB Weld" and a metal washer.

The final steps in the elliptical trainer reconditioning process is to reattach all the plastic covers and wipe them down with Amorall to give the machine a "like new" appearance.

And here is the final result. This elliptical trainer sells for around $5000 new, but this reconditioned one will be offered for $1899 with a 30-day warranty.

As you can see a proper reconditioning job is quite exhaustive and I left out several of the steps for the sake of brevity. So if you've been considering a true club class elliptical trainer and you have the room for it, then a reconditioned one can save you quite a bit of money.

Bob Antelman, the author, is a physician and the owner of ProFitness Wholesale of Maryland. He sells reconditioned commercial ellipticals and other fitness equipment in Maryland, D.C,. and Virginia. Visit his website at ProFitness Wholesale of Maryland