Junk In The TrunkBy
The choice between buying new or used traps is highly dependent on prices, condition of used equipment or a tradeoff from both. In the past I’ve done plenty of each, and expect to do even more in the future.
Last several weeks I did some used traps shuffling, with those I have little use for going out and others that I’ll use quite a bit coming in. You could say I swapped out some styles of traps for others with little net change in dollars spent. Most of the used traps I did buy are old #2 square-jaw coilsprings of various makes and vintage.
They tend to have weaker springs from the ravages of time than new models coils would if purchased off the shelf. For my use on the muskrat lines, that is ideal. I prefer a softer springed trap that is easy to set by hand in awkward positions. Also, the extra target zone these rather wide-jawed traps have is great for secured catches on muskrats and mink.
The conversations about which make – model – size traps are best for what use are endless without resolve. “Best trap” is all about personal opinion and nothing based on fact. To each their own. I can see great advantages and likewise disadvantages in most every brand and model trap out there. So can everyone else. Suffice it to say for this limited discussion here, I like #2 coilspring traps for muskrats and mink.
All that said, I fully expect used traps bought at what I deem fair prices to come with some warts. Whether that be bent parts, rusted chains, pan-trigger tune ups needed or all the above, I factor that into my consideration of purchase. Do I have the expected parts for potential repairs on hand? Or would the purchase plus cost of repairs not make sense as opposed to simply buying brand new (comparable use) traps out of the box?
This batch of used traps came pretty much as expected. Solid frames and jaws, for the most part just fine. However, a few of the chains were rusted beyond use. I’ve had enough chain failures in the past to be a real stickler about this when examining each trap, all season long. If the chain looks anything other than rock solid, it gets replaced.
Twisted chain tends to go bad much faster than machine link style. It holds dirt, debris and moisture in the folds. Even when the actual links themselves appear solid and firm, the twisted folds will often have weak spots hidden from easy view unless you look closely at each & every juncture. Tedious work best done in daylight, but necessary work regardless.
Even though these particular traps are strictly for mink & muskrats and will never be intentionally set for bigger targets, I still want solid chains on all. So I decided to replace the chains on roughly half the traps after close inspection. The good news is, I already had lots of spare chain on hand.
A local playground nearby was clearing out some old swing sets to be replaced with new. In a jumbled tangle ready to be sold for scrap was a couple hundred feet of mostly #2.0 twist with some short sections of other sizes. I quickly secured permission to scavenge every inch of that chain, and have outfitted several dozen traps with fresh links ever since.
These traps get five double-links from the base swivel and then a single stake swivel on the end. A length of 14-gauge or 16-gauge wire from there to secure on a wooden stake completes the fastening sequence. I don’t have time to treat these traps with speed dip (my preferred water trap coating) or anything else before they get commissioned to muskrat work next week. So that’ll wait until the dry heat of summer arrives in July, when I go thru all of my steel for the preseason treatment process.
For now they’ll guard various natural landing spots where cruising muskrats are likely to trip those big rectangular pans. I’ll pack some flats with me too just in case, but I have an idea that the water I’m about to set up already has a flotilla of wooden bobbers with traps set well ahead of my arrival. That means working around expected competition in other set locations and/or areas still available.
Later on this summer I’ll fortify my arsenal with a moderate pile of new steel. But whenever I see the chance to buy the right used traps in the right condition for the right overall price, no hesitation on going that direction as well. Still have plenty of excess chain and other spare parts waiting to be deployed on tired iron to come. One thing we definitely don’t want is any junk in the trunk :)
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