Harley Davidson FLHR motorcycle gas tank, $30.

This tank is in beautiful condition, fresh off a 2002 FLHR, which means that someone who owns a bike with the same paint scheme will be able to drop it right into place. Motorcycle gas tanks usually appear for sale because of all the wrong reasons, like dents or rust. But in this case, the guy had simply changed to a custom tank and didn't need this one anymore.

Now is a good time to introduce one of the many lessons you'll find here on Auctionbandits, which will - or should - work to optimize your thinking processes as you learn the mental part of this business. Let's discuss who out there on eBay would want this tank. Think about the fact that one of the parts that suffers the worst when a motorcycle is dropped or wrecked (besides the saddlebags) is often the gas tank, simply because it's made from thin sheet metal sticking right out in the open, just waiting to get damaged. The owner of a smashed gas tank may choose to have his repaired, if repair is even possible. This involves pulling out the dents, applying any needed body putty, grinding and sanding everything back into shape for priming, and then repainting.

As a final step, the fancy painted-on Harley name is applied. And what does the owner get after all that repairing and spending? Right - he gets a tank that cost more to repair than he would've paid for a good used tank, or possibly even a new tank. And just like a wrecked-and-repaired car, this repaired gas tank will always carry the stigma of having been repaired. But why is that important?

Always remember that the difference between mechanical work and body work is night and day. If I replace the water pump or cylinder head on my car, for example, the repaired area is essentially brought back to new condition, isn't it? The same goes for most all mechanical work that involves the removal and replacement of broken or damaged parts. When a damaged, broken or worn-out part is removed, the new one is installed in exactly the same way the original was installed, which in most cases means the repair is completely 'transparent.'

But repaired body damage is different, because instead of replacing a discrete part of a whole, you're simply patching up a part of the whole. Get it? Whenever a dented fender is pulled out, a new body panel is welded on, a rust hold is patched, or an area repainted, the vehicle is never quite the same. It may look great on the surface, but underneath, it's still a patch job. Now, does any of this really this matter?

If you're confused about the importance of any of the above, put yourself in a buyer's position. Let's say you buy a used car, only to discover later that the previous owner failed to disclose to you that he'd replaced the power steering pump, the radiator or a similar part. Would you care? Well, as long as whatever problem that existed previously has been taken care of with the replacement of the part or parts, why would you?

But... let's say you get home with your new used car and discover a few specks of paint overspray around the trunk area. A little more snooping around inside the trunk reveals the disturbing evidence that your car has had some bodywork done on it, which the seller failed to disclose to you. Would you care then? Of course you would! But if it doesn't affect the operation of the car, why would it matter if bodywork was done? It matters because the market - those other car buyers out there - say it matters. They say that a car that's had bodywork done on it is worth less than one that hasn't. And since you paid a premium for a car that should've been discounted, you were ripped off.

Although the above may seem like off-topic rambling, I urge you to think this over more carefully because it provides an insight into one of the most important abilities you can develop in this business: learning how to think like your buyers think!

This Harley Davidson FLHR fuel tank sold on eBay for $267.

Photo of fuel tank from 2002 Harley Davidson FLHR motorcycle