Originally Posted by Event Horizon
When my first argon came in the mail, it was in a box hardly even big enough for the laser head and power supply, with newspaper packed in to keep it in place. It was really beat up and didn't work. The second time I bought an argon on ebay it was packaged so well I couldn't believe it. Huge boxes, with the laser head and power supply in separate boxes, each with more then 6 inches of solid styrofoam on all sides. The boxes were trashed but the merchandise was immaculate. *8-)
Also, I do believe that the delay when starting an argon is because the cathode has to warm up.
I have three dead metal/ceramic tubes in my shed (waiting for hazardous recycle because of the BeO). I have tossed two broken glass ones (no BeO). One is in the hands of FedEx now awaiting damage claim assessment. I can't remember how many dead HeNe's have passed through my hands. Used gas lasers are a gamble, but the rewards are worth it.
If you are tight on funds, buy a "working" unit from a known source. It may cost you a bit more, but you are sure it will lase.