Often it’s an entire household being sold off due to death or illness and box upon box of bric-a-brac must be gotten through before the auctioneer gets to the good stuff. And so I wait while tin cans of assorted screws and nails go for $0.50 and ‘slightly used’ china sets fetch a buck or two from locals trying to stock their tables for the weekend flea markets. By mid afternoon all the fleamarketers have loaded up and I am left with a few dozen others looking for deals on used tools, shop equipment, farm machinery, and so on. While everything eventually sells, not everything is worth what someone will pay for it in the heat of a bidding war, so having a budget and sticking to it is key.
Saturday was another auction day, but this one was different. The local feed store has an annual consignment auction mainly targeted at farm machinery and this year’s listing included numerous tractors, old and new, including one that would meet my needs perfectly and which should be at about the right price point (at least that’s what I hoped).
Although advertised as a farm machinery auction, the very first item I saw when I walked onto the property was a 1945 Indian Chief, fully restored.
It was absolutely beautiful, and would be coming up for auction in about 4 hours – at the same time as the tractors. So I wandered around, checked out the specific tractor I had my eye on (I confirmed it was exactly what I was looking for), and took a few more photos.
This 1921 Autotractor was a first for me. Apparently after the First World War tractors were hard to come by and so people would convert old cars into passable farm equipment by cutting them off just behind the engine and bolting on a rear end with massive steel wheels to till the fields and otherwise drag stuff around. There were even companies that sold nothing but these back-end bolt-on kits.
This one was particular fascinating because it looked like it hadn’t had anything done to it since the 20’s, yet started right up and idled nice and smooth. It had a homebuilt governor made from old Model “A” connecting rods with a 90-degree twist in them, a bit of chain, and a Rube Goldberg’ish linkage that worked. Also note the gas tank – the plastic jug with the hose in it sitting on the rear bed. I was ready to bid on it just as an historical curiosity, especially since it went for (what seemed me) an amazingly low price of $2500. I never did determine if the couple sitting in front of it were the owners, but they sure could have been.
A couple of other nicely refurbished vintage tractors that had their own appeal were a 1953 Ford Jubilee and a 1940’ish Ford 9N with steel wheels. Imagine driving that down the highway!
And my tractor?
Let’s just say I had the misfortune to choose the one piece of equipment that had 2 deep-pocketed and very competitive buyers interested. Within seconds the bidding had far exceeded my budget and, I expect, the actual value of the machine.
Perhaps next time I’ll get lucky.
Disappointment aside it was a great day just hanging around the auction, watching the proceedings, looking at heavy equipment, and getting a bit dirty and greasy in the process.
And, if you’re still reading this and are curious, the Indian sold to a collector in Peterborough for the princely sum of $18,000 – a helluva deal I think.