Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A day at the auction.

As the search for the perfect (read: cheap, in immaculate condition) tractor continues I am presented with lots of interesting diversions, generally called farm auctions!
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.

The story was that the owner had it from new and had just recently finished a ground-up restoration when failing health forced him into a retirement home, and the sale of his pride and joy.
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!
Each went for less than $4,000. Fortunately (or unfortunately) none of those met my requirements, else I could have spent a LOT of money that day.
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.

12 comments:

  1. Bummer you didn't get the tractor, but at least that means you didn't overpay.

    Pretty Indian too, must have been hard for the old boy to let it go.

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  2. Trobairitz:

    Yeah, too bad about the tractor, but there'll be others. The Indian was gorgeous. The pictures don't really do it justice.

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  3. Canajun:

    Too bad about YOUR tractor. I kind of liked that restored Ford and I don't even have a use for a tractor. I think that Indian was worth double what it was auctioned for.

    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast

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    Replies
    1. Bob:

      I was standing beside the guy who bought it. When I congratulated him and told him I thought he got a great deal, he just smiled and said "Yup".

      Delete
  4. Canajun - I think if I had the moolah I would have slapped it down for the Indian, what a beautiful bike! I always like looking at flea markets to see what there is out there and mousing through other people's junk, sometimes you find treasures. Very cool!

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    1. Dar:
      It was tempting but I was under strict budgetary control by she who must be obeyed.

      Delete
  5. I haven't been to any auctions in a while, but I love going. It's too bad the tractor went for so much over your budget, but as you said, there are always other opportunities.

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    Replies
    1. Lucky:
      They're a great way to spend a few hours on a nice weekend. Always something interesting.

      Delete
  6. $18K? wow... from the looks of it, someone got one hell of a deal. :) looks like a fun day! have you found your tractor yet, canajun?

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    Replies
    1. mq01:
      He did get a great deal. Still looking for that tractor and have a couple of active leads. Fortunately I'm in no big rush.

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    2. Canajun:

      If you bought that Indian and sold it for double, you could have had a FREE tractor plus perhaps an extra $10K grand to spend on a trip. What would "she who must be obeyed" say then ?

      bob
      Riding the Wet Coast

      Delete
    3. Bob:
      That's MY kind of thinking which invariably gets me in trouble because once I owned the Indian it might take quite a while before I got around to selling it. :)

      Delete

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