East Moline, Illinois will host Mecum’s Gone Farmin auction starting March 24, where it will feature some incredible collections of gotta-have tractors and trucks. I suspect the bidding is going to be stiff and some new records will be set with many producers sitting on some big cash surpluses.
For those looking for a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, you’ll have your shot as a limited-production 1926 Bryan Steam Tractor, only one of five left in the world will be hitting the blocks. Advertised in old newspapers as a “Light Steam Tractor,” it was built by the Bryan Harvester Company, rooted in Peru, Indiana. The company utilized patented designs to create a revolutionary “tube” boiler for use in the 26-70, one that featured 600 pounds of working pressure and a two-cylinder engine that was connected to a live rear-axle, helping prevent any unwanted friction or power loss. Capable of speeds of up to 7.5 MPH and sitting at 142 inches long, the Bryan Steam Tractor was an odd yet justifiable purchase for those looking for a steam tractor that experienced less failure and provided more power.
I’m told operating the Bryan back in the day was quite simple when compared to farm machinery of the same period, as it was not designed to include a gear shift, clutch, carburetor, magneto, spark plugs or hand-cranking. Under normal conditions, the steam tractor was ready and charged in 10 minutes or less, allowing the operator to quickly and efficiently maneuver the tractor using a fire-atomized fuel burner. This innovation allowed the tractor to run on the lowest grade of fuel, an important cost-saving feature that farmers in the 1920s found almost immeasurable. From what I understand of the other four left in existence, one is housed in the Henry Ford Museum.
But this isn’t the only desirable item up for sale as collections from across the country will cross the blocks for two days. Below I share some of the other restored beauties that might fit nicely in your barn for the right price. If you are interested in attending in person, you can buy advanced tickets HERE for $15. You can also jump online and participate but your buyer’s premium will jump from 10% to 12%. Click HERE to view the entire auction catalog.
1919 TORO TO-RO Motor Cultivator – Staying in the same family since it rolled off the line, the seller’s grandfather purchased the tractor after returning home from WWI. I’m told the item was completely disassembled, sandblasted and painted before being restored to running and driving condition. I’m told of the few surviving TO-ROs even fewer are in running condition.
Oliver 2150 FWA Extra Heavy Duty Wheatland – Oliver only produced 1,018 of these special order tractors and of those, only 302 were FWA and 41 were Wheatland extra heavy-duty with the planetary rear end. As the farming landscape was exploding in the late 1960s, every manufacturer was scrambling to build bigger, heavier duty machines that could efficiently hustle through heavy tillage with a seven or eight-bottom plow. And they didn’t want to have their eardrums blown out in the process and Oliver delivered big!
1949 Massey-Harris 22 – This originally preserved tractor has never been repainted and still has the original decals and was originally sold in Canada.
John Deere 8020
1939 Peterbilt Model 260GD 5-Ton Truck – This is the only first-generation Peterbilt ever to be offered at auction and initial offerings came to be known as egg-crate Peterbilts due to their grille design. I’m told 16 were built in 1939 and 89 were built in 1940 and there are believed to be fewer than 5 first-generation Peterbilts surviving today. Interestingly, an Oregon lumberman named T.A. Peterman had been a regular user of Fageol trucks and when the factory closed down, some trucks he had ordered were left unfinished. He would purchase the factory from Sterling mainly to get his own trucks finished, but ended up creating one of the most famous makes of heavy-duty trucks ever.