Monday, September 19, 2005

Auctioning History - Worldwide interest in Heidrick antique farm equipment

Auctioning History
Worldwide interest in Heidrick antique farm equipment
By SHAWBONG FOK/Democrat Staff Writer

Daily Democrat Woodland California

Hundreds of people from across the country and around the world vied to buy rusty antique tractors and crawlers Friday in an auction whose proceeds would support the Heidrick Ag Center.

"I expect to collect $1 million," said Fred Heidrick Jr, the president of the Woodland museum that houses 200 pieces of antique farm equipment.

He was speaking about the anticipated proceeds from the auction that would support the museum "for eternity," he said

"I'll be able to relax once I'm able to fund the museum," said 67-year-old Heidrick, while standing at the auction site at 18189 County Road 97.

The auction continues today starting at 9 a.m. and is expected to sell 500 items ranging from a Caterpillar 22 Orchard to a John Deere AW 444166.

"They're all extras," Heidrick said. "But the prime stuff is in the museum."

The museum, he said, is losing money - about $15,000 to $18,000 a year.

"Most museums lose money," he said.

To survive, Heidrick has held the auction, where "all the money goes for a good cause," said Chuck Covarrrubias, 68, of Oxnard, who works in the real estate industry.

Covarrrubias bought small parts and lights to add to his antique collection.

Like him, hundreds from far away places like Australia and Argentina stood in a dusty area of rusted tractors and crawlers Friday, some built as far back as 1915.

The collection initially started 50 years ago.

Back then, Heidrick's father started collecting antique farm equipment.

"I worked with him," Heidrick said. "He loved tractors. He restored them and built a museum."

Now Heidrick is attempting to raise money to ensure its survival.

"It will be an investment for the museum," he said.

One equipment now at the auction was a John Fowler-made, black steam engine. During operation, it would help plow dirt.

"It's very rare," said 69-year-old museum-docent Joe Garcia of Woodland. "It helped get air and water down into the soil by opening up the ground."

Farming equipment wasn't the only delight at the auction.

Barbecued meats cooked amid white smoke and orange flames were served. They were drizzled with red barbecue sauce.

Dozens lined up to grab a bit to eat as a speaker blared out price amounts.

Many came here to add to their collections.

"I have close to 40 tractors," said 76-year-old Al Hauschildt, of Sonora, who owns a museum.

Asked what made collecting old tractors interesting, he said: "You put it together and you make it new. You make it run. That is rewarding."

Rich Gerbo, a 68-year-old retired plumber from Verdi, Nev., bought an engine for $25. He called it a "hit-and-miss" engine.

"I'm going to get it running," he said.

Many found out about the auction using high technology.

"It was on the Internet," said Lauren Langdon, 57, of Buhl, Idaho.