Monday, March 4, 2013

Farm Machinery Consignment Auctions

I have recently attend two farm equipment auctions, ran by a local auction and real estate company. The first was the 32nd Annual London Farm Machinery Consignment Auction, held in London, KY. The second was the 38th Annual Brodhead Farm Machinery Consignment Auction, held in Brodhead, KY. I was fortunate to find out about the auctions. Some co-workers of my uncle had previously gone, and he had been trying to find out information about the next dates. He asked for me to let him know if I heard anything, so I asked around at work and was able to get enough information to track down the schedule for this year.

Prior to the auctions I did a great deal of research to prepare. I began by posting a question on TractorByNet asking for some advice about the types of implements that might be most useful in my situation. With that information, and along with what I already had in mind, I made a list of the items I thought I might want to look for. Next I watched videos on YouTube of each implement being used. The videos that I found most helpful were those by Everything Attachments, which is a North Carolina based company specializing in tractor implements and attachments.

Once I had a good list of items I might be interested in purchasing, I began the process of determining the price I might be willing to pay. I looked up new prices for each item on three different web sites, and then checked the prices for used equipment on two different sites. When I finished this I made myself a simplified version of the list to take to the auction with me that included the items I was most interested in purchasing, along with the maximum price I was willing to pay.

In addition to this list I also took a notepad and pen, so I could record the lot numbers that I wanted to bid on. In hindsight I also wish I had used the notepad to record the price that each of those items eventually sold for. I also took a tape measure, so I could check the width of the implements, and a toplink pin that I could use to quickly verify that the attachment was a Class 1, which is what my tractor requires.

On the day of the London Auction I arrived approximately 45 minutes early. After getting my bidder number I began walking the grounds in search of lots to bid on. The items I was most interested in were: a boom pole, a 5' box blade, and a 14" or 16" single bottom plow. I was also on the lookout for a 6' tiller for my uncle, who was coming to the auction along with my dad. I located a few plows, several box blades, and a single boom pole. Unfortunately, however, I wasn't clear on the order in which items would be auctioned, and also didn't realized that two auctions were going to be occurring simultaneously.

I ended up missing the auctioning of most of the box blades I was interested in, because they were done by the second auctioneer that I was unaware of. I was there to see two older 6' blades auctioned off, but those weren't in the condition I wanted, and they sold for more than I was interested in paying. I was able to get in on the bidding of one new 5' box blade but was outbid by $10. I was unwilling to bid any higher than the maximum I had decided on, but in hindsight I wish I had kept bidding. The plows all sold for more than I willing to pay, as did the boom pole, which, to my surprise, sold for half of the cost of a new one.

Even though I left my first auction empty handed, I feel it was well worth the time investment. I learned quit a bit about the process, and determined that I would need to adjust my expectations if I was going to make a purchase as the next auction.

I went into the Brodhead auction with the same list as before. I did, however, decide that i was willing to bid a bit more than before, especially for a nice box blade. It was cold and snowy the day of the auction, so I was optimistic that the weather would work in my favor. I would guess that there were maybe half as many bidders at this event, but that may have had as much to do with the size and location of the venue as the weather. There weren't as many lots up for auction as in London, but there were several plows, three or four box blades, and four boom poles.

Like the previous auction, the plows all sold for more than I was willing to pay. It has become clear that I need to either adjust the price I am willing to pay, or consider a double plow, which seems to be more popular and easier to find than a single plow.

Two of the boom poles were made from square tubing, rather than the round that I had been looking at. I knew the square would be stronger, so I was willing to pay twice as much for one of those. The first one sold for just over my limit, but was in a lot with one other item, so I reasoned that I should be able to pick the other square one up for somewhat cheaper. To my surprise, however, it sold for quite a bite more. I bid $25 over my limit, but was unwilling to go any higher and it sold for $40 more than my set price. I missed the bidding on one of the round boom poles, as I hadn't seen it in my initial inspection of the items. The other sold for even more than the one the previous weekend, so i didn't even bother putting in a bid.

The first few box blades that sold were older 6' models, that were missing some, or in one case all, of their teeth. After seeing some blades at the previous auction sale with missing teeth I had checked the prices for replacements, and found the price to be enough to significantly impact what I was willing to pay for an incomplete item. Those sold for more than I was willing to pay, which I suspect may be because the 6' blades are more popular than the 5' blade.

The box blade I was most interested in was one of the very last items to be sold. Fortunately it was with sight of the truck, so I was able to sit in the truck for some time and warm up. The day had started out cold, but it had gotten colder as the auction progressed, so I was glad to get a bit of a break. Even though I was sitting in a cold truck, as I didn't want to waste fuel by starting it up, it was quite a bit warmer than being out in the open. As the auctioneer neared the box blade, I found a prominent place near it, so I would have a good position for bidding.

The initial limit I had set for a box blade was $250. After seeing the prices others had sold for, and checking the prices online for the particular model I had bid on it London, which happened to be the same one I was going to bid on in Broadhead, I adjusted my limit. I was ready to spend $300 on the blade, and was willing to consider spending as much as $400. After waiting around all day in the cold I was determined to not walk away empty handed again. In the end I was able to buy the box blade with a bid of $325. After adding the 5% buyer's fee I spent $341.25, which I was pleased with. The blade had no missing parts, and was in very good condition. It had clearly been used very little. It would cost $650 to buy a brand new one like it, and at least $500 to buy a different brand.

I will certainly be returning to the auctions again next year. I'm not sure what I will be trying to buy then, but am confident that my experience this year will increase my chances of a successful buy. Aside from the actual purchase, attending both auctions only cost me the gas I burned to get there, and the $2.00 I spent on nachos at the Broadhead event. Even if I had walked away empty handed, I learned enough to make the investment well worth it.

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