Collectors of just about any brand of tractor, from Case to White, could find something at Howard Shuck's tractor auction Friday north of Lawrence.
Farmers and collectors wandered through the lines of tractors, debating the merits of certain models and brand names, much in the same way baseball fanatics will compare Babe Ruth against Mark McGwire.
More than 160 prospective buyers looked over the antique tractors, signs, equipment manuals and toys Friday at Shuck Implement Company, north of Lawrence on U.S. Highway 59.
"I'm just curious to see how these 600s and 650s go," said Roger Knadler, Easton, Mo., referring to the International diesel tractors.
They did pretty well -- the highest bidder, a man from Georgia, spent $3,850 to take home a 1956 600 International diesel tractor.
Howard Shuck, who's been in the implement business for 30 years, said he sold the 54 tractors, all but eight of which were his, to make room for more. Most of the machines were built between 1947 and 1960, and some of them will be put to work on farms, used for parts or torn apart and rebuilt by collectors.
"These are what I call diamonds in the rough," said Melvin D. Wells, a former Jackson County commissioner who farms a few acres west of Holton.
"They're not completely fixed up, but they work," Wells said.
Bidders from Ohio, New York and Wisconsin attended the auction or phoned in bids earlier. Shuck bought the tractors at similar auctions in the past year and hauled some to Lawrence from as far away as Montana.
Auction-goer Gene Doty, Plattsburg, Mo., said he was an acquaintance of Knadler and several others who attended Friday's auction.
"You can hardly get out of your truck in the parking lot before you run into a neighbor here," said Doty, who averages about three farm implement auctions a week in the spring and summer.
Doty's rule-of-thumb: A collector will go to about 25 auctions before coming away with a gem.
Knadler said he's partial to John Deeres, but he'll buy International "if they're cheap."
Wells said he only has two tractors at his farmstead but might be interested in buying more to recondition.
"Since I retired, I don't have a whole lot else to do," he said. "I'm not an avid collector as some people are; I see some people running around with books and checking their prices."
With all of the extra space available, Shuck already is looking forward to stocking up for his next auction.
"I'll probably start buying some more," he said. "Maybe by late summer or a year from now, we'll have another one."
-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.