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More than chemistry - a love affair of gas & steam

Bob Smith Collection - August 2-3 Miles, IA

By Yvette VanDerBrink

There are elements of chemistry that are involved with the operation of tractors, gas engines and collector cars. The correct gas ratios, conditions that cause condensation and vapor locking, and even correct temps are all factors in creating power in engines. But for Bob Smith, his biggest chemistry experiment was in high school. In a high school chemistry class, he found more than science with his lab partner. He found a different kind of chemistry that was far more explosive. It was in that class that the he found his future wife Jean. They started dating and soon they both went to college. Bob went to University of Iowa and Jean went to nursing school. They had strict rules in those days and they couldn’t get married until they both graduated. After graduation they started their lives in Clinton, Iowa. Bob was a plant manager with Purina and Jean was a nurse. It wasn't long before a daughter entered their lives.

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Bob always had a fascination with the “chemistry” and mechanics of old tractors and gas engines. When they moved to a 25-acre acreage outside Clinton, IA Bob now had all the room to start his hobby. In 1979, he started going to auctions, shows, and learning the antique engine and tractor hobby. He started small, but soon started filling up the acreage they settled on.

Always entrepreneurs, Bob and Jean started a rental business with apartments and residential homes, all while building Bob’s collection. Life was good and he continued to build his collection. The love of engines and machines of the past led him to an association with the threshing shows in Miles, IA and also at the Jackson County Fair.

With the rental endeavor, Bob was a Jack-of-all-trades and the business was a family affair. He did the maintenance and repairs while Jean pitched in with painting and readying the inside for new renters. Soon their rental business grew to several apartment buildings and approx. 30 rental homes. With the growing business came an assortment of properties that allowed Bob to stash more of his treasured engines and tractors. He started to show signs of health problems, but had everyone convinced he was going to live to be 100.

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Sadly, COPD started to take its toll. It was becoming more difficult to make it out to the auctions with an oxygen tank, but Bob still made the rounds buying engines and tractors. In the last few years, his health progressively began to fail. Even with his failing health Bob continued to work and bought two tractors right before he died. Unfortunately, he never got to drive the Allis Chalmers 200 and Rumley Oil Pull that he hauled home from the auction. Bob had always wanted a Steam Traction Tractor of his own, and finally gained the Case Project that is still in the shop where he had just got done putting in new flues.

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His wife Jean now has the task of selling the rentals, tractors, and engines in the vast collection with the help of many of Bob’s dear friends. This massive move will take place in July for the auction and everything will be moved to the threshing grounds in Miles, Iowa for the auction on August 3rd &4th, 2019. It will be 2 big days filled with selling the almost 109 antique tractors, approx. 150 Stationary gas engines, Signs and memorabilia, along with many collector cars.

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VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC will sell the collection with a preview kicking off on August 2nd and the big day- Day 1- August 3rd, at 9am with tractors and following up with engines and parts. There are many rare engines along with tractors of all brands. Allis Chalmers, Rumley, Case, International, Oliver, and even obscure brands like Volvo and others. There are equally rare engines. They range from project, originals, to restored. The Case Steam tractor, Rumley’s, Allis 200 and all tractors will sell that day. Sunday- Aug. 4th will be signs and memorabilia followed by an assortment of collector cars including rare Franklins to Corvettes. The auction will be live at the threshing grounds in Miles, IA as well as available online bidding. The entire catalog can be viewed at . For more info on this auction VanDerBrink Auctions, LLC 605-201-7005 or . We’ll see you at the sale! It’s an amazing collection and you won’t want to miss this auction.

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