More Than Chemistry

There are elements of Chemistry that is involved in Tractors, Gas Engines & Collector Cars. The correct Gas ratios, Condensation resulting in Vapor Locking, and even the correct temps to create power in the big Steam traction 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, and the  Chemistry was explosive. It was in that class that the Chemistry started with 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 till they both graduated. They both graduated and started their lives in Clinton, Iowa. Bob was a plant manager with Purina and Jean was a nurse. Soon a daughter came along.  Bob always had a fascination with the “Chemistry” and working of the past and the old tractors and gas engines that lead to his collection. When they moved to a 25-acre acreage outside Clinton, IA,  Bob 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 an entrepreneur, Bob and Jean started a rental business with apartments and residential homes, all the while still building his collection. Things were going great. He built his collection and was helping with the Threshing shows in Miles, IA and also at the Jackson County Fair. Bob was a jack of all trades and did the maintenance, repairs, and jean pitched right in, painting and got the inside ready. Lisa, their daughter, would mow yards, but was never quite accomplished enough, and Bob let her know that she wasn’t going to make a career our of landscaping. Soon their rental business grew to several apartment buildings and approx. 30 rental homes. The assortment of properties allowed Bob to stash more treasures- engines and tractors. As the years went on,  Bob started to show signs of health problems, but he had everyone convinced he was going to live to be 100.  COPD started to take its toll. Soon Bob could be seen at auctions with his oxygen tank, and still buying tractors and engines. In the last few years, his health started to fail more. But he still mowed the yard and bought 2 tractors before he died. Sadly, to say, he never got to drive an Allis Chalmers 200 and a Rumley Oil Pull that was just hauled from an 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.They always say, there is someone to finish the job you don’t get done. 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.

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 with 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 and also with online bidding. The entire catalog can be viewed at . The family hopes that everyone comes out an celebrates Bob’s love of the Chemistry of Gas and Steam and that this wide variety of tractors and engines go to good homes and enjoyed as much as he loved his collection. 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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