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Helmut Schmidt, Published August 17 2012

Brothers pass on ‘Iron Fever’

Ulen, Minn. - ‘Iron Fever” had a grip on Frank and Robert Mikulecky. Now, we’ll find out if the brothers’ itch to collect antique farm equipment is catchy.

Their impressive collection – 153 tractors, more than 200 gas engines, and 150 cast iron seats – goes on the auction block next Thursday and Friday.

“It’s quite a collection. It’s probably one of the largest antique collectible auctions (in the Red River Valley) in quite some time,” said Loren Seifert, the managing auctioneer.

Robert, Frank and their brother George farmed in the Ulen area from 1942 until they retired.

Frank and Robert were the collectors. After selling their dairy cows, they chased down rare and interesting machines with the help of family and friends.

Much of the collection was amassed in the 1970s, said Robert, 88, who lives at Northern Lights Assisted Living Apartments in Ulen.

The tractors are mostly John Deere brand. He said he has no favorites but will be “darn sad” to see them sold.

“I like ’em all,” he said.

The sale will take place on the brothers’ rural Ulen farm, at 12385 340th St., Seifert said. A preview of the items for sale will be held from 10 a.m. to

4 p.m. Wednesday.

Frank died in 1998, and his share of the proceeds go to his estate.

Seifert said the collection is wide ranging, from a few “rusty gold” tractors pulled from windrows (that may only be good for parts), to rare and pristine examples of farming’s state-of-the-art in the early 20th century.

One of those rarities is a 1924 Model N Waterloo Boy tractor. Waterloo Boy was a tractor line purchased by John Deere. Seifert estimates that it could sell in the $60,000 to $80,000 range.

“Not a lot of them out there. This one is in pristine condition. It was overhauled shortly before Robert and Frank bought it” in the 1970s, Seifert said.

Another rare offering is an “18-36” Hart Parr, which Seifert said could sell for $25,000.

Most of the machines will fetch from the “high hundreds to $10,000,” Seifert said.

Seifert said there will be two rings onsite selling each of the days of the auction, with another ring or two selling online.

“The range of their collection and its sheer size should put this town on the map for a couple days, anyway,” he said.

Robert said he hopes the pieces of his collection will find homes with people who care about farm history as much as he and his brother did.

“That’s what you kind of hope. We didn’t buy them to make money,” Robert said. “We did it for something to do and for company to come and see them.”

Photos and more information on the sale items and the auction are online at www.seifertrealty.com.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583