LOOK up a ‘Furphy Water Tank’ on eBay and you’ll find they’re paying as much as $7500 for a complete water tank and cart.
Even a Furphy water tank end, on its own, can sell for $750.
There’s a whole world of collecting going on out there, where enthusiasts trade old farm machinery, tools and equipment for serious money.
And what looks like a pile of rusted-out old junk to you can, in fact, be a highly valuable, even rare piece of collectable Australiana that has an immediate market value on the swap-meet circuit or worldwide on the Internet.
It’s a space in which Korumburra’s Bob Newton spends many happy hours but the time has come for him to start downsizing some of what he’s collected over the past 40 years at a special clearing sale on his farm at Clancy’s Road next month.
The new South Gippsland Shire Mayor has just leased out part of his farm and some of the historic agricultural machinery and other equipment stored there has got to go.
But if the interest already generated by the Saturday, December 12 auction is anything to go by; the old tractors, heritage farm machinery and other collectables will easily find new homes.
Just posting information about the sale last week on Facebook, by Bob’s son Andrew, was enough to send the Internet into meltdown.
Bob might be best known locally as a shire councillor and hack golfer but in old farm equipment circles, he’s something of a king of collectors.
For example, he has one of the most comprehensive collections of wire strainers in the world and while these precious items won’t be on sale next month; there’s plenty that will be, including a few Furphy water tanks and even a Furphy pig trough.
Now that’s something worth coming a long way to get!
“These are the last of them,” said Bob, indicating a complete 1942 tank, the important parts of an 1895 Furphy tank, several sets of Furphy cart wheels and the Furphy pigs’ though.
“I sold my whole Furphy collection, except for these bits, including 20 ends and 14 tanks to a collector earlier this year.
“It’s really been a hobby for me, collecting all these things, and we enjoy going around buying, trading, looking and talking. It’s a lot of fun.”
There’s nothing Bob likes more than hitching a trailer full of stuff to the back of his RV camper and heading away for the weekend or longer with his wife Marilyn or other family members attending swap-meets.
Sometimes he sells more things than he brings home but it’s a rarity and as a result there’s been a large collection assembled over the years.
An amateur local historian, Bob can tell you a story about the providence of many of the pieces.
There’s a tractor which Bob says is only the 52nd grey Massey Ferguson ever imported into Australia. It’s still in good working order and will be sold on December 12 with the rest of the stuff on offer.
“I used to buy and sell a lot of tractors at one stage and one year I sold over 120 of them.
“I used to get the Weekly Times first thing on Wednesday morning, looking up tractors for sale. I’d make an offer on a couple and then off I’d go, travelling to another part of Victoria or interstate to pick it up.”
Bob would do everything from running repairs to complete rebuilds of the tractors.
He brought the tractors back to Korumburra, some of them in pieces, others that had been in accidents or neglected and, where necessary, turning two tractors into one.
It got so he could almost put a Fergy back together blindfolded.
Of course Bob won’t be selling everything he’s hoarded over the years, more’s the pity according to Andrew, but it could take five hours just to sell the things that will be offered this time.
There’ll be other auctions he promises but don’t hold your breath.
Here’s a few of the things already lined up to be sold:
• Old horse-drawn mowers
• A Jones grab-stacker drawn by a horse
• Grader blades
• A collection of antique wool presses
• A set of HV McKay Sunshine Gates
• Lengths of railway line (good for stockyards)
• Rheem jerry cans, some Army surplus
• A circa 1950 Rover 90 car
• Old milk and cream cans some with local names
• A horse-drawn Mitchell hay rake
• An 1852 chaff-cutter
• Ol ploughs
• A 1917-1918 Wolseley car engine
• Ferguson buck rake, Ferguson winch
• Numerous historic tractors including a Fordson, AW6, Normag
• 1919 Oliver Cletrac crawler
And so much more.
But the gain hasn’t always come without its share of pain.
Back in 1985, Bob had sold the front axle off an old Fordson front-end loader and he had the loader jacked up while he worked on it. But it toppled over on top of him, breaking his back and nearly causing his demise.
These days it’s just something else to blame when his golf game’s not going well but Bob’s got no regrets… except one, he doesn’t really want to sell his collection so don’t miss this chance!
Bob’s unique collection goes under the hammer