For Gerald and Charlotte Fank, it's in the blood...forever Massey-Harris red.
The lifelong Massey-Harris fans and collectors are holding their retirement auction this Saturday, May 10, 2014, in their hometown of Cosmos, MN (west-central Minnesota). I spoke with Gerald Fank this morning and asked how his love affair with Massey-Harris began.
"It's just in my blood," said Fank. "It's kind of like if you grew up with a fishing pole in your hand you love fishing. I grew up around Massey-Harris tractors. My grandfather Nick Fank's first tractor was a 101 Super."
"My dad (Pete Fank) had Massey-Harris tractors too. The first tractor I bought was a Massey-Harris. IH's were going for $300 - $400 at the time and I bought a 1946 Massey-Harris 44 on a neighbor's farm sale for $75 in 1969. In addition to farming with their four boys, Gerald worked in town at the Buffalo Lake, MN elevator.
"Really it didn't start out as collecting for us," Fank said. "We just kept looking for tractors we could use that were priced right and we'd pick them up. Farming with the boys we didn't like hooking and unhooking all the time."
But somewhere alont the line, it did turn into collecting. The Fanks have 50 Massey-Harris tractors for sale on the auction Saturday, plus an amazing lineup of Massey-Harris memorabilia. Included in the Fanks line of tractors are a couple very rare Massey-Harris models:
Pictured above is one of (3) 4WD Massey-Harris tractors on the Fank's auction Sautrday. Two have steel wheels. "The 4WD's were made in the 1930's by Massey-Harris," said Fank. "They only made them before the war."
The Massey-Harris tractor pictured at the top of this blog is actually an experimental model of which Massey-Harris only made 12 total. Only (3) are known to exist today. It was originally owned by the Canadian Forrestry Dept. and was used to pull water wagons to put out fires.
Pictured above is another rare Massey-Harris on the Fank's sale Saturday. "This is a 44 Special, back in the 1950's we had some real wet years and the only way we could get small grain out was either with tractors with tracks or they put duals on the combines. This tractor did a lot of custom combining that year."
The most rare items on the auction Saturday is the Fank's Massey-Harris crawler. Yep, that's right, a Massey-Harris crawler. Didn't think MH made crawlers? You're not alone. Quite a tale behind this baby. Here's a pic:
"This was an experimental model that never hit the market," said Fank. "Years ago we were at a Massey-Harris collector event in Ohio and got talking to some guys from Minnesota. They said they had an old Massey-Harris crawler back home. Everyone laughed. About 6-7 years later I had been thinking about it and I called up to Duluth. I had writen the gentleman's name down, but I got the wrong person on the phone in Duluth. He said he'd never sat on a tractor before. But he said wait a minute, and gave me the phone number of another guy up in Two Harbors, MN who had a similar last name. He said he got his mail sometimes by mistake."
Gerald called the Two Harbors, MN phone number and bingo...."I talked to the daughter who told us her dad had used it years ago to haul logs and firewood into town. She said he'd go out there on a Saturday and be out there all day. It was in pieces when we bought it. Gerald restored the Massey-Harris crawler with son Andy and wife Charlotte.
And now it's time to sell.
"Charlotte and I invested in this for our retirement," said Fank. "We both decided it's time to sell." Five years ago, the Fanks had a walk through Youtube video made showing their line of Massey-Harris tractors, crawler and various Massey-Harris implements and collectibles. Here's that cool video:
The auction Saturday features live online bidding. Henslins Auctions, Inc. is doing the sale. Here's a link to the online bidding: