I Think I've Been Here Before: The Hornbaker Auction

The 3-day Hornbaker auction in Tribune, Kansas gives three collectors a lot to carry home.


| March 2015



John Deere spring corn sheller

The John Deere D600 spring corn sheller.

Photo courtesy Steve Stratman

In 2014, a friend, Steve Cochran, told me about an auction in Tribune, Kansas. Steve and I had been watching for a 1-row corn picker and there was a nice-looking one on the three-day Hornbaker auction. While I was looking at the sale bill, a large spring corn sheller caught my eye. It was about the same size as the one we borrow to belt to our steam engine in Salida, Colorado. Steve and I decided that each of us would take a pickup and trailer. My dad, Wes Stratman, came along as well.

What a Wonder!

The corn picker was listed for the third day, so Steve planned to go out on day two. Dad and I drove out the first morning. By noon I had not raised my hand a single time and Dad had only purchased a few small boxes of items. The afternoon told a different story. I was unable to pass on a square-tub Maytag washer, Fairbanks platform scale, Wisconsin engine and Kinkade garden tractor.

I was visiting with some guys about a piece of equipment they had just purchased when I looked up just in time to see the auctioneer drop the gavel and call out Dad’s number for a Wonder cement mixer with a 1-1/2 hp John Deere engine. Time out! We had hauled Dad’s 1970 Hesston 140 to the auction for him to use in getting around. If Steve was able to purchase the picker and I was successful with the sheller, we were going to have a space issue.

After the sale ended for the day, we drove out to the farm where the third day of the auction would be held. Dad had been to the Hornbaker place in the early 1970s, but I think even he was amazed by the approximately 25 acres of antique, vintage and modern equipment to be sold.

We went back to town and drove down the main drag. At the far edge of town were the fairgrounds, where two large engines and other items would be sold. There we found the spring corn sheller pictured on the auction flyer, a John Deere Model D600 in really nice condition. After looking it over, we noticed the running gear was not original. It was a little undersized and the homemade front axle was slightly twisted.

No Wonder

The next morning, Dad asked the auctioneer to put the Wonder cement mixer back on the sale and he did. By noon they were on the tractors. Steve and Dad drove to the fairgrounds where the sheller, engine and other items were located. Since Dad and I had seen those the day before, I stayed with the auctioneer. They sold the handful of items from in town, and by the time Steve and Dad returned, I had already purchased the sheller. I was very pleased.