Farm Collector

Last Rites for Rynda

The Rynda auction crowd was quite numerous, which made it
difficult for the auctioneers taking bids in the red-and-white
building just noticeable at the back of the crowd.

The legendary collection of ‘Steam Engine Joe’ Rynda and
his son, Leonard, was auctioned May 7-8, 2004, in Montgomery, Minn.
Countless farm implements, trucks, cars, tractors and spare parts
were sold, but the majority of the auction’s packed crowd came
to see and bid on Joe’s steam engine collection. Most of
Joe’s steam engines were sold on Saturday, with bidding
beginning at 10:30 a.m. and ending about 2 p.m. The wind was
blowing hard that day, but it didn’t stop many collectors of
steam and old iron from taking away some rare and unique steam
engines as well as paying their respects to a steam pioneer.

A big 30 HP Huber steam traction engine stands alone among the
trees at the Rynda estate. This Huber sold for $14,000 during the
auction.

Joe’s ‘bone yard’ has held many old steam engines
and other curiosities for years, and dozens of these artifacts were
found peeking out of every corner of his yard – some having sat
there for at least 40 years. To ready some of the old iron for
auction, all the machinery and steam engines were pulled out of the
ground except two: a Case buried in the trees and a Rumely buried
in the mud almost to the rear hubs. Everything was sold where it
sat, and people gathered around the bone yard for the auction in
any place they could to get a view of the proceedings.

A panoramic picture showing some of the engines that were
auctioned at the Rynda estate. No less than 15 can be counted in
this picture alone

Bidding was haphazard. The 65 HP Case went way too cheap, but
two 80 HP Cases sold for a good price. One of the shockers was the
Nichols & Shepard 20 HP that sold for $26,000. Two guys must
have wanted it bad and battled it out in a bidding war. A real slap
in the face was the running Gaar-Scott that the auctioneers wanted
$24,500 for. A private party ended up buying it for $30,000.

Many of the steam engines were showing their age from the 40
years they sat in Joe’s yard. Random steam engine parts laid
strewn about in areas of the property with little hope of making it
back onto the engine they were once a part of. Most of these
engines by now were missing their smoke box doors as well as the
whistle, relief valves and injectors. Thieves had taken many of the
pieces – and even shortly before the auction people were still
stealing grates, pumps, etc. It was really sad to see such majestic
equipment spoiled by the hands of greedy and dishonest
collectors.

From left: Nick Olson, John Schrock and Dennis Powers got a good
look at some of the steam engine parts laying around the Rynda
estate.

The great majority of people attending did choose to bid on the
engines they wanted, however. ‘Caveat emptor’ was
definitely the word of the day as everyone knew these old engines
had sat outside for so long, and I didn’t see a lot of ultra
sounding going on. Most people were buying on a hope and a prayer
that the boiler was in good shape, and not much more.

Several foreign languages could be heard among the crowd, and
according to the auctioneers a couple of engines were going to
Portugal and one to Ireland.

Joe’s Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. blueprints were
divided up – the steam engine blueprint went for $10,500; gas
tractor blueprint for $7,500; and the threshing machine blueprint
for $2,500.

Many old-timers who knew Joe from his extensive service and duty
in the steam engine hobby were on hand to witness the auction. An
old fellow standing by the big Colean steam engine told a story
that he must have ran that engine on a sawmill in the 1930s.
According to him, Joe fired it up one morning, had 135 pounds of
pressure on the boiler to drive up the belt, and a tube blew. He
had bucked the engine out, and that was it.

Overall, the engine part of the sale went well. Lots of people
showed up to honor this steam pioneer and bid on his legendary
engines, plus plenty of people were on hand to visit with before
and after the sale. It was a memorable experience, and while some
equipment remains, the legendary collection of ‘Steam Engine
Joe’ Rynda is no more.

Contact steam enthusiast Joe C. Steinhagen at: 11980
Kluver Addition Road S.E., Alexandria, MN 56308.

  • Published on Sep 1, 2004
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