Lowden man's collection up for auction today

LOWDEN -- Iconic Indian motorcycles, classic turn-of-the-century cars, antique farm equipment will all cross the auction block today in the tiny town of Lowden.

Ted Small, a Walla Walla area wheat farmer, spent more than 60 years amassing the collection. And it all will be sold -- scattered around the globe most likely.

"We've had national, international, interest in this collection," said Doug Macon of Macon Brothers Auctioneers, Walla Walla.

Everything -- all 400 lots, several with more than one machine in the lot -- will be sold to the highest bidder.

"Dad loved anything mechanical, with an engine," said Dan Small, his eldest son.

He remembers his father out in the shop, tinkering with his machinery in the winter. His father would take a car, a piece of farming equipment, an old engine and tear it down to its components, then rebuild it. Sometimes he'd need to fabricate a part. But when he was done, it ran.

"It may not have been painted. Once he got it in working order, he'd go on to the next challenge. He'd say, 'Oh, I'll get back and paint it later,' " his son said.

Ted Small -- who was born in 1919 -- began his hobby early, with an old Model T he and a friend bought for $10. His son remembers his father telling him they'd drive it for a bit, then stop to fix it. The car is long gone. So is the 1940 Indian Chief motorcycle he bought before enlisting during World War II.

His love of engines followed him to war. Ted Small piloted B24 Liberators, helping to guard the Panama Canal.

"He loved the big motors on the B24s. He said they made the earth rumble when you started them," said Macon.

In 1945, Ted Small returned home, married and moved his bride to a wheat farm outside Lowden. That's when he began collecting in earnest.

At first it was car and motorcycles, said Dan Small. Then he turned to stand-alone engines including a rare 1896 7-horsepower Golden Gate model.

"It's one of only a handful in existence," said Terry Mauer, of Mauer Antique Appraisals in Pasco.

Then Small turned to farm machinery.

"He was concerned about losing our ag heritage with the old tractors, both wheel and tracked, disappearing. He began collecting them from the teens to the early 1930s and 1940s," Dan Small said.

Most he found within a 40-mile radius of Walla Walla.

Ted Small collected and tinkered all his life until a series of strokes kept him from his shop, his tools, his beloved machines. He died in January 2008 at the age of 82.

You can see his collection at www.maconbrosauction.com/upcoming.php#18.

Or head for the auction -- it begins at 9 a.m. in Lowden, about 40 miles east of Kennewick. From Highway 12, turn north on Marshall Street and proceed to the auction.