BUYERS bid up with confidence on big ticket items at a West Wubin clearing sale on February 18 for the Southcott family, assured the machines had been meticulously maintained and serviced.
Brothers Sam - the mechanic - and Alan Southcott have a reputation throughout the district for looking after their equipment, some of it only two-years-old and other items close to 50, but the presentation of each piece was a credit to them.
Polished paintwork, gleaming cabin windows, immaculate interiors and motors without oil leaks clean enough to eat your lunch off were a good indication of the care and attention lavished on their equipment by the Southcotts.
But the clincher for most were the neat, indelible marker notations written on every oil filter, beside every radiator cap, on every air cleaner housing and on every battery, indicating when oils, coolants, filters and batteries were last changed.
"Methodical, that's the way we do things at our place," said Simon Forrester, Bailee Pty Ltd, Mogumber, who, with sons Charlie and Ben, paid top sale price of $290,000 for the more lightly used of two identical 2009 New Holland T9060 402kW (540hp) 4WD tractor on duals with good tyres and Trimble FM1000 GPS.
The tractor they bought had 2022 engine hours showing, the least on the three big tractors on offer at the clearing sale.
It's twin, with 3755 engine hours, was sold to DE & MR Greenham, Koorda, for $262,000.
"It's always a bit of a worry paying that much for used equipment, but it's been looked after and has less engine hours on it than the others," said Mr Forrester, who admitted to being concerned about what wife Clare would say when he got home and told her she was now the proud co-owner of another tractor.
"We paid about $40,000 more for it than we had planned to," he said.
The Forresters run a mixed cattle, sheep and cropping operation and the new purchase would be put to work pulling a Reefinator to improve gravelly soils.
"We've been using a 8870 John Deere which has only got about 350hp, the one we just bought has got about 540hp, so it's got a fair bit more go and should do the job better," he said.
A third big New Holland tractor, a 2017 T9.450 4WD model with GPS, but with single wheels and 2358 engine hours, sold for $270,000 to Marchagee grain farmer Michael O'Callaghan after a bidding war with a farmer from Bencubbin.
A 1991 Ford 8830 front-wheel-assist tractor with 4064 engine hours sold for $39,500 but much of the tractor interest centred on four older Chamberlain models.
People inspecting them said they were after cheap but reliable chaser-bin tractors.
A very tidy 4280 Chamberlain with 7824 engine hours sold for $14,000, a later 4280B with 7419 engine hours sold for $13,000, a Chamberlain Countryman 6 tractor with Pizey post hole digger sold for $10,000 and an old 9G Chamberlain with three-point-linkage sold for $7000.
About 400 people attended the sale, held on a hilltop with a picturesque view over a salt lake on an 1800 hectare section of farm the Southcott family is retaining and which is currently part share farmed.
There was strong support from the local community - the Southcott family arrived in West Wubin in 1953 when the brothers were young boys.
Sam and his wife Beth are retiring from farming, with the adjacent 4578ha Karawa West property where they lived, recently sold to a neighbour.
"We've got three daughters and their husbands are not interested in taking it (farm) on so there's no one to pass it on to and we'd like to do some other things now," Beth Southcott said.
Alan will continue to live on the retained section of the property where the sale was held.
More than 200 registered as bidders, coming from as far away as Esperance, Jerramungup, Albany, Geraldton and the eastern Wheatbelt and there were enquiries from Queensland, Nutrien Ag Solutions Dalwallinu branch manager and sale organiser, Glen Jones, said.
"They (the Southcotts) are well-respected in the district and they have been long-standing Landmark and Nutrien clients," Mr Jones said.
"Now they (Sam and Beth) are going to have time to spend with their children and grandchildren, which is a good end to their farming life.
"It has been a fantastic day for them, the gear is good, it was presented very well, it was obvious it has been looked after and there was a very good result," he said.
The sale generated $2.156 million before GST was added and all but six of the 164 lots were sold at auction.
As the sale progressed and immediately afterwards, two of the bigger passed-in lots - a 2011 Ausplow M18000 Multistream air cart with four granular bins and Trimble FM1000 GPS and a 2008 New Holland CR9070 header with 4043 engine hours, 3136 rotor hours and 12.2 metre (40ft) MacDon front - were sold privately.
Towards the end of the sale the Multistream had been offered as part of what can only be described as the missed opportunity of the day.
One of two Nutrien auctioneers, Dalwallinu branch manager Andrew Viola - he shared duties with Grant Lupton - coupled the Multistream lot with the 2009 Ausplow DBS D-260 series 18.2m (60ft) seeder bar with 25 centimetre (10 inch) spacings and DBS air kit, it had been used with.
A one-off offer by Mr Viola of both lots for $335,000 failed to get a taker.
The seeder bar was then auctioned on its own and sold for $262,000 to MJS Farming, Merredin.
The Multistream was put up on its own and passed in without a bid at $100,000.
A 2003 Ausplow DBS E series 15.2m (50ft) seeder bar with 25cm spacings and DBS air kit sold for $150,000.
"Buy of the day", according to Mr Viola, was a bulka bag containing 800 kilograms of Bonito canola seed which was purchased by Hakea Farm, Coorow, for just $200.
Three 4x4 Toyota Hi-Lux utes attracted more spirited bidding.
A tidy 1989 model with 310,000 kilometres showing and a rust-free steel tray with rubber mat sold for $8500, a mine-spec 2013 Xtra cab model with 161,900km and aluminium tray and mat sold for $25,000 and a 2018 Xtra cab model with unmarked steel tray and rubber mat and just 28,000km on the clock sold for $46,000 to a local bidder.
The 2001 tri-axle Boomerang Engineering steel lead and dog grain trailers were put up separately but sold to the same bidder for $55,000 for the lead and $60,000 for the dog, while a rust-free 1975 Commer fuel truck with 6000 litre diesel tank, Stalker pump and toolbox sold for $16,500.
A repainted 1978 Acco 1810A truck, set up to supply a spray rig with a 10,000 litre Tanks West tank, 50 millimetre Onga pump and Hardi chemical pump, sold for $17,000 and an older twin-steer Acco 3070A tandem drive tray truck sold for $10,000, while the 2010 Hobbs five-in-one 7m bin with Hobbs hoist and remote start 25kW Kohler motor on its tray sold separately for $36,000.
A 1989 Hitachi LX80 wheel loader with 1.5 cubic metre bucket and 8447 hours sold for $34,000 and an old Caterpillar 140 road grader with 4.2m blade - in good order apart from a small hydraulic leak - sold for $24,000.
Three Chamberlain disc ploughs - a 24 disc and two 30 disc sets - sold for $500 each, a 10-a-side 2000 Schinckel hay rake sold for $35,000, but a 1997 Nufab 50t grain grader with wheat and small seed screens was passed in without a bid at $25,000.
The auctioneers also had to work hard with mixed success to sell a range of Dunstan mother, field and chaser bins.
An unmarked 2018 81t mother bin eventually sold to a local for $94,500 after a slow start to bidding and a 1983 45t field bin sold for $8000, but a 1996 70t mother bin was passed in without a bid at $28,000 and a 2015 31t chaser bin was also passed in without a bid at $65,000.
A clean Marshall Multispread 912T attracted strong bidding and went for $45,000.
With the region receiving some light rains in the previous week and morning mists providing enough moisture to put a tinge of green amongst the stubble, it was surprising both sprayers on offer were passed in - the 2012 8500l tow-behind Hardi Commander Terra Force with 36m boom at $55,000 and an immaculate 2017 self-propelled 9000l Hardi Rubicon with 48.5m boom and Trimble FM2050 GPS at $380,000.
The Southcott's Rubicon had been the first customer unit sold in WA.
The other big-ticket item unsold at the end of the day was a 2011 New Holland CR9080 header with 13.7m (45ft) MacDon front and 3050 engine hours and 2364 rotor hours.
As the final lot, it was passed in at $170,000.
Sam Southcott was philosophical about the two big items not selling.
"We'll just put them back in the shed and leave them there for a while, there's no rush to get rid of them," Mr Southcott said.
"Overall though, we are very happy with the results of today," he said.