Auction Day

A typical day of RC auctions with the FUBAR Hill crew
as related by Eric Kler


What a beautiful Saturday it was, I should have been flying, (more like working, but I don't want to spoil the mood). This, however, was a special day. Maybe I should give some background first.


I am a auction junky, I have been going to farm auctions since I can remember as a little kid. This has carried over to adult life, and unfortunately, when I found out you could buy stuff other than farm equipment at an auction, well the world just seemed a whole better place . Double that when I found out they had RC auctions.

A true auction has nothing at to do with those online things, a true auction involves the spirit of combat, with a dash of flair, and a great poker face. Its man vs man (non politically correct zone), a game of chicken with your wallet, contest of wills. Not to mention a good place to spend all your money on bargains . Even my wife is a valiant auction warrior, I just dare anyone to stand in her way when she wants a quilt or something
Me - "But honey, we really can't afford tha....",
Her-"Shut up, I'm trying to hear the bid".

In short, I like auctions because... well because I am cheap.

Anyway back to the nice Saturday. This particular auction was about 2 1/2 hours away, which really isn't bad since just about everything of importance is that far. So I am on the road by 6 am. I Stop by pick up my cousin and co-conspirator Matt. We get there about a 1/2 hour before it starts, enough time to walk through everything twice. We pointed out and talked about various things we saw that might be of interest, a couple of old Quadra gas engines, several planes in various degrees of repair and boxes of, "stuff", we should bid on.
Matt -"We should write down what we want".
Me -" Nah we'll see it when it goes through".

So start time comes and everyone positions themselves in a strategic spot, of course we don't think to sit down until almost all the chairs are full, and end up in the back. As the first few items go through, you can usually gauge whether an auction is going to be a buyers or sellers market, this day it was to the buyers good fortune. Lots of boxes full of little stuff go through, fairly cheap. I mentally rub my hands together in great anticipation, while outwardly I appear bored (Auction face). As the sale goes on, I bid on couple items, but let them go as I , (I think I mentioned this), am CHEAP. As the minutes tick by, I am constantly tweeking my bored look, by now I am sprawled across the back of the chair, in a body contorsion that would make Houdini envious. This is not an easy thing to do on a National Guard Armory metal chair, that looks like it made it through all the world wars, rocks on 2 legs and has a crease on the back support that feels like someone pokeing you. These things take practice.

Finally as I felt I had the perfect bored look, (one step away from stretched across 4 chairs sleeping), they bring one of the planes we are interested in. It was so distracting I sat up and ruined all that work I went to for the, "bored ", look. Now I scrutinize the crowd, for a fleeting moment I think, "Hey, they all look bored, I bet no one will even bid". Then I recognize the cultivated bored looks for what they were, heh....Pros. So, a challenge then, okay no problem. This is where we separate the men from the...the...the other men who don't have a clue. "Going once, going Twice, sold to the back row...". Hey! That wasn't fair, I was thinking! These guys were good.

So the stream of vaguely familiar stuff starts to come across the auction table,
Me-,"Is that the...",
Auctioneer - ,"Sold!".
Matt -, "Yeah, I guess it was".

So I shift battle tactics, no combat plan stays intact once the shooting starts right? So I bid, and bid, and bid again and ..... You know those guys must own a bank, sheesh.

So as we go along, bidding to no avail, I notice a plane on the other other side of the roped off area leaning against the wall.
Mental evesdropping - "Looks like an Extra, hmm it is an Extra 300."
After a bit -, "Looks like 60 size, yep I bet that a GP extra 300 60" "Looks nice,. must have missed it when we walked through."

Now the auction is 2/3 over, and the same phenominon takes place that does in bars at closeing time, the planes start to look better. That plane you looked over and walked away from at first is now more than passable, and getting better as each plane get a sold number on it.

Whoa!, whats that? The Quadra is only $40? My hand shot up like a rocket at the 4th of July. Well I see no need to go into details, lets just say I am now the proud owner of a worn out Quadra 50 . Complete with the quality wear marks of bent fins, scratches, helicoiled plug threads and old oil stains.

Well that felt better, a victory! I am sure there were many aces already, but I bet they were related to Bill Gates or Ted Turner somehow. So now I zero in for my next target, the Extra. By now we have moved and are no longer sitting in the chairs from hell. We have walked back to look at the tables that haven't sold yet, and to let some of the feeling come back to our butts. Still some fine opportunities to buy some planes. Finally, we wander back to the front and up comes the Extra, and the bidding starts, and starts pretty low. I get in, and stay in because, well I don't know, but why should I let him have it, I can buy it, I am an American, by God! I am the victor once again!

Matt all this time has went down to a couple of flaming defeats, but is patiently waiting for a Big Bingo to come up. They start the bidding its going cheap, it looks like its gone... but no! The dreaded minimum! Now is when the big cheater (Matt) makes his move, he goes and talks (unbelievable, he actually talked ) to the seller about his plane, meanwhile I go and inspect my cannily arrived at purchase.

The first thing I notice is the wing is bumpy along the spar. As I inspect more carefully I see the plane has been whacked, and whacked hard. They repaired it, but is has not been flown. Looks like carbon fiber down the spars. This is not looking good. Well I wonder if this still counts as 1/2 a kill? It really is too bad, it was a beautiful plane before it met mother earth.

Actually later when I got it apart and looked it over, I think its airworthy, just have to modify a couple things and its good to go.

Now Matt had been talking with the seller, which turn out was more of a buyer after all and wanted to sell the Big Bingo before he left so he had room to haul his bargains home. He did, and if I had known, I would have just bought that plane complete with weedie conversion engine on it for almost what I paid for my prize.

What makes it worse is the seller is a club member of the club I have joined last month that I had not met yet. Doh!

Oh well, such goes auctions, and such goes life, thats why I love em. So if you happen to be in my area, and you see some guy in a cowboy hat at an RC auction that looks extremely bored........ its probably not me, and don't worry, just bid like you have just loaned money to your brother-in-law.

Well more than a couple auctions have came and went since the one described here, I thought maybe I would update and add to.

There have been waaaay to many bargains to make my accountant anywhere near happy, it's just a good thing she still lets me sleep in the house.    Between inadvertently buying things while showing how to do a avalanche with my hands and panic buying, "because it's almost over and I haven't bought anything!" I have ended up with more planes than room.  Here are just some of the treasures I have brought home.



Its pretty bad when in a full size pickup with a super cab you wonder if you are going to have enough room to haul it all home!  I won't go into to detail, (incase the accountant runs across this) but not only have I done my part in keeping the economy strong by claiming my share of the auction specials, I have saved 100s if not 1000's of dollars.....right???  (don't worry, I'll answer for you)

 Heck Yeah!
(Never mind that The engines I saved money on, I had to buy parts to make work, or the planes may not have been quite as pristine as I remembered when I was bidding)

So all in all,  I still look forward to Auction day!  

-Yet another auction update-

What can I say, its never boring at an auction, even when I decide I don't want anything, read on for more daring exploits of "Auction Man!" (available at an auction barn  near you!)


You know,  there really should be a rule about me and auctions. I went there thinking I really didn't want anything, didn't need anything and dang sure cant afford anything. To top it off I took my wife's car, (A Mercury wagon), which has the dang door latch broke on the back door so only the back window opens, so if I did buy anything, I couldn't have gotten it home if its bigger than a .25 sized something.

So was I good and yield to better judgment? Heck no! I did contain myself for the most part. Actually I did pretty well most of the day,  I was feeling pretty smug and in control of my emotion, heck I was the epitome of Mr. Spock....but that end of auction panic set in and the fear of actually not buying anything pushed me over the edge on Saturday. I waited all day for a Hog Bipe kit to come up, I guess somebody else did too, because I think I almost saved enough to pay tax on one bought new.  Well it wasn't quite that bad.

That wasn't too bad so far, I had almost made the entire day without buying the infamous "auction special".  You know, the model that looks good from far enough away any lettering is unreadable, it comes billed as, "ready to fly",  but when you take the wing off, the battery and servos fall out in a pile...  But I digress.   I was contemplating the idea of not buying anything but a box of sticks and then it happened.   3rd from last came a electric glider. Now to show how deranged I became, I actually thought about bidding on it.  Minimum bids are 25 bucks and no one bid, tension built until finally some fool stuck their hand up.   I am not sure who it was,  but everyone was looking at me! Luckily someone else weakened also.  I was much relieved...until someone did it again! Unbelievable! who would buy that.....oh.
Well I showed them my number and for $40  I have entered the realm of the RC netherworld.
Forgive me,  for I have sinned, not only do I now own, (shudder), a glider , but its an electric.  The shame of it all.  

This brings me to yet another issue I have with auctions and the letting loose of myself within. Why is it, I look through the rows and rows of stuff, pick out what I may be interested in, and then when it comes up,  I sit idle and watch everyone else bid their hearts out, yet when something I have looked at 5 times, decided I really don't want, goes through the ring, my hand is up like I am reaching for the last lifejacket on the Titanic, do they put something in the watered down soda or what?!?

Thus,  Sunday I became the (gulp) owner, of a Goldberg Ultimate with a OS (read ST) .90 engine. $165 Wow! (I thought)

Ok First its an Ultimate. If the taste police ever find me I will be shot on sight!  Second and this goes for most of what I buy at these bargain fests,  it would be understating to say my magic frog has  a couple warts.  
The "OS" engine is a ST, which wouldn't be so bad, but it also is missing the needle valve body.  I hadn't seen the inside of the cowl yet,   but I was sure it was impressive,  heh.  It did have a Pitts muffler with smoke setup, but the down tubes were loose.  The canopy is held together by clear packing tape, there are numerous patches, and future patches, (known as holes to the civilized world), no wheel pants and generally looks like a well worn pair of jeans. Which is why it fits perfectly with the rest of my pristine collection.   I have vowed it will fly, just as soon as I am done overhauling the airframe and engine I'm positive it will be a great airplane, and what A bargain too!  When I am done, I could have spent less effort and money on a brand new one, but I would have lost all that experience working with oil soaked balsa,  patched ply and lumps of epoxy.

The glider, is a good case of why not to sit in back when bidding.  It has a motor, it also has a nice big split in the covering of one wing.  As one of the auctioneers said, its a spoils the looks.

All in all it was very satisfying. I did have to leave early, winter weather moved in at home, so I got antsy about getting on the road, which was probably the smartest thing I did all weekend. 

Which does bring up another point about auctions,  why when you have limited room, and no tools do you end up buying something that takes a ball driver and an hour of disassembly to get apart, so you can fit it through the mail slot sized opening of the car?  It was cold, it was wet, and I was out there with pliers that (thankfully) my wife had in the car, backing out stiff socket head bolts to get it apart. I tell ya its not easy being a pro--fessional auction goer guy. 

I have a few guidelines to guarantee purchases at auctions. These could even be tweaked for any specific item.

That's my story and I'm stickin to it.

Yes, auctions are not for rank amateurs, I actually saw someone bid on something they wanted. They actually had the number wrote down before hand, and just kept bidding until they got it. I mean what kind of person would do that? Have they no concept of what an auction is?  I was personally revolted, and did bid him up on several things...Sorry Ron, I hope you don't hold it against me

Now I have a question for  you 'lectric flyers on the electric glider,  where do you get the cords that are long enough to plug that thing in?


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