I finally found an auction in which I could not even think about bidding.
Thursday morning Adam's Auction & Real Estate Services Inc. sold 60 railroad locomotives at Metro East Industries in East St. Louis.
The huge machines were castoffs from Union Pacific Railroad. They drew a crowd of about 50 men to bid as well as a few bidders online and on the phone.
It took about an hour and 40 minutes to sell the locomotives that went from $18,000 to more than $300,000 a piece.
Auctioneer Adam Jokisch said there were a variety of buyers present from guys who bought for scrap value to companies that bought locomotives to refurbish and lease to short-line railroads or industries which need switch engines.
The first locomotive, a 1979 SD40-2, started at a modest $25,000 but bidding soon jumped, ending at $90,000.
"You know the first one is always a bargain," Jokisch told the crowd as he trolled for higher bids.
And he was right as the next engine, same model only a year older, sold for $110,000.
Soon he was starting bids at $200,000 and the 25th engine on the program, a 1975 MP15, broke the $300,000 barrier. There was a 5 percent buyer's premium on each purchase.
After a lull where some older engines were sold for either parts or scrap value in the $20,000s, prices climbed again.
Union Pacific agreed to deliver the engines to wherever the buyer wanted on the UP line. The buyer has 30 days to get an engine off the MEI lot.
A UP spokesman there to watch the auction action said the prices might seem high but buyers were getting bargains. Or at least they were pretty sure they could make money on what they bought, he said. A new engine easily can cost $2.5 million.
A few people came just to watch and some train enthusiasts just wanted to be able to scramble through the engines on display.
Another guy told me he thought they were coming to the UP surplus equipment auction, which actually is July 16 in North Little Rock, Ark.
Jokisch will be doing that one as well.
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