John Spoelstra and Rene Davis share a laugh in the sun near one of three classic Rumely farm tractors owned by Spoelstra’s uncle, Ted Spoelstra. (Zorina Barker/for Peninsula Daily News)

WEST END NEIGHBOR: Singular man’s one-of-a-kind collection

“YOU’LL NEVER SEE anything like this again, certainly not on the Olympic Peninsula,” said Rene Davis while looking out over part of the collection of “hit and miss” engines owned by his late friend, Ted Spoelstra.

They were laid out neatly in rows on the grass in front of Spoelstra’s ranch house north of Forks.

His expansive stock of items includes vintage cars, trucks and tractors all the way down to pocket watches and carpentry tools.

Spoelstra, a retired logger, was 98 when he died March 5 at his home.

According to Davis and Spoelstra’s nephew, John Spoelstra, Ted began his major collecting with a 75-horsepower Case steam tractor he purchased in Vancouver, B.C., in the mid-1970s, when he was in his 50s.

He was never married, nor did he have children.

“He didn’t have a wife to tell him no,” Davis joked.

When Spoelstra died, his collection, which included Rumely farm tractors — popular 100 years ago — filled seven shop buildings.

“He quit collecting when his health went sideways,” Davis said.

Throughout the past year, Ted, John and John’s brother Jerry, Davis and Carroll “Kink” Koenke had been preparing to sell items through Illinois-based Aumann Auctions.

Since Ted’s death, John Spoelstra and Davis have been working vigorously to clear out the shops where Ted stored his treasures.

For many weeks, some of the tractors, trucks and machinery have been taken out of the shops and set up in long rows on the grass outside of Spoelstra’s shops in Forks.

The shops are set back from Forks Avenue.

The only things obscuring the view of the collection is a row of trees.

It’s almost impossible to miss.

Eight people from the auction company came out to inventory and arrange the items both in Forks and at Spoelstra’s property north of town earlier this month.

Small items, such as hurricane lamps and hand planers were grouped with like pieces, tagged with lot numbers and set on pallets or shelves.

Bigger items such as engines and boat motors were tagged and set out for viewing indoors or outdoors, as necessary.

Aumann is planning an open house in mid-July.

On online-only auction for what Aumann bills as “The Ted Spoelstra Collection” is scheduled for the end of July and can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-SpoelstraAuction.

John said those dates might change.

Throughout the years, Ted would sometimes hold his own open houses for locals to come look at his collection.

Ted would drive one of his three calliopes in the Forks Old Fashioned Fourth of July parade each year.

“Ted was a historian, and if he thought something was of value, he bought it and restored it,” Davis said.

“He could tell you all about each item, but it wasn’t a short conversation.”

“I have boxes full of notes from over the years of talking with my uncle,” John Spoelstra added.

Davis explained that Ted tried to pick up items that had some element of local history although he would drive his pickup truck and trailer all the way to Montana and the Dakotas to pick up additions for his collection.

Two John Deere tractors — a 1931 Lindeman crawler and a 1923 Model D — were selected out of Ted’s collection and sold earlier this month.

These are among the oldest known John Deere tractors to still be in running condition.

Vehicles include a restored 1929 Ford Model A coupe with a rumble seat, a 1928 Lincoln V8 sedan and a Dodge brush fire truck.

The Spoelstra collection has an impressive list by any standard: 75 tractors, 25 vehicles, 180 hit-and-miss engines, 50 boat motors and even a rocket prototype.

Words fail to describe the diversity of smaller antique items.

Sale proceeds will go to seven charities chosen by Ted.

They include the Aero Museum in Port Townsend, churches, schools and the Olympic Natural Resources Center’s Rosmond Fund, which supports educational programs in forestry.

_________

Zorina Barker lives in the Sol Duc Valley with her husband, a logger, and two children she home-schools.

Submit items and ideas for the column to her at zorina [email protected], or phone her at 360-327-3702. West End Neighbor appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.

Her next column will be June 13.

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