HE HAS A MANIA FOR MACHINERY


| January/February 1971



Frank Grooms

William B. Green

They say one man's trash is another man's treasure. If that's the case, I've got lots of treasure.'

Retired steel mill worker Frank Grooms grinned as he looked up from his cluttered workbench. He was cleaning the magneto from one of the 15 or 20 old internal combustion engines he has rescued from trash heaps.

In his compact little barn on a farm just west of Essex, O., Frank spends hours rebuilding machinery of the Pre-electrification Age an age that's gone but not entirely forgotten on our farms.

Prominent in the collection is a 32-volt Delco Light plant. Frank uncovered it and showed it to Roger Morley, member services director of his Co-op, Union Rural Electric. 'It did a lot for farmers in its day, but it sure can't hold a candle to the juice Union gives us today,' Frank said.

Roger scratched a few figures on his note pad. 'That Delco would light about a dozen 100-watt lightbulbs, or run an iron, or heat a hotplate but not all at once. It surely wouldn't satisfy farmers today. They're using about 775 kilowatt hours a month in the state now.'

A glance around Frank's barn reveals a wide range of things. The oldest, no doubt, is a wooden Groundhog thresher forerunner of the grain separator which was introduced by the Quakers in the 1840's. Then there's a 35-hp Worthington vertical stroke engine that stands six feet high. It once operated a 42-inch sawmill from one pulley and a cider press from another. In one corner is an old draught beer pump, a beautiful mechanism; and in another is a box of old auto parts Frank's trading material. 'I seldom buy or sell stuff, just trade, mainly,' he said. 'And if some part is missing, I get out my hammer, file and electric drill and make what I need.'