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
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
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.’
Out back of the barn is Frank’s biggest treasure, however a
1920 Huber steam engine, drawbar horsepower 16.
‘My Dad worked for Edgar Huber in Marion years ago,’
Frank recalled. ‘And I threshed with one of these many a summer
vacation period.’ Every once in a while Frank gets the urge to
hear his Huber huff-and-wheeze, so he stokes it up. He is proud
that he can ‘set its valves,’ a delicate operation, without
using gauges. On occasion he has taken it to the Steam Threshers
Festival in Urbana.
There are seven annual steam festivals in Ohio and Frank goes to
many of them. ‘Seems like a lot of younger fellows are getting
interested,’ he said. ‘These festivals are growing,
especially in the Midwest.’
Frank’s hobby is satisfying and absorbing. ‘And,’ he
winked, ‘it keeps me out of Mom’s kitchen.’
This article and pictures were sent to us by William B. Green,
Route 1, Rushshylvania, Ohio 43347, and with many thanks to Country
Living Magazine, 4302 Indianola Aye., Columbus, Ohio 43214 for
their permission to use same.