The THING In the Corncrib

| September/October 2000

103 Academy Avenue Alexandria, Tennessee 37012

I remember some 25 years ago playing around this strange looking mechanical thing in the corncrib of our barn. I was a kid then, and those flywheels looked so big. Of course, at the time, I didn't know that they were flywheels. Not being able to budge them, my interest was short lived, and I would move on to other things around the barnyard. And thus it would go for the next several years.

I didn't know then that my grandfather was periodically cleaning, greasing, and oiling the mechanical thing in the corncrib. I'm very thankful now that he did.

The last run of the Rockford was sometime in the early 1950s. The old model T coil had quit providing a spark, and the engine was given a rest over in the corner of the corncrib. Electricity had come to rural areas of DeKalb County, Tennessee, by that time, and the Rockford wasn't really needed anymore. So no effort was made to replace the coil.

My grandfather, Charlie Bailiff, purchased the 1912 hit-n-miss 1? HP Rockford engine from a neighbor's brother in nearby Smithville during the early 1930s. For the next 20 years the engine powered a generator from an old Pontiac car to charge batteries, as well as providing the power for a corn grinder.

During the 1980s the old bam was torn down, and with my interest being on other things, such as getting a driver's license and girls, the old mechanical thing was totally forgotten. Unbeknownst to me, my grandfather had moved it to the woodshed and was still periodically cleaning, greasing, and oiling the moving parts.