| October/November 1995

  • Blacksmith Shop
    The blacksmith shop sheltered by a giant maple tree.
  • Fuller and Johnson Engines
    The finished Fuller and Johnson engine cart in front of the blacksmith shop.
  • 6 HP Fuller and Johnson
    Young Timothy Ahrens rediscovers abandoned 6 HP Fuller and Johnson.
  • Restored Engine
    The fully restored engine, our prize possession.

  • Blacksmith Shop
  • Fuller and Johnson Engines
  • 6 HP Fuller and Johnson
  • Restored Engine

R.R.2, Box 40, Lewiston, Minnesota 55952

This story begins with the childhood memory of a twelve year old boy, awestruck by the sights and sounds of an engine show. That young boy, now my 40 something husband, never forgot the wonder of that show. It has motivated him to preserve and restore, and find absolute delight in the past.

It is said that we are a product of nature and nurture. My husband was nurtured to marvel at simple machines, to salvage hand tools from piles of rust and wire brush them into something recognizable. He had a mother and father who encouraged his meager collections and fostered his interest. His father clung to the reliability and economy of the John Deere A and Minneapolis-Moline R. He practiced soil conservation and believed in the tried and true farming methods. Richard, my husband, was enthralled by the remnants of the 2 HP Sandow and 3 HP McCormick-Deering engines that once were the work horses on this nearly century old farm. He vowed that one day he would restore them. Many farm implements remain here. The old surrey hangs from the rafters of the machine shed. The wooden Rumely threshing machine and wooden rimmed tubeless tired bike still have their place.

Richard's motivation only grew as he developed skills to restore and maintain. He learned a great deal in his industrial arts courses. That knowledge has been invaluable since, as has his ability to visualize and dream. Richard began to clamor for tools of artisans of the past; particularly farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters, and cobblers. He bought frugally at auctions and garage sales finding real treasures for a quarter or less. Richard always intended to use these tools to educate one day.

I inferred that I married a dreamer, but dreams without work are only dreams. Richard was willing to work. I became a believer when I saw him transform an old farm garage into an 1860 blacksmith shop. Gradually I was being consumed with the 'for the love of old iron bug' too. The shop was complete with forge and anvil, a line shaft powered by a 1 HP Mogul engine and all the tools needed by a wheelwright and wagon maker. The false front bears a sign 'The Maple Tree Forge' designed and painted by his mother.

The blacksmith shop is sheltered by a huge old maple, always harboring a nest of squirrels and plenty of birdsong. The shop has become a refuge for us. This winter Richard is making a replica of a triple grain box made by the Lewis-ton Wagon Company in the early 1900s. Our nine year old son Timothy is in another corner busily creating his own masterpiece with a coping saw. As for me I am huddled near the crackling potbellied stove with a child's rocker and supply of sandpaper. We only stop our activity to marvel about how fortunate we are to have a quiet place with only kerosene lamps to light our way.


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