The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Larry Pieplow builds a tractor from scratch 07.18.2007

Written by David Green.


The day Larry Pieplow saw the real thing, he was moved to a different state of mind.

After five years and countless hours in his Seneca workshop, he created a half-scale model of the Mogul Junior, an International Harvester tractor that went into production in 1910.

He started with an engine and built everything around it, creating the design merely by looking at a photograph in a book.

But a few weeks ago he headed to the National Threshers Reunion north of Wauseon and saw a metal monster that stunned him.


There was the real thing, the full size Mogul 30-60, an authentic king-size version of Larry’s Mogul Junior.

“I was on high all day long after seeing that thing,” he said.

The owner of the 30-60 told Larry to bring his model next year, and he just might do that.

The Mogul wasn’t Larry’s first home-made tractor, but there was a problem with his earlier model. It seemed to show up everywhere. For his second attempt, he knew he wanted something that nobody else had. The Mogul was a good choice.

“I’ve never seen another home-built model like it,” he said.

Larry grew up on a farm, worked the land with his father, and by necessity, learned how to fix tractors. He also spent most of his adult life working in a machine shop.

All of that experience came through in his workshop, because he had nothing but an old 6-hp engine and a photograph in an International Harvester history book.

Working with a cousin from Swanton, he first estimated the height of the man in the photo anpieplow.parts2d built rear wheels to correspond. Everything else followed, and he has a sheath of drawings to show what it took to design the unit.

“I built everything from scratch,” he said. “There was a lot of paperwork and a lot of trial and error. A lot times something wouldn’t work and I’d have to stop and refigure.

“I’d come home from work, put some wood in the stove, and  before you know it it would be 12 or 1 in the morning. A lot of midnight oil.”

After he bought the engine at a gas engine show, Larry figures he’s put about $2,100 into materials. Don’t even try to figure out his time invested.

A work engine

Larry has another Fairbanks Morse engine from around the same age, maybe 1919, that he bought at a business on M-34.

“I remember when I was 15 years old I could have bought one just like it for $5, but I didn’t have the money,” he said.

These days, a restored engine will fetch a thousand dollars. They don’t lose their value, he said.

The one he bought had been connected to a cider press and was frozen up. He freed the piston, cleaned it up and has it mounted on a cart he built—ready to run a saw mill or anything else a tractor might be hooked up to.

“Anything that will get you out of doing manual labor,” he said. “Let the engine do the work.”

The engines start up on gasoline, then can be switched to kerosene, alcohol or anything else that will burn rapidly.

They were good, reliable units, he said,   and “so simple you wouldn’t think they could run.” But their weight put them at a disadvantage as new models were developed. The engine, alone, on his Mogul weighs in at half a ton.

“In their day and age, they were right up the line,” he said. “I can imagine how my grandfather must have felt after walking behind a horse all day to see a big tractor drive into the field.”

Larry thinks about creating a good companion piece to the Mogul—a half-scale threshing machine for his tractor to power.

“That would make a real showpiece,” he said.

He also has an old Farmall M in the workshop that he would really like to restore. He’s not saying what he paid for it, but he’s heard they sold new for about $900 in the 1940s.

“I drove that thing to the ends of the Earth,” he said, recalling hours of field work. “It’s funny how you go back to what you had when you were a kid.”

That’s not all he has in the shop.

“I have three more engines, definitely good collector items,” Larry said, and then adds, “A guy collects the darndest things.”

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