Lanny Simpkins: Creates a model barn

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Lanny Simpkins remembers the day he sat in his basement workshop, a knife in one hand and a miniature cedar shingle in the other.

He was tapering one edge, tiny shavings hitting the floor, while Chad Miller stood watching. Chad was there to go fishing, but Lanny turned him down. He said he was going to work on his barn instead.

lanny--barn Chad told him he was nuts and went off in search of fish.

That wasn’t the only time someone told Lanny that his barn project was crazy. He heard it more than once during the two winters he spent with his own private barn raising.

Although the barn measures only 22 by 30 inches, the roofing job required about 2,300 shingles—each one tapered slightly by hand so it would lay just right in order to appear authentic.

Lanny built a model barn for the Van Brandt boys years ago, but it wasn’t as detailed as his recent project. The idea for this one had been in the back of his mind when he thought about his brother’s old barn on Bryant Road near Sand Creek.

Lanny spent a lot of time in that barn during baling season and he figures he had plenty of time to look it over.

He learned it well. The details in his little barn are many and they’re impressive.

A miniature pulley to operate a hay car that moves along the main roof beam. A welding machine in the tool shed that includes a painted dial. Tiny milk pails placed in a cooler with a refrigeration unit on top. Surge milk containers fashioned out of wood and hanging on the milk house wall.

“Everything is hand made,” he said. “It was fun building it, but it took a lot of hours.”

Actually, the shingles are the only part of the project that came ready made, but then Lanny ended up shaving each one of them.

The bulk of the barn, milk house, tool shop and silo is fashioned from strips of pine wood. To cover the barn, for ex

ample, he cut thin strips three-fourths of an inch wide and added a groove in the middle. Each represents two boards of siding—130 in all.

He built the silo by wrapped a fiber tube in wax paper and gluing strips of wood around the tube. Each board of the tool shop was run through a router to give it the right look of a metal-sided building.

Lanny got some help with a few of the details. Farm toy collector Jim Lakatos bought the herd of 10 cows that stand inside the barn. Lanny’s wife, Carol, found small bales of hay and feed bags at a craft show.

Some items posed special challenges. Lanny thought hard about what to use for door tracks for the barn doors to slide along. A friend suggested using a piece of aluminum hunting arrow with a slot cut along the length.

“It was just what I was looking for,” Lanny said.

But to cut the slot, he ended up spending a long time with a hacksaw blade.

The overhead door in the tool shop was created with strips of wood held together with narrow piece of window screening. The door looked good, but it didn’t move right. Lanny finally discovered that he needed to add a spring to provide tension, just like the real thing.

The barn is on display at Stair Public Library and will remain there through the fall, until the conclusion of the Smithsonian Institute’s Barn Again! An American Icon exhibit that arrives in October.

It’s delighted visitors of all ages since it arrived at the library last year.

“Some people have to look it over every time they come in,” said librarian Sheri Frost.

That’s what makes those two winters in the basement worth the time for Lanny. This year he’s been out fishing.

   - Feb. 18, 2004
  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017