Stokoe and Sons farm in Avon raises ‘bicentennial windmill’
Drivers headed west on Route 5 and 20 past Avon can now see a new landmark right beyond the center line of the road.
An antique windmill tower rises 65 feet from farmer Scott Stokoe’s yard, celebrating the 200th anniversary of Seldon Stokoe and Sons, Inc. Atop the tower is a 1920s-era “Aermotor” wind turbine and weathervane once used to pump water from a well.
Sixteen years ago, a neighboring farmer asked Stokoe to “take it away.”
“He said he wanted it out. it was between the milk cows and the barns. I think he was afraid of lightning. He said, ‘Come and take it!’”
The windmill and tower would then lie behind Stokoe’s barn while he and hunting partner Frank Lenhardt figured out what to do with it.
“While Scott was crawling around on the farm all his life, I was in the machine shop,” said Lenhardt, son of a tool and die maker.
With the farm’s bicentennial approaching, the two decided it was time to get on the ball.
Last year, they ordered a “couple thousand dollars” in parts from a company in North Dakota and began replacing the fan blades and the gear box.
“This is a self-lubricating windmill,” Lenhardt said.
“Years ago, these mechanisms were out in the open. There was no oil in them; you had to lubricate them once a week.,” he said. “Then this company came up with a cast-iron housing that contains two quarts of oil. One gear picks up oil and oils the other gears with it. Then, a gear carries the oil back down a shaft. As long as there’s oil in it, the windmill lubricates itself.”
Once a year, someone has to climb the tower to replace the oil. Stokoe and Lenhardt had a young recruit do the first honors.
On Sunday, Stokoe hired a crane to lift the windmill into place while three dozen spectators watched from the shade.