- Associated Press - Saturday, June 13, 2015

CROFTON, Neb. (AP) - A Crofton contractor has turned a vacant building into a place for his pulley collection to allow visitors to socialize while taking a trip back in time.

Doug deShazer, the founder of the new Lewis & Clark Pulley Museum, has dabbled in serving top-of-the-line meals while also collecting barn pulleys, the Norfolk Daily News (https://bit.ly/1GAtnRy ) reported.

“Who buys pulleys?” deShazer asked rhetorically. “Nobody uses them today and they are not worth a lot of money, but I still feel the need to collect them.”

He has made the bluffs along the Missouri River north of Crofton his home. His construction business is based from his cabin along Lewis & Clark Lake.

As his collections of pulleys grew, he started thinking about a suitable home for them. This past spring, friend and neighbors helped him hang pulleys on rails.

“I became fascinated with pulleys in 2005 and since then I have amassed hundreds,” he said.

To date, he has 500 barn pulleys, 300 hay carriers and about 80 hay forks and slings. He travels to farm auctions or flea markets, but the best place to find pulleys is in old barns that are falling down or recently bulldozed. As he sifts through the rubble, he finds his treasures - bits of junk no one else wants but to him they tell a story about early farm life in America.

“I have to admit most of my knowledge about pulleys comes from the Internet,” deShazer said. “When I find a pulley I don’t have, I take it home and research it.”

The rarest pulley deShazer has is one with the name of Law on it. They are so rare because the design was very poor and they broke quite easily, he said.

Pulleys were so prevalent in old barns because most farmers relied on the pulley to haul their hay crop up into the loft of the barn for winter storage.

His collection of pulleys are hung with old rope deShazer has also scavenged from old barns so he is able to keep his expenses down.

“I’m very careful to knock on people’s doors before I look in old barns on someone’s property,” said deShazer. “If I find something, I also talk to them about it, ask if they want it and sometimes I offer them $20.”

When deShazer brings his treasures back home, he sandblasts the rust and restores them as best he can. He can usually tell if there was paint used and tries to replicate the factory colors. He also highlights the lettering on the pulleys mostly for visual affect for visitors to his museum. He estimates he spends about three hours on each pulley.

Each pulley is researched, tagged with a laminated card carrying the pulley’s history and cataloged so he knows exactly what he has.

Recently deShazer thought himself lucky to come across a 62-inch water wheel used with a belt pulley which was made pre-1900s. It was still in use in Grenville, Iowa, in a water plant and only recently developed a crack and had to be replaced.

“I just want to preserve a disappearing part of American history,” said deShazer. “Several of the pulley designers/builders are companies which are still around, but they make different farm machinery today.”

In his spare time, deShazer writes the newsletter for the North American Hay Tool Collector’s Association. This group was formed and dedicated to the preservation of antique hay equipment, barn pulleys, barn hardware, barn accessories and other 19th-century farm equipment.

Recently he has been contacted by representatives of the TV series “American Pickers” for information about pulleys they find in their travels. deShazer is listed as a consultant in their screen credits.


Information from: Norfolk Daily News, https://www.norfolkdailynews.com

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