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Steel Wheel Tree Stands 46 Ft. Tall
Durand, Ill., farmer Jim Schmerse decided 15 years ago to construct a giant tree out of steel wheels after seeing a steel wheel "tree" at a motel in Wisconsin.
He started collecting wheels anywhere he could find them and this summer decided he finally had enough. It took three weeks to weld the 380 wheels together into a towering 46 ft. tree-shaped sculpture.
To make sure the tree would stand up to the elements, Schmerse first poured a 4 1/2-ft. thick concrete footing to anchor the tree trunk in. The trunk is made from 8-in. dia. well casing sunk in the center of the footing. Four steel plates extend out on top of the concrete from the trunk in a cross shape to serve as bases for the 30 ft. wide sides of the tree. Schmerse used 15 different sizes of wheels- mostly wagon and threshing machine wheels - starting with the bigger, heavier threshing machine wheels on the bottom two rows and working up to smaller ones on top.
Schmerse bought a 40-ft. aerial lift crane at an auction to lift the wheels into place for welding.
The hardest part of the project was finding enough steel wheels. He paid as much as $12.50 for some of them.
The tree is lit by two floodlights at night and the glow makes the rusted old wheels appear bronze, he says. He plans to string lights on the tree for Christmas.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Jim Schmerse, 11056 Center Road, Durand, Ill. 61024 (ph 815 248-4435).

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1998 - Volume #22, Issue #5