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Round Barn Replica Has More Than 8,700 Pieces
"I made this replica as a tribute to the beautiful 96-year-old wood round barn on my dad's farm," says Ron Griffith, who copied the original in 1/27th scale down to every last detail. "I was concerned that the barn, which is not in use, would be damaged or torn down and its history would be lost."
Griffith's elaborate model of the barn, which still stands near Red Wing, Minn., took him almost 3,000 hours and nearly 6 years to complete. He made more than 8,700 wood pieces by hand. His experience at building dollhouses, ships and other small projects was helpful, but he says the round barn model was tougher than he had expected.
"I started the project by measuring every aspect of the existing barn, including diameter, circumference, height, rafters, wall studs, floor joists, windows, floor boards and last, but not least, the shingles," Griffith said. Planning required several trips to the barn from his Minneapolis home, and nearly 50 pages of notes. After numerous calculations he settled on a replica that would be about 2 ft. wide and 30 in. tall.
  He cut some of the wood pieces for the model from scraps that were in the old barn; otherwise pieces were made from 3/4-in. pine stock. All the wood pieces were cut with his custom-built 3-in. saw. Every piece is to scale, including the 23 windows, 4 doors, 80 wall studs, 112 rafters, 344 siding pieces, 340 haymow boards, 450 roof boards, and 4,120 roof shingles. Even the 1,174 foundation pieces were made from real limestone that Griffith acquired from ęBarn Bluff', a landmark stone outcrop near Red Wing.   
  The interior elements reflect the barn's use as a beekeeping business, which his father, and later Ron himself, ran as Flower Valley Bee Farm. Ron remembered that in the mid 1980's he processed more than 40,000 lbs. of honey into 62 barrels at the barn. "We'd bring the full hives in to the upper level of the barn, remove the frames, extract the honey and it would flow by gravity to the clarifier tank downstairs." His model interior includes replicas of 1,440 honey supers, 280 covers, 101 honey drums, and all the processing equipment.
  After completing the model he displayed it at the Minnesota State Fair and won a Best of Show award for woodworking. The model was retired to his living room until he received a call from Robin and Elaine Kleffman, who were restoring the original barn and building a bed and breakfast on the farm. The model now sits in the foyer of the Kleffman's Round Barn Farm Bed and Breakfast. That's just a few hundred feet from the original 1914 round barn, which has been completely restored by the Kleffmans and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. "The old barn and the model are now bringing enjoyment to a lot of people," Griffith says with pride.   
  Griffith will be 80 years old this year, and he's still building. "It takes me longer now to finish a project," Griffith says, "but there's a lot of enjoyment that comes with knowing that I can still put together a nice looking model." He's working on an exact replica of a stagecoach that may be done in 8 to 10 months.
  Contact FARM SHOW Followup, Ron Griffith, Robbinsdale, Minn. (ph 763 533-4591); or Robin and Elaine Kleffman, Round Barn Farm, 28650 Wildwood Ln., Red Wing, Minn. 55066 (ph 651 385-9250 or 866 763-2276; info@roundbarnfarm.com; roundbarnfarm.com).

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2010 - Volume #34, Issue #3