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Tornado Sculpture Spins On Semi Axle
Joe Smith’s rotating tornado sculpture made out of scrap steel and old farm parts gets a lot of attention in tornado-prone Oklahoma. It’s just one of the 88-year-old Leedy, Okla., sculptor’s many pieces that he has welded over the past few decades.
    “It has a 20-ft. pipe in the center and an axle off an 18-wheeler, so it’s greasable,” Smith says. The twisted mass of steel has a 1/2-in. rod frame with an assortment of parts welded on to it, including tractor seats, horseshoes and dump rake teeth.
    Though it turns on the axle easily when spun by hand, Smith notes he needs to add more items for resistance near the top to make it spin with the wind.
    Oklahoma gets plenty of wind to spin it, says Smith’s son Lowry, who has watched his father build many moving (and stationary) sculptures over the years - in addition to farming and operating a bulldozer. Lowry and his two siblings have one-of-a-kind fence panels with saw blades, shovels, wrenches and other parts. Smith built a pair of roadrunners after glancing at a photo on a cellphone.
    His moving art captures plenty of interest. Besides peacocks that bob up and down (with tricky-to-balance rock counterweights), his biplane is among the biggest and most detailed pieces. It moves in the wind and includes a pilot and co-pilot in the open cockpit.
    The octogenarian has no interest in selling his work, and says he’s not through yet. Like his sculptures, he has ideas spinning in his mind. Why or what they will be doesn’t matter.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Joe Smith, Leedy, Okla.

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #3