Roger Phillips has some big ideas.
One was Monty, the 31-foot-long, 14-foot-tall tyrannosaurus Rex, who stands in front of Nature’s Art/The Dinosaur Place, on Route 85.
One was The Dinosaur Place itself, with its spectacular trails, mining activities, fossil-finding spots and amazing array of stones, bones and fossils.
And in the not-too-distant future, another one is coming on line. This one will be a technology museum, showcasing inventions “from steam engines to search engines,” he says.
ON THIS SUNNY, WARM MORNING, Phillips has something to show, something that’s headed for the antique technology museum.
It’s a 15-year-old rolling boiler, that he bought at an estate sale in Jewett City.
The piece was supposed to be scrapped, he says, and he rescued it. Paid $800 for it, though the thing was a mess. The wheels were missing, the smokestack was bashed in, and all the wood was bad.
He ran into a guy who knew where the original wheels were, and he bought them and restored them.
He replaced all the wood.
He fixed the smokestack.
He painted the entire thing – and now, he has a beautiful model of what is essentially a a19th-century portable generator.
“This would be towed from farm to farm,” he says, “for portable power.
“A hundred and fifty years ago,” he says, “this was a family’s business.”
He explains that a tank would be filled with water, and a fire would be lighted in the fire box. Fire tubes carry the hot products of combustion through water, and heat it. The steam that results from the process runs whatever machine needed to be run.
Steam is a constant, steady energy, Phillips says. The boiler, when it was working, could have run on wood or coal. He says it could have powered a thrashing museum or a portable sawmill.
THE BOILER WILL BE one of many displays in the technology museum. Others could include things like typewriters, telephone booths and other inventions that were technological breakthroughs at the time but are rarely seen these days.
The construction also includes a space that will be an antiques mall, with items for sale.
“Now that people know I’m doing this remodeling,” he says, “and they know I’ve been collecting this stuff... they want to give me things – I don’t have a place to store them even.”
And when will it be done? Phillips is cagey with his answer. Every time he sets a date for something like this, something happens and changes the date.
“It’ll be done when it’s done,” he says.