Bronze, at least chromatically, fits Orville "Shorty" Miller well. Gold would have been too glitzy and lusterous. Silver? Too shiny and pristine.
But, a bronze medal? That color blends well at Miller Equipment and Manufacturing, indistinguishable in color and luster from rusted steel, dirtied tin or aging cardboard boxes holding parts yet to be needed, or found. Bronze is an honest color for a working country fab-shop that is slowly being overrun by the glacial movement and magnetic attraction of antiquity.
Bronze is of the earth. And the metal of some of humanity's first great inventors.
Describing Miller's bronze medal from the Minnesota Inventors Congress Invention and Idea Show, is no slight to the man's personality or social rating (the parallel is not between bronze, third place and third rate). In Clarkfield, in those categories, Miller is considered first-rate and golden. The comparison is simply an observation on that which occurs as proper and the illustration that occurrence provides.
Miller earned his bronze at the 2013 Minnesota Inventors Congress Invention and Ideas Show held Friday and Saturday, April 19-20 in Redwood Falls.
At the show, Miller debuted a pair of inventions. The first, and the bronze medal winner, is a tool box kit that converts truck-box tool boxes to be able to slide on rails down the length of a truck bed for easy access. The second, slightly humorous, invention Miller took to Redwood Falls is an automatic ice-fishing rod jigger that comes with the tag line "Let Jig Rig do the work". Tongue-in-cheek as neither ice fishing, or the act of jigging, can be considered "work" by most people.
"Yeah, that tool box is a pretty simple idea. And I was pretty shocked to find out no one had really thought of it before," says Miller standing at the counter of Miller Equipment, next to the displays for his inventions he had set in Redwood Falls. "I've got a tool box like that and without crawling into the back, or jumping up on a stepside, you just couldn't reach it."
Miller, who's probably best know for constructing the Cardinal Mascot that sits in front of Clarkfield Area Charter School, says he's begun working with a lawyer to patent his rolling truck tool box while he shows the simple design of aluminum rails, rollers and locks that make the tool box easily functional.
As for the "Jig Rig", Miller seems to smile at you to see if you get the joke. "It's kind of a novelty," he says, but it does catch fish and one of them, a walleye is stuffed below the display contraption; ever turning and straining for bait that will never come in reach.
The "Jig Rig" runs on a little electric motor that spins a cam which raises and drops the rod. While you nap, a rattle reel alerts you when a fish falls for the mechanical jig. If the Jig Rig could then reel in the fish, clean it and open a beer—it'd be perfect—and Minnesota's ice fisherman might soon be extinct.
Page 2 of 2 - Miller's inventions drew people in at his booth in Redwood. And he says the experience was well worth the cost and something, if he gets another invention going, he'd like to do again.
"Oh, it was well worth it," says Miller. "There's a lot of old guys there like me and getting to talk to them and see all the other inventions and ideas people had was an experience. I learned a lot and it was just an interesting thing to do."