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Hard at Work...


There are the un-retirees, who think retirement isn’t for them. Arnie is a metals fabricator who started Timeless Images in Metal. He has a niche market in making antique tractor parts and ships them around the U.S.  His son has joined him in his business and within five years his grandson will too. Three generations will be working together.

In 1984, he became MSU’s only air-conditioning and refrigeration repairman, servicing everything from drinking fountains to 600-ton steam absorbers. “I enjoyed the work,” Lillo said, but as the years passed he longed for the freedom of his own metal shop on the 13-acre hobby farm he and Janice bought in 1969. It’s a place that satisfies his dual loves, tilling the soil and shaping metal.

Lillo’s acreage is in the hill country between Good Thunder and Mankato, an area carved into ravines, timbered hillsides and valleys by three rivers, the Maple, Cobb and LeSueur. It’s an out-of-the-way farmstead distinguished by a sprawling collection of yard art. “It’s probably the only yard around that’s got this much iron in it.” Lillo agrees that if the display fronted on busy Hwy. 169 or 14, it might attract more buyers. “I’ve taken pieces to Pioneer Power (an annual antique farm machinery show at LeSueur) and it sells good, but I don’t like to do it,” he said. (The art may get more exposure soon because a retail chain has expressed interest in selling it at their new outlet in New Ulm.)

Lillo delights in cutting and welding “yard art” like five-foot weathervanes and life-size steel sculptures of horses. He’s developing a reputation for bringing back the past as a restoration expert. When a 1998 tornado ripped the 29-foot weathervane off the Nicollet County Courthouse roof in St. Peter, Lillo replicated it. He didn’t have much to go on, just a piece of the shaft, half the letter “N,” which stood for “North,” and three small photos.

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