A steel mystery unveiled

Savannah Chastain
Maurice Shackelford brought this 17,500 pound crankshaft to Destin 20 years ago.
“This crankshaft is considered small when compared to the Colt/Pielstick units that have been installed over the years,” Shackelford said of his giant steel power-plant engine piece.

At the corner of Industrial Park Road and Airport Road sits a giant steel contraption that has stumped Destin residents for years. Guesses of what the object is have ranged from a giant gear to a piece of a battleship engine, but Maurice Shackelford, who owns the property surrounding 814 Airport Road, put all the questions to rest.

“It is a crankshaft for a Fairbanks Morse engine used to power a generator for a power plant,” Shackelford said. “It’s one of two that were taken out of the Kissimmee Power Plant in 1978.”

Shackelford’s 17,500-pound crankshaft was brought to the lot about 20 years ago as a testament to the days he worked installing engines for the Fairbanks Morse company.

A crankshaft is an integral part of a reciprocating engine which converts a linear (up and down) piston motion into rotating circular motion. In vehicles it is this motion conversion that allows the automobile forward movement.

So why a crankshaft?

 “We needed something on that corner,” said Shackelford’s wife, Sue. “We had it and it’s interesting.”

The building on the property originally operated as a space to construct modular support systems under the name Shackelford Construction Company until 2009. Today, the business has transferred to Shackelford’s son, Eric, who runs Destin Metals LLC, out of the shop space.

The unique engine piece has definitely drawn attention to the Shackelford’s property.

“We had someone try to steal a smaller one, and it was really funny because they didn’t have the proper equipment to steal it, so we all got a kick out of it,” Sue told The Log.