Tuesday, August 26, 2008

from Chris, in New York

Chris just sent this to us. He's working for a company that builds grain silos. We'd been after him for photos and he finally got tired of being bugged.
This is so interesting to me. Corn, used as actual fuel to heat homes, is the hottest new item, it seems. The bottom photo shows a complete system from wet-corn storage, through the drier, to the dry corn storage.
Now, here's Chris' letter and photos. Remember that a left click of your mouse makes the photos large sized.

...so here it is. Some of these pics are extra big on purpose so you can see all the detail as well as possible.

This first pic is one of the biggest bins we build. It's 48 feet in diameter, and when we finished it, it was about 48 feet to the peak of the roof. In this pic, we have only 12 jacks set up around the silly thing. Each of these regular jacks is 10 feet 6 inches tall. We attach them to the bottom of that first ring, which is fairly light guage, and raise the whole building up 33 inches so we can attach the next ring, one sheet at a time. You can see the next set of sheets set up inside, where they are all stacked up and ready to set up as we go. We can only raise the thing up two rings at a time, then we have to reattach the jacks and start over again. As we attach each ring, we have 24 bolts in each seam between the sheets, and another 10 between each sheet and the one above, making 34 bolts per sheet. 16 sheets per ring, 13 rings... (34x16)x13=7072 structural bolts just in the wall of this thing, and we have to put bolts in the holes from the jack anchors every time we lower the anchors, plus the bolts that go into the roof, the door, and the ladder, so call it somewhere in the vicinity of 10,000 bolts in this thing, and I personally stuffed half or a little more of them. I don't even want to think about how many times I walked all the way around this stupid bin!!

Here you can see the stairwell we are building around the silly thing. Bins this big don't get ladders, like the smaller ones do, and I'll show the smaller bin later. This was at 9 rings. We had to add 4 jacks to the mix at this point, as the bin was getting HEAVY.

16 jacks, 2 of them taller so we didn't have to lower them around the doorway we built into the wall between the taller 2. The doorway makes the wall weaker and we didn't want to attach the jacks at the bottom of the opening as it pulls the wall out at the weak point, making attaching the bottom ring just about impossible. 3 rings to go...

Finished at last! 13 rings, each one 33 inches tall, makes the top of the wall 35 feet 9 inches tall, and the peak of the roof is another 13 to 15 feet beyond that, I'm not sure exactly how much. The bottom ring was just 1/32 of an inch less than 1/4 of an inch thick, so you can imagine that the whole thing was incredibly heavy by the time we finished. Each sheet on the final ring weighed around 240 pounds. We installed the door, which shores up the weakness in the wall where the opening was, making the whole thing rock solid again. These bins are set on a concrete base, which was 72 cubic yards for this particular beast. Check the next picture to see how the floor is installed, and for more info on how much corn goes in this thing.

These floors consist of panels that are anywhere from about 9 feet long at the shortest to around 27 feet 7 inches long at the longest. We snap them together on top of the supports you see, which are placed under the leading edge in staggered formation, on and between the lines painted on the floor as guides. When we finished this floor, it was all set to hold the 1500 TONS of corn the farmer plans to put in it this fall. Do the math... that's 3 MILLION pounds of corn!!!

Final picture for now. This is a complete system, including wet hopper for corn fresh from the field (center, smaller bin), grain dryer (on the left), and the storage bin. Follow the auger system we built from the bottom of the wet hopper to the top of the dryer, then from the bottom of the dryer to the top of the dry storage bin. This is a smaller dry storage bin at 30 feet in diameter, and only 12 rings tall. Notice the ladder system instead of the stairs like the bigger one got. From the time we start setting up to pour the concrete bases, to the time we hang the augers and finish everything up takes around 3 weeks. Our next project is another monster bin like all the above pics, but it's out in Massachusetts somewhere. We will leave in the morning to go out and set up for and pour the concrete base for it. We should be building on it next week.

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