Moving a Used Grain Bin - a Day in the Life of a Rural Contractor

There's something magical about staring up at the roof of a grain bin...almost like a cathedral. That's the lifting ring in the center, almost like a chandelier - an old rim, a bit bigger than the hole.
There's something magical about staring up at the roof of a grain bin...almost like a cathedral. That's the lifting ring in the center, almost like a chandelier - an old rim, a bit bigger than the hole.

Grain Bins and the Economy

As a contractor's wife, I've helped move, dismantle, and rebuild several grain bins in the last seven years...not always in that order.

Most of the time, it goes pretty well. There are those occasions where it doesn't go well...like the time my husband took out street after street of cable TV lines with a grain bin on a big trailer, streaking through a nearby town, because he was on a deadline for his now-out-of-business boss. To the best of my knowledge, none of the effected residents know it was him.

I hope they don't find this hub.

But, most of the time, it's a straight-forward endeavor.

Grain bins represent the life of many rural communities.

You see, every so often, farmers swap, bid or buy someone else's equipment and such, when they change directions, or an old farmer dies and has an estate sale, or just plain are forced out of business by hailed crops, failed wells, or other calamities. Sometimes, a man can afford to buy new bins outright, and these are the good, easy jobs for us...the ones my man and I prefer to take.

Grain bins are a way of telling how good a farmer thinks the future of agriculture is likely to be. If he's letting them go to pot, he reckons he won't be in business much longer. If he's getting more, or taking good care of those he has, and keeping them full, he thinks the future looks bright. I guess the locals think times are improving around here...it's probably just the extra rain that's turned the pastures green that's gone to their heads, and made them feel it's worth buying good seed for planting, and worth feeding replacement heifers.

And buying grain bins.

We've built, re-built, or moved at least five bins this summer, and aren't done yet.

Here is the story of moving one two weeks ago, without dismantling more than the first three rings.

An Insider's View

Hubby hard at work on stiffeners - which are bars that help the bin hold up against the thousands of pounds of grain without buckling.
Hubby hard at work on stiffeners - which are bars that help the bin hold up against the thousands of pounds of grain without buckling.
A nearly completed bin. This one lacks a ring of sheets, and is being held down by the boomtruck, as it's not anchored to the cement. Ever watched a kite take off in the wind? A grain bin will do the same thing.
A nearly completed bin. This one lacks a ring of sheets, and is being held down by the boomtruck, as it's not anchored to the cement. Ever watched a kite take off in the wind? A grain bin will do the same thing.

Phase One - Dismantling the Lower Half of the Bin

We began with a crew of three: My husband, his friend and co-worker Les, and myself. (Perhaps I should include my children, too, as they prompted us when to take breaks, and brought strange plants and rocks, bits of rubbish, and other curiosities to us for identification or amusement.) Our goal was to make the bin short enough to be safely loaded onto a trailer, and hauled without incident from one farm to another. This meant we had to dismantle the first three rings, or tiers, of sheets, from the bottom up.

We made record time on this part. All of us knew what we were doing, and none of the bolts were rusted badly enough to require torching. There had been no pigeons roosting inside, and there were but traces of sunflower seeds scattered throughout. An impact wrench, some vice grips, a good box-end wrench, and a boomtruck were the primary tools. We cheated, and left the rings in three pieces of two sheets each, plus one lone sheet, instead of taking them clear apart. Within two and a half hours, we had the bin ready to load.

The kids, meanwhile, played nearby in the fields and farmyard. The farmer's widow lived there still, and provided them with a little wagon full of playthings. They preferred the wagon itself, and dragged it about in the mud puddles, pausing occasionally to raid a windfall of immature crab apples on the lawn.

On the Move

A convoy: First went our friend Les, with the shortened bin on a big trailer. Next came my husband, in the boomtruck, which we used to load and unload the bin. Last, came the kids and I, in the car.
A convoy: First went our friend Les, with the shortened bin on a big trailer. Next came my husband, in the boomtruck, which we used to load and unload the bin. Last, came the kids and I, in the car.

The Highline Incident

Beginning to round the corner. Les misjudged how close he was to the powerlines. Oops.
Beginning to round the corner. Les misjudged how close he was to the powerlines. Oops.
Rectifying the situation, with a fiberglass pole. Les is lifting the lines out of the way, while Hubby drives under them.
Rectifying the situation, with a fiberglass pole. Les is lifting the lines out of the way, while Hubby drives under them.

Phase Two - Moving the Bin

All started out well, once the bin was safely on a huge trailer. We continued in caravan style for a few miles, idling along, completely without incident.

Then came a corner, with highline wires crossing over it.

Now, Les has loads of experience moving bins, but this day he misjudged how close he could get to those wires. Ever seen burnt gravel? I got my chance that afternoon. Unfortunately, I didn't have leisure to get a picture for your benefit.

As he crept around the corner, he must have thought he could barely slip under without touching the wires. Bad call. Suddenly, Hubby ran yelling toward Les's truck, waving his arms. Immediately, Les backed the rig up and got out to survey the damage. Everything looked okay (including Les), save for a dark patch on the road.

We proceeded with more caution, while Les held the wires aloft with a fiberglass pole.

The Tires

A bit down the road, we met with more wires, but refrained from tangling with them and their power-hungry ways. A lesson learned the first time!

Still, clouds and poofs of dust rose rhythmically up from the driver's side of the trailer. As Les got out, I raced to the examination site, and captured this priceless photo:

The poor, fried tires.
The poor, fried tires.

...amid yells from Les -

"You quit takin' pictures!"

I have yet to decide if he was really upset. He doesn't yell often. I'd risk it again, however, for such a photo.

It appears that the power from the highlines managed to ground from the bin, through the trailer, through the axels, through the steel belts which were already showing in the tires...and left a mark of carbon from the tires on the road (the burnt spot).

So Les limped along on the blown tires, and less than two miles later, we arrived at the farm where we needed to deliver the bin, and the adventure for the day was done...

...saving that the company specializing in bin hardware didn't send any anchor bolts. Instead, they provided us with a box full of nothing.

Drat.

Wonder who paid the shipping on that one?

The Real Reason I Like This Work

The green, sweet fields of wheat.
The green, sweet fields of wheat.
Common vetch, found in a ditch along the way.
Common vetch, found in a ditch along the way.
Hind sight says the trip was good.
Hind sight says the trip was good.

Would I Do it Again?

Yes!

It's my life...it keeps me close to the people among whom I was raised...to the land, and cattle, and crops, and wild plains and fields where jack rabbits bound and arrowheads may still be found.

More than this, though, it makes for a pretty day:

You can't move such a bin down a muddy dirt road at more than an idle. The day was warm, but not severe, and the wheat was still green and fresh smelling. Wild flowers grew in the ditches, and our caravan was moving slowly enough to allow me to examine, enjoy, and identify some of them.

I found a bushy growth of wild vetch at one corner, and heard meadowlarks on the fenceposts. I saw tracks of coons and snakes near the ditches, and had time to think.

Yeah, even the flops in this business make for a good life.

 

Same Trip, Different Bin

The next bin we moved along that route went well. Les solved the high-line problem by moving four feet over in the road, clearing the line completely.

One of these days, I'll get some pictures of how we actually build a grain bin from scratch, and also how we tear down an old one completely.

Thanks for reading.

Grain Bin Move - an Interesting Apparatus

A Specialized Grain Bin Moving Trailer

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Comments 67 comments

Jarn profile image

Jarn 7 years ago from Sebastian, Fl

Whew! Good thing no one was hurt. I'm amazed you can find the time to write what with outworking with your husband and taking care of the kids. You're just a regular bundle of energy, aren't ya?


Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 7 years ago from Hither and Yonder

Love those fried tires! What a day. I can't imagine catching an electrical wire with a bin! That had to be a bit scary... could also be why the tires didn't last...

Hopefully, not every day is so exciting. :)


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States Author

Jarn, do you notice I've been here six months and have all of 12 hubs? ;-) I'd feel behind if it weren't for 50 or so drafts waiting for the right moment to mature.

By the by, I still respond to "Jumpy," Dad's pet name for me...but feel pretty dull when I get too busy to talk to Certain Interesting People (ahem!).

Thanks for reading.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States Author

Ivorwen -

No, not every day is that exciting. Still, the Highline Incident wasn't like on movies or something where you get showers of sparks, and no, for some stupid reason, it wasn't scary. I actually couldn't refrain from laughing, because it was obvious nothing much was happening besides that the wires got a good stretch.

But then, maybe I don't have the sense to be scared when I should. One of my favorite people is the Explosives Expert on "The Red Green Show"...particularly the episode where he got talking about the movie "Speed":

"Now, with a REAL bus fire, you don't get near that much flame. It's all glass and smoke. I should know - I worked in a bus shop for a coupla days."

Still, I live a fairly predictable lifestyle. Our average day goes something like this: Get up anywhere between six and three o'clock in the morning (depending on the season), cook a big breakfast, scramble for something to pack for lunch that's okay to eat cold (or that won't rot in summer temperatures), work for five to nine hours (depending on the heat or cold, the job, and my husband's changing health), come home and do any chores that didn't get done in the morning, dink around on the computer. Pretty boring, really. :-) It makes it better that I don't work every day...at least not at construction.


Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 7 years ago from Hither and Yonder

Those stretching wires remind me of Wile E. Coyote <---------------> Boing!


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States Author

LOL! Wasn't that bad, but yeah. At least Les didn't have the charred look that Wile E. always winds up with.

I didn't ask him how his truck's electrical systems are behaving.


FarmerDave 7 years ago

Joy: Thanks for the story and pics. I am looking to move some bins in northeastern ND. Do you own that boomtruck or rent it? Also, what does your trailer look like and how do you secure the bin to it? I have 4 5300bu. 8ring (32"rings)19' dia bins to move. What about width restrictions on the highway? Lots of questions :) Would appreciate any info. Thanks!


FarmerDave 7 years ago

Love the story and the pics! I am going to be moving 4 bins also and would like to ask you a few questions. Like how much weight can you put on that boomtruck? How is the bin held down on the trailer? What is the widest you can move without needing permits? Mine is 19' in dia. 8 rings high with 32" rings, it's about 5300bu. Thanks Joy! Dave


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States Author

FarmerDave, some of these questions I'd be best to run by my husband, as my experience and knowledge are both quite limited compared to his. I have helped build a lot more bins than I have helped move.

You can sort of see the trailer we used in the second picture under "Phase One", above. It is basically an iron framework, 16 foot wide, and no, it's not strictly legal, because it is so big. I believe it is 40 feet in length.

I know you cannot move anything over 8 foot 2 inches wide without permits on any interstate.

My husband and I do not own the boomtruck. Our friend Les owns it, and my recommendation would be to find one closer to home, if possible. This boomtruck is fit for the labor we put it to, but not fit for traveling long distances. I'm not sure what Les's policy is for renting some of his equipment, anyway...I do know he doesn't have the same policy for everyone, and my husband is often a special case with him, because they trade a lot of work and equipment.

I can't say what the width restrictions on the highway would be where you are working...I'd check locally to make sure. Check your State's agricultural equipment highway laws. It is perfectly legal in many states to pull ANYTHING down the road with a tractor, or with a truck that has "Farm" plates on it. If your State is this way, you won't need overwide permits.

My husband says, unless they're Behlen bins, the dimensions go in 3' increments, so...if it takes six sheets to make one ring, it is an 18' diameter, not a 19' diameter. Every sheet equals 3 foot of diameter. Behlen is on a metric system - one meter per sheet.

We secured the bin to the trailer this way. We took anchor plates, moved them up a couple rings, and secured the bin through these with come-alongs. Make sure the bin edges are sitting on planks on the trailer, or you will wind up with bent sheets.

According to my husband's calculations, you are not going to clear power lines without dismantling at least 2 rings. You can see in the pictures that we had 6 rings left together on our bin, and didn't quite clear the lines.

By the way, that is a special fiberglass pole with a safe and secure hook, provided by our local power company, which we used to lift the lines. We would recommend that you see about having someone from your local electric company come with you when you move the bin. Our friend Les has a somewhat special relationship with our local electric company, but play it safe.

If you expect to meet any traffic at all while moving your bins, have two escort cars accompany you - one in front a half mile, and one behind a half mile, with cell phones or other communication devices, to warn the bin driver of impending traffic. We usually try to choose a time of day without traffic - say, very early in the morning. Sundays might be good, if it is legal to move buildings (and other similar things) on Sunday, in your area. Check this before proceeding.

If you have further questions, don't hesitate to comment again. I'll try to get a picture of the trailers we have used, as there are actually two of them. One is the huge 16' wide, and the other is a 10' wide Donahue (sp.). This hub is a compilation of about three jobs we did very close together, though all the pictures regarding moving the bin with which we hit the power lines happened on the same day with the same bin. With that particular bin, we used the Donahue trailer, which sits lower than the 16' wide one. So measure your available equipment, find out your local regulations, and proceed carefully!

One last note: The black coloration in tires is actually an electric conductor, so just because you have rubber tires doesn't mean you are properly insulated or totally protected.

Good luck.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States Author

I forgot to mention, FarmerDave, that boomtrucks have their own weight limits and boom extensions at different angles listed on them. Don't count on any two trucks being the same. If you get really close to your bins, you can lift them with a 60' boom. But again, play it safe. Dumping over a boomtruck is no fun.


FarmerDave 7 years ago

Thanks for the information Joy. If you have any additional info or pics I would love to see 'em. If it is easier to email my address is luv2hrvst@hotmail.com

Thanks again! BTW, I am moving Westeel Roscoe's.


FarmerDave 7 years ago

Could you comment on the way in which you guys hooked the top of the bin? It looks like you used a wagon wheel of sorts and some straps? Any additional pics and info on this would be great! I am going to split my bin in two and place them on a donahue type trailer. Any idea how much a single sheet weighs? Lastly, how would a person secure the bottom half of my bin,that is going to be just 4 rings together,and get it onto the trailer? Thanks!


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States Author

This particular wheel we used for lifting the bin was just an old spoked wheel that was larger than the inside diameter of the hole at the top. Most often we use an old semi-tractor wheel with the tire still attached. On the semi wheel, we use a round plate that is placed under the wheel and is of a size that it can not fit through the center hole of the semi wheel. On that, we have welded a large diameter rod in a semi-cirle to attach the boomtruck hook to. The wagonwheel just had a chain wrapped around it where it would look and stay level on its own.

As far as the weight of the sheets goes, it TOTALLY depends on the quality of bin you have. Keep in mind here, I am not "Joy at Home". I am her husband. Some sheets weigh as little as 40 pounds, or thereabouts, near the top of the bins, and I have built bins where the bottom ring sheets each weighed more than 600 pounds each, and took 6 people to set each sheet. As I have not seen any bins your brand, and you claimed it was a 19' diameter, I am assuming at this time that it is probably an import from Canada and may be of metric size rather than standard.

Good luck splitting your bin in two! I'd bet money you will collapse the bottom half while trying to lift it, regardless of the number of straps used. If you need to lower the bin to accommodate power lines etc., dissassemble the rings and use spray paint on the inside of the sheets to mark which ring is which. If you screw up and put a sheet that goes on ring 3 on the bottom ring, your bin will most likely collapse. It only takes 2 people around 20 minutes to dissassemble a ring on an 18' dia. bin. If you use your head about stacking sheets, no manual labor is needed to use a tractor or fork lift to load them on a trailer, in the order needed to re-assemble. Trash the bolts, as the water-resistant washers may not be good anymore. Bolts and nuts are cheap compaired to a bin full of wheat or other grain. Trash the used nuts too. With a high quality electric impact, NOT DEWALT OR comparable, you should be able to tighten 3 nuts per second or more during re-assembly. Have a person on the outside with TWO box-end wrenches holding the heads of the bolts as you tighten the nuts. 5/16 nuts should only be tightened around 22 foot pounds, and I normally go a little more. 3/8 nuts should be tightened around 38 to 42 foot pounds. Even though Jepson is now made overseas, their impacts out-perform any other gun on the market. They do not over-heat, and they take the abuse. On a 48' diameter bin, the black impact socket will often turn cherry red by the time a ring is completely tightened. Remember, tighten the nuts, not the bolts. You may need good gloves and rags to hold on to the impact after a while, as the gun will get hotter than your wife on P.M.S. If you decide to split the bin, and figure a way out to pick up the bottom half without damaging it, a good way to put the top half on is to use pitch forks as pry bars to keep you and your help from losing fingers and limbs. Also, on the ring above the split, loosen at least 1/4th of the verticle bolts and remove them to allow for expansion to put the upper 1/2 of the bin on. I have replaced many hail damaged roofs by separating the top ring, roof included, from the rest of the bin and then set the roof and top ring on the ground to replace the roof sheets. Kickers bolted to the lower sheets with 2X12's work as a walk area, and the people inside used extention ladders to put nuts on during re-assembly.

I'm not too busy right now, and I would be willing to deal with you and get this job done. However, we are in N.E. Colorado, and I have to charge $1.00 per mile each way in addition to labor. If we can agree on equipment rentals, etc, I can leave my truck at home and charge less. Good luck.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States Author

Dave,

Also make sure you have new Mastik tape between the sheets (be careful about placement), while re-assembling.


FarmerDave 7 years ago

Great information! Thanks a ton! I keep going back and forth between using a tele-handler (boomtruck) and getting jacks and completely dismantling it. I understand your point about trying to lift the bottom four rings and I agree, I would just damage the entire thing. If I go the tele-handler route I hope to be able to slide long pieces of something very strong for support and just lifting the supports.

Any need to replace bolts or washers that I don't take out for transport if I end up splitting it?

Any advice for the bottom of the bottom ring (where it meets the concrete) as far as applying moisture resistant 'stuff'? Is tar good enough?

I will most likely not have bolts sticking out of the new concrete (in the new location) because it will be too hard to match up. Any suggestions on anchoring this thing down into the concrete slab?

I would love it if you were in ND! You would be hired! :) I am hoping to get this things knocked out in about 4 or 5 days. It will be me and a couple of family members.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States Author

Dave -

Lift it using a large wheel strong enough to hold the entire bin. Bolting on angle irons will probably result in damage lifting by them instead of the center of the roof.

If you don't take a bolt out, you don't need to replace it. I use all new nuts wherever I remove any, just to speed things up, but save used ones in the event of a shortage. Tar is good enough for the bottom. Quick note, when initially lifting the bin, the tar may be stuck to the cement pretty good, and you may need to assist the boom truck in lifting the bin from the tar pad by using crow bars and hammers. After the bin is set down, simply use a cement drill and drill in anchor bolts (available at most hardware stores) and anchor it down. Being 8 rings tall, I would probably use 5/8 by 8 inch anchors, as where we live it is often windy. Make sure it is well anchored or it will blow away. I've seen it happen. You can also get away without a boom truck by CAREFULLY using 4 bin jacks on your last ring dismantle. Disassemble the ring, and back the trailer under the bin, then lower the jacks. Remember, the fewer jacks you have, the less safe. Keep the bin level at all times when only using 4 jacks. Normally people use one jack per sheet when going up or down with a bin. 4 jacks would be sufficient for this small of a bin if you use common sense and keep it level. We chose to use a boom truck most often because I am lazy, and have experienced help. Jacks are more work, but in theory are safer.


FarmerDave 7 years ago

Got it. Thanks! I am going up this weekend to do some preliminary work on things and hoping to actually do the job in a couple of weeks.

In talking about lifting the entire bin to set on a trailer, do you think the bin will be able to hold together long enough by just lifting it from the center hole? I will be able to find some wheel strong enough to hold it but I am a little concerned about something ripping away due to the weight. Again, I am going to find out just how heavy this thing is but I am thinking that the sheets are probably 100lbs a piece and there are probably 6 per ring times 8 is about 5000lbs plus the weight of the cone. Do you think she'd hold...sounds like it probably would.

I am still liking my idea of picking the whole thing up and setting it on a trailer. Then splitting it (horizontal) at the top of the fourth ring (from the bottom). Then splitting the 4 bottom rings (vertically) and bringing in those two ends together as much as possible (to decrease the diameter) and then sliding the top 4 rings plus the cone over that and away you go. Then I don't have to worry about height.

Two concerns: 1)Securing well enough to the trailer. 2)Making some type of extensions (width-wise) from the trailer to accommodate 19ft. and trying to relieve the pressure on the bottom part of the rings on the trailer...so they don't bend.

I will buy the same bolt and nut that is currently on there but what about washers? You mentioned a water resistant type washer. Any particular type or brand? Would they be for interior and exterior?

By the way, I would like to send you a gift card for your trouble. Maybe your favorite restaurant? I really appreciate your help...and I have to admit, it may not be the last time I as for help. :)


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States Author

I think you are time ahead to disassemble the bottom 4 rings, marking which ring is which. This would be much safer, also. The bolts that go through the seams normally come with rubber or neoprene washers. Replace with the same thing. Many companies in your area will sell these. Look in the yellow pages under Grain Bin Erectors or the like. Or, try buying from one of the factories in Nebraska, such as York, M.F.S, Chief, Golden Grain, Behlen, Brock, Stor-More, etc. The washers are already on the bolts, no assembly required. Many bins have a tag on the inside of each sheet stating the gauge (thickness of the sheet). Even at 5,000 pounds, unless the bin is a cheap pile of junk, the roof will handle being lifted, bin and all. As stated previously, you may need to assist with manual labor (crow bars, etc.) to break the seal from the bin to the pad. If you are in doubt as to whether the roof can handle it or not, just rent 6 grain bin jacks and go that route. A 10 m.p.h. wind won't bother you with jacks, however, using a boom truck with the same amount of wind can result in the bin being a kite. It would be easy to lose a foot etc. if the bin starts swinging. After you have removed 4 rings using the 6 jacks, remove a jack on each side, or front and back, so you can back the trailer under it. When you pound in the stakes from the jacks' back arms into the ground, know where any underground power lines or water lines are. These stakes must be driven in entirely to prevent bin and jack movement. Jacks are a safer way for you to go. I also believe your idea of "shrinking" the diameter of the lower 4 rings will be a headache, as well as asking for damage due to bolts snagging the bin wall as you lower the top 4 rings onto it. If you did this, and you have an interior ladder, you would also have to remove the upper 4 rings of interior ladder as well. You would also be working around 12 feet off of the ground during the entire re-assembly process. As for extentions to support the entire 18 foot diameter, it is not needed. Just make sure the bin is supported the width of the trailer. If you do get a bent sheet, a large hammer can straighten it right out prior to re-assembly. If you need me to, I can order you the bolts and nuts and have them to you in a few days or so. Securing the bin can either be done by moving anchor plates up 1 ring above disassembled height and tie down using these, or if you're lazy, like me, simply remove 1 bolt per sheet or wherever convenient, and replace the bolt with a longer one also going through a piece of chain, so you can hook come-alongs or straps to the piece of chain and tie down to the trailer. If you are really concerned about bin wall support to the trailer, you can use 3 foot sections of angle iron, bolted to the bin wall even with the bottom of the sheet. 2 or 3 bolts are sufficient for each. These are installed vertically, and would only be useful where the bin sits on the trailer. Out on the sides where there is nothing, they would have no use. If you can make it worth the trip, and can supply the items I need, I'd be willing to come up and help you get it done.


FarmerDave 7 years ago

Well! It is done! We were successful in getting all four bins moved 75 miles. It took us a full four days to tear down, place on trailers and put up. We went ahead with splitting them at the top of the fifth ring leaving 3 rings plus the cone on the other. We loaded them using a tele-handler (which worked great) put them back up with it too. We had about 5-6 guys working at the same time. It was quite an experience! Thank you both again for the information! It was indeed very helpful.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 7 years ago from United States Author

Great! So glad to hear it went well. Having more hands definitely helps. My husband and I usually work together just the two of us, or sometimes with a third person. It gets interesting occassionally.

If I'd known the information on moving bins was so lacking, I'd have done a hub specifically on that. As it was, I never thought of it until we had already torn down the last bin and had it on the trailer. I still will do a Grain Bin Moving Hub, next time I get an opportunity for good pictures, and maybe it'll help somebody else. I guess it's too late to help you.

I have to admit, if I hadn't learned on the job, even the pictures in the new bin packages would be somewhat meaningless...especially those showing how to construct the roof. My husband and I have our own method for doing that, which involves three strong people and a tall step ladder.

Feel free to contact us about any future projects, and happy grain bin using.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

Great photography. Keep it up!


Vidiguy 6 years ago

It sounds like you know all about grain bins. I'm looking for a couple of used bin to make into cottages. Do you know any good places to look for used bins?

al@nashville-cats.com


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Vidiguy, as far as I am aware, there are no official old grain bin rest homes. :-) The best places to look are old farmsteads, whether occupied or abandoned. (Just be sure you get the owner's permission before setting foot on the property, even if it looks like nobody would mind.) However, many of the unused bins you're likely to find in such places have major structural issues; there are almost always reasons why they're empty, and not being used anymore.

Don't expect to pick up a bin for free, either, or anywhere close to it. A bin in good shape, with the bottom ring not rusted out, might go for 20 cents a bushel. Bin prices are usually calculated by the bushel. This means that a bin that holds 12,000 bushels of grain (such as the one shown in the pictures in this article) might be worth $2,400 or more. A new 6-ring, 18' diameter, 5,000 bushel, so-so quality bin goes for about $1.25 a bushel right now, without shipping charges. At the current scrap metal price (subject to change anytime), the bin in this hub would be worth $250, but most farmers won't let even a trashed bin go for that, unless it's so trashed *you* won't be able to use it either...say, one that's been knocked off the cement pad and rolled and torn to shreds by a tornado. The price may also be determined by the quality of the bin. A high quality bin, with an excellent finish to the sheets (this does not mean shiny!), good hardware, holes that line up, and careful engineering and design, will necessarily go for more than one that has a cheap finish (which may be initally prettier than the good-quality bin), poorly drilled or stamped holes, missing hardware, and design problems.

Speaking of hardware, count the cost before you buy. Getting a used bin for $.20 a bushel will barely allow you to buy new hardware (a must), erect the bin, and do it right, while leaving a bit extra over a new bin. This does not include the cost of a cement pad, but does include the potential cost for you to hire a contractor to erect it for you.

Whether to go with a new bin, or try to scrounge for something used all depends on what you need, and whether or not you have the expertise to fix bent sheets and such, which old bins often have.

Naturally, there are exceptions to these rules of thumb, but I have laid out for you what my experience says is average in the world of grain bins.


allphase profile image

allphase 6 years ago

Nice hub I have been a contractor of a long time but never like this.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Allphase, thank you for the kind remark. This area seems to have a high proportion of grain bin and sheet metal contractors (no surprise, that's what's needed), but I grew up doing all kinds of building, remodeling, etc. with my dad.

What sort of contracting do you do?


Marshall Huls 6 years ago

Been there, done that. Once moved a 24' bin thru a 24' bridge and got stuck in the middle. Had to pull the bin egg shapped to get off the bridge. Retired bin contractor now. Had fun doing it at the time, but wouldn't want to do it today. Good luck and enjoy!


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Marshall,

It's funny you should tell me about the bin and bridge. Just a couple days ago, Les (the guy responsible for the stretched Highline wires) was telling me some more grain bin stories, and had an almost identical one. Except his bin was slightly narrower than the bridge. He used a come-along to make the situation work. I suppose you did, too.

God bless you and yours.


bukan profile image

bukan 6 years ago from India, Kolkata

Work Is Worship :) Its your work and you are doing a great job with your family among of yourselves.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Bukan, how right you are. Your comment brightened my day. Thank you.


Brian 6 years ago

Hi Joy, Great story. Can I get your advise? I'm considering purchasing two bins, both 20X14 and both in very good condition. I need to transport them quite a distance so they will need to be dismantled. I've never done this before. Can you help me conceptualize how much these things will weigh on a trailer, how much space they will take up disassembled, hand how many man hours are involved in taking them appart? Again, bolts are in very good condition. Thanks, Brian


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Brian, yes, we can help, to an extent at least. But I'll need a bit of time and perhaps some more information. I'll get back to you ASAP. I have only limited computer access, so this may be a few days.

I plan on doing articles explaining how to do the building and tear-down processes, and hopefully include some of the information you're asking. This seems to be a hot topic, with a lot of first-timers seeking information. However, I've got a lot on my plate right now, and can't guarantee how soon I'll have these articles out, so, for the time being, will try to answer your questions here, individually. Let me confer with my husband.


Patrick 6 years ago

Thanks Joy! I'll be looking forward to the info on dismantling as well...i.e. can a section be handled by one person once dismantled? can the process be done without a crane or other lifting device?


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Patrick,

"Can the process be done without a crane or other lifting device?" Highly improbable. Need boomtruck or crane or grain bin jacks...more on these jacks another time, as there seems to be much confusion about what a grain bin jack is.

I have to confess I actually forgot to pass on your guys' other questions to my husband, and discovered only this morning that I never got back with you. It may be another week. Sorry.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Brian and Patrick,

Brian, are you in the U.S., or elsewhere? Because my hubby says: "I don't think there are any 20' diameter grain bins. 18' and 21' are common. Even if you meant meters, it still doesn't come out to any sizes I've seen or dealt with. Bolts need to be replaced. Nuts may be re-used. One person can handle sections on this small of a bin. The whole thing can be transported in a pickup box trailer if stacked well and tied down. You need something to lift it, such as grain bin jacks. How much time will it take you? Well, a bin 18' tall (6 rings tall), 18' diameter takes an experienced crew of two men about two hours with a boomtruck, or 5 with jacks.

Hope this helps.


Allen 6 years ago

Thank You. I am taking a 30FT Bin and moving it from a Rural area to a Residential area and converting it to a 3BR/2BA Home. What is the largest Bin you have moved without completely disassembling it?


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Allen, I'll get back to you ASAP. The biggest bins I have been involved in moving are the ones shown above...but I will see if my husband has moved larger ones without complete disassembly.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Allen, the largest bin my husband has ever moved was a 36' diameter...but it was a highly dangerous move, and he doesn't recommend it. Naturally, you can see why. Not to mention that, as far as I am aware, something 12' is the widest you can move without an overwide permit.


frio3km 6 years ago

Ihave 6 very large grain bins that My husband and I wish t0 sell-bought a property that had the on it-we hay farm, so we do not need them-need a hay barn very badly! these are about 38 ft in height, not sure about diameter-are they sellable? They are in good condition-leased 2 last year-


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Frio3km,

I don't see why these bins of yours wouldn't be sellable. You might try advertising in your local or regional farm paper(s), for starters, and let other farmers know you've got them for sale. Word of mouth is usually the most effective method. As you see from some of the comments posted above, many people are looking for bins for various reasons. Good luck!


Kael Myril profile image

Kael Myril 6 years ago from Tacoma, WA

Very Nice! Having grown up on a farm, I can relate very well. That sprig of vetch in your lap, took that picture while you were driving didn't ya? Ha-ha.

Thanks for the read.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Kael,

I'm glad you found enjoyment in the article, and thank you for your very nice comment.

The vetch picture was taken that way out of default, it is true, but the car was stationary. I had to take the picture in the shadow of the interior because the sunlight washed out the colors too badly outdoors...it was nearly noon.


cheryl 6 years ago

Live in the Hill Country of Texas and wanting to get a grain silo up here. Where in the heck does a person rent grain bin jacks??


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Cheryl,

Grain bin jacks can sometimes be rented from a local equipment rental store...the kind that rents everything from power tools to carpet shampooers. Other than that, there aren't always a lot of options, unless you can find a contractor who happens to have some he's willing to rent.


gord 6 years ago

Hi Joy, I have a couple questions if you would be so kind: we are looking to move a 33 foot diameter bin about 300 feet, local crane operator says he can lift it if we secure the lift points. Question is, can a 33x7 ring be lifted by the method you used or do we need to build steel cross webbing and attach cables near the walls to lift from? Thanks in advance for any input


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Gord,

No webbing needed. Use a lifting ring, as shown in the photos above (use the biggest wheel you can fit through the door, like a semi wheel). Put a bit of pressure on the ring with the crane, pry the bin loose, and proceed to move it.

There should be no major problems with this size.


tjbrooks 6 years ago

joy, looking for someone to move 3 grain bins. two are 12000 and one is 10000 i believe. if you know of someone in southwest ne let me know. once we find someone i will get more information on them.

tjbrooks


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

TJ,

My husband and I are in N.E. CO. We might be able to work something out. I'll talk to hubby if you'd like to shoot me an e-mail with your location, and the specifics of the move (how far, whether you plan on helping, etc.).

Hubby just did a big grain bin build in S.E WY., so we travel a bit if it seems warranted.


PAM 6 years ago

We are looking at moving a 15ft diameter grain bin,

4 panels high, with peaked roof. I'm thinking the panels are the large corrugated metal panels. Can you give me any est. on the total weight? Need to figure out the weight so we know what type of equipment to lift it with. Any help appreciated! Thanks.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Pam,

It's hard to say, as grain bins come in so many different qualities. If you take two bins of similar sizes, but different brands, you may wind up with completely different weights. With some makes, the heaviest panels, on the bottom ring, are 18 gauge...which is the lightest gauge used in other brands, in the ring nearest the roof.

I'm sorry, but it is really hard to give an estimate from the information you've given.


Albert 6 years ago

Just read your article, very interesting.

I have bought 3 bins they range from 13,-16 ft in dia. of course 2 of them I dismantled, 1 I bought at auct

already dismantled. I have a problem with the 1 that was dismantled as the roof panels don't complete the roof as the diameter appears too large.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Albert,

I confess I'm having some trouble visualizing your problem. I'm thinking if they are the same roof panels that were on the bin when it was dismantled, why wouldn't they go back on and fit relatively the same way? Perhaps, if you were to send me an e-mail (you'll have to send a short one at first through Hubpages), I could arrange to see what you mean through some photos.


Deb Dahlberg Rowland 6 years ago

Great post on moving the bin. Wondered how it was done.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 6 years ago from United States Author

Deb,

I'm glad you found this post interesting.

I like the looks of your site. If I ever need anything in your line of work, I'll remember you. Horse people unite! ;-)


mason 5 years ago

Really cool hub. I am getting ready to move a 14'w X 14h (not sure if thats the exact size just a guess) grain bin and am wondering if I can take it apart piece by piece from the top down? or if I can at least take the roof off piece by piece and maybe take the rings apart in quarter sections? also I am located in Idaho and have no idea where to get the special bolts with the rubber to replace the ones I take out, any ideas?


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 5 years ago from United States Author

Mason,

Yes, you can take the bin to bits, and I've actually got an article in progress right now showing exactly how to do that. I am planning (and hoping) to have the article up in about a week. I have most of it worked out, and just need to get my husband to write a couple paragraphs to finish it off - some tips and tricks, and cautions.


topcop5673 4 years ago

Have 3 smaller 18 foot grain bins for sale 3,300 bushel or so 16 feet tall can email or text pictures $500 a bin southwest Minnesota 507-995-9296


vgabriele 4 years ago

Do you know if there is a market for use silos. I looking to purchase a barn a would like to use the sale of the silos to help pay for the barn.


Spudleland 4 years ago

I have a 36' bin24,000 Bu, with the top caved in. Three miles away a neighbor

has a top that would fit. The question is should I take it apart or try to

put on the other top with a crain? Thanks


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 3 years ago from United States Author

Vgabriele,

If you look through the above comments, you will see that, every now and then, there is someone who wishes to purchase a used silo, for various purposes. So, yes, it might be worth your time to advertise your silos.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 3 years ago from United States Author

Spudleland,

I would definitely tear the bin down and start building from the roof downwards. It is more time and money involved, but infinitely safer and saner, and likely to be more successful.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 3 years ago from United States Author

Spudleland,

I've continued thinking about your question, and whether or not you choose to use a crane to place a new roof on your grain bin, will depend chiefly on your common sense and building experience, and on the appropriateness of your equipment.

For instance, you need good scaffolding (or a bin nearly full of grain) to safely work on a bin roof which is not on the ground. If you choose to try this, remove the other roof with the top ring of sheets attached to it (you'll take the top ring off your bin). You can use pitchforks as leverage to safely fit the top two rings together, begin to align holes, etc. If you tear the bin down first, you'll need to replace hardware. Good luck!


Nick 3 years ago

Hi Joy, I'm in north Texas and looking for a used grain bin.

Nick@PrepCabin.com


mnbeef 3 years ago

Joy, my hubby and i need to move a used hopper bottom bin. Corrugated, 12'dia, 25'tall, 1500 bu. Called a bin moving outfit, they wanted more than the bin is worth to move it. Any suggestions would be helpful, we want to diy. Have access to a lull telehandler and a low boy semi trailer. Is it possible to move in one piece?


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 3 years ago from United States Author

Yes, you can. Unhook anchors after securing and hooking up a way to lift it safely from the top. Lift off of anchors. Set back down on legs away from anchors. Without allowing chain(s) to top to get much slack, swing top of bin to get it tilting in the right direction and lower it on its side onto trailer.


Gracye 19 months ago

That's way the betsest answer so far!


Kevin Cady profile image

Kevin Cady 14 months ago

Sold 6 smaller bins last two years! Some went for sheds others gazebo ideas! Got one left a butler 2,000 bushel big walk in door steel floor $500 is what I been getting Lamberton Minnesota 507-995-9296


Steve 2 months ago

This works amazing to move bins. Binhalo.com

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    Joy At Home profile image

    Joy At Home254 Followers
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    Joy worked in sheet metal construction for 7 years, alongside her husband - primarily working on pole barns, grain bins, and barn repairs.



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