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How to Build a Grain Bin--Roof, Peak Ring, Lid, Safety Ring, and Roof Ladder: An Illustrated Guide

Updated on May 19, 2020
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Joy worked in construction for 7 years alongside her husband (25+ yrs. experience)—working on pole barns, grain bins, and barn repairs.

A Finished Roof and First Ring

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A finished roof and first ring await further developments. The bin is held down at the peak with the forks of a large forklift.With this forklift, we'll be able to finish 5 rings of this 6 ring bin. After that, and for the final positioning on a hopper, we will need a crane.
A finished roof and first ring await further developments. The bin is held down at the peak with the forks of a large forklift.
A finished roof and first ring await further developments. The bin is held down at the peak with the forks of a large forklift.
With this forklift, we'll be able to finish 5 rings of this 6 ring bin. After that, and for the final positioning on a hopper, we will need a crane.
With this forklift, we'll be able to finish 5 rings of this 6 ring bin. After that, and for the final positioning on a hopper, we will need a crane.

Overview of Process

For building the roof, you will need a crew of two or members. Three or four can be better. Hopefully at least one member is spry and resilient.

Building the roof may take up to half of the total time for the bin. For a small or medium bin, this averages 5 to 6 hours of intense labor . . . so the roof may take you two to four hours, even if you know what you are doing.

Process for Sheets

The process is usually straightforward for a smaller bin. You begin by fixing the inner collar or peak ring to your lifting ring. Four roof sheets are then attached to this, in opposite pairs, so that stability is built as quickly as possible. Roof sheets are fragile! It is easy to dent or bend one. Their final stability and strength come from their dome shape. In order to reach the peak, you will need to work off a tall step ladder, or scaffolding.

Next, panels are added in a balanced manner, filling in the gaps in opposites, until you are left with last a gap where the sheet including a manhole will fit. Hardware is added loosely at crucial points, to be filled in and tightened later.

Before installing the last sheet, it is best to build the roof ladder.

The last sheet is now installed, and may be tricky, since manueverability is at a minimum.

If you plan on lifting your bin from the top with a crane, etc., you need to assess the collar strength. If your bin is supplied with many bolt holes in the bottom piece of the collar (peak ring), it is time to move on to the next step. If not, you will need to drill some more and install and tighten hardware. One bolt per sheet is a good starting point. Otherwise, your bin may tear away from the collar during construction, and fall, potentially maiming or killing someone. If in doubt, strengthen the collar.

Process for Safety Ring, Collar, and Lid

Manufacturers vary in their methods of constructing and fitting the safety or wind ring, the top peak ring or upper piece of the collar, and the lid. Your manual will give you clues as to the process you should follow.

On average, the wind ring is installed 2 holes down on the roof sheets. Keep this in mind when plugging in bolts. Check your manual for variations of this. It is bolted together in curved sections, to make a place to stand when accessing the lid.

The collar is next. It may go on hard, requiring two people to handle and fit it.

Lids have many variations in how they go on and latch. Consult your manual for tips. You may need to field drill some holes, depending on the construction. You may need to put on your puzzle-solving brain.

Easy Work Days Due to Wind

We put the bin featured in this article up in easy sessions over three days, due to weather patterns. We all had other jobs to attend to, so worked a couple hours in the early mornings, secured the bin until the next session whenever the wind came up too strong, and got on with our day.

A grain bin is not worth anyone's limbs or life. If weather interferes with your building plans, let it.

T-posts Block Bin in Place Temporarily

Another method you may use to stabilize your bin between building sessions is to block it in with T-posts put into the ground a foot or two, depending on how hard your ground is.
Another method you may use to stabilize your bin between building sessions is to block it in with T-posts put into the ground a foot or two, depending on how hard your ground is.

Tools Needed for This Stage

  • Lifting ring or large truck rim
  • Lighting if working at night
  • Drift punches, medium length (10 inches at least)--1 minimum for each crew member
  • 9/16-inch box-end wrenches (2 at least), with long handles
  • High quality impact wrench, as you will give it a work-out
  • Hearing protection--preferably ear-muff or electronic type
  • Drill and appropriate metal bits, for field drilling bolt holes in roof components
  • Permanent marker, black wide tip
  • Work gloves which allow for dexterity (optional)
  • Comfortable work boots with decent tread, hard toes optional
  • Work clothes which will not snag or allow you to get hurt easily
  • Vice grips, high quality
  • Slipjoint pliers (optional, but can be handy)
  • Tape measure, standard
  • Ladders, 6 foot and 8 foot tall minimum, depending on the size of the bin--for building the roof
  • Scaffolding--an alternative to ladders
  • Tool pouch/apron, or coffee cans/small buckets for hardware (a small pouch is annoying as it must be refilled often, and is hard to reach into)
  • Mastic (a sealant for between sheets). Mastic can be found using the search words: Single Bead Tape Roof Sealant Metal Sales
  • A way to block wind from swaying or sliding the bin during work (we often use a semi truck and trailer)
  • T-posts for driving in around the partially built bin during off-hours, or a suitable way to weigh the bin down at the peak (i.e. the boom of a boomtruck or crane)
  • Forklift, ATV, or another way to move the sheets and other materials onto the jobsite

Transporting Fragile Roof Sheets Safely

Roof sheets are fragile. They are generally of a light gauge, and their strength comes from their construction formation, not from their individual design.

Bear this in mind whenever you transport roof sheets. We prefer to set them on the forks of a skid loader or tractor while moving them or prepping the site for the day. At the least, they need to be set on a good pallet or blocks to keep them straight and off the ground.

Roof Sheets on Skid Loader Forks

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An easy way to  transport sheets is with a skid loader operated by an experienced person. Alternatives are tractor forks, or having them in a truck bed or on a trailer.The cover sheet is provided to keep the others from getting damaged during transport or warehousing. Consider it an extra.
An easy way to  transport sheets is with a skid loader operated by an experienced person. Alternatives are tractor forks, or having them in a truck bed or on a trailer.
An easy way to transport sheets is with a skid loader operated by an experienced person. Alternatives are tractor forks, or having them in a truck bed or on a trailer.
The cover sheet is provided to keep the others from getting damaged during transport or warehousing. Consider it an extra.
The cover sheet is provided to keep the others from getting damaged during transport or warehousing. Consider it an extra.

Begin With Four Sheets

The lifting ring is centered with the collar stabilized on it, and hung at the estimated peak height. If you are not using a lifting ring, as when using jacks, you will need to figure out how to stabilize the collar some other way, or have someone with a lot of stamina hold it for a very . . . long . . . time, while perched on a ladder or scaffolding.

Your manual may give you hints as to alternate methods.

You will begin with four roof sheets installed in a spoke formation, bolted to both the collar and first ring of wall sheets.

Setting Lifting Ring; Starting Formation of Sheets

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Securely fix the lifting ring to your crane, etc., or set up grain bin jacks. For a very small bin, a minimum of 4 jacks should be used. For a small to medium, 6 or more are required.Long bolts are inserted in the lower peak ring, to center it on the lifting ring and keep it in place. It needs to be kept dead center.Vice grips are used to clamp the collar to the lifting ring.Roof sheets are brought in one at a time, and distributed around the perimeter of the first ring, until there are four ready.Plans are discussed and a short break is taken before proceeding. The lifting ring is lowered to the appropriate height.The first sheet is bolted in place. The weather must be calm, as a roof at the beginning stages is fragile.Vice grips are removed in preparation for installing the next sheet. Sheets are installed in opposites.These two sheets balance each other, and the lifting ring is less apt to sway.Sheet #3 . . .. . . and #4 follow as quickly as possible. All bolts top and bottom are inserted.Bolts and nuts are placed and hand snugged, but not tightened yet.The lifting ring will become more level as sheets are added.Sheets are filled in in opposites pairs, creating stabilization.
Securely fix the lifting ring to your crane, etc., or set up grain bin jacks. For a very small bin, a minimum of 4 jacks should be used. For a small to medium, 6 or more are required.
Securely fix the lifting ring to your crane, etc., or set up grain bin jacks. For a very small bin, a minimum of 4 jacks should be used. For a small to medium, 6 or more are required.
Long bolts are inserted in the lower peak ring, to center it on the lifting ring and keep it in place. It needs to be kept dead center.
Long bolts are inserted in the lower peak ring, to center it on the lifting ring and keep it in place. It needs to be kept dead center.
Vice grips are used to clamp the collar to the lifting ring.
Vice grips are used to clamp the collar to the lifting ring.
Roof sheets are brought in one at a time, and distributed around the perimeter of the first ring, until there are four ready.
Roof sheets are brought in one at a time, and distributed around the perimeter of the first ring, until there are four ready.
Plans are discussed and a short break is taken before proceeding.
Plans are discussed and a short break is taken before proceeding.
The lifting ring is lowered to the appropriate height.
The lifting ring is lowered to the appropriate height.
The first sheet is bolted in place. The weather must be calm, as a roof at the beginning stages is fragile.
The first sheet is bolted in place. The weather must be calm, as a roof at the beginning stages is fragile.
Vice grips are removed in preparation for installing the next sheet.
Vice grips are removed in preparation for installing the next sheet.
Sheets are installed in opposites.
Sheets are installed in opposites.
These two sheets balance each other, and the lifting ring is less apt to sway.
These two sheets balance each other, and the lifting ring is less apt to sway.
Sheet #3 . . .
Sheet #3 . . .
. . . and #4 follow as quickly as possible. All bolts top and bottom are inserted.
. . . and #4 follow as quickly as possible. All bolts top and bottom are inserted.
Bolts and nuts are placed and hand snugged, but not tightened yet.
Bolts and nuts are placed and hand snugged, but not tightened yet.
The lifting ring will become more level as sheets are added.
The lifting ring will become more level as sheets are added.
Sheets are filled in in opposites pairs, creating stabilization.
Sheets are filled in in opposites pairs, creating stabilization.

Main Sheets Get Filled in Next

After four sheets are installed, you will add one roof sheet per section, strengthening the formation systematically.

Continue in this fashion until almost all roof sheets are installed. Leave one gap in each section, and install bolts and nuts along the seams loosely for now. Being able to reach seams from more than one angle is helpful, so do this as you are able.

Now fill in all sheets except the manhole, or one gap to use as a door. Finish filling in all hardware that is convenient to reach. The last sheet in each section may go in hard, as it will seem to fit tighter because there is less room to manoever.

The manhole sheet is generally installed last.

Be sure to leave bolt holes free where the roof ladder will be placed. Bolts may be inserted backwards as reminders not to plug these normally or tighten them.

Removing Lifting Ring

At any point you are sure the roof is strong enough to stand on its own without risk of damage, you may lower the lifting ring and get it out of the way. Whether to leave it until the roof sheets are completely installed, or take it out early may depend on wind conditions. Be safe. Working around the lifting ring may slow you down a little, but it will provide stability.

Installing the Main Sheets

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When 8 sheets are installed on a roof this size or smaller, the roof has begun to be stronger.Most seams are plugged with bolts, with nuts loosely threaded. Skip the sheet where the ladder will go.Punches and pliers are used to help install hardware. Even after most sheets are on, the lifting ring may continue to move or tilt slightly.There will be a gap between sets of sheets when you are almost done.At this stage, one person can install hardware. There is a gap 2 sheets wide here. The next sheet will be fitted, and the roof ladder installed soon. The manhole sheet will be the last of the roof panels. In this and preceding pictures, you can see how few bolt holes were drilled for the sheets in this collar. It is a "universal" collar, and was not designed especially for this bin. More holes need to be added.All sheets are in place, the ladder has been installed outside, and the bolts are ready to be tightened. Due to slightly breezy conditions, the lifting ring was left in until all sheets were installed.
When 8 sheets are installed on a roof this size or smaller, the roof has begun to be stronger.
When 8 sheets are installed on a roof this size or smaller, the roof has begun to be stronger.
Most seams are plugged with bolts, with nuts loosely threaded.
Most seams are plugged with bolts, with nuts loosely threaded.
Skip the sheet where the ladder will go.
Skip the sheet where the ladder will go.
Punches and pliers are used to help install hardware.
Punches and pliers are used to help install hardware.
Even after most sheets are on, the lifting ring may continue to move or tilt slightly.
Even after most sheets are on, the lifting ring may continue to move or tilt slightly.
There will be a gap between sets of sheets when you are almost done.
There will be a gap between sets of sheets when you are almost done.
At this stage, one person can install hardware. There is a gap 2 sheets wide here. The next sheet will be fitted, and the roof ladder installed soon. The manhole sheet will be the last of the roof panels.
At this stage, one person can install hardware. There is a gap 2 sheets wide here. The next sheet will be fitted, and the roof ladder installed soon. The manhole sheet will be the last of the roof panels.
In this and preceding pictures, you can see how few bolt holes were drilled for the sheets in this collar. It is a "universal" collar, and was not designed especially for this bin. More holes need to be added.
In this and preceding pictures, you can see how few bolt holes were drilled for the sheets in this collar. It is a "universal" collar, and was not designed especially for this bin. More holes need to be added.
All sheets are in place, the ladder has been installed outside, and the bolts are ready to be tightened.
All sheets are in place, the ladder has been installed outside, and the bolts are ready to be tightened.
Due to slightly breezy conditions, the lifting ring was left in until all sheets were installed.
Due to slightly breezy conditions, the lifting ring was left in until all sheets were installed.

Erecting a Big Grain Bin--Hydraulic Jacks--Part 1

Installing Roof Ladder

In general, roof ladders are simple. Angle iron rungs are bolted to righ ribs next to the manhole sheet, using bolts including steel-back neoprene washers.

Wherever a safety ring will be installed, a ladder rung will generally be missing, as the ring will complete the steps. Consult your manual to be sure where your safety ring(s) will be placed. On a bin this small, the second-to-top bolt holes generally mark its placement.

While roof sheets are being installed, bolts may be inserted backwards as a reminder of the ladder's placement, so bolts are not accidentally tightened down in these holes.

Once the ladder is in place, bolts are tightened to a high torque, as you definitely don't want a loose ladder.

Roof Ladder

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The roof ladder rungs are simply bolted to the roof panels through the regular bolt holes, with steel-back neoprene washers installed under all sections to guard against moisture. This ladder is finished. The safety ring will complete the rungs.To prevent mistakes if other crew members are plugging in bolts prior to ladder installation, bolts may be inserted backwards as a reminder.Bolts are inserted in the ladder sections prior to placement.
The roof ladder rungs are simply bolted to the roof panels through the regular bolt holes, with steel-back neoprene washers installed under all sections to guard against moisture. This ladder is finished. The safety ring will complete the rungs.
The roof ladder rungs are simply bolted to the roof panels through the regular bolt holes, with steel-back neoprene washers installed under all sections to guard against moisture. This ladder is finished. The safety ring will complete the rungs.
To prevent mistakes if other crew members are plugging in bolts prior to ladder installation, bolts may be inserted backwards as a reminder.
To prevent mistakes if other crew members are plugging in bolts prior to ladder installation, bolts may be inserted backwards as a reminder.
Bolts are inserted in the ladder sections prior to placement.
Bolts are inserted in the ladder sections prior to placement.

Calm vs. Breezy Weather

If the weather is calm, the lifting ring may be taken out or lowered before all the roof panels are installed. Since it is inconvenient to work around, you will want to remove it as early as possible. Below is a sequence of photos from a different job, but with an identical bin. During this job, the lifting ring was taken out partway through building the roof.

2nd Example--Removing Lifting Ring; Installing Last Sheets and Ladder

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During very calm weather, the lifting ring may be taken out early. (Yes, this photo is out of order, but I wanted to show you the ring being lowered.)This ring folds to fit easily through the hole at the peak.Five sheets have yet to be installed.Even where 2 sheets are missing together, the roof is stable enough.The last sheet in each section can take patience, as it must be slid carefully into place, lapping over one edge and under the other simultaneously. It can be difficult to seat properly.The manhole sheet is the last to go in, then the ladder rungs will be installed.The roof is in place, but most of the hardware has yet to be installed and tightened.The ladder is installed. The wind ring will fill the gap on the second row of bolt holes down.
During very calm weather, the lifting ring may be taken out early. (Yes, this photo is out of order, but I wanted to show you the ring being lowered.)
During very calm weather, the lifting ring may be taken out early. (Yes, this photo is out of order, but I wanted to show you the ring being lowered.)
This ring folds to fit easily through the hole at the peak.
This ring folds to fit easily through the hole at the peak.
Five sheets have yet to be installed.
Five sheets have yet to be installed.
Even where 2 sheets are missing together, the roof is stable enough.
Even where 2 sheets are missing together, the roof is stable enough.
The last sheet in each section can take patience, as it must be slid carefully into place, lapping over one edge and under the other simultaneously. It can be difficult to seat properly.
The last sheet in each section can take patience, as it must be slid carefully into place, lapping over one edge and under the other simultaneously. It can be difficult to seat properly.
The manhole sheet is the last to go in, then the ladder rungs will be installed.
The manhole sheet is the last to go in, then the ladder rungs will be installed.
The roof is in place, but most of the hardware has yet to be installed and tightened.
The roof is in place, but most of the hardware has yet to be installed and tightened.
The ladder is installed. The wind ring will fill the gap on the second row of bolt holes down.
The ladder is installed. The wind ring will fill the gap on the second row of bolt holes down.

Is the Collar Strong Enough to Lift the Bin Without Tearing?

If your collar has fewer than one bolt hole per roof sheet, you can assume that it is NOT strong enough to support the weight of the roof and wall sheets as the walls are being built. A failure may result in the sheets tearing away from the collar, possibly dropping a partially-built bin on a crew member, potentially cutting him in half. So be safe. If in doubt, strengthen the collar by adding more bolts.

We had to field drill more holes in the collar so the whole structure could be lifted by a crane, etc. without undue risk. We drilled three times as many holes in our lower peak ring as were present from the manufacterer, and added bolts going through collar and sheets.

Having one hole per roof sheet is a good starting place. If in doubt, drill more.

This job is best done by two people, as it can be difficult and frustrating.

Adding Bolt Holes to Collar

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A series of bolt holes are drilled in the collar between the manufacturer's holes, to make the structure strong enough to be lifted with a crane, etc. If you are using grain bin jacks, this step is not necessary.One hole per roof sheet is a good starting point. If your collar doesn't have at least this many holes, add more.Bolts are inserted and tightened as for all other roof hardware.
A series of bolt holes are drilled in the collar between the manufacturer's holes, to make the structure strong enough to be lifted with a crane, etc. If you are using grain bin jacks, this step is not necessary.
A series of bolt holes are drilled in the collar between the manufacturer's holes, to make the structure strong enough to be lifted with a crane, etc. If you are using grain bin jacks, this step is not necessary.
One hole per roof sheet is a good starting point. If your collar doesn't have at least this many holes, add more.
One hole per roof sheet is a good starting point. If your collar doesn't have at least this many holes, add more.
Bolts are inserted and tightened as for all other roof hardware.
Bolts are inserted and tightened as for all other roof hardware.

Safety Ring Notes

Most safety rings simply bolt together in sections, following the curve of the roof, and being bolted to the roof through holes that match in the ring and roof panels.

The ring is installed after the roof ladder is in place, and before other work is done on the components at the peak.

The ring shown here needed some modifications in order to fit correctly, as it was the wrong size for this 18 foot diameter bin. Later on, we show how we resolved this problem.

Safety or Wind Ring Installation

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Bolts are inserted into the safety ring sections before taking each section up onto the roof. Steel-back neoprene washers are put on under all ring sections to guard against moisture.The first section is installed as part of the roof ladder. Position it so all brackets and junctions will be out of the way of everyday work on the bin. (All sections are typically the same dimensions.)In this case, the ring extends farther on one side of the ladder than the other--2.5 roof sheets on the right, 3.5 on the left. It doesn't really matter. The bolts are hand tightened with a box-end as sections are added.The sections may not appear to match perfectly at first. This is okay.All overlapping holes are filled.In this case, 2 bolt holes secure each section to the next.
Bolts are inserted into the safety ring sections before taking each section up onto the roof. Steel-back neoprene washers are put on under all ring sections to guard against moisture.
Bolts are inserted into the safety ring sections before taking each section up onto the roof. Steel-back neoprene washers are put on under all ring sections to guard against moisture.
The first section is installed as part of the roof ladder. Position it so all brackets and junctions will be out of the way of everyday work on the bin. (All sections are typically the same dimensions.)
The first section is installed as part of the roof ladder. Position it so all brackets and junctions will be out of the way of everyday work on the bin. (All sections are typically the same dimensions.)
In this case, the ring extends farther on one side of the ladder than the other--2.5 roof sheets on the right, 3.5 on the left. It doesn't really matter.
In this case, the ring extends farther on one side of the ladder than the other--2.5 roof sheets on the right, 3.5 on the left. It doesn't really matter.
The bolts are hand tightened with a box-end as sections are added.
The bolts are hand tightened with a box-end as sections are added.
The sections may not appear to match perfectly at first. This is okay.
The sections may not appear to match perfectly at first. This is okay.
All overlapping holes are filled.
All overlapping holes are filled.
In this case, 2 bolt holes secure each section to the next.
In this case, 2 bolt holes secure each section to the next.

Tightening Wind Ring (Safety Ring)

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As for other roof hardware, the nuts are threaded onto the wind ring bolts . . . . . . and tightened to the proper number of foot pounds with an impact wrench. (How much to tighten is determined by the size and grade of bolts, as well as their position. Refer to your manual for specifications.)A person with a box-end wrench assists on the outside of the roof to hold the bolts still.A limber person with strong wrists and good balance is an asset here. The outside person must be able to move quickly but safely around the bin, and not fumble the wrench.The bolts at the safety ring junctions are tightened last.
As for other roof hardware, the nuts are threaded onto the wind ring bolts . . .
As for other roof hardware, the nuts are threaded onto the wind ring bolts . . .
. . . and tightened to the proper number of foot pounds with an impact wrench. (How much to tighten is determined by the size and grade of bolts, as well as their position. Refer to your manual for specifications.)
. . . and tightened to the proper number of foot pounds with an impact wrench. (How much to tighten is determined by the size and grade of bolts, as well as their position. Refer to your manual for specifications.)
A person with a box-end wrench assists on the outside of the roof to hold the bolts still.
A person with a box-end wrench assists on the outside of the roof to hold the bolts still.
A limber person with strong wrists and good balance is an asset here.
A limber person with strong wrists and good balance is an asset here.
The outside person must be able to move quickly but safely around the bin, and not fumble the wrench.
The outside person must be able to move quickly but safely around the bin, and not fumble the wrench.
The bolts at the safety ring junctions are tightened last.
The bolts at the safety ring junctions are tightened last.

Peak Ring (Upper Collar) Installation Tips

On this collar, there is nothing special about installing the upper ring. It bolts on simply, and all we had to do was align bolt holes. Tighten hardware thoroughly to a high torque once all bolts are in and finger tight.

The installation job was made easier with two people, as the ring is unwieldy, and the bolt tightening process is simpler with two pairs of hands.

Some bins do not include an upper peak ring.

Upper Peak Ring Installation

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This is the upper peak ring, or collar, prior to installation. No modifications have been made.All bolts which are near or will be under the peak ring must be tightened now.The ring is carefully taken to the peak for assembly.It is convenient to have 2 people for this job.The person inside and one person outside speeds assembly and hardware installation, once the ring is fitted.Hardware is similar to that used on other components.For the bolt tightening process, someone with good knees is best outside.Here the impact wrench is being used outside. Normally the nuts are tightened--not the bolts--but since rain cannot leak under the lid here, it does not matter as much, and saved the crew member the pain of having to use an impact wrench.
This is the upper peak ring, or collar, prior to installation. No modifications have been made.
This is the upper peak ring, or collar, prior to installation. No modifications have been made.
All bolts which are near or will be under the peak ring must be tightened now.
All bolts which are near or will be under the peak ring must be tightened now.
The ring is carefully taken to the peak for assembly.
The ring is carefully taken to the peak for assembly.
It is convenient to have 2 people for this job.
It is convenient to have 2 people for this job.
The person inside and one person outside speeds assembly and hardware installation, once the ring is fitted.
The person inside and one person outside speeds assembly and hardware installation, once the ring is fitted.
Hardware is similar to that used on other components.
Hardware is similar to that used on other components.
For the bolt tightening process, someone with good knees is best outside.
For the bolt tightening process, someone with good knees is best outside.
Here the impact wrench is being used outside. Normally the nuts are tightened--not the bolts--but since rain cannot leak under the lid here, it does not matter as much, and saved the crew member the pain of having to use an impact wrench.
Here the impact wrench is being used outside. Normally the nuts are tightened--not the bolts--but since rain cannot leak under the lid here, it does not matter as much, and saved the crew member the pain of having to use an impact wrench.

Lid Notes

Lids vary a lot from one bin era and manufacterer to the next. Consult your manual for tips on the design of your particular lid.

We had some trouble with the lid featured here. While the concept of this lid with its slide bar was effective, we failed to perfectly align all collar and lid components. We made the situation work, but it took extra time, work, and thought.

Study the lid and peak ring of your bin while you are alert and high-functioning to be sure you understand the design, and intended placement of all components.

Fitting Lid

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Not all lids are created equal. This one features a slide attachment, which was dry fitted to the lid once all was ready on the roof.The slide is installed, the lid re-attached, and tried for proper functioning.You must be careful to think ahead when installing the collar, as it will influence latch placement and lid function.The slide is nearly closed here.These are the original roof installation instructions in the manual that came with this bin.As you can see, they require some thinking and creative interpretation. A crew member studies the lid components and decides a course of action.
Not all lids are created equal. This one features a slide attachment, which was dry fitted to the lid once all was ready on the roof.
Not all lids are created equal. This one features a slide attachment, which was dry fitted to the lid once all was ready on the roof.
The slide is installed, the lid re-attached, and tried for proper functioning.
The slide is installed, the lid re-attached, and tried for proper functioning.
You must be careful to think ahead when installing the collar, as it will influence latch placement and lid function.
You must be careful to think ahead when installing the collar, as it will influence latch placement and lid function.
The slide is nearly closed here.
The slide is nearly closed here.
These are the original roof installation instructions in the manual that came with this bin.
These are the original roof installation instructions in the manual that came with this bin.
As you can see, they require some thinking and creative interpretation.
As you can see, they require some thinking and creative interpretation.
A crew member studies the lid components and decides a course of action.
A crew member studies the lid components and decides a course of action.

Installing Lid Latch

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All holes must be field drilled for the latch components.Careful measurements must be made prior to drilling so that all latch parts line up correctly. Make as few adjustments to the original plan as possible.A chain with an S-hook is installed on the lid as a handle.The hasp ought to be installed on a high rib. This is what this slide looks like when the lid is almost closed.
All holes must be field drilled for the latch components.
All holes must be field drilled for the latch components.
Careful measurements must be made prior to drilling so that all latch parts line up correctly. Make as few adjustments to the original plan as possible.
Careful measurements must be made prior to drilling so that all latch parts line up correctly. Make as few adjustments to the original plan as possible.
A chain with an S-hook is installed on the lid as a handle.
A chain with an S-hook is installed on the lid as a handle.
The hasp ought to be installed on a high rib.
The hasp ought to be installed on a high rib.
This is what this slide looks like when the lid is almost closed.
This is what this slide looks like when the lid is almost closed.

Hardware Tightening Specifications

How much to tighten the nuts is determined by the size and grade of bolts, as well as their position. Please refer to your manual for torque specifications.

For this bin, the bolts were 5/16-inch, and their steel quality was 5 grade.

5/16-inch 5 grade bolts=18 to 19 foot pounds for roof hardware.

In general, you want to tighten the nuts until they are singing soprano.

Listening carefully will soon allow you to determine by sound how much is just-enough versus too much torque. Try not to strip bolts, but don't under-tighten them, and so give yourself problems in the future. Leaks are no fun to fix, and nobody wants spoilt grain (or a leaky grain bin home).

Bolt Tightening Overview

When tightening bolts on the main roof sheets, as much as possible go up the seam on one side, and down on the opposite side of each sheet, using a drift punch inserted through a bolt hole to center the top of the seam.

Certain sections near top and bottom may need to be done on their own.

The collar underside gets tightened last, to a high torque, as it literally holds the roof together and forces it to maintain its strength-giving cone shape.

As with the wall sheets, one person runs an impact wrench inside, and another uses a box-end wrench to hold bolt heads steady outside. A flexible person who doesn't mind climbing is best to have on the roof. Someone with good shoulders is nice to have inside, as using the impact wrench above your head can be painful and exhausting.

Tightening Remaing Bolts

Click thumbnail to view full-size
All work tightening roof bolts takes place above your head. Having good shoulders helps.Where possible, go up the seam on one side, and down on the opposite side of the sheet, using a drift punch inserted through a bolt hole to center the top.The work will have to be done in stages, as some bolts can only be reached by ladder or scaffolding, and some from the ground.As per other parts of the bin, someone outside holds a box-end wrench to the bolt heads. Dexterity matters here.The work is slower than the same job on the wall sheets, as only one wrench at a time is used, and repositioning takes more effort.The collar underside gets tightened last, so expansion and contraction of other parts is not hindered. The torque specifications for the collar are high.
All work tightening roof bolts takes place above your head. Having good shoulders helps.
All work tightening roof bolts takes place above your head. Having good shoulders helps.
Where possible, go up the seam on one side, and down on the opposite side of the sheet, using a drift punch inserted through a bolt hole to center the top.
Where possible, go up the seam on one side, and down on the opposite side of the sheet, using a drift punch inserted through a bolt hole to center the top.
The work will have to be done in stages, as some bolts can only be reached by ladder or scaffolding, and some from the ground.
The work will have to be done in stages, as some bolts can only be reached by ladder or scaffolding, and some from the ground.
As per other parts of the bin, someone outside holds a box-end wrench to the bolt heads. Dexterity matters here.
As per other parts of the bin, someone outside holds a box-end wrench to the bolt heads. Dexterity matters here.
The work is slower than the same job on the wall sheets, as only one wrench at a time is used, and repositioning takes more effort.
The work is slower than the same job on the wall sheets, as only one wrench at a time is used, and repositioning takes more effort.
The collar underside gets tightened last, so expansion and contraction of other parts is not hindered. The torque specifications for the collar are high.
The collar underside gets tightened last, so expansion and contraction of other parts is not hindered. The torque specifications for the collar are high.

Wrong Spacing With Factory Holes (Mistakes Happen)!

Once in a while the people at the factory make mistakes, and on more than one job, we've had to drill holes where the manufacturers had drilled with incorrect spacing or insufficient diameter. Below we show corrections on a wind ring.

In this case, it seems that the wrong ring was sent. It was sized for a different diameter bin, so none of the holes matched those in the roof sheets.

Wind Ring/Safety Ring Corrections

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The safety ring was checked for proper spacing on the bolt holes for this bin, and found wanting.All pieces were positioned to be re-drilled.Each section was carefully measured and marked . . . . . . then drilled to meet the requirements for this bin.Now the wind ring is fitted correctly, and the extra holes are left unplugged, as they are not matched with seams and don't hurt anything.
The safety ring was checked for proper spacing on the bolt holes for this bin, and found wanting.
The safety ring was checked for proper spacing on the bolt holes for this bin, and found wanting.
All pieces were positioned to be re-drilled.
All pieces were positioned to be re-drilled.
Each section was carefully measured and marked . . .
Each section was carefully measured and marked . . .
. . . then drilled to meet the requirements for this bin.
. . . then drilled to meet the requirements for this bin.
Now the wind ring is fitted correctly, and the extra holes are left unplugged, as they are not matched with seams and don't hurt anything.
Now the wind ring is fitted correctly, and the extra holes are left unplugged, as they are not matched with seams and don't hurt anything.

Newer Lids' Safety Features

The bins featured in this article were manufactured in 2016 or before. Since then, advances in technology have allowed lids to become safer to operate.

In newer models, a spring mechanism on a cable allows the lid to be opened without anyone ever climbing onto the roof.

Stairs Type Scaffolding

For medium to large bins, rolling stairway scaffolding systems are the safest way to go. These may also be used to build bins over pits, as the outer edge of the stairs can sit on the foundation rim inside the bin. Below is a popular system which is similar to one my husband used on some jobs.

Bainter Stairway Rolling Scaffolding

Source

Installing Roof Vents on a Grain Bin

Unsafe Methods

The following photos were found in a forum thread discussing the building of a grain bin house. I had a moment of shock when I came across them while searching for something else, as the improvised roof supports look as if they are likely to result in injury.

Upon inspection, it became clear that these folks did what they had to to get their house up, using what resources they had within reach. But if you can do better, please do! Just because no one got killed and the grain bin is still standing, does not make these heart-stopping alternatives a good idea.

Bad Ideas

Click thumbnail to view full-size
These folks made the mistake of building the bin rings first. They had to get creative to support the roof during construction.This situation required building on top of an existing wall. This crazy set-up got the job done, but made me glad I wasn't part of the crew.
These folks made the mistake of building the bin rings first. They had to get creative to support the roof during construction.
These folks made the mistake of building the bin rings first. They had to get creative to support the roof during construction. | Source
This situation required building on top of an existing wall. This crazy set-up got the job done, but made me glad I wasn't part of the crew.
This situation required building on top of an existing wall. This crazy set-up got the job done, but made me glad I wasn't part of the crew. | Source

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 Joilene Rasmussen

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