Sunday, February 8, 2015

Wabash School of Bin Building

Ever wondered how to build a grain bin?  Yeah, me neither.  But since grain bins are now a large chunk of my life, I have had to learn.  So, just in case you really have been wondering that, here is a short course in Bin Building 101.

Our first shipment of grain bin "pieces and parts" was delivered:

and off-loaded to be stored until time to build:

The long strips on the trailer are floor slats.  The curved bars on the forklift are roof supports.  We also received roof sheets:

Each stack of pie-shaped wedges will make one roof.  The variety of lengths corresponds with the diameter of the bin.  That oval cut-out will become a man-hole for access to the grain stored inside.

And of course a bin has to have walls:

These stacks of curved sheets will form the "rings" of the bins.  Bins are measured by diameter and height (number of rings).  The stack in the center will build bins with a 36' diameter.  The stack on the left will build 24' bins, so they are curved a little tighter.   There's a lot of detail about farm bins vs. commercial bins, the width of the rings, etc., but you get the idea.  The crates above the center stack hold the nuts and bolts of the business - literally.  There are more than 1000 bolts in an average grain bin.  Each one is inserted by hand by a crew member on the outside of the bin and tightened by a crew member on the inside, using an impact wrench.

When the weather warms up, we will start pouring concrete pads and erecting bins.  (And by "we" I mean Dave and a crew of 6 guys.)  Bins are built from the top down.  First the roof is constructed then jacks are used to raise it far enough to insert the first ring underneath.

Then two rings . . .

Four rings . . .

Six rings . . .

 Eight rings . . .

And the 9th and, in this case, final ring is in place. Time to start raising the second bin.

Next comes floors, spiral staircases, doors and installation of an auger.  This process takes 1 or 2 weeks - depending on bin size -  including time to pour concrete, let it cure for several days, erect the bin and add finishing touches.  

Thank you for attending Bin Building 101.  I'm sure this information will make for interesting conversation at your next cocktail party, or may come in handy in a game of Trivial Pursuit.  Here at Green Acres, it's just another day at work.


  1. Love this post! They are made from the top down???!! Who knew? That's really cool. Thanks for all of the photos showing the progress.

    When I first saw this post, I giggled. It was your posts about Dave's work a few years ago that made me start following your blog. For some reason I find them really interesting. I guess I'm really a farm girl at heart. ;)

    Good luck with your new venture.

  2. Top down? Wow... interesting! Cool pix, too. That is what blogs are all about - variety and learning and entertainment.

  3. Loved the lesson, Tami! Always like learning something new.

  4. Great lesson!! I'd like to visit a work in progress this summer! I'm with these other ladies - who knew they were constructed from the top down and did you say they run cement first? or after the bin is built? And if they do the cement - do they have a cement truck? or mixer of some kind? Oh maybe that's Bin Building Part II!

    1. ooops I see the pics - cement first of course . . . but then what did you mean by "floors"?

    2. Sorry - I forgot to mention that step. Yes, they pour the concrete pad, then build the bin and attach it to the concrete. The floor of the bin is made up of those mesh-like strips you can see in the first picture. The floor sits a foot or so (I'm not sure of exact distance) above the concrete, leaving space for an auger to unload the grain, and for air to be blown in to cool/dry the grain.

      You definitely need to visit this spring to see the process "live".

  5. Well, golly - as a person who has been seeing bins for my whole life, I never would have thought that's how they are built. I love learning new things!