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Low Cost Bridges Built From Center Pivot Pipe
A local farmer's need for nine bridges to get a center pivot rig back and forth across a creek got Ed Stahler into the bridge-building business. A dealer in new and salvaged pipe and a certified welder, he offered to make them out of center pivot pipe. Three years later, he is still in the pipe business with a bridge-building sideline.
  "I've already built close to 200 bridges for center pivots and dozens of vehicle bridges," says Stahler.
  Irrigation pipe lets him build long spans that don't weigh much and cost less. Stahler notes that pipes are engineered at 8,000 lbs. and most center pivot legs are engineered at 6,000 lbs.
  His basic design uses two 3 or 4-ft. wide spans. The wider span is recommended for distances greater than 30 ft. For vehicle bridges, he uses two spans with bridge planks over the top for a 10 to 12-ton load rating. The price for a 3-ft. wide span runs $25/linear ft. and $31/linerar ft. for the 4-ft. wide span. Railings and other components are extra.
  "A 40-ft. bridge will run between $6,000-7,000," says Stahler. "What's great is that they are lightweight, so you don't need cranes to set them in place. A farmer can use a front-end loader to set them in place on one side of the creek, drive across and pull it into place on the other side."
Stahler has built 24-ton bridges and is working on a 44-ton bridge, but these use steel I-beams in their design.
  "You could go with bigger diameter pipe and put more arch in it, but for a 60 ft. bridge you would need an arch of 7 ft.," he says. "With I-beams, you can have a flat bridge."
  All of Stahler's bridge designs were developed by a licensed structural engineer. While he does most of his business in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, he says the lightweight bridges can be shipped anywhere.
  "We can go up to 12 1/2 ft. wide and 60 ft. long without needing any special permits," says Stahler.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ed Stahler, Big Sky Pipe & Supply, 465 Bootlegger Trail, Great Falls, Mont. 59404 (ph 406 453-7299 or 888 353-7299).

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #2