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Working Model Grain Elevator, Thresher Amaze Crowds
A few years ago, Brian Harvey volunteered to serve on the board of his local agricultural society. That led to another volunteer project which quickly became a labor of love, and practically an obsession.

    Harvey decided to build an educational and interactive display that would increase attendance to the local fair in Swan River, Manitoba, known as "Northwest Round-up," held every July.

    For the fair's agricultural exhibition, called "Down on the Farm," Harvey designed and built an intricate working model grain elevator, which has been wildly popular for the past two years with adults and children alike.

    Last year, he added an amazing working model 1/3-scale threshing machine. This year, he's adding a dump truck, three grain bins, and a self-propelled grain auger. All of these items are operated by remote control.

    Harvey says he's grateful for the tremendous assistance provided by his brother Jerry, daughter Meredith, friend Geoff Child, and a few other people.

    The working models are an ideal way to engage, entertain and educate about farming because they're so much fun to operate, Jerry says.

    The elevator stands about 5 ft. tall and all aspects of its operation can be controlled by remote control.

    "You can start and stop the leg, turn the garber spout at the top of the leg, open and close the chutes at the bottom of the bins, weigh grain and send it to a bin within the elevator, or out to a truck or train," Brian says. "There's a cute little G-scale train with an awesome sound card in it, and a proper grain car and caboose that sit on a raised track. You can load the grain car, drive the train onto a trestle that has a hole in it, and drive a semi truck underneath. Once you drop the grain into the truck, you can drive the truck up into the elevator and dump the grain into the front pit."

    Harvey says three people at a time are allowed to work the controls. One drives the belly dump truck, one drives the train, and one runs the console on the elevator. Then they switch places until they've all had a turn with each model.

    Two computers are involved in the operation of the elevator, one of which was built from scratch by friend Geoff Child, and is located inside the elevator. It converts raw data from the infrared bin sensors and then sends it out to the desktop computer for display.

    Harvey also built miniature push brooms and corn brooms that are used to sweep up the mess after the truck has unloaded into the elevator.

    In order for people to see into the elevator and learn how it works, Harvey left one corner of it open, with a scalloped edge.

    His daughter Meredith, cut and glued on more than 2,300 individual tapered cedar shingles, as well as each piece of siding.

     The elevator took a little over 2,000 hrs. in all to build.

    He says the stationary threshing machine required 2,300 hours to build. When folded up, it's 10 ft. long and 3 ft. 6 in. to the top of the feeder housing.

    "The thresher puts out grain that a seed cleaner would be proud of," Jerry states. "Everything about it is the same as a real threshing machine, but smaller. One thing that's different is that it has windows so you can see in to see how it works."

    Because these machines are dangerous, the brothers demonstrate them inside a fence for 10 minutes at a time, and then take down the fence so people can see them up close.

    For the first time this year, the threshing machine and the elevator demos will be neatly "tied together" thanks to three bins, a dump truck and a self-propelled grain auger, that Harvey also designed and built.

    Now, the thresher dumps grain directly into a holding bin. From there the dump truck picks it up and then it's driven over to where the hopper bottom bins are. Then the truck empties its box into the self-propelled auger, which puts the grain into the hopper bottom bins. The semi trailer truck then drives beneath the bin's auger and is filled so it can transport its load to the elevator. This is exactly what would happen in a farm situation, Brian explains, except that today, the threshing machine would be a combine.

To build the semi and the dump truck, Harvey used model truck cabs he purchased, and then he made his own more rugged chassis, steering, wheels and tires. This aspect of the system took hundreds of hours.

"For all of the time that these models have taken to design and build, I have to admit that after a 1/2 an hour of watching the grandpas and the young people enjoy it, I'm paid in full for my effort," Jerry says.

The response from the business people in Swan River Valley to donate and or help pay for building supplies was tremendous.

Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Brian Harvey, P.O. Box 106, Durban, Manitoba, Canada R0L 0P0 (ph 204 539-2675; jerryharvey@svcn.mb.ca).

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2007 - Volume #31, Issue #4