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Modified Grain Bin Has A Grand View
“I admit that I was worried about opening the entire side of the bin for the window installation. Once the hole is cut, it’s not likely there is an easy way to close it back up,” says Geza Lanczy about his grain bin conversion project, which included using 40 pieces of glass to create an 8 by 17-ft. window.
  The bin with the huge picture window sets it apart from other conversions he has seen.
  The Lafayette, Ind., manufacturing design engineer also used the bin to test ideas he hopes to include in a future vacation home.
  “I installed PEX tubing for radiant heat in the poured concrete floor and faced the window south/southwest to maximize solar gain and still keep it hidden from view of passersby,” Lanczy explains. He also kept the cost to $4,000 by using recycled materials.
  He purchased the bin from his neighbor, Marion Klutzke, who has been featured in past FARM SHOW articles. Klutzke had the disassembled bin in storage from a previous trade. The “government bin” was an 18-ft. tall, 18-ft. diameter bin given to farmers in the 1970’s during the grain embargo.
  Lanczy transported the pieces next to the hay field he farms, poured a 6-in. slab with in-floor heat and reassembled the bin using tripod bin jacks he made out of 1 1/4-in. EMT conduit. He built jigs to cut and laminate interior wall plates and built the wall frame in 8-ft. sections – like a barrel truss. He laminated three pressure-treated 2-by-6 boards together to build the window frame within 6 in. of the top and bottom.
  Not knowing exactly what would happen, he secured a ladder to the exterior of the bin, grabbed his metal cutting circular saw and cut out the window opening. It worked out fine; the interior framing kept everything stable.
  The glass is 1/4-in. thick plate glass salvaged from an office building on Purdue University’s campus. Lanczy got it free and has many more panes for future projects. He built a frame to hold the panes flat on the ground with conduit recycled from his homemade bin jacks for the vertical pieces and laser cut 1/8-in. plate steel links for the horizontal pieces. That allowed the frame to curve when attached to the wood frame opening. He welded the metal frame solid after it was in place, then installed the panes one at a time – covering the edges with 50-year silicone, holding the glass with a suction cup handle, climbing the ladder and installing the glass in the frame. It took him about 10 hrs. to install all the panes, but the process worked, and the window is waterproof.
  In order to see the whole length of the window, he made the second story a loft – 6 ft. back from the window. The loft is accessible by space-saving alternating tread stairs (half treads that alternate). For winter, he plans to add an insulating panel to capture the solar heat during the day and Styrofoam shutters to hold the heat in at night. During the summer, the leaves on trees shade the window, preventing the bin from getting too hot.
  Lanczy uses a generator for power and heats with a wood stove when he’s at the bin. He finished the walls with R-19 insulation covered with 1/8-in. industrial plastic/fiberglass sheeting used to line refrigerated trailers.
  He hasn’t decided exactly how he wants to use the modified bin.
  “It’s too small for a house. Maybe it’ll be a studio or guest house,” he says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Geza Lanczy, 107 Digby Rd., Lafayette, Ind. 47905 (ph 765 532-5081; fortressdesign@comcast.net).

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2013 - Volume #37, Issue #2