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Have You Seen This “Fix” For Grain Bin Plug-Ups?
A reader recently asked us if we’d run anything on the idea of using big air compressors to unplug grain bins. The idea surfaced about a year ago in a story by Chris Bennett at AgWeb.com. It’s a relatively simple idea for clearing out badly plugged bins without climbing inside.
  During a spring blizzard in 2019, a lot of snow got into a bin of stored corn on the farm of Nebraska corn grower Guy Mills. He removed several loads before the wet corn inside plugged up the unloading auger. At about the same time, he saw an employee of a local fertilizer company using a large commercial air compressor to loosen up a plugged bin and he decided to try it himself.
  He learned that to unplug a grain bin you need a lot of air. A typical farm compressor which puts out 50 cfm or so won’t get the job done. You need a commercial compressor that puts out 250 cfm. Those can cost up to $25,000 but Mills says you can usually rent one for about $50 a day.
  To get the job done, you need a piece of 3/4-in. steel pipe the length of your unloading auger, a short piece of 3/4–in. pipe the length of the dia. of your auger tube, and two 3/4 –in. elbows. You should also attach a valve to the end of the pipe to control air flow and have a pair of vise grips handy.
  To use it, remove the auger and insert the pipe with an elbow and the short piece of pipe attached to the end. Push it all the way in and rotate it back and forth in the sump. Clamp the vise grips on the outside end of the pipe so you know which way the pipe stem is pointing inside the bin.
  Corn will fill the sump when you’re done blowing. The next step is to pull out the pipe, replace the short piece of pipe with the second elbow to blow corn backward out of the tube. Mills says to be careful because the force is amazing and grain will shoot out 50 ft. or more at high speed.
  Then reinsert the auger and you’re ready to unload. If the sump plugs up again, just repeat the process.
  Mills noted that in extreme cases where there are crop pillars inside the bin, you can cut a small hole in the side of the bin and insert a pipe to break them up.
  The beauty of the idea, said Mills, is that no one has to climb inside the bin and the idea is cheap and easy so anyone can do it. He has contacted some bin manufacturers and asked them to evaluate the process and possibly consider placing permanent airlines in new bin construction.

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #1