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Silo Take-Down Pros Tell How Its Done
There's a lot of interest in taking down old, unused silos. FARM SHOW talked to a couple of professionals who've taken down hundreds of silos over the years.
Dave Carpenter of Welch, Minn., uses a sledge hammer, muscle, and know-how to take down old stave silos, such as the one we photographed during take-down on the Brian Rynda farm, Montgomery, Minn. He first picks the direction he wants the structure to fall, then marks a point on that side of the silo. From that point he counts the staves for a quarter of the way around the silo in each direction." Then using a heavy sledge he starts at the middle and knocks the staves out, alternating from one side of the mid-point to the other. By the time he's gone halfway around the silo, it's usually ready to fall.
"I can drop the silo exactly where I want it about 95% of the time," says Carpenter, whose main business consists of sandblasting and recementing silos and installing feed unloading equipment. He takes down a dozen or so silos a year. "For example, the silo I took down on the Rynda farm fell right where I wanted it - between a barn and shed on one side and feed bunks on the other side. I can hear the staves start to crunch before the silo actually begins to tilt. Then I move out of the way and watch it drop. If a feed room is cemented to the silo I have to use the sledge hammer to remove it before knocking the staves out. If the silo unloader is in good shape and still inside the silo I can remove it by knocking out a couple of staves and pulling it out with a loader." Carpenter charges $100 per silo plus mileage and says he sometimes is able to salvage the staves from big silos.
Larry Vomhof of Chatfield, Minn., takes down up to a dozen silos each year and charges $50 to $200, depending on the distance he has to drive. "There are several ways to bring down silos, including dynamite and pulling them over using a tractor and long cable after some of the bottom staves have been knocked out," says Vomhof, who specializes in rebuilding, extending, and plastering silos. "However, if the silo has no salvage value, hammering out the staves is the easiest, cheapest, and safest way. I usually knock out the second row of staves from the ground because it's easier to swing the sledge hammer on them. It takes only 10 minutes to actually knock the staves out. I usually go half way around before the structure will fall. It can be dangerous be-cause sometimes the staves fly off in different directions while the silo is falling. That's why I don't recommend anyone try this on their own. After a silo is down there's usually nothing left to salvage.
"I know of farmers who've used a sledge to knock out most of the bottom staves and then, to play it safe, left two or three in place which they shot out from a distance with a high-powered rifle. Solid cement wall silos with rerod are the most difficult to bring down. I don't work on these silos because they have to be dynamited or jack hammered. The problem with dynamite is that you can never be sure where the silo will fall."
Vomhof also dismantles old unused silos that are in reasonable shape piece by piece for later reconstruction.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dave Carpenter, Welch Silo Repair, Rt. 1, Box 146, Welch, Minn. 55089 (ph 612 258-4387), or Larry Vomhof, Rt. 2, Box 98, Chatfield, Minn. 55923 (ph 507 867-3809).

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1991 - Volume #15, Issue #1