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Highway Guard Rails Make Great Buildings
Several years ago, when Harlan Courtney and his neighbor found out that thousands of discarded highway guard rails were being sold at junk-yard prices, they decided to get some. There's a lot of steel in the metal crosspieces, they figured, and a use for them would eventually surface.
It took a couple years but Harlan finally did find a use. He built a machine shed from the rails that has already gone through a tornado. "It'll stand as long as any other building in the state of Kansas," he predicts.
"These rails were outlawed in Kansas and many other states because they were too strong and didn't bend enough when vehicles went up against them. We bought them for 50 cents each and there may still be thousands of them lying in junkyards around the country, still available," Courtney told FARM SHOW.
The 13-ft. long rails Courtney used to build his building were made from a heavy gauge rounded steel and are right at 12 in. wide. To build his shed, he first poured a concrete footing all around the foundation, leaving a trough in the top formed by leaving a 4 by 4-in. piece of lumber in the cement and pulling it out just before it set permanently. Courtney then stood the rails up one by one in this trough, bolting them together lengthwise along the one side. The result is a solid wall that stands up without special bracing.
"One of the biggest jobs was drilling each rail to join to the next one. I certainly learned how to sharpen drill bits," says Courtney. "It took us about 1 1/2 years to complete the 40 by 70-ft. building, working at it on and off."
The building required about 200 rails. It has a 13-ft. high door for moving in big equipment. There are no windows but they could be added. The rails, which were originally galvanized, have not been painted. Courtney built a tin roof on top of roof trusses made from 2-in. dia. pipe.
Costs for the building include $800 for the cement, $1,000 for the roof trusses, $1,000 for the roof, and 200 guard rails at 50c each. Other miscellaneous costs put the total cost "somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000".
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Harlan Courtney, Rt. 2, Box 101, Oskaloosa, Kan. 66066 (ph 913 863-2654).

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1983 - Volume #7, Issue #1