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Railroad Hopper Dump Pit
About 10 years ago Rod Raether got fed up with waiting for his grain drying system to catch up with his combine. So he bought an old railroad hopper car and turned it into a giant dump pit and wet corn holding bin.
"It wasn't simple to do, but it didn't cost much and speeds up my harvest," says Raether, of Howell, Mich.
Raether bought a double hopper car for $1,000 and made arrangements to re-move the car from the railroad track at a road crossing 1/2 mile from his farm. He hired a crane to lift the car off the tracks, then cut it in half and dragged one half of it home with a 4-WD tractor. He buried the hopper in the ground between his dryer and bins.
"I was able to buy the car for the price of scrap iron and spent only about $2,000 in all to build the pit. A comparable size commercial dump pit would have cost about $25,000," says Raether. "The hopper bottom is 15 ft. long, 10 ft. wide, and 12 ft. deep. It has a capacity of 800 to 1,000 bu. and works perfectly with my 600-bu. continuous flow dryer.
"The best part is that I can unload grain fast and get back to the field without wasting time. I had been unloading grain into an 8-in. dia. auger that delivered grain into a wet holding bin. However, the auger was a bottleneck and slowed harvest down. I farm 600 acres with no help. My dump pit lets me harvest and dry 50 acres of corn per day. I fill the pit with two 400-bu. dump trucks, and it takes only 30 seconds to unload each truck."
Raether bought the hopper car at a rail-road salvage yard in Maryland. It had been used to haul sand. When the car was delivered on the track near his farm, he had to guarantee he wouldn't tie up the track for more than a half hour. "I had crane waiting to lift the car off the track Then I used a cutting torch to cut it apart,' says Raether. "The 4-WD tractor didn't have enough power so another operator had to push it from behind with a dozer We dragged the car on its side alongsidf a gravel mad."
The car was made from 1/2-in. steel plate and was well painted. Raether used sheet metal to close the open end of the hopper - where he cut it apart - and used the crane to bury it in the ground. He mounted I-beams across the top and added a ladder on the inside. He cut off the top of the hopper and used 2-in. dia. steel pipe to make a grate over the top, then put cement pad around the drive-over grate A manhole above the ladder provide, access to bottom of hopper, and a sump pump underneath it drains water away.
Raether sold the other half of the car to a neighbor who also made it into a dump pit. "He quit farming so the pit is no longer used. If anyone is interested the: could dig out the pit and reinstall it on their farm," notes Raether.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Rol Raether, 2650 Fishbeck, Howell, Mich 48843 (ph 517 546-4498).

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1992 - Volume #16, Issue #1