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World's First Silo Mover
Walter Grotte had a dream to do what no one else had ever done - back up to a silo with his go-anywhere "Silo Mover" and haul the silo away in one piece. People laughed but, just before FARM SHOW went to press, Grotte made believers out of skeptics who said it couldn't be done.
He backed his monster machine up to a 20 by 50 Harvestore near Ayr, N. Dak., and in less than six hours from the time workers began readying the silo for moving, had it laying horizontal on the Silo Mover, ready for moving down the road. It was left resting on the flatbed trailer for several days before being raised back up again without a single problem at a new site 60 miles away. Grotte bought the silo, rather than use someone else's as a "guinea pig", for the initial test of his world's first silo moving machine.
It all began five years ago when Grotte, of Finley, N. Dak., and his four sons, and son-in-law, began planning and building the monstrous 25-ton silo-moving trailer. It's 60 ft. long, 18 ft. wide and designed to move silos as large as 30 by 90 ft., and large grain bins.
But before Grotte could start work on his Silo Mover, he had to get a shop large enough to house the rig.
So, he converted a 40 by 60-ft. pole shed into a heated shop. He also had his local electric Co-op bring in three-phase current to power his 400 amp. welder.
"The need for my Silo Mover arose from the tough farm economy that has left many silos standing empty. With my Silo Mover, farmers will be able to put these silos back in use. Moving them in one piece is faster than tearing them down and rebuilding them section by section. Plus, it's cheaper. Silo companies charge $12,000 to $20,000 to tear down and rebuild a silo, and it takes them a week or more to do the job. While I haven't figured out prices, it'll probably cost half as much to move a silo with my Silo Mover. What's more, we can do it in two or three days from taking it down to putting it up at the new site," Grotte told FARM SHOW.
The trailer, pulled by a semi tractor, has 24 tires - 4 sets of duals on each of its three axles. Each wheel gets an equal amount of pressure and hydraulics allows the wheels to float over rises in the road "cushioning" the silo's ride. The wheels also steer hydraulically so Grotte can maneuver the trailer up against a silo, or around corners when making turns.
Power for the rig's 200 gal. hydraulic system is provided by a 70 hp. Toyota car engine mounted in the front of the trailer frame. The valve bank has 14 control levers, two of which control two custom-built 10 in. dia., 35 ft. long cylinders that raise the bed. Each cylinder has a 200 ton lift capacity - more than enough to lift a 25 ton silo, says Grotte.
Here's how he goes about moving a silo: First, he raises the bed to the vertical position and backs the trailer up against the silo. Once it's up against the silo, he wraps three 8-in. wide nylon straps around the silo - around the top, middle and bottom.
The straps, originally used by the Air Force to catch runaway airplanes, are pulled tight by hydraulic cylinders. To put the top strap on the silo, Grotte built two man-lifts (similar to cherry picker baskets) that extend off booms attached to the top of the Silo Mover bed.
The next step is putting a support framework inside the silo. The framework, made of aluminum pipe, is installed every 10 ft. and keeps the silo from collapsing when it's laying flat on the trailer. "It took an entire year just to develop the telescoping design of the inside support," says Grotte, noting that it adjusts to fit silos 15 to 30 ft. in dia.
Both the supporting framework and the trailer bed have styrofoam insulation attached to prevent metal to metal contact with the silo.
With these steps completed, Grotte unbolts the silo from its footing. He then lifts the silo up off the footing the bed has outriggers and can lift straight up 30 in. He then moves the trailer ahead and slowly lays the silo and bed down until it rests on the trailer frame.
The silo, laying on the bed, has 3 ft. of ground clearance. However, if needed, Grotte says the bed can be raised to avoid "bottoming out" on country roads.
To put the silo back up, Grotte simply reverses the process, putting the silo on a new pad.
He says the only "bug" he has yet to work out is to receive permission from state transport departments to move silos down the road.


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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #6