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Volunteers Move Dairy Barn 143 Ft By Hand
In a new twist on old-fashioned barn raisings, 328 volunteers helped Herman Ostry, Bruno, Neb., relocate his barn by picking it up and moving it 143 ft., 8 in. They did it in front of an audience estimated at between 3,500 and 4,000 who had gathered to celebrate the town's Centennial.
- The volunteers grabbed steel poles that Ostry and his sons had placed underneath the barn, which is 56-ft. long, 28-ft. wide, and 27-ft. high. As spectators cheered, the volunteers lifted the 60-year-old structure, moved it several feet and set it down. They repeated the feat five times over a period of 20 min. Included in the move was a 90? turn so the front of the barn faced east toward a highway, instead of south. Since the barn weighs 18,640 lbs., each volunteer had to lift about 53 lbs.
The "biggest traffic jam in Bruno's history" delayed the scheduled 10 a.m. start for 45 min. Cars packed an adjacent field and the crowd got bigger when hay wagons pulled behind tractors arrived from town.
"We lifted the barn twice for practice before we moved it," notes Ostry. "To see it liftup was an awesome feeling. Many people didn't believe it could be done."
Ostry was faced with either razing the old barn, which was located in a water-collecting hollow, or moving it to higher ground. "I wanted to do something different for the Centennial and moving the barn with human muscle power seemed like a good idea," says Ostry. He enlisted the aid of his son Mike, who had taken engineering classes at a community college, to design and engineer the move.
Using 3/4-in. sq. tubing, Mike designed a combination lifting and support system for the walls and interior rafters. He welded together a series of 2-ft. wide rectangular grids, then removed a strip of siding about 12 in. from the base of the barn so the lifting grids could extend through the walls. He welded support braces, also made out of 3/ 4-in. sq. tubing, to the grid base (both inside and outside the barn) and anchored the braces to the vertical studs. One lifter stood inside each grid, both inside and outside the barn. Another strip of siding was removed at eye level so lifters inside the barn could see out.
The Ostry's also planned for safety. Volunteers had to be from 5 ft. 6 in. to 6 ft. 2 in. tall and sign a combination application and liability form taking full responsibility for their physical condition and releasing the Ostry family, the village and Centennial officials of responsibility in the event of injury.
The volunteers included women, a 13-year-old boy, a 90-year-old man and a man with an artificial leg. All volunteers took orders from Ostry, who used a loudspeaker to make "lift" and "stop" commands.
Each lifter was presented a blue ribbon and a certificate of appreciation. The tubing was cut into 1-ft. lengths and sold as souvenirs.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Herman Ostry, Rt. 1, Bruno, Neb. 68014 (ph 402 543-2333).


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1988 - Volume #12, Issue #5