"It's as simple to move them from one bin to another as it is to move an empty truck out and a loaded one in," says Sterling Wolery, Joplin, Mont., wheat and barley producer who built three of the slickest "go anywhere" self-propelled grain augers you ever saw. They're loaded with features not found on factory-made commercial augers.
With all three models, the key feature is fast, easy movement down the road (at 50 mph) or from bin to bin. All three are equipped with built-in safety ladders running lengthwise along the tube so workers can easily run to the top of the bin to open the lid, and to make periodic inspections as the bin is being filled.
Another key feature of the augers is that they can empty bins as well as fill them. The low "input" end of the auger can be driven up to the bin door and then work its way into the bin for gravity unloading of all except the last 1,200 or so bushels, which is removed by attaching a drag auger. "They also work great for moving grain in or out of flat storage, and for cleaning out trucks that are stuck in the field. We can drive one of the augers right out into the field, run the input end up to the rear of the disabled truck and unload its content into another truck," explains Wolery.
He built his first self-propelled auger, a 60 footer with a 10 in. dia. tube, last year. He stripped a 1954 Chevrolet truck frame and lengthened it to 7 ft. to better accommodate the long auger. An old Buick 401 engine was added, along with automatic transmission. "With the frame stretched out, it makes the old truck drive and ride better," notes Wolery.
He built the other two models this year. One is equipped with an 8 in. dia. tube 50 ft. long. It's built on an International, K-5 frame and is powered by a Chevrolet 283 engine. The other sports a 10 in. dia. auger 60 ft. long, same as the first auger Wolery built. However, unlike the older 60 footer, it can be fitted with a drag auger for cleaning out bins. Its frame and engine were salvaged from a 1953 Ford 2-ton truck.
Both newer augers are equipped with wing stabilizers on the rear which, when extended, are 17 1/2 ft. wide. Hydraulic components run the augers, the raising and lowering mechanisms, and the stabilizers. A hydraulically-powered cable winch raises the augers' rear ends; a hydraulic cylinder lifts the front ends. A small hydraulic motor turns the winching mechanism, which is secured by an ordinary brake and drum from an old car.
"The hydraulic lift is fast. You can change bins and be set up again in 5 minutes," says Wolery.