Harvestor finds new home
By KAREN SCHWALLER
WEBB – When the decision was made to dismantle and bury the farm home of the late Howard and Helene Simons, of Webb, their son, Carl Simons, thought there were some pieces of the farm that were worth saving.
One of those pieces was the Harvestor silo that stood next to a concrete silo and kept watch over the farm.
“It was in too good of shape to destroy,” said Simons. “It holds about 15,000 bushels of corn and I needed more storage, so I decided we should just move it over to our place.”
He and his wife, Becky, live across the road and north of that farmstead.
The silo always held grain when it was in use. Built in 1970, the silo measures 25 feet in diameter and stands 42 feet. It weighs between 33,000 and 34,000 pounds.
Simons hired Tom Mader and his crew from Heartland Building Moving, in West Bend, to relocate the silo.
Following examination of the silo’s condition, surroundings and the area where it was to be moved, Mader decided it could be moved sitting upright.
“It’s cost-prohibitive to lay them down to move them,” he said. “It’s four or five times the work because you have to have all the support for it and use cranes and things like that.”
“If you lay them down, gravity works against them and you have to have supports so they don’t crush themselves.”
The first order of business was to free the silo from the concrete pad so it could be lifted. The silo was cut at ground level to save as much of the bottom ring as possible for more storage capacity, then jack-hammered around the inside to free the angle iron ring from the concrete pad.
Then they started lifting it up, using 170,000 pounds of force.
Simons said they ran into trouble with the silo distorting, and when they set it down and looked inside they found rerod running through the concrete that was still attached to the walls of the silo, which they were unaware of since this was the first Harvestor silo they had moved.
The force was literally tearing the rerod from the concrete pad and hindering the lifting process.
Once the rerod was disconnected under high tension, Mader said the silo “slipped right off” and it was loaded and anchored for the trip.
Rainy weather in the days ahead of the move created soggy ground conditions as they worked to free and lift the silo.
Mader said the force of lifting it pushed the cribbing (cinder blocks used to create a solid ground base for jacks) two feet into the ground.
Mader said the silo’s journey would take it across the road and across one of Simons’ planted corn fields to its new home. Once it started rolling across the field, the transfer took less than 10 minutes.
“It was a relief to see it in our yard,” said Simons. “The lane (on his parents’ farm) is narrow and (the silo) rocked once or twice but nothing happened.”
Simons added that he was nervous about the move.
Mader said it was a true learning experience.
“I always dreamed about moving a silo, and I would do it again,” he said. “I would probably do some things different, but I would definitely do it again.”
The silo is scheduled to be in place on its new farm home during the week of May 15, and there it will once again stand watch over a Simons farm.
Simons said the place where he grew up would be gone by the end of the week, along with all of the buildings that once made it a thriving farm.
But the memories are still there – and now he has part of those memories in his own backyard.
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