Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Don't ask what you can do...

Do what you can do.  Here is how heroes step forward in a crisis.

Stan Thiergartner of Milford Corner Center, OH is one of many of us Eastern Corn Belt farmers coping with grain that is in poor shape and won't flow out.  He is also deeply concerned about farmers getting killed in their frustration to get the grain out.   He called me today after hearing my similar worries on USFR last week.  [And followed up with pictures.]

He began finding a solution.  This is an agitator/lump-prodder works for him. [Update: he calls it a "corn borer"]

Important notes:

  • It doesn't show well, but he has an adapter to blast compressed air through the pipe (hence the holes at the tip)
  • Stan uses the ridges on his bin roof to line up when pushing it in.
  • He's been able to angle down slightly toward the center sump and restore flow in a 48' bin.
  • Don't know where the auger point came from, but shop-modified cross augers from combines look like a source.
Many of you may already be modifying this idea in your head.  One thing I wonder if a fitting for a 1" impact wrench wouldn't work to minimize the hand cranking.  You've already got an air compressor there.  Speaking of which - how about a jack-hammer-sized a/c and larger pipe/more holes?

At any rate, this idea could save a few over-anxious farmers, I think.  My thanks to Stan and God bless the Internet for getting an idea out so quickly.  Please pass the link on to others (right click on the "posted" time below for the link location and click "copy", then "paste" in an e-mail).  Or just copy the photos.

Stan:  Thanks for your ingenuity and sense of responsibility.  Guys like you help build our community and lift our profession.

Please post additional questions and comments - as well as your design improvements - in the "Comments".

I'll be monitoring them and will try to get more info as well.

[Updates: Stan called me tonight. Some further information.]
  • He used 3/4" pipe.  The auger point was from an old earth anchor (he thinks).  I think one of those guy wire anchors would work well.
  • He did use an industrial air compressor.
  • He left the agitator in the bin until it was down to the sweep work.
  • The young man is his son Lucas.

 [One final remark: Note the instructions on the bin door.  Stan is preparing well for his upcoming fading memory.  I could use notes like that.]


Anonymous said...

-augers that work good for that job are the ones made by "mix-mill" out of bluffton ,in... use there 3.5" auger-regards-kevin

Bob said...

We have used steel pyramids over our center wells for 25 years. They have a center rod that fits into the sweep socket. They break up or hold back lumps as the corn flows. However, that is only a fix for next year!

Dairy said...

I've got a dumb question. What keeps corn from running out everywhere when the inspection door is open? It looks like I would have spilled half the bin, while the picture shows very little corn spilled. I see one man holds his hand around the pipe, but if you leave the "corn borer" in place until ready for the sweep auger, this could run into some serious time. I could see my wife tiring of this after a mere 12 hours or so, not to mention I'd have to cook my own supper. Would attempting to back this out unthread the pipes?

John Phipps said...


Stan eased it out by using a come-along while slowly unscrewing. I asked the same question, and think I would use bolts or pins w/sleeves instead of threaded connectors, but he said he didn't have any trouble.

As for the hole, I'd think some kind of flexible split gasket you could fasten to the inspection cover bolts would be easy enough to fabricate.

Lucas said...

Replying back to "Dairy"...This is Lucas (the one in the pic holding the pipe) to keep corn from coming out of the inspection hole, we used two gloves and shoved them around the pipe. As for your other question...I too was worried that by backing out the pipe that it would unscrew the threads and I mention to my dad (Stan) about drilling some holes and bolting it together. But he just used two pipe wrenches to lock down the connection tight, as we unscrewed the pipe it come out pretty easy so we didn't have to worry about the pipes becoming unthreaded. The bin is flowing good so we did remove the corn borer...yeah leaving that in there and running the sweep would be a big problem.