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Award-Winning Shop

March 15, 2010
By: Anna McBrayer, Editor

The 61'x80' bay in Dykhuis Farms' shop has room for "jobs that you are working on now; jobs waiting for parts; and jobs where you are investigating problems,” says Tim Bleeker. The shop serves both the farm's hog production facilities and 2,300 acres of row-crop. A former school bus is used to transport pigs between facilities.

Ask mechanics Tim Bleeker and Gregg Sheridan what they like about Dykhuis Farms' shop, and they quickly mention having room for multiple jobs, in-floor heating, a vehicle hoist, a service pit, easy access for vehicles and good cross-ventilation. In fact, they hardly know where to stop.

If it sounds like the Dykhuis shop is several cuts above average, bear in mind the farm it serves is not exactly ordinary. Based in Holland, Mich., Dykhuis Farms is one of the state's leading pork producers. The operation maintains 17,000 sows at 13 locations and contracts with 30 other farmers to finish 400,000 pigs per year. Dykhuis Farms also grows 2,300 acres of corn.

"Including everything from tractors to semi trucks, irrigation equipment, generators and manure tankers, we have 140 pieces of equipment to maintain,” Bleeker says.

A veteran of 26 years at an automobile dealership, Bleeker worked with shop owner Bob Dykhuis to design the shop, which now is in its third season of operation. The facility they created won the shop category of Farm Journal's "I Built the Best” Contest.

Plenty of room to work. The designers' first criterion was adequate working space. "To be efficient as a mechanic,” Bleeker says, "you need to have three things going on: jobs that you are working on now; jobs waiting for parts; and jobs where you are investigating problems.”

The building is 128' long. The shop bay, 61'x80' in size, occupies most of the eastern half. On the western half of the building, a 13' extension takes the south wall out from 80' to 93'. The extension encloses an 83' service pit (which is open to the shop bay) and two 93'x20' wash bays. The service pit area is 27' wide, so the extension includes 67' of the south wall.

The extension required some additional engineering by the building contractor, Overbeek Construction of Hamilton, Mich.

"With that length of wood truss, the webbing is 2' high on the lower end,” Dykhuis says. "We used steel I-beams across the bays where the wall would have been. To get additional length, we used half-trusses. That allowed sufficient height for the overhead doors. The ceiling in the extension is just slightly lower than the 20' ceiling in the rest of the shop.”

The concrete floor is 6" thick in the shop and wash bay and 12" thick under the legs of a vehicle lift. It is reinforced with rebar and contains Fibermesh polypropylene fibers to resist cracking. Walls and ceiling contain fiberglass batt insulation.

Floor heat. In-floor heat is provided by a 182,000-btu NTI Trinity Ti200 gas boiler. The floor heating system extends under the wash bays on the west side of the building and under a "people area” on the east side.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - March 2010



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