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First Came the Crane

December 8, 2010
By: Darrell Smith, Farm Journal Conservation and Machinery Editor

FJ 064 F10194

When he built his new shop, Darrell Corcoran wanted a good hoist. Reluctant to spend $6,000, the Ottawa, Ill., farmer built a jib boom crane entirely from salvaged materials. The boom won him $500 by receiving first place in the shops category of Farm Journal’s “I Built the Best” contest.

Because the crane was the central feature of his shop, Corcoran built it first, then constructed the building around it. After five years, the only change he has made is to expand the size to

accommodate ever-larger machines.

Support for the crane comes from 12' “legs” made of I-beams, extending outward from the upright and buried underground. The upright itself extends 9' below ground.

“We poured 9 cu. yd. of concrete around the upright and then put a load of rock on top,” Corcoran says. “It has never settled an inch, and the floor has never cracked around it.”

The upright is a 14" I-beam, ½" thick, extending 16' above the floor. “People told me the upright would bend, but it hasn’t,” Corcoran says. The crosspiece is an 8" I-beam, 20' long, reaching to the middle of the shop bay.

All of the materials came from a junkyard, except the shaft the crosspiece turns on. Corcoran made the shaft from the pivot of a dump trailer. He also made his own bearings and drilled holes for grease zerks.

The upright provides a handy place to mount hose reels for compressed air and grease, which reach the entire shop bay, Corcoran notes. He salvaged the hose reels from a construction company that threw them away.

The electric hoist was purchased at a closeout sale. “It’s a three-phase hoist, but I don’t have three-phase power, so I used a converter to change single-phase to three-phase,” he says. The hoist has a 1-ton capacity, with a safety feature that kicks out if the operator tries to lift more.

Like the crane, the shop building was built and furnished with bargain materials. “Very few components were purchased new,” Corcoran says. “We bought a lot of the wood at auctions.”

Corcoran’s shop occupies part of a 60'x120' FBi post-frame building. The shop bay is 60'x40', and the remaining 60'x80' is used for machinery storage.

The center section of the floor consists of 8" concrete, heavy enough to support a semi. The concrete tapers to 5" and finally, at the edge, to 4". It is reinforced with rebar and Fibermesh polypropylene fibers to prevent cracking. As a further measure to prevent cracking, the poles are wrapped with an insulating barrier.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - December 2010
RELATED TOPICS: I Built the Best, Shops

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