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Planning Makes Perfect

September 29, 2012
By: Darrell Smith, Farm Journal Conservation and Machinery Editor
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Winning shop is plumbed for three sources of heat

It usually doesn’t pay to think negative—but one exception is when you’re planning a new shop. When he was designing his new facility, Ron Brooks of Waupaca, Wis., asked other shop owners what they didn’t like about theirs.

"The two things mentioned most often were doors being too small and walls not high enough," Brooks says. "Also, a lot of shop owners didn’t like drains in the middle of the floor, and floors sloping to the drain. They wished they had flat floors to lay out equipment. Many also regretted putting in oil change pits; they felt they were dangerous and dark."

Brooks knew what he did want: a big door (for airplanes—he’s a pilot); room to work on two jobs at once; nothing on the walls (it gets in the way of equipment); an office/conference room; easy cleanup; and an efficient, environmentally friendly heat source.

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The office includes room for a conference table and a wall-mounted flat-screen monitor for employee meetings.

The 80'×105' wood-frame building, with 20' eaves, erected by Forest Construction of Luxemburg, Wis., achieved those objectives. It also won the shops category of Farm Journal’s "I Built the Best" contest.

For a heat source, Brooks went an extra step: He plumbed his in-floor radiant heating system to run on LP gas, biomass fuel or solar energy, whichever is most economical down the road. "We try to be as green as possible," he says. "I like to plan ahead. It was cheaper to set up for alternative fuel sources now than to retrofit the building in the future."

Brooks’ building sits on top of a poured concrete foundation, 10" thick, reinforced with ½"

rebar on 6" centers. Under the concrete are 2" of high-density foam insulation, a radiant heat barrier, a radon gas barrier and a vapor barrier.

I Built the BestEasy cleaning. For easy cleanup, Brooks went with a polished floor surface, although it was more expensive than some other options. "During the polishing process, the top ¼" of concrete gets so hot it becomes superhard," he says. "It becomes impervious to oil and water. There is no finish to fade, chip, crack or peel."

In retrospect, Brooks adds: "I wish I’d put some color in the concrete. The only thing that bothers this floor is that salt from vehicles will stain it."

Contractors poured a pyramid-shaped footing, containing 15 cu. yd. of concrete, for a future jib-boom crane. There’s also a footing for an overhead car hoist, in case Brooks wants one. "We took photos so we’ll know where we can drill," he notes.

For his large door, Brooks chose a 20'×40' Schweiss one-piece hydraulic model. With an actual opening of 19'6", it leaves just enough clearance for his fluorescent lights.

When the door is open, Brooks notes, it’s like a 20' awning, creating a shady place to work on equipment parked on the 50'×80' concrete apron.

The corner of the building had to be reinforced to accommodate the door’s weight. "If I was doing it again, I would reinforce the door’s frame with metal, or else build a metal framework around it," Brooks says.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - October 2012
RELATED TOPICS: I Built the Best, Shops

 
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