Bright Lights, Cool Breezes

March 25, 2011 10:53 PM
Bright Lights, Cool Breezes

Abundant workspace, bright lighting and comfortable working conditions size up the shop that Tim and Lisa Crossley built on their farm near Greens Fork, Ind., a couple years ago.

Perhaps best of all, Tim says, the shop contributed to the sustainability of their farm operation. "If our farm had not grown in size, I might have opened a repair business in the shop to utilize my spare time," he adds.

Fortunately, the farm did grow, and the shop has contributed. "Since building the shop, we seldom send any repair jobs to a dealer," Tim says.

"My favorite aspect of the shop is plenty of open space to work on projects. I can tear a machine apart and not feel crowded, even if the job takes a week," he explains.

It was Tim’s wife, Lisa, who recommended making the building 50'x80' rather than 40'x60'. "That turned out to be the perfect size," Tim says. "I can pull in a semi and have plenty of room all around it to work."

The building sits on a bed of gravel, which was required to level the area, with a plastic moisture barrier on top. The interior is lined 8' high with fiberboard to absorb sound and make it easy to fasten hangers. Above that is white metal paneling to reflect light.

Sliding doors. Two sliding doors on the east end of the building create an entrance 25' wide and 14'3" high—big enough for any combine Tim expects to ever own. "I chose sliding doors for maximum clearance and for economy," he says.

Latches at the top of each door ensure a tight seal during cold weather. To prevent drafts at the bottom, Lisa made "draft dodgers"—beanbag-type denim containers filled with a cat litter–like material designed to soak up oil (chosen because it would not attract mice).

There also are two 10'-high, 9'-wide garage doors in the side of the building, creating an entrance for cars and pickups. "The overhead garage doors in the shop are only temporary," Tim says. "When I build an attached garage on the house, I’ll make that wall of the shop solid."

Concrete aprons extend outside the sliding doors and the overhead doors. There are two walk-in doors.

crossley shop entrance
Sliding doors, chosen for maximum clearance and economy, create an entrance 25' wide and 14'3" high.

Concrete in the floor ranges from 4" along the outside edges to 6½" in the center, which sees traffic from semi trucks and combines. Polypro-pylene fibers in the concrete help prevent chipping.

"We left the surface of the concrete just a little rough," Tim says. "A mirror-smooth finish can cause you to slip if you walk on it with wet shoes. This is a little harder to sweep, but safer."

Tim ruled out an epoxy sealant. "We wondered if a sealed floor would dry out or evaporate water as quickly," he says. "My dad’s shop was always damp because moisture couldn’t get out. In ours, the concrete is so dry it seems to absorb some of the water and then gradually let it back out."

Forced-air heat.
The shop bay is heated by two wall-mounted L.B. White 40,000-btu forced-air furnaces. "The heating system has been phenomenal," Tim says. "Heating the shop to 55°F last winter required only 375 gal. of LP gas. The furnaces run only a minute or two at a time. Ice and snow melts fast, and the floor dries quickly."

Moisture barriers and insulation help reduce heating requirements. "Both the inside and the outside of the building shell are wrapped in a 4-mil plastic moisture barrier," Tim says. "The building is extremely tight and dry."

Sidewalls are lined with fiberglass batt insulation with an R-value of 16. Blown-in foam insulation in the ceiling has an R-value of 25. On top of the foam in the ceiling is another 4-mil plastic moisture barrier.

The shop also stays comfortable during warm weather. "There’s twice as much ventilation as in most buildings," Tim says. "We have a vented overhang on the roof and two 2'-square vents, like slotted house vents, on the west end of the building. With so many openings, air flows freely through the building. As air gets hot, it seeks the roof vent and escapes."

Tim estimates that the attic gets no warmer than 100°F to 110°F on the hottest days. "I’ve never seen the floor or ceiling sweat, even on a 92°F day," he says. "I installed a 24" ventilation fan, like those used in hog buildings, in the east wall, but so far I haven’t needed to wire it up."

High-efficiency fluorescents. Illumination comes from 19 banks of two 32-watt, high-efficiency 4' fluorescent bulbs over the shop bay. They are wired on several circuits so Tim can turn on only as many as he needs.

"There’s a movement away from fluorescent lights, but the new ones are so much more effective," he says. "These come on instantly, without any flickering or noise, and take up less ceiling space than other types."

There also are two banks above the workbench area and three banks above the overhead storage area. "We installed an electrical outlet for every bank of bulbs so we could add another bank at each station without changing the wiring," Tim says.

"In the daytime, if the doors are open, the shop is bright inside," he says. "At night, with lights on, it’s even brighter than in the daytime."

Sunlight enters the shop through four double-pane 36"x46"windows in the south and west walls.
The ceiling of a 12'x24' office/utility room, supported by reinforced floor joists, provides overhead storage. The steel railing is easy to remove when lifting items into storage.


crossley shop2
Twenty-four feet of sturdy workbenches, built by Tim Crossley and varnished by his wife, Lisa, support a shelf for his collection of pedal tractors.

The work area includes 24' of workbenches. "We like things to look nice, so Lisa varnished the benches," Tim says. "They’re almost too nice to work on with greasy parts. But the varnish doesn’t peel, and it’s easy to clean."

Welding table. A 4'x4' steel welding table is Tim’s pride and joy. "I couldn’t find one like I wanted, so I made it," he says. "I wanted it heavy enough that I could beat on something with a sledgehammer and perfectly level in case I needed to build a jig."

Tim planned to build the table out of ½" steel plate, but a dealer persuaded him to use 3⁄8". "The top deck bowed in the center when I put it on, so I reinforced it with channel iron," he says.

Because the building was intended to be a shop, not a storage area, the Crossleys built a toolshed nearby. "If something doesn’t belong in the shop, I don’t bring it in," he says. "I keep the bay open so I can use it."

Like the shop, the 40'x60' toolshed is wrapped with two plastic moisture barriers. "The contractor asked why I wanted that," Tim says. "But they have kept the building very dry."

Eventually, the toolshed will be lighted and insulated and turned into a paint shed. Tim plans to install an air compressor in a shelter outside the shop building, with conduit running around the shop bay and lines running to the paint shed.

The only problem with the building was the office/utility room. "There wasn’t enough space to accommodate our farm office, so we still keep our records in the house," Tim says.

Shopping for components. Conservative by nature, the Crossleys shopped carefully before building. "We priced packages, and then individual components, looking for the lowest cost without sacrificing quality," Tim says. "The trusses, metal and wood package came from separate companies."

Tim inspected every board, ensuring each one was free of knots. The Crossleys hired local carpenters to construct the shell of the building. Tim did the wiring, insulation and some of the other interior finishing.

Shop Snapshot

Tim and Lisa Crossley, Greens Fork, Ind.

Shop Snapshot 2 LBBuilding: 50'x80' post-frame; building components from various suppliers
Eave height: 14'
Insulation: R-16 in the walls, R-25 in the ceiling
Heat: Two wall-mounted, forced-air furnaces
Doors: Two 12½'x14'3" sliding doors; two 10'x9' overhead garage doors; two walk-in doors
Lighting: 19 banks of two 32-watt, high-efficiency 4' fluorescent bulbs above the shop bay; two banks above the workbench area; three banks above the overhead storage area
Storage: 12'x24' overhead storage area above office; nearby 40'x60' toolshed
Office: 12'x24' office/utility room
Favorite features: Size, lighting, heating, ventilation, extra-strong steel table
Unusual features: Both the inside and the outside of the building shell are wrapped in a 4-mil plastic moisture barrier. Excellent ventilation because of a vented overhang on the roof and two 2'-square vents on the west end of the building.

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