ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Agri Producers, Inc., a cooperative headquartered in Tampa, began a $288,000 project to add a 144,000-bushel concrete bin at its Durham branch Oct. 1.
McPherson Concrete Products, Inc., contractor on the job, should have it completed near the end of November.
Stan Utting, manager of API, said construction of the bin is in response to several good years of wheat harvests, but adds significantly to storage and processing for both wheat and milo as part of “a to-do-list we have looked at for years.”
“We looked at building it in 1982 when we bought the Durham facility,” he said.
Durham already has 358,000 bushels of capacity and API has 3.6 million bushels total capacity with other locations at Lincolnville, Herington, Carlton, Gypsum, Burdick, Ramona and Tampa, he said.
Utting added, “It seems we’re always filling up at wheat harvest. We’re always fighting it. We don’t have a place to dump on the ground if we fill up at Durham. We went with concrete even though steel is cheaper because you can get more bushels capacity by building higher for the groundspace.”
Curtis Frick, elevator manager at Durham, said the new structure will be 108 feet tall and 54 feet in diameter.
Farmers tend to prefer bringing grain to Durham at harvest because K-15 is a good highway for heavily loaded trucks, Utting said, and the co-op is attempting to serve both their needs and do better marketing.
He explained, “It gives us market flexibility in a good location like this to ship by railroad when rail markets are good, or ship by truck on a good highway when it’s not as good like it’s been the last two or three years.
“Durham, Tampa, Lincolnville and Herington are all on the main line of the Union Pacific. It’s faster to use rail, trucks are slower, so in years with a good rail market we can move a lot of wheat in a hurry.”
Besides adding capabilities in grain handling for the co-op, the massive new structure probably is the biggest construction project in Durham since the 1950s, Frick said.
And, “A lot of it went into the ground before it went into the air,” Utting added. “They put down cement pilings 54 feet deep to bedrock, 30 of them around the circumference of the bin.”
Frick said the concrete company made the pilings 16 inches in diameter, and made the holes for them with a giant auger mounted on a crane.
“I was surprised at how fast they could dig that much, 15 or 20 minutes for a hole,” he said. “They brought out two semi-loads of rebar before they started. They lift the concrete to the top with that big bucket, and the crew uses four-foot forms around the top, doing one, and then starting another. They can do three four-foot circles in a good day.”
That’s 12 feet a day the structure is rising.
Frick contrasted that to the last big elevator project in Durham in 1958, when Chalmers and Borton of Hutchinson built the 12 big silos with star bins between where they fit together with a continuous pump forming concrete 24 hours a day.
The annex has a belt that can move grain across the bottom of the 12 silos to the leg in the main elevator, built in 1954, where it can be moved to the top, and carried by another belt back along the tops of the annex for dumping.
The new bin, located at the east end of the annex by the API service station, will have a tube from which it can gravity flow grain from 10 feet off the ground to the annex lower belt, or take it out with an auger from below that point, Frick said.
The concrete company is buidling air channels into the floor of the new bin from the outside through which big fans will blow air to aid in drying grain, he said.
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER