13 farm shop innovations
1. Go portable for space
For Paul Hargus, being able to move “anywhere except the 2-foot parameter of our shop's wall” was essential to make the most of his family's 48×48-foot shop. Hargus farms with his father, Dwayne, near Jackson, Minnesota. The Nelson brothers, on the other hand, have a spacious 80×80-foot shop. They try to “keep everything unattached or on wheels, so we can roll tools and supplies right up to the work at hand,” says Neil Nelson, who farms with Dave and Dennis near Belmond, Iowa.
Even welding gear finds itself on-the-go around shops. Neal Pavlish, who farms near Crete, Nebraska, wired 220-volt outlets on each wall of his shop “so I can move freely about the shop with the welder,” he says.
A great example of metal fabricating mobility was created by Glen Wasmuth of Battleford, Saskatchewan (shown right). Topped off with a 30×72-inch steel plate, the cart holds a cutting torch, 5-hp. compressor, ½-inch drill press, vise, mechanic's tool chest, parts drawers, and a wide variety of grinders and welding clamps, all topped off with an overhead light. The cart's outlets include a 40-amp plug (the cart has its own breaker box) to feed a MIG welder. Wasmuth says the 2,500-pound cart rolls easily on concrete, due to 12-inch-diameter wheels on the rear axle and 8-inch wheels up front.
2. Expand outdoors
When the Burrers faced the decision of building a larger shop to accommodate wider implements, they came up with a far more affordable option.
The Elyria, Ohio, farmers poured concrete work pads on three quarters of the area surrounding their 50×65-foot shop.
“The one side of the shop was left in gravel, which is where we can park muddy equipment to do a preliminary cleaning,” says Tom Burrer, who farms with father Doug and brother Corwin. “Those outdoor pads are great for doing maintenance on larger equipment such as 40-foot tillage implements.”
To service these outdoors pads, the Burrers located electrical outlets and air hose couplers spaced every 20 feet all the way around their shop.
3. Add a tire changer
With tire dealers farther from home and often only available on weekdays, a growing number of farmers are investing in tire changers (shown left) to fix flats on-the-go.
Manual changers cost around $250, while semiautomatic, professional, air-operated units begin at $1,000 and escalate from there.
Duane Vick of Power, Montana, opted for a Wheel Service tire changer that can dismount and mount tires on 20-inch-diameter rims. “It was one of my best shop investments,” he says.
To cut costs, shop around for a used changer. But tire repair expert Don Kubly of Gempler's warns that these machines can be quite worn from use. “You need to operate the machine and make sure its mechanisms, like the bead breaker shovel, run smoothly,” he warns. Finally, lay in a supply of basic tire tools and supplies ($450 to $800) and obtain a tire repair manual. “You can't have enough repair information,” Kubly says.