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Grand champ shop

Agriculture.com Staff 11/04/2008 @ 12:46pm

The Smith family faced a dilemma that's all too common among growing farms: More acres demanded wider equipment to keep pace with planting and harvest.

The family's old shop -- once ideal for eight-row heads, 16-row planters, and straight trucks -- couldn't consume larger machines.

So the Rochester, Indiana, farm team of Dave and Kevin Smith tapped into the expertise of their father, Dale, and team of employees to design a facility for the future -- a shop where an entire fleet of machinery could be tended to under one roof at one time.

The result was a facility that can readily accommodate a 36-row planter -- unfolded -- with room left over for a semitrailer and a couple of tractors or pickups. Yet the Smith shop is more than large, sitting on an 88×96-foot pad topped off with 20-foot sidewalls and custom-built clean-span ceiling. Their layout provides for free-flowing repair and maintenance bays, ample parts and supply storage, and an adjoining office complex.

The thoroughness the Smiths put into their design and their attention to details earned them the highest honor in the Top Shops Contest: the Grand Prize of a John Deere Model 313 skid steer loader.

"When specing out the shop, we opted for 20-foot sidewalls since who knows what the future will bring with larger equipment," Kevin Smith explains. "That height allows us to unfold toolbars in the shop plus provide room to a 20-foot-tall HydroSwing door."

The Smith family faced a dilemma that's all too common among growing farms: More acres demanded wider equipment to keep pace with planting and harvest.

Door placement was a crucial element in the Smiths' shop layout. The family placed the 40-foot-wide HydroSwing door at the east end of the shop floor. This door provides access to the shop's main service bay, which is over 80 feet wide and nearly over 70 feet deep.

This pit was designed to provide access to all the axles of a semitrailer tractor. "That pit is one of the best investments we made," Kevin says. "Its five-foot depth allows us to work underneath vehicles without hitting our heads. Yet, we can reach nearly every grease point on a truck or trailer. With that access, we're also able to adjust brakes or tend to other truck maintenance chores."

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