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Best welding center winner
Best Welding Center
This Aurelia, Iowa, farm partnership won the Best Welding Center category of Successful Farming magazine's Top Shops® Contest. With that honor came a treasure trove of welding tools from Lincoln Electric, including a Power MIG 140C welder, a Viking 2450 welding helmet, a welding jacket, gloves, and glasses.
Shop floor plan
Michael Blake and Dustin Harrison's 72-foot-wide by 108-foot-long shop structure is equipped with two doors located at the south end of their shop. Those doors face toward the farmyard. This combination of doors consists of a 40-foot-wide Hydroswing unit and a 16-foot-wide overhead door positioned side by side.
The shop floor located immediately behind these doors serves as the shop's main repair and service bays. Tractors, combines, and large implements enter through the Hydroswing door. “Pickups and loaders enter the overhead door so we can get them inside during the winter or in for an oil change,” says Blake.
Freestanding bridge crane
The prime feature of Michael Blake and Dustin Harrison's shop is a freestanding bridge crane that does not utilize the shop structure's eastern wall for any load support (except for some lateral stabilizing struts between the wall and fixed beam).
The crane originally started out as an A-frame freewheeling unit, which was removed from the farm's old shop. They removed the leg on the right side of the beam (which two 2-ton hoists roll on) and replaced it with a homemade trolley. That trolley rolls on top of a 40-inch-tall beam salvaged from a road bridge. The trolley frame rolls on two steel wheels atop the beam.
Weld center layout
Related fabrication tools – such as an ironworker, band saw, torch, and various hand tools – reside along the north and northeast wall in this corner of the shop. The floor area is home to two welding tables (one is on wheels) and a MIG welder on wheels. That welder can roll to work at either table without leaving behind it electrical cord on the floor.
A second similar swinging boom carries an electrical drop cord and an air line to the shop's main welding table. That steel-top table measures 4 feet wide by 10 feet long and is stationary (although it can be moved with a forklift). A second 4×8-foot steel-top worktable rolls around the shop on wheels.
A unique crane, an array of tables and tools, and a metal rack win first-place honors.