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Farmer-Built Platform for Servicing Grain Dryer
The balance beam used in women’s gymnastics is only 4 inches wide. The catwalk that came with the new dryer on the Brincks farm in Calmar, Iowa, was less than 3 inches across, which didn’t make much room for work boots. Since an Olympian medalist wouldn’t be washing and servicing their dryer, Jeff Brincks and his dad, Don, knew they needed a more substantial place to stand for performing those tasks.
“I went into the shed and started putting a new structure together,” Brincks says. When he was done, a solid platform surrounded three sides of their dryer. “I think we could have a small party up there now,” he jokes. The new walkway is 17 inches wide.
There was a practical reason for that particular and ample size. “I got three lengths out of a 4×8-foot sheet of mesh steel,” Brincks explains. He used 1×1-inch steel tubing for most of the rest of his structure including the ladder that runs up from the ground on the back. That, too, is an upgrade over the factory version. “My ladder is at a slight pitch, so it’s easier to climb. I can even carry a pail while climbing, if necessary,” he says.
Only one new hole
Brincks also built the triangle-shape pieces that support the catwalk. They are all mounted to the dryer, each one installed with the removal of three bolts from existing holes for the screens in the dryer.
“I drilled only one new hole, and that was in the back where the ladder comes up. This uses all existing bolts,” he says.
Since it was installed last summer, Brincks says they’ve been up once or twice a day to dust off the top during drying. “Then we’re greasing the bearings and cleaning off bees wings that build up,” he says.
Before the new catwalk went up, Brincks and his dad would have to climb the factory ladder and then jump on top of the fan to get to where they needed to work.
“When fines got wet from the steam, there was a good chance we could slip off that little silver strip of metal pretty easily. Again, it was a safety consideration,” Brincks explains.
He recalls when their grain dryer salesperson saw the new platform for the first time. “Our local dealer really thought it was great and suggested I build them for others.”
Since Brincks operates a welding shop out of the farm’s shop, he is well equipped for the task.
“Besides,” he says, “a few of the neighbors have threatened to steal our platform and put it up on their own dryers!”
It is not shown in the illustration, but Brincks has recently added a second ladder that goes from the ground up to the manhole (or trap door) on the back of the dryer.
Brincks is the next recipient of a $2,500 Firestone in-store credit offer for having his idea chosen as the Idea of the Month. Enter your idea here.
Learn more about Jeff Brincks
Family farm: Parents Don and Nancy Brincks own the home farm. Jeff Brincks hauls grain for a local trucking company.
Sidelines: He also runs a welding business from the farm’s shop, where he is helped by wife Sarah. In addition to general repairs and fabrication, he builds skid loader attachments available for sale through craigslist.com.
Hobby: Brincks says he enjoys occasional backyard barbecues and has recently built a smoker out of an LP tank, complete with fire and warming boxes and its own cart.
Acquisition: His new IronWorker is an investment he quickly came to decide was worthwhile.
By Paula Barbour