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A $5,000 shop

An old granary and $5,000 didn't give Doug Maseun a dream shop by other farms' standards. But it created a full-bodied facility that preserved his family farm's pocketbook.

The LeMars, Iowan took over the family farm in 2000. Several years ago, he realized that working on equipment in a machine shed with a dirt floor was, “not a joy. I've always dreamed of a nice big shop, so I started pushing a pencil,” he recalls. “It didn't take long to figure out I couldn't afford it. I knew a bank wouldn't loan me money for a shop, and all I could afford to spend was $5,000.”


To make ends meet, Maseun employed some creative farmer engineering and converted the granary his father and grandfather had built years ago. “The only downfall was the building's size,” he says. “It was 20 feet wide and 22 feet long.”

That building's conversion began by adding 10 feet to the front of the structure. Maseun poured a 10×20-foot pad. Next, he reused a partition wall that originally separated the granary. “I cut that 2×6-inch wall into 10-foot-long sections and placed them on the concrete floor extension,” he says.

The building's original rafters were modified to raise its ceiling height. Maseun nailed 2×6-inch bottom rails high enough up the roof's rafters to create enough ceiling space (roughly 14 feet from floor to ceiling) to accommodate an auto lift. The modified structure was then finished off with sheet metal Maseun bought at a salvage auction.

For the building's openings, he hung a 10-foot-wide by 12-foot-high overhead door in the front. The original 11-foot-wide slide door at the rear of the building was retained. “But I added a 9-foot-wide by 11-foot-tall overhead inside. The sliding door was left on the outside to allow me to put insulation between the doors during winter,” he says.

Scored an auto lift and jib crane

With that work and the addition of insulation, electrical wiring (“I put 220-volt outlets in three corners of the shop”), a water line, and an exhaust fan, Maseun's $5,000 shop was a reality. “As luck would have it, after I finished the shop, I was able to buy a used car hoist on a dealership auction. Man, is that invaluable,” he says.

Maseun installed a used jib crane in the southwest corner of the shop. “I bought it from my brother-in-law,” he says. “When I was pouring that extra concrete pad in front, I placed the jib's stand pipe 2 feet deep and filled in the approximately 4-foot-diameter hole with concrete.”

The shop's value to Maseun's farm is incalculable. “It's hard to describe — going from nothing to a great shop setup. It's unbelievable. While I can't get my combine or planter in the shop, there is a 15×40-foot cement slab by a nearby shed that I park on when I work on larger equipment.”

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