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Innovative Farm Shop Design Makes for Smarter Work

Joe Vinton of Glenwood, Iowa, embodies the motto work smarter, not harder. In his shop, Vinton built a 30-foot swing crane to offer an extra helping hand when he works alone.

“The swing boom is used almost daily for one reason or another,” Vinton says. “The older I get, the more I realize how much easier it is on my body to have this extra help lifting when needed.”

Vinton uses the hoist for anything from removing duals to servicing the mower deck. The crane can even remove a combine engine since the hoist allows for a full 16 feet of lift height.

How It’s Made

Nearly all parts of the crane were locally sourced, utilizing used iron from the farm and an oil gas line section for the pipe.

The gas line is only ½-inch thick and 2 feet in diameter. Both ends were capped, and the bottom end has several shafts running through it to anchor the crane. Vinton buried it 6 feet deep into rebar-reinforced concrete. The pipe stands at 18 feet and pivots a 30-foot-long H-beam. The horizontal beam measures 18×8 inches with ½-inch flanges. With a full 1-ton load at its end, the beam flexes 1.5 inches.

“The head of the crane was built around an electric pallet jack frame with a top bearing from a semitrailer axle shaft and hub,” Vinton explains. “The lower bearings were from a salvaged electric forklift.”

The crane covers nearly 80% of the 60×124-foot shop with sidewalls extending up 19 feet. To handle the lifting, the jib style crane has a 2-ton air hoist and a 1-ton electric hoist. Combined, the head components weigh in at a hefty 2 tons. 

Shop Design

The shop, built in 2001, features more than just the crane. The shop has a pass-through, 30-foot bifold door that allows for access from the shop into the machinery shed without opening up the building to the outdoors. Not only does this mean the family saves on its heating bill, but also that they can stay inside in the winter since bigger heads can get through the door.

The shop features a second deck level, which has Vinton’s mill, big dill press, air compressor, and plenty of room for parts storage. Their crane makes it possible to move heavy equipment upstairs that they might not otherwise be able to carry.

To secure the shop, Vinton leaves nothing to chance. He has an alarm system to alert the service provider to call the authorities if there are any attempted break-ins. There is also a security cage under the shop’s overhead deck that houses special tools. One wall of the cage is a steel cabinet that can be locked to secure special electric and air tools.

Vinton was thinking ahead when he broke ground for his shop in 2001. The innovative design was set up to allow for easy future expansion.

“Our shop design serves us quite well, but it continues to be a work in progress. We’d still like to add a lathe, press, and more as used equipment becomes available,” he says.

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