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Steel I-beams
25 May 2006


Egg drop The barn has walls!  Some walls at least.  The lower "basement" level is completely framed and the room directly above it is almost completely framed.  There's even a second story window high enough for Emily to test her "egg drop" project for school.  We have plenty of eggs for testing but only needed one, Emily's egg made the drop unharmed.  Maybe some day she'll be able to test it from the third floor instead of just the second floor.

Truck The main section of the barn is a large 24'x24' area with no posts in the middle.  With 10' high ceilings, it will make an excellent work space with room for the tractor or any other large equipment I need to drive through there.  The only problem is the structural requirements for such a large span.  Since barns are officially considered commercial buildings they must be rated to 100psf instead of the 40psf of a typical house.  Building codes don't care that I'll never have that kind of weight upstairs on the coffee drying deck.  So I had to use three large I-beams and six steel posts to support that section of the barn.

The I-beams are WF12x16 which means Wide Flange, 12 inches high, 16 pounds per foot.  At 24'5" each I-beam is just over 390 pounds.  That's light for a steel I-beam but still way too heavy to move around casually.  With a little grunting, I can pick up and move one end of the beam at a time.  Moving the entire beam at once requires a crane.

Lifting Tacking

The first challenge was getting all the steel from the local steel supplier up to the farm.  Not a problem with the help of my neighbor Eli and his flatbed pickup with a hydraulic crane on it.  He loaded up those I-beams and steel posts as if it were nothing.

The next challenge was getting all the steel welded into place.  My step father is a professional welder (Ace Mobile Welding if you're local and looking for a welder) and he was just the man for the job.  The only hitch is that he was only available on weekends while Eli and his crane were only available on weekdays.  So I conned Eli into climbing up my rickety ladder and tack welding the I-beams into place.  Again, Eli got the job done as if it were nothing.  Even more amazing when you consider that Eli is 72.  I hope I'm still able to climb ladders and weld steel when I'm 72.  I certainly owe Eli a few favors.

Ace Once the I-beams were in place, Ace came by to finish the job.  My exact orders were "weld the snot out of it."  That he did.  Those I-beams aren't going anywhere now.  The welds look good too.  Of course, once the I-beams were done I found a couple other welding jobs that also needed to be done.  Having a professional welder and all his equipment on the farm was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.  By the way, a good wire welder is on my wish-list of farm equipment.  In the mean time, I'm glad I have such good help.

Oh yeah, and my friend Matt helped some too.  But that doesn't mean we're even for the work I did on his roof.  He still has to help more.  And if his roof leaks it's not my fault.

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