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article number 45
article date 08-22-2011
copyright 2011 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Intriguing Structure and Function of a Small Private Grain Elevator
by Stu Moment

A couple of miles south of Philo, Illinois, on State Route 130 there is an intriguing structure on a farm, a small size grain elevator which has the same look as the full size, coop grain elevator located in most of our small towns. I stopped in for a closer look and information.

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The “head house” in the middle of the complex contains the mechanisms for unloading corn from grain trucks plus reloading the stored corn. The trucks drop their corn through a grate in the floor where it feeds the bucket elevator about 10 feet to the side. The bucket elevator consists of two tubes which contain a loop of plastic buckets mounted on a belt. The buckets dump the grain when they turn upside-down at the top of the elevator.

The head house also acts as a garage for the grain trucks.

Bucket elevator. Up and down tubes contain plastic buckets mounted on a belt loop.

The corn may be routed to one of three bins. There are two bins with a 25,000 bushel capacity and one bin with a 16000 bushel capacity for a total of 66,000 bushels. Assuming a good year where the land has yields of 200 bushels of corn per acre, this elevator can store 66,0000/200 = 330 acres of corn … not bad, although probably not enough capacity for a whole operation these days, as bigger operations become the norm.

Grain can be routed to one of three bins.

The bins have low temperature dryers. When it is time to take the dried corn to market, the head house contains a system to bring the corn from any of the three bins to a chute above the truck. This truck loading chute is located above the same area where the grain is dumped from the truck into the grate.

Truck loader chute above grain truck.

Why have your own grain elevator? More control of market timing plus the cost of grain drying may be cheaper.

Why don’t we see more private elevators? This elevator was built in the 1970’s and has paid off many times. Building one today may not have a quick payoff.

Awesome view of the bucket elevator. This 110 foot tall structure withstands the occasional high winds of the Midwest.
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