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Grain Bin Building Idea?

 
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I'll make this short and sweet since I'm new and have not even introduced myself!  I am Jeff Thorsgaard (This is my real name) I live in very extreme North Central North Dakota.

I have an idea for grain bin building, but not firring up a structure inside with conventional stuff, but somehow stuff a 16 foot diameter bin inside an 18 foot diameter one...Cement floor with buried PEX tubing in case I want floor heat, vent holes cut and framed in for possible thermo-siphon solar, windows, etc.

Then, fill that one foot wide gap with I was thinking cellulose blown in?  I have sat out some pretty windy conditions in an empty bin and they block wind very well.

Seeing people build shacks or even tiny houses out of a small 18' diameter (what? 2500 bushel?) bin just is VERY intriguing....and I have at least 6 of them to play around with.

Shoot me ideas, thoughts, pics - whatever.
-Jeff
 
Posts: 245
Location: Northern New Mexico, Latitude:35 degrees N, Elevation:6000'
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What a creative idea!  It's one of those ideas that makes me go....why didn't I think of that.?

I don't really think I have anything useful to add.  I just wanted to say that I like the idea.

Will you build the roof on the smaller inner bin as well and blow insulation on top of it?

This is kinda making me rethink my earthbag dome home.  I could still use earth though and fill the gap with rammed earth so that I would have the thermal mass which would suit my environment.  I could do three of them as well.  The inner gap filled with earth.  Then the outer gap filled with insulation.  This would be a much quicker build, I would think, than filling bags as well.  WOW...thank you for sharing!

I hope you keep us updated if you follow through with the idea.
 
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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That seems like a nifty idea to me.  I'm not enough of an expert to know for sure, but you may want to check with an insulator on how condensation on either of the grain bin walls will affect the cellulose.  I'm not sure where the condensation would occur but it's definitely worth thinking about.
 
Posts: 39
Location: Oklahoma Panhandle
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It sounds like you have quite a bit figured out.  That would be easy to heat.  Probably ride out one of your blizzards with a light bulb or candle for heat.  You could get the slab poured and 16 footer set in place.  It'd cost money but you could hire a small crane or cherry picker, drop the cable through the fill hole on top, tie off to a tire and rim, pick it up and set the 18 foot bin over the smaller bin.  They don't weigh as much as you'd think.  You might be able to set it over with a sky track loader if it has the weight capacity.  
 
Bryan Elliott
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Location: Oklahoma Panhandle
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Joshua,
The smaller bin will already have a peak roof on it.  It'd be a natural to just go ahead and insulate it.  Cylinders handle internal pressure better than external forces so keep that in mind on the rammed earth.  I don't know the limits so don't let that discourage you, just something to consider.
Jeff-a tiny house with (I think) more attractive design options.  Wind, rain, hail, and fire resistant also.
 
Jeff Thorsgaard
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I hope I'm not being patronized.  I'd thought rammed earth or as you say EarthBags, but in this frozen tundra (well, like 8 or so months of it), I'd think thermal mass would lose a lot of heat to "God's Country" rather than to Jeff.  I roughly figgered it out as around a thousand bucks' insulation not incl the roof (sweet idea, btw).. I REALLY like the sounds of the cob rocket mass heat hearth bench..  I dunno.  I'd like to make something that's totally off-grid, as a buddy of mine simply wanted to use a bin for a sort of hunting shack, and I thought insulation would be nice.

The condensation issue is the science part that I have no way of understanding - but I know someone out there does, and that is why I came here.

Again, I'm Jeff in cold ND and I like the replies I've gotten so far..
 
Mike Jay
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Never fear, you aren't being patronized  It is a neat idea.  I think I've heard that the rammed earth/earth bags/adobe or other soil based systems are likely to work better in hot climates where they can act as thermal mass to moderate temperatures.  If you moderate your grain bin to the ambient temperature in North Dakota, you'll freeze to death in no time.  Up north we need insulation to keep our heat and then thermal mass can help to keep the temperatures from fluctuating (in my humble opinion).

 
Mike Jay
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Oh, one other thought...  You may want to insulate around the perimeter of the slab (or under it).  Otherwise you may have a really cold floor when the frost gets under it.  
 
Jeff Thorsgaard
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 I think the contractors up here recommend that, but, of course, I would be the guy doing the work, just have a truck come in and pour...lol

Saw a show on the boobtube where this couple in either central or Southern Montana built an EarthBag (filled with scoria) then used a grain bin roof on it... They were running quickly out of Fall so they decided to build the roof on the ground then have a crane lift it up (the wheel way) - and I was quite surprised to see that it didn't work well for them at all!  I had thought it would have just been cake, but they eventually and ultimately decided, Nope, they had to un-assemble it and re-do it topside (bummer)!  Now I can surmise lifting a whole bin that way would be much better since the structure of "Le Cirque" would help to hold it together.

A few ideas rolled into my head while I was thinking of this...  What to use as alternate insulation.  Fiberglass (yuk), simply shredded paper (untreated), foam packing peanuts (I'd think that would be super environmentally friendly), like before mentioned Rammed Earth (I likened the idea of R.E. to a regular ol' block-n-mortar building sans insulation up here and trying to heat it...haha), or just plain ol' store bought cellulose.......  The packing peanuts I think is cool cause they're virtually free, but I've read several places where they allow a lot of air movement.  Now once again in a pretty-much airtight (relatively) situation as this, you'd almost have to think that even just an air space between skins would act as somewhat of an insulator..  ....Argon?  LOL....

I keep thinking of those horribly overpriced beer coolers (Think the Himalayan version of Bigfoot) which are essentially doubly insulated "grain bins"...  If ya got well-sealed pneumonia holes, chances of retaining heat *either inside or outside* are way gooder.

I like to think a lot, and usually when I build something I do far better without a plan, so I'm quite afraid to make any plans per se.. Only problem there is if I wanted to wire or plumb or anything like that, You'd think running all that along the outside of the inside wall would be tidy..The plain utilitarian side of me would say that conduit and plumbing mounted to the inside tho could be made attractive too, as... well look... It's a corrugated metal BIN.  Haha..

The whole neatness of the idea sounds too enticing not to do!  Pour a pad, bolt a bin down to it, then set another bin on top and bolt it down, too...open the top hatch and essentially blow in insulation.  Done.  More or less...

-Jeff
 
Joshua Parke
Posts: 245
Location: Northern New Mexico, Latitude:35 degrees N, Elevation:6000'
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No patronizing whatsoever.  It's genuinely a creative idea that I really like. :-)  I wouldn't suggest you build an earthen home in your environment either, it would most likely become a fridge in the cold months with no hope of ever warming it.  A thermal mass home works great in my area, but I believe it will be even more efficient if I insulate it on the outside, so that's what I have plans for.  I think it's excellent advice for you to insulate below your floor to prevent the frost from creeping in, your radiant floor heat would work even better as well.  I even have neighbors in my area that recommend insulating below the floor.

I like the idea of blown in cellulose insulation.  It would be real simple and quick.  I'm wondering if clean straw would work?  Pop open the bales, fluff the straw into a pile, then fill the gap and tamp down..??  I like the straw idea for me because I wouldn't be able to get a large truck out here to blow in the insulation.  Shredding the straw first would probably work even better?

Bryan - thanks for the tip about the external pressures.  I started looking up grain bins trying to find any info.  I'm wondering if I can build up small layers of a couple feet at a time using some type of earth mixture that will stabilize/set so that the pressures won't compound as I continue higher.  I still have lots to look up and think about.  I sorta know an engineer who's been researching rammed earth structures that may be able to help me out with this idea.

I really like this idea.  Building an earthbag dome home would take me years to accomplish.  This idea would most likely allow me to build my home in a fraction of the time.  :-)
 
Jeff Thorsgaard
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For the people who understand equations, there's a site that figures out pressures of grain in grain bins
https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4615-0085-8_12
-Jeff
 
Jeff Thorsgaard
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I can't believe this but this one site talks about "my" idea!  LOL

https://www.builddirect.com/blog/grain-bins-and-silos-as-alternative-housing/
-Jeff
 
Bryan Elliott
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Location: Oklahoma Panhandle
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Jeff,
There is an article in August-September, 2010 Mother Earth News that mentions using two grain bins and insulating between them.  It also explains how to put the outside bin over the inner.
Joshua,
I was thinking in terms of external pressures like you would get burying or back filling earth against the sides of a grain bin.  You probably wouldn't have a problem with your idea of using them for a rammed earth form.  You could always bolt stiffeners against the outside walls of the inner bin if you were concerned.
I enjoy reading of alternative building ideas.  There is a lot on the internet on this method.
 
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
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Something to ponder on is how you might secure the two bins to the concrete pad so they don't blow away, and so drafts and critter don't find their way in. You might need to pour the pad around it so it's set 6 inches or so into the actual concrete, but then you have a potential problem with water making its way into the channel so you'll also need some flashing...
 
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