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How to Build a Grain Bin Hopper: An Illustrated Guide

Joy worked in construction for 7 years alongside her husband (25+ yrs. experience)—working on pole barns, grain bins, and barn repairs.

Grain Bins with Hoppers in the Sunrise

These grain bins are all 18-foot diameter bins set onto hoppers. They have a capacity of well over 4,000 bushels.

These grain bins are all 18-foot diameter bins set onto hoppers. They have a capacity of well over 4,000 bushels.

Hopper Building Overview

Hoppers typically are manufactured to be shipped in two halves on a flatbed trailer. These halves are bolted together, with a silicone sealant being used heavily at the seams.

This job can easily be done by two people.

Once the hopper is together, it is set in place using a tractor with bucket or forks, or a forklift as a hoist. Anchor bolts are set through the feet.

At this point a completed grain bin may be installed on it.

Other Components

We do not show the installation of components such as augers and fans, as they are subjects unto themselves, and can vary tremendously from one manufacturer and type to another.

Finished Hopper

This hopper is built and waiting until its corresponding bin is completed.

This hopper is built and waiting until its corresponding bin is completed.

Grain Bin Hopper Halves Ready to be Unloaded

This newly-arrived hopper is ready to be taken off the truck using a loader and chains.

This newly-arrived hopper is ready to be taken off the truck using a loader and chains.

Tools and Supplies

  • A way to move the hopper
  • Drift punches, medium length (10 inches at least)--1 minimum for each crew member
  • 9/16-inch box-end wrenches (2 at least), with long handles
  • High quality impact wrench
  • Hearing protection--preferably ear-muff or electronic type
  • Work gloves which allow for dexterity (optional)
  • Comfortable work boots with decent tread, hard toes optional
  • Work clothes which will not snag or allow you to get hurt easily
  • Vice grips, high quality (hopefully optional)
  • Slipjoint pliers (optional, but can be handy)
  • Tool pouch/apron, or coffee cans/small buckets for hardware (a small pouch is annoying as it must be refilled often, and is hard to reach into)
  • Silicone sealant for hopper seams
  • Mastic, if prefered as a sealant at seams (aka single bead tape roof sealant).

    Mastic can be found using the search words: Single Bead Tape Roof Sealant Metal Sales

  • Lighting for working at night (optional)
  • A grain bin and all components from a reputable dealer
  • Site preparation equipment and abilities, including concrete working skills
  • 6 sack concrete mix or better, with appropriate reinforcements

Hardware Tightening Specifications

How much to tighten the nuts is determined by the size and grade of bolts. Please refer to your manual or info sheet for torque specifications.

For these hoppers, the bolts were 1/2-inch, and their steel quality was 5 grade.

1/2-inch 5 grade bolts=80 to 90 foot pounds.

In general, you want to tighten the nuts until they are singing soprano.

Listening carefully will soon allow you to determine by sound how much is just-enough versus too much torque. Try not to strip bolts, but don't under-tighten them, and so give yourself problems in the future. Leaks are no fun to fix, and nobody wants spoilt grain or lost time during harvest.

Sealing Notes

Materials

Silicone sealant for hopper seams

Spray foam, hot rubber sealant and/or tar pad for sealing the rim to the grain bin. Keywords for looking up tar pad are: AST HI-acrylic Ash, ASH 50-25-04 Exterior Sealant Tape

Sealing Hoppers

  • Hoppers are typically sealed with silicone along all seams and at all junctions with components such as aeration tubes, augers, and slide gates.
  • Because hoppers are notoriously difficult to fix, it is better to overdo the job the first time. During assembly, a swath of sealant is applied liberally at the seams.
  • After the bin is in place, all bolt holes near the rim are sealed with silicone and/or sprayed with a foam sealant from the inside.
  • As components are installed, care is taken to ensure that all seams and bolt holes are properly sealed.
  • It is much simpler to do all this properly before grain dust makes the hopper interior slick.

Sealant Comparisons

Component Additions

Hoppers are generally designed to include features such as unloading augers, fans, and aeration tubes.

These components can be added after the grain bin is installed on the hopper and sealed at the rim with spray foam or tar/hot rubber sealant.

Setting the Bin on the Hopper

A crane is used to set the grain bin on the hopper. This is a dangerous, delicate task that also requires a ground crew to help position and stabilize the bin.

We cover how this is done in a separate article. For now, start looking for a reputable crane operator who will not jeapardise the grain bin or crew.

Grain Bin Lifting Frames, Big Hopper Bottom Installation

How to Apply Silicone or Caulk Like a Pro

Smaller Bin Hoppers

A number of smaller hopper bottom grain bin designs have been marketed over the years. These are often used to house small amounts of grains kept for seed, or contain grain mixtures for feeding livestock on private farms.

Below are two examples of these bins.

Small Hopper Bottom Bin Erection

Previous and Next

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2020 Joilene Rasmussen

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