Story and photos by Kristen Cart
On our last elevator road trip, which our family embarked upon in October 2012, we visited many of our grandfathers’ elevator projects from the 1940s and 50s. But we also amassed a photo collection of elevators we could not place. Either the grain cooperatives were closed for business on a Sunday, or the elevators were retired, or we didn’t have time to stop for an interview. So the photos languished for most of a year, until Ronald Ahrens and I could identify them, even though we strongly suspected that the structures were the works of one of our grandfathers.
One of the mystery elevators was a pure white example, located in the north-central Kansas town of Jamestown. Ronald’s uncle, Tim Tillotson, recently handed us the Omaha builder’s construction specifications, which finally identified this handsome elevator as a project built in 1953 by the Tillotson Construction Company.
The Jamestown elevator stands not far from a companion elevator, rising alone on a fork of the railroad track. The smaller elevator was built in a straight-up style that predates the more common Tillotson style, and it’s provenance is unknown. It is reminiscent of the style of the elevator built by Tillotson Construction in Greenwood, Neb., but without the curved headhouse. But it also recalls several Chalmers and Borton examples.
It is our good fortune to have the detailed specifications for the Jamestown elevator. Thanks to the Tillotson Company’s meticulous record keeping and the decades-long survival of the records, we can share the construction details of this remarkable structure. The specifications, for the engineering-minded among our readers, are presented below.
Capacity per Plans (with Pack) 155,320 bushels
Capacity per foot of height 1581 bushels
Reinforced concrete/plans (Total) 1530 cubic yards
Plain concrete (hoppers & liner) 17 cubic yards
Reinforced steel/Plans (includes jack rods) 69.38 tons
Average steel per cubic yard of reinforced concrete 90.6 pounds
Steel & reinforced concrete itemized per plans
Below main slab 4260 lb/52 cu yd
Main slab 19,427 lb/160 cu yd
Drawform walls 89,400 lb/1107 cu yd
Work & driveway floor (including columns) 1997 lb/18.5 cu yd
Deep bin bottoms 5236 lb/28.5 cu yd
Overhead bin bottoms 3175 lb/24 cu yd
Bin roof & extended roofs (or corner) 5139 lb/37.4 cu yd
Scale floor (complete) 292 lb/4.8 cu yd
Cupola walls 4897 lb/52.5 cu yd
Distributor floor 1530 lb/11 cu yd
Cupola roof 2207 lb/14 cu yd
Miscellaneous (boot, leg, head, track sink, steps, etc.) 1205 lb/20.3 cu yd (excluding track scale)
(At the head of the column on the next page, the Jamestown elevator was described thus: “Clifton Imo plan; Like Meno but split dust bin for Bin #17”)
Main slab dimensions (Drive length first dimen.) 54 x 51 feet
Main slab area (actual outside on ground) 2625 square feet
Weight of reinforced (total) concrete (4000#/cu yd + steel) 3130 tons
Weight of plain concrete (4000#/cu yd) 34 tons
Weight hopper fill sand (3000#/cu yd) 684 tons
Weight of grain (at 60# per bushel) 4660 tons
Weight of structural steel & machinery 18 tons
Gross weight loaded 8526 tons
Bearing pressure 3.25 tons per sq ft
Main slab thickness 21 inches
Main slab steel (bent) 1 in diameter at 7 inch o.c.
Tank steel at bottom (round tanks) 0.5 inch diameter at 12 inch o.c.
Lineal feet of drawform walls 514 feet including exterior
Height of drawform walls 120 feet
Pit depth below main slab 15 feet 9 inches
Cupola dimensions (outside W x L x Ht.) 22.25 x 42.5 x 26 feet
Pulley centers 152.66 feet
Number of legs 1
Distributor floor Yes
Track sink Yes
Full basement Yes
Electrical room Yes
Driveway width–clear 13 feet
Dump grate size 2 @ 9 feet wide
Columns under tanks size 16 inches square
Boot — leg & head Concrete
(The remaining specs were noted “same as Meno.” The Meno specifications are given below.)
Head pulley 72 x 14 x 4 7/16 inches
Boot pulley 72 x 14 x 2 3/16 inches
R.P.M. head pulley 42 rpm
Belt 14 inch 6 ply Calumet
Cups 12 x 6 inch at 9 inch o.c. Howell
Head drive 40 horsepower
Theoretical leg capacity (cup manufacturer rating) 7500 bushels per hour
Actual leg capacity (80 percent of theoretical) 6000 bushels per hour
Horsepower required for leg (based on above actual capacity plus 15 percent for motor) 27.75 hp
Man lift 1.5 horsepower Ehr
Load out scale 10 bushel Rich
Load out spout 10 inch W.C.
Truck lift 7.5 horsepower Ehr.
Cupola spouting 8.25 inch W.C.
Truck lift 7.5 horsepower Ehr
Dust collector system Fan → Bin
Cupola Spouting 10 inch W.C.
Driveway doors Two overhead rolling
Conveyor Not required
(Items below were listed for Meno; it is not clear whether these were also built at Jamestown)
60 foot 50 ton scale: 40 cu yd
2 sk’ing spts (scaffolding supports?)
- Full specifications of Tillotson Construction’s elevator in Moscow, Kansas (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com)
- A photo tour at Kanorado, Kansas reveals J. H. Tillotson design details (ourgrandfathersgrainelevators.com)