The curved headhouse exemplifies the Tillotson style at Vail, Iowa.
Story and photos by Kristen Cart
An overexposed image brought out the Tillotson name on the blue port cover.
During our travels, we are always on the lookout for a Tillotson elevator, so coming across the Vail elevator in the eastern part of Iowa during a Thanksgiving visit was a pleasant surprise.
The trademark curved headhouse came into sight at a distance, and with some excitement we pulled over near the elevator, hoping to find an embossed manhole cover to confirm the builder. Painted blue, about halfway up the side above a loading spout, was a steel cover with its stamped name, “Tillotson Construction Co., 1955, Omaha Nebr.,” faintly visible in the late afternoon shadow.
We needn’t have looked. The Vail elevator is among the structures detailed in the Tillotson concrete elevator specifications, which span over fifteen years.
In a brisk, chill wind, I took some quick photographs (interrupted briefly when a railroad employee warned me to keep a respectful distance from the tracks), and then I dashed back into the warmth of the truck. “Vail, Iowa,” was a familiar name. When I checked, I found it was listed in the rich store of information that Tim Tillotson provided.
Below are the specifications for the elevator at Vail, Iowa, built in 1955.
The elevator was built using the “Manson plan,” which specified 5 bins with a 16 ft diameter and 120 ft height, a 13 x 17 ft driveway, a dust bin and fan, a dryer bin, and 16 bins and overflow.
Capacity per Plans (with Pack) 152,000 bushels
Capacity per foot of height 1,551 bushels
Reinforced concrete/plans (Total) 1,552 cubic yards
Plain concrete (hoppers) 27 cubic yards
Reinforced steel/Plans (includes jack rods) 69.5 tons
Average steel per cubic yard of reinforced concrete 89.8 pounds
Steel & reinforced concrete itemized per plans
Below main slab 5,457 lb/64 cu yd
Main slab 19,460 lb/186 cu yd
Drawform walls 88,017 lb/1087 cu yd
Work & driveway floor (including columns) 1,988 lb/18.5 cu yd
Deep bin bottoms 5,261 lb/28.5 cu yd
Overhead bin bottoms 2,949 lb/22.1 cu yd
Bin roof & Extens. roofs 5,287 lb/35.8 cu yd
Scale floor (complete) 292 lb/4.8 cu yd
Cupola walls (including leg and head) 5,590 lb/63.0 cu yd
Distributor floor 1,530 lb/11.0 cu yd
Cupola roof 1,760 lb/14.0 cu yd
Miscellaneous (track sink, steps) 1,107 lb/15.0 cu yd
Main slab dimensions (Drive length first dimen.) 54 x 51 ft
Main slab area (actual outside on ground, less pit) 2,482 sq ft
Weight of reinforced (total) concrete (4,000 lb/cu yd + steel) 3,173 tons
Weight of plan concrete (hoppers 4,000 lb/cu yd) 96 tons
Weight hopper fill sand (3,000 lb/cu yd) 615 tons
Weight of grain (at 60 lb per bushel) 4,560 tons
Weight of structural steel & machinery 18 tons
Gross weight loaded 8,462 tons
Bearing pressure 3.4 tons per sq ft
Main slab thickness 24 in
Main slab steel (bent) number 9 at 7 inches
Tank steel at bottom (round tanks) number 4 at 12 inches
Lineal feet of drawform walls and extensions 526 ft
Height of drawform walls 120 ft
Pit depth below main slab 16 ft 3 in
Cupola dimensions (W x L x Ht.) 22.25 x 42.5 x 26.5 ft
Pulley centers 152.75 ft
Number of legs 1
Distributor floor Yes
Track sink Yes
Full basement Yes
Electrical room Yes
Driveway width–clear 13 ft
Dump grate size 5 x 9 and 15 x 9 ft
Columns under tanks size 16 inches square
Boot — leg & head Concrete
Head pulley size 72 x 14 x 4 9/16 in
Boot pulley size 72 x 14 in
Head pulley rpm 42
Belt 330 ft, 14 in 6 ply calumet
Cups 12 x 6 in at 10 1/2 in
Head drive Howell 30 horsepower, 4
Theoretical leg capacity (cup manufacturer rating) 6,440 bushels per hour
Actual leg capacity (80 percent of theoretical) 5,150 bushels per hour
Horsepower required for leg (based on above actual capacity plus 15 percent for motor) 23.8 hp
Man lift 1.5 horsepower Ehr
Load out scale 10 bu
Load out spout 8.25 inch W.C.
Truck lift 7.5 horsepower Ehr
Dust collector system Fan → Bin
Cupola spouting 10 inch diam.
Driveway doors Two overhead rolling
Main slab includes 3 in pile cap 23 cu yd
Split one overhead bin
Dust bin and fan
Hang pit 3,126
Special track sink