By Ronald Ahrens
The 252,000-bushel Bushland, Tex., elevator that today remains in pristine condition was built by Tillotson Construction Co., of Omaha, in 1950 and followed the plan for single-leg elevators established the year before at Dike, Iowa.
Notes on the plan specify eight tanks, or silos, of 18 feet in diameter rising to 120 feet in height–certainly the tallest thing in Bushland, an unincorporated town that sits between cropland and rangeland.
Even today Bushland has just 130 people or so, and none paid attention to me as I photographed the elevator from every good angle.
The job 68 years ago required the careful mixing of 2,066 cubic yards of concrete from the sand pile on the site. It would be reinforced with 109.37 tons of steel. At least I think that’s the number in the company records. That line got pinched in the copying process. But 109 tons is consistent with the amount used in other elevators of similar size. The 252,000-bushel elevator built the same year in Pond Creek, Okla.–another on the Dike plan and one of two dozen Tillotson jobs in that bounteous year–used 112.91 tons of steel.
The hoppers required another 40 cubic yards in which no reinforcing steel was used.
The 21-inch-thick main slab covered 60 x 72.5 feet. A note on slab’s area saying “Act. outside on ground” records a total of 4,200 square feet. We get 4,350 square feet when we multiply those numbers. How to account for the discrepancy?
When loaded with up to 7,560 tons of grain, the elevator could achieve a gross weight of 12,880 tons. So there was never a danger of jealous farmers sneaking over at night from Wildorado, down the road to the west, and towing it away on a flatbed.
The cupola, or headhouse, was 24.5 feet wide, 50.25 feet long, and 40 feet high.
With a pit depth of 14 feet 9 inches, there was a distance of 165.25 feet between the leg’s pulley centers.
In the construction record’s Machinery Details section we find a note that says: “LIKE POND CREEK.” That means the boot pulley was 72 x 14 x 2 3/16 inches. The head pulley, as we found in our earlier visit to Canyon, Tex., was the same except for being 1.75 inches wider.
It turned at 42 rpm, cranking the 14-inch, six-ply belt and it’s cups that measured 12 x 6 inches at 8.5 inches o.c. The head drive had a 40-horsepower Howell motor.
Theoretical leg capacity according the cup manufacturer’s rating was 7,920 bushels per hour. But actual capacity being 80 percent of that, the leg delivered 6,340 bushels per hour, demanding only 32 hp of the motor.
The man lift had a 1.5-hp electric motor. The truck lift had a 7.5-hp Ehrsam. Some day, after our road trip series ends, we need to write a post about Jürgen Ehrsam, inventor, who sounds like a fascinating subject.