By Ronald Ahrens
The 212,000-bushel elevator that Tillotson Construction Co., of Omaha, built at Follett, Tex., in 1945, followed the plan that had been established at Medford, Okla., four years earlier.
Follett had the distinction of being a less common twin-leg elevator.
Farnsworth, not far away, also got two legs that year, but it had its own unique plan and was a much larger house with 350,000-bushel capacity.
It’s hard to know what the co-op had in mind when placing the order, but evidently they wanted to be able to move grain in a hurry. Another way Follett was unusual was its having a central driveway and outside driveway.
The Follett job required 1,975 cubic yards of reinforced concrete and, for the hoppers, 19 cubic yards of plain concrete.
It used 86.5 tons of reinforcing steel, a material that was now more available as the effort to defeat the Japanese in the Pacific concluded. (The dates of construction are unknown and whether this job took place before or after the surrender announced on Aug. 15.)
We don’t know the total cost less commission, but Burlington, Okla., another 1945 job, another adherent of the Medford plan, had the same dimensions and capacity. Burlington cost $69,819.15. Reginald O. Tillotson didn’t want that dime and nickel to get away.
We do know labor rates. The company paid $1.00 per hour straight and $1.25 overtime. This was up sharply from Burlington and Lamont, Okla., where they paid 70 cents straight and $1.25 overtime. In Cherokee, they got 75 cents straight! The scarcity of male laborers had expanded. I would think anyone going up to the heavens on the drawform would have been crazy; those daring souls would have thought it crazy to make women do that work.
Like Medford–as well as Thomas, Burlington, Cherokee, and Lamont, Okla., Elkhart, Kan., and in neighboring Booker, Tex.–the Follett elevator sat on a 21-inch-thick slab covering an area 51 x 65.5 feet. All are listed at 3,134 square feet, less than the 3,340 square feet our calculations produce. There are confusing notes about the 51 x 65.5 square feet being “outside on ground” and the 3,340 square feet being “actual.”
Fully loaded, it weighed 10,798 tons. The silos were 120 feet high, and the headhouse –you see how massive–measured 21.5 feet wide, 50.5 feet wide, and 52 feet high. At 172 feet, this is the tallest Tillotson elevator I’d visited. As my father would have said, “It’s a big ‘un.”
In the leg, the pulley centers stretched to 180.58 feet apart. Again, I hadn’t seen such a big stretch in this period. The boot pulleys were 24 x 14 x 2 3/16 inches. The head was 72 x 14 x 3 15/16 inches. Tillotson would switch to much larger boot pulleys in 1946.
The pulleys turned at 42 rpm. On Follett’s page of records, the speed of pulleys varies from 38 rpm (Douglas, Okla.) to 48 rpm (Minatare, Neb.).
The six-ply Calumet belts were 14 inches wide, and the cups were 12 x 5 inches at nine-inch intervals.
The head drive turned with energy supplied by two 30-horse Howell motors. Theoretical leg capacity, listed at 5,120 bushels per hour, far exceeded actual capacity of 4,100 bushels per hour. So 22.4 horsepower was needed to operate the leg. I’m assuming the bushels-per-hour figure applies to each leg. Yes, it was a co-op in a hurry.
A 3-horse motor–no record of the make–operated the man lift. A 7.5-horse Ehrsam motor operated the truck lift, and a 3-horse motor was for the dust collection system.
No special notes pertain to Follett. Farnsworth’s entry bears the note, “Cupola not built per plans.” One can only imagine!