Story by Ronald Ahrens
The Vinton Street elevator in Omaha was a significant job for Tillotson Construction Company, being a technical challenge to the nine-year-old outfit and representing a major emphasis in its subsequent marketing effort.
Lucky for us, much attention was paid to taking good photos of the elevator, including some early color images that include views of the construction process. These photos were in the hands of Uncle Tim Tillotson, who passed them to us for scanning. The color ones came from a viewer that was presumably shown to prospective clients.
With its headhouse accommodating three legs to lift the grain, it was tall. Exactly how tall isn’t recorded, but it probably came within sniffing distance of 200 feet. Only a few of the city’s downtown office towers surpassed its height, although they weren’t necessarily better-looking.
This terminal elevator had capacity of 382,880 bushels, and the legs handled distribution of the grain inside the main house.
It also was a showcase that family and friends could see for themselves. Until then, Tillotson Construction had been building elevators in Texas and Oklahoma as well as some less far-flung places.
The elevator was completed in 1950 on a South Omaha greenfield site at 34th and Vinton Streets. The company’s office at 12th and Jones was only three miles away.
Another reason for its significance is that Reginald and Margaret Tillotson’s oldest son Charles went to work as an apprentice carpenter and hod carrier on the job. He helped to build several other elevators over the next few years.
With the Tillotson construction record now in hand, we present the following technical specifications without yet having achieved a full understanding of all the abbreviations and lingo.
Total capacity: 382,880 bushels
Capacity: 38,878 bushels per foot
Reinforced concrete: 4776 cubic yards
Plain concrete (hoppers): 35.3 cubic yards
Reinforcing steel (includes jack rods): 286.5 tons
Average steel per cubic yard of reinforced concrete: 120 lb
Construction of the hoist very early in the process of building the Vinton Street elevator. Note the Georgia buggies near the formwork.
Steel and Concrete
Below main slab: 20,932 lb/223 c.y.
Main slab: 66,579 lb/618 c.y.
Drawform walls: 233,927 lb/2100 c.y.
Driveway and work floor: no figure for steel/17 c.y.
Deep bin bottoms (including columns): no figure for steel/155 c.y.
O.H. bin bottoms: no figure for steel/40 c.y.
Bin root: no figure given for steel/90 c.y.
Scale floor (or garner, complete): no figure for steel/17 c.y.
Cupola (headhouse) walls: no figures
Distributor floor (cleaner floor): no figure for steel/8 c.y.
Cupola roof (gallery): no figure for steel/49 c.y.
Miscellaneous (headhouse): no figure for steel/640 c.y.
Attached driveway: driveway 416 c.y., track shed 403 c.y.
Main slab dimensions: 58 x 119.5 feet
Main slab area (outside on ground): 6690 sq ft
Weight reinforced (total) concrete at 4000 lb per c.y., plus steel: 9838 tons
Weight plain concrete (hoppers, 4000 lb per c.y.): 70.6 tons
Weight hopper fill sand at 3000 lb per c.y.: 439.8 tons
Weight of grain at 60 lb per bushel: 11,490 tons
Weight of structural steel and machinery: 100 tons
Gross weight loaded: 21,938 tons
This extreme view shows the elevator before painting. The individual pours can be seen in the drawform walls of the bins. Click on the photo to enlarge the image, and you’ll note the man leaning out of the window opening on the left.
Bearing pressure: 3.28 tons per sq ft
Main slab thickness: 30 in
Main slab steel: 1 in □ at 7 in o.c.
Tank steel at bottom (round tanks): ⅝ in ⌀ at 8 in o.c.
Lineal feet of drawform walls: 975 ft
Height of drawform walls: 120 ft
Pit depth below main slab: 20 ft, 9 in
Cupola (headhouse) dimensions outside (length x width x height): 24 ft x 52 ft x no figure recorded
Boot pulley: 72 in x 28 in x 3 7/16 in
Head pulley: 72 in x 28 in x 5 15/16 in
RPM head pulley 39 rpm
Belt: leg 26 in x 8-ply, conx 36 in x 4 ply
Cups: 21 x 7 in cal. at 9 in o.c. stag.
Head drive: Link belt, 100 hp
Theoretical leg capacity (Cub manufacturer rating): 17,400 bushels per hour
Actual leg capacity (80 percent of theoretical): 13,900 bushels per hour
HP required for leg (based on above actual plus 15 percent for motor): 89.8 hp
My grandfather used one of the color images from Vinton Street on its business card.
Man lift: 2 – 1.5 hp
Load out scale: Two 2500-bushel hop.
Load out spout: 15-inch diameter
Truck lift: Ehr. semi fans w. col.
Dust collector system: on legs
Cupola spouting: Trolly spouts
Driveway doors: Johnson O.H. rolling
Conveyor: Two 36-in belts and two 30-in belts