The Junk Parlor

Grain Bin Awning | Converting a Morton Building Barn into a Shop | Part 2

I wanted to convert our Morton building into a shop and one way I created the look was with this grain bin awning!

I’m not sure when exactly I came up with the idea, but I wanted to make the front more unique, more like a storefront and less like a Morton building or barn.  But as soon as I got the idea, I was SO excited!!  It was going to look amazing!

But, there was a lot to do before the amazing was going to happen!  I had to find a grain bin!  Now in southern Iowa farm land you’d think locating an old grain bin would be easy, but it was a process.

Did you see Part 1 of the Morton building transformation?  Check it out HERE.

First I found one, for free, and not that far from me.  We got all ready to go get it, but one thing led to another and it just wasn’t going to work out.  Now not only did I need one, but I also needed one the right size. This was pretty stressful for me because it was a big investment, but I wanted it to look good. And size DOES matter!

I didn’t want to put the man doors in the exact center of the building. Yet I didn’t want to make a new hole for the doors either, so I was limited to within the opening from the old sliding door.  I knew that customers will typically turn right when they enter a store. (Get more business tips HERE.) I wanted my checkout counter to be in the front to welcome customers, and I thought in a corner would be best, taking up the least amount of room.  While I want the checkout counter at the front, I also didn’t want customers to walk into the shop and run right into people standing at the checkout line.

All of that being said, I put the door to the far right, or south end of the opening.  Grain bin roofs are pitched, and I had no idea what the pitch would be.  I knew I didn’t want my grain bin awning to go higher than the roof line of the Morton building, yet I wasn’t sure how to calculate that!  The only thing I could do was wish for the best!

Now, what I did was, once I figured out the placement of my front door I went out with a tape measure and calculated how wide I wanted to go with the awning.  I laid out the tape, stepped back and looked, studied, imagined.

At this point it didn’t matter because I didn’t have any grain bin options.

I mentioned to a few farmer friends that I was on the hunt for one.  It didn’t need to be usable because I wasn’t going to use it, just repurpose it.  I wasn’t quite desparate enough to just go door knocking anytime I saw one in a field.

Finally we had a winner.  BUT, it was like an hour and a half away!  Not that big of deal, but you don’t just drive 60mph pulling a grain bin and you don’t just show up and magically get one on a trailer.  So while we were studying how we could haul equipment there, use what the guy is offering up to help us load it, blah, blah, blah, a neighbor says he knows of one I might be able to get!

His neighbor, who is also my neighbor and someone I know, has a couple in his field that got blown over in a tornado!!  Sounds like a winner, right!  I go over to check it out and the thing is HUGE.  There was just something about it that didn’t feel right.  So I talk with them a bit more and turns out on a different piece of land they had another grain bin that they would get rid of!  

Stipulation was that I couldn’t just take the roof, but I had to take the whole thing.  I go inspect that one out and it seemed like a winner!  This one felt more like the right size, had a good look, etc. I took the measurement home and laid out my tape measure.  It seemed to be a good size to cover the width of the french doors. I get my crew to check it out and confirm that we can get it, it will work, etc. Next I sweet talk my dad into getting the rest of the bin that I do not want “letting” him keep it or haul it to the scrap yard. Luckily my dad is retired and likes projects, so he agrees.

One of the best things about THIS grain bin? It was maybe 10 miles away!

Eventually everything gets coordinated and the new grain bin awning goes up. You can WATCH the whole thing!

Now this project ended up being WAY more costly than I originally anticipated! But I absolutely LOVE the finished results!  And if I was to do this all over again, I would only change ONE thing, so pay attention!

We cut the brackets that held the roof to the sides of the grain bin, to the walls.  Then, I took the roof to my welder to stabilize so that we could easily lift the roof up and attach it to my building. See once the roof isn’t attached to the walls, it becomes very flexible and loses its shape.  My welder had to basically make a short 3 inch wall to hold the roof together.

He added a “temporary” bar across the widest point and again at the top for stability, so that the roof would keep its shape until it was attached to the barn.  These bars also provided a way to set the roof on the forklift and raise it.  You can also see and listen to me when I talk about in the video how the top bar allowed us to lift and move the roof into position.

However, we should not have cut the brackets that held the roof to the side walls! We should have taken a plasma cutter and simply cut the side walls, maybe down 3” from the top.  That would have saved a lot of time and labor.  I do think we would still want to add the temporary bars, but we would not have had to “add” back side walls to help the roof keep it’s shape.

Not like I will ever do this again, but you might!  So save yourself and learn from my experience!

Once we finally got the new awning attached we poured a “parking lot” for my customers and the kids were pretty excited to get a basketball goal where they could dribble on concrete instead of rock!

I finished off my vision by painting all of the old green trim of the Morton building white.  Where we had replaced the sliding door on the south side of the building, that was painted white too! I painted the new doors on the front of the shop and the back doors to my work room black. We took the sign off my old shop and hung it in the front and I can finally say we are about done with the Morton building turned Shop!

I’m so excited to decorate this summer instead of working on the building!!

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