Peter Varley profiles a new machinery shed and yard on a suckler farm in Milltown, Co Galway.
Many people don’t consider machinery storage important and don’t feel that it has any real benefits. Michael Boyle, a part-time suckler farmer from Milltown, Co Galway, believes otherwise.
He thinks machinery should not be left outside in winter or summer because of the damage that can be caused.
Michael works as a mechanic by day with McHale Farm Machinery and has over 18 years’ experience repairing and servicing machines. “It’s amazing the amount of people who complain about how much machines depreciate after purchase, but if they looked after their machinery better they would be surprised how well they would hold their value and last,” Michael explains.
Last September, he completed the construction of a purpose-built machinery shed and yard. In the past, he used to store machinery in smaller sheds in the old yard, but this space was being taken up with housing pressure coming from the suckler enterprise. That’s why he decided to construct a purpose-built shed capable of holding all the machinery. It turned out a very tidy, well thought-out job.
This is the three-bay machinery shed and yard. The shed is 47ft long (15ft 9in per bay) and it is 25ft wide.
Michael says he went with a width of 25ft because H-iron comes in 50ft lengths and by simply cutting this in half there is no waste. The shed is 12ft high at the eaves and 15ft high at the front with a 3ft pitch. It is facing north away from the prevailing weather and Michael also added a 2.5ft canopy with a 5° pitch, which limits the chances of rain blowing into the shed. The canopy would also be ideal for storing roller doors if they were added in the future. All steel and sheeting for the shed was supplied by Langan Engineering from Ballinrobe.
The site was dug into the side of a 4ft high hill. According to Michael, 2.5ft deep holes for the stanchions were dug first.
A concrete block was dropped into the bottom of each hole and laser levels were taken. The stanchions were erected next and a concrete dry mix was poured around each one. A concrete pad was also added around the back and gable ends of the shed to further strengthen the stanchions and also support the mass concrete walls. The pad was 18in wide, which left plenty of space for erecting the shuttering for the 7ft walls. A total of 50ft of shuttering was hired from Easy Access in Tuam. The back of the shed was shuttered, with concrete poured first in that area.
A day and a half later, this shuttering was taken down and the two gable ends were done. Michael says this was an economical way of doing the job and made more sense than paying for shuttering to do all the bays in one day.
Non-drip sheeting was used on the roof of the shed while ordinary sheeting was used on the sides. All sheeting was pre-drilled and nails and washers were used instead of screws. Michael isn’t a fan of screws because he feels they tend to perish with age.
He used 6” x 3” timbers to support the roof sheeting and 7” timbers on the sides. He is a believer in not skimping on the numbers of timbers used because they add strength to the structure. A cleader rail was used inside the gable end sheet and the roof sheet rather than the traditional hook bolts.
First, 5in of 30N concrete was poured on the shed floor over hardcore. The timbers were moved and the yard was completed next with the same spec concrete.
The yard was concreted just beyond where the new 6in block wall and roller gate were going to be erected. A foundation for the block wall was made at this time –18in wide and 10in deep.
The runner for the roller gate is made up of 20mm bar welded on to a 3in channel. The roller gate is impressive. Michael made it all himself in the farm workshop.
The 30ft long frame was made in two halves, so that it could be transported easily for dipping. It was bolted back together when it returned.
Michael attached vent sheeting to the side to allow air to pass through the gate and reduce the chances of wind straining it. Polypropylene inserts in the guiding frames keep the gates in place and prevent scratching of the galvanise.
There are receivers on both ends of the gate and a latch at the end. Michael says it only cost €840 to manufacture the gate and that it would be a very expensive gate to buy.
Another field gate was erected and galvanised sheeting was attached to offer privacy to the yard. When this gate is open, a catch on the wall allows it to be bolted in place, reducing the danger of it swinging in the wind.
In total, it cost Michael €15,000 including VAT to build the shed and yard. He says he saved a considerable amount of money doing the majority of the work himself. Locals Eamon Callaghan and Michael Donnelly helped with the concrete work. The yard is well thought-out and the roller gate is neat and safe compared with swinging gates. This shed is multipurpose and it could easily be converted into a grain or livestock shed if the need arose in the future. According to Michael, “if you have respect for machinery, it will have respect for you.”
Article published in the Irish Farmer’s Journal on Thursday 28th January 2016