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Water Barn Construction

40ft x 80ft Water Barn complete

I have some really nice friends that I work with in the Houston oil patch. When Dave Warren of Energy Alloys heard that I needed some used or scrap tubing to build my 40' x 80' water barn, he came through and gave me over 900 feet of good straight pipe with slightly flawed connections on most of the ends. The joints, as they are called, were all about 29 - 32 feet long. With the connections on the ends, I was able to screw the ends together to make the required 40 ft lengths I needed for the bowstring trusses. I used about 475 feet of the 2 3/8" L-80 grade tubing for the trusses. I couldn't locate any larger pipe, but there was enough of the 2 3/8" tubing to double-up to make the ten 15 to 20-foot long posts.

After cutting each length to 40 ft, the top element of the truss needed to be arched. The element deflects under its own weight about 11 inches.

Arching the Bowstring

To achieve the desired curvature, I placed both ends at the needed height as shown and then inched the tractor forward until the pipe touched the ground.

The trusses are constructed upside down. The straight bottom element is then placed over the curved one. The deflection of the added element is removed by adding the center vertical element.

Five Bowstring Trusses

Once the three elements are welded together, the truss will keep its shape. The trusses can be laid down for ease in welding the remaining vertical elements as shown here with two unfinished trusses on the left.

Here's the hard part because I didn't have a crane to lift the trusses onto the posts. So, instead of setting the posts first, I dug each hole down to the solid bedrock, which ranged from 20 - 46 inches.

Raising the truss/post assemblies

Then I measured the required height for each post down to the bedrock. Each individual post was welded to a truss on the ground first. With the bottom of the posts positioned and blocked over each hole, each assembly was raised as shown.

When the assembly is raised to near vertical, the posts fall into the holes and land on the bedrock bottom. Final adjustments in height were made with metal shims.

Adding the roof purlins

Each truss assembly was raised one after the next, leveled, and then cemented in place. Next, each connecting purlin is placed, clamped, and welded. The height of that first one is about 19 1/2 ft.

After all the purlins were installed, I had to build a temporary ramp to get the 41 ft long sheets of roofing up there. First I placed four or five sheets on the wooden ramp. Then I attached a long rope to clamps at the upper end of the sheets.

''Raising the roof''

The other end of the rope was thrown over all the purlins and attached to my tractor on the other side opposite the ramp. That allowed me to pull all 32 sheets onto the structure. Can you see the tractor in the trees in the distance?

Setting the tank

I had to leave the fourth 20-ft wide bay without purlins and roofing until the tank was delivered. This crane truck brought the tank to the ranch on a low, low trailer. Then they unhitched, picked up the huge tank, and carried it in from the street. I had a pad ready with two inches of sand over a caliche base.

With the tank now in place, I could finally finish adding the remaining purlins and roofing sheets. Let me tell you none of this is easy with just one person. Lots of clamping and climbing up and down ladders.

Completing the roofingThat's me up there again - getting brave by this time. This is the low side though at about 15 ft off the ground. The quick-connect loader platform that I designed and built came in real handy, converting my tractor into a mobile scaffold.

Pouring the wall grout



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