Purdue University

Cooperative Extension Service

West Lafayette, IN 47907

Planning Guide to Farm Machinery Storage

Samuel D. Parsons, P. Mack Strickland, Don D. Jones, and
William H. Friday, Extension Agricultural and Biological Engineers,
Purdue University

Can you justify a machinery storage facility on your farm? Would the expected benefits of equipment protection, such as less deterioration, more reliable performance, and better resale values, be sufficient to recover the high initial building investment? The answers to these questions often are not clear-cut.

On Midwest corn and soybean farms, equipment "downtime" is expensive-estimated to he as high as $600 per hour during planting season. The amount of machinery housing needed to reduce this downtime is difficult to determine in actual dollars. Certainly, weather protection of belts, chains, clutches, cutting edges, and other parts subject to corrosion and deterioration helps to forestall break-downs. When an individual considers the price of new machinery coupled with high interest rates, storage to increase equipment life appears to be more important than ever.

Despite the difficulties in answering precisely the "cost-benefit" question, more and more Corn Belt farms are introducing or adding to machinery storage facilities for some, if not all, of the following reasons:

Higher equipment trade-in value. A recent survey of 24 machinery dealers in the Midwest found that they typically allowed farmers 10-15 percent more on trade-in of tractors and tillage implements and up to 25 percent more on planters, drills, and harvest equipment that had been housed.

Greater convenience. The equipment is generally at one place and under one roof.

More security. This is especially important if the farm is in a remote location.

Better aesthetics. The farmstead is more appealing to passersby as well as to the family that lives there.

More capacity needed. Often, new equipment is larger than what it replaces and simply too big for the old storage unit.

Greater use. Machinery storage often is incorporated into a structure also intended to store seed, pesticides, and fertilizer or to house a modern farm shop (see Purdue Extension publication AE-104. "Planning Farm Shops for Work and Energy Efficiency").

Better tax management. In a "plush" year, the real cost of machinery storage can be substantially cushioned.

Remodeled Vs. New Storage

Unused livestock buildings, corn cribs and open-front buildings can sometimes be remodeled economically to store low-profile tillage implements. Because plows and other tillage tools are less likely to be vandalized or stolen than big round balers, wagons, or self-propelled equipment, a converted storage facility can be located remote from the farmstead.

Many farms have a large, centrally located, general-purpose barn that could be remodeled to store farm machinery. This usually involves removing support posts, partition walls, and part of the mow floor, as well as installing a large machinery access door. However, if major structural modifications are needed, consult a knowledgeable engineer to help you determine whether conversion would be possible or practical.

For infrequently used equipment (wagons, grain trucks, inclined augers, etc.), the "inconvenience" of a remodeled storage unit used once or twice a year may be justified. Most facilities of this type usually are not well-suited to other pieces of farm machinery because of the building's small doors and the equipment's poor maneuverability.

Consequently, this publication only deals with planning new storage facilities, including location, size, shape and access door decisions, efficiency analyses, and construction suggestions. A worksheet also is provided to calculate the floor space required for storing equipment.

Determining Location and Orientation

The main equipment storage building should be located, if possible, just off the farm court near the main flow of machinery and people (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Locate the machinery shed convenient to the farm shop and main traffic flow.

A machinery shed near the house might be convenient, but it can crowd the family living space and detract from the aesthetics of the farm home setting and from the residence. The ideal location is approximately 150 feet behind and to one side of the farm home. This distance is usually far enough away to protect the living area from noise and large machinery traffic, but close enough for security.

Security should be a major consideration in site selection and building orientation. Yard lights help; however, for the best security, the machinery shed should be located so it is accessible only from a lane that passes directly by the farm home. If another access road is necessary or already there, consider using an electric eye or other device to warn of approaching traffic.

Because the large access doors usually will be left open in summer, plan to locate them so that valuable equipment is not visible from the main road. Place the doors, if possible, away from prevailing winds (which come out of the west in Indiana) to minimize the possibility of wind damage.

The storage building should be near the farm shop to facilitate equipment servicing. A shop can be located at one end of the storage building which provides convenient access to the equipment. However, a separate shop building makes future expansion easier for both the shop and the storage building.

Ideally, the building should be big enough so that any piece of equipment can be moved in, stored, and moved out without having to disturb any other piece of equipment. However, most farmers cannot justify that kind of "luxury."

As with any farm building, the machinery storage should be on high ground with good drainage. The floor should be at least 12 inches above the existing grade to insure drainage away from the building.

Machinery storage should never be combined with livestock housing because of high moisture levels leading to corrosion problems. Nor should machinery be combined with hay storage because of fire hazard.

Planning the Facility

Five basic steps are required in planning the layout of a machinery storage building. First, know what machinery is to be stored. Second, estimate the floor space requirements for that machinery. Third, decide what building type and configuration will best fit your needs. Fourth, determine the size and location of machinery access doors; this establishes traffic patterns. And fifth, analyze the efficiency of several alternative layouts. considering equipment traffic patterns, door sizes and locations, and various storage arrangements for different work periods throughout the year. Careful attention to each of these steps should result in the "best" storage building for your operation.


Think about present and future storage needs not only for farm machinery, but also for lawn, garden, or recreational equipment. To do this, consider what's happened in your farm business over the last 5-7 years, and try to project ahead a minimum of 3-5 years. Also, decide which existing storage facilities are to be retained, abandoned, or converted to other uses and what equipment would likely be stored in any storage facilities retained. Knowing current and future storage needs helps you to determine the new facility's size.


The floor space required for each particular item to be stored depends on a number of factors, including those illustrated in Figures 2 through 6. To determine minimum total storage area, work with the specific equipment to be housed, both current and future. Use actual dimensions for current equipment. Table 1 may be helpful for future or anticipated machinery purchases.

One method of calculating minimum storage area needed is to: (1) find the area of each item to be stored by multiplying the overall length times overall width, (2) sum the areas of all the items, then (3) add 15 percent to this total (i.e., multiply by 1.15) to allow for space between equipment.

Another method is to: (1) multiply the width plus one foot times length plus one foot for each machine (to account for space between), then (2) sum the areas of all the items. The worksheet provided can be used for either method. Both techniques produce the same result: the absolute minimum floor space required for tight, efficient, long-term machinery storage.

This minimum requirement figure is merely a starting point for sizing the building It may account for future storage needs (if you included them), but does not allow for overnight or short-term storage of equipment during various work periods when it would be desirable to leave tractors and implements hitched. During such times, these units may have to be left outside or stored elsewhere--unless planned for in the original design.

Figure 2. The configuration used for storage will affect space needs. The 16-row planter illustrated requires more total space when (a) set for field operations than when (b) folded for transport, as does the 8-row planter when (c) in the field-operating mode vs (d) long-term storage mode with markers removed and hitch folded.

Figure 3. The same size machine from different manufacturers or of an earlier vintage from the same manufacturer may have different space requirements depending on the method and foldup technique used. The 28-ft tandem disk harrow illustrated may require (a) 672 sq. ft. for field operations, (b) only 384 sq. ft. for storage with a 2-section foldup version, (c) 391 sq. ft. in a 3-section foldup design, or (d) 825 sq. ft. in transport mode for a 2-section swing-around model.

Figure 4. With foldup implements, the base width and foldup technique will affect not only transport width, but also door size and storage space requirements. With the 21-ft. field cultivator shown, (a) a narrower base width reduces floor space needed for storage but increases door height requirements; (b) a greater wing-pivot angle with the same base unit width reduces both floor space and door height needed; (c) an inset pivot point with the same base unit width and 900 pivot angle also reduces floor space needed but increases overall height.

Figure 5. Floor space required for a given size implement may depend on the hitching technique used. The (a) 4-bottom mounted plow requires less storage space than the (b) semi-mounted or (c) pull-type versions.

Figure 6. Storing self-propelled equipment (combines, pickers, forage harvesters) with or without headers attached will affect space requirements. A 6-row combine requires about 20% more floor space when either the cornhead or grain header remains attached as shown.

Table 1. Typical Floor Area Requirements of Various Items of Farm Equipment.a

Equipment Item and size                  Length    Width      Area     Height
                                          (ft.)    (ft.)    (sq.ft.)    (ft.)
   2-wheel-drive 2-3 plow                 11.5       8          92
   2-wheel-drive 4-5 plow                  14       9.5b       133      9.5
   2-wheel-drive 6-8 plow                 15.5     10.5b       163      9.5
   4-wheel-drive < 300 HP                  20       12b        240      11.5
   4-wheel-drive > 300 HP                 22.5      12b        270      12.5

Subsoiler (V-frame)
   3-13 shank (rear mounted)            4.5-10.5   8.5-20.5   38-215
   7-13 shank (drawn)                  14.5-18.5   13-20.5   188-379
   5-13 shank (drawn,wings)               15.5      15         233       9.5
Moldboard Plowc
   3-bottom                                 9        5          45
   4-bottom                                12       6.5         78
   5-bottom                                15        8         120
   6-bottom                                22       9.5        209
   7-bottom                                28      12.5        350
   8-bottom                                31       14         434
Chisel Plow (pull-type)
   7-10 ft (rigid frame)                  13.5      10         135
  11-20 ft (rigid frame)                  16.5     11-20     180-330
  17-27 ft (hinged frame)                 16.5     13.5        223       9
  21-31 ft (dual fold wings)              19.5      16         312       9
  23-35 ft (dual fold wings)               20      20.5        410      14.5
  35-41 ft (dual fold wings)              22.5      21         473      17.5
  37-59 ft (dual fold wings)               25     14-20.5    350-513  15.5-19.5
Offset Disk Harrow (pull-type)
  11-20 ft                             15.5-19.5    11-20    170-390
Tandem Disk Harrow (pull-type) 
  6.5-15.5 ft (rigid frame)              10-14    6.5-15.5    65-220
  16-24 ft (single fold wing)            18.5       12.5       231      10.5
  13.5-18 ft (dual fold wings)            16        12         192        9
  18-27 ft (dual fold wings)             19.5       13.5       263      10.5
  27-33 ft (dual fold wings)              24        16         384       12
  32-38 ft (dual fold wings)              25        19         475      13.5
  27.5-40 ft (section swing around)     55-54     15-20      825-1300
Field Cultivator
  7.5-20.5 ft (rear mtd, rigid)            8       7.5-20.5    60-164
  10-20.5 ft (drawn, rigid)              15.5      10-20.5    155-318
  15.5-24.5 ft (rear mtd, wings)           8        13.5       108        9
  20.5-26.5 ft (drawn, wings)            15.5       13.5       210      15.5
  27.5-42.5 ft (drawn, rear fold)        21.5       19         408      8-19.5
  42.5-50 ft (drawn, rear fold)          21.5       19         408       20
  48.5-60.5 ft (drawn, rear fold)         25        20         500      16.5
Spring-Tooth Harrow
  15-27 ft (drawn, folding)              15         13         195       8d
  30-39 ft (drawn, folding)              28         12         336       8d
  48-60 ft (drawn, folding)              40         15         600       8d
Roller Harrow (drawn)
  7.5-15.5 ft (rigid frame)              15        8-16     120-240
  21-25 ft (wings)                      19.5        14         273       10
  32 ft (wings)                         19.5       17.5        341       11
Rotary Hoe (rear mounted)
  12-15 ft (rigid frame)                 4        12-15       48-60
  21-34 ft (rigid, end transport)      23-36        5        115-180
  21-34 ft (wings)                       5       11-17.5      55-88       8
Row-Crop Cultivator
  4-40/ 6-30 in. (front/rear mtd)        8         16          128
  6-40/12-30 in (front mounted)        13-20       23        260-640
  6-40/12-30 in (rear mtd,end trans)  23-32.5       8        184-260
  6-40/ 8-30 in (rear mtd,folding)       8        11.5          92       10
  8-40/12-30 in (rear mtd,folding)       8         16          128       10
  16 or 18-30 in (rear mtd,folding)      8         21          168      17.5


Grain Drill
  7-9 ft (rear mounted)                  6        7-9         42-54     10-12e
  11-20 ft. (rear mounted)               8       11-20        88-160    10-12e
  7-9 ft (drawn)                         9      8.5-10.5      77-95     10-12e
  11-14 ft (drawn)                     10.5      12-15       126-158    10-12e
  20 ft (drawn)                        13.5        21          284      10-12e
  20-24 ft. (drawn,sectional)           21     13.5-17.5     284-368    10-12e
  26-32 ft (drawn,sectional)            25     13.5-17.5     338-438    10-12e
  40 ft (drawn,sectional)              29.5      17.5          516      10-12e
  54 ft (drawn,sectional)               36       17.5          630      10-12e
Row-Crop Planter (corn-bean)

  4-40/6-30 in (drawn)                 14.5     13-15.5      189-225      9
  6-40/8-30 in (drawn,end trans)       23.5        9           212       10
  8-40 in (drawn,end trans)             29        12           348       11
  12-30 in (drawn,end trans)            33        13           429       12
  4-40/6-30 in (rear mtd toolbar)        8      13-15.5     104-124       9
  6-40/8-30 in.(rear mtd toolbar)        8       19.5          156       11
  8-40/12-30 in (rear mtd toolbar,
            folding)                     8        18.5         148      12.5
  8-40/12-30 in (drawn,folding)        23-28    13.5-15      311-420   11-12
  12-40/16-30 in (drawn,folding)      25-33.5   13.5-15      338-503   11-12
  18-30  in. (drawn,folding)           36.5       15           548       12
  24-30  in (drawn,folding)             36       13.5          486       13


Field Sprayer (rear mtd)
  21-42 ft. (fold-up boom)             6-8        8-9         48-72    
Field Sprayer (drawn)
  21-42 ft (front-fold boom)          11-15        8          88-120    8-13
  42-47 ft (fold-up boom)             15-22      10-13       150-286
  30-40 ft (rear-fold boom)           25-30       9.5        238-285
  60-80 ft. (rear-fold boom)          48-58       8-9        384-522   
Knifedown Applicator
  13 ft. (rear mtd,rigid)               6        13.5           81
  15 ft (rear mtd,rigid)                6        15.5           93
  20 ft (rear mtd,folding)              7         11            77
  24 ft (rear mtd,folding)              8         11            88       10
  27-30 ft (rear mtd,folding)           8         11            88       12    
Fertilizer Spreader (drawn)
  1-2 ton (spinner-type)                8         5.5           44
  4 ton (spinner-type)                 10         6             60
  5 ton (spinner-type)                 15         7            105
  6-8 ton (spinner-type)               18         8            144
Manure Spreader (drawn)
  125 bu (rear discharge)             15.5        6.5          101
  200-300 bu (rear discharge)        17-23        8          136-184
  350-500 bu ( rear discharge)       21-24        8.5        179-204
  700 bu. (rear discharge)             30         8.5          255        8
  200 bu  (Side discharge)             20         7.5          150
  300-400 bu (side discharge)          20         8.5          170        8
  1500 gal. (liquid)                   15         8            120
  2500 gal. (liquid)                   17         8            136
  3000 gal. (liquid)                   20         8.5          170        8
  5000 gal. (liquid)                   24        11.5          276       9.5


Combine (self-propelled)
(base machine without header)
  4-row                                20        10            200      11.5f
  4-row/ 6-row                         23        12            276      12.5f
  6-row/ 8-row                         26        13            338      12.5f
  8-row/12-row                         26        14.5          377      13f
Direct-Cut Header (grain table)
  10, 13, 15, 16 and 18 ft.             8       11-19         88-152
  20, 22, 24 and 30 ft.                 9      21-31.5       189-284
Row-Crop Header (corn-beans)
  2-40/3-30 in.                         9         8             72
  3-40/4-30 in.                        10      9.5-10         95-100
  4-40/6-30 in.                        10      13-14.5       130-145
  5-40 in                              10        16            160
  6-40/8-30 in                         10     19.5-20.5      195-226
  8-40 in.                             11        26            286
  12-30 in.                            12       30.5           366 
Pick-up Header
  10 and 13 ft.                        15       10-13        150-195
Combine (Pull-type)
(combine with header shown)
  13 ft direct-cut or pick-up          33        14            462      10f
  4-40 in. row-crop or 11 ft pick-up   43        14.3          615      12.2f


 Mowers (rear mounted)
     6 ft. (cutterbar)                7.5         6.5           49
     7 ft. (cutterbar)                7.5         7.5           56
     9 ft. (cutterbar)                7.5         8.5           64       9.5
 Mower-Conditioner (drawn)
     7 ft. (cutterbar)                13          9.5          124
     9 ft. (cutterbar)               15.5        11.5          178
     12 ft. (cutterbar)              21.5         13           280
     14 ft. (cutterbar)              21.5         15           323
 Windrower (self-propelled)
 (base machine without header)
     70 HP                           13.3        10.6          141       10 w/cab
     75 HP                           13.7        12.3          169       10 w/cab
     94 HP                           14.8        12.9          191       10 w/cab
     Auger Header
     10, 12, 14, and 16 ft.            8        11-17        88-136
     Draper Header
     12, 15, 18, 21 and 25 ft.         9        14-26       126-234
 Rake, Side Delivery
     7.5 ft (rear mounted)            7.5          4            30
     9 ft. (rear mounted)             7.5         10            75
     8.5-10 ft (semi-mounted)        10.5       10-11        105-116
     7.5 ft. (drawn)                 16.5          7           116
     9 ft. (drawn)                   17.5          7           123
     11 ft. (drawn)                   20           7           140
     18 ft. (drawn,sectional)         10          12           120
     21 ft. (drawn,sectional          10          16           160
 Pick-Up Baler (conventional)        18.5        13.5          250
 Round Baler 
     650-lb bales                     10          6.5           65
     800-lb bales                    11.5         6.5           75
     850/900-lb. bales             12.5-14        7-8        88-112
     1500/1800-lb.bales           13.5-15.5        8        108-124      8-9
 Stack Wagon
     1.5 ton                          18.5        10.5         194        13
     3 ton                             23          12          276        15
 Forage Harvesters (self-
 propelled)g (base machine
 without header)
     175-200 HP                        14           8          112        10.5
     250+ HP                          15.5         8.5         132        10.5
     250+ HP (with hopper)             18           9          162        14
 Forage Harvester (drawn)              16          9.5         152        10
 Forage Harvester (mounted)            12          8.5         102        10
 Forage Crop Blower                  10-13        6-7.5       60-98


 Multi-Bale Mover (round) 
     3 1500-lb bales                   25.5        6.5         166
     6 1500-lb. bales                  26           8          208
     8 850-lb. bales                   30.5         8          244
 Stack Mover 
    1.5 ton                           18.5       10.5          194       13
    3 ton                              23         12           276       15
 Forage Wagon
    14 ft. box                         17          8          136       11.5
    16 ft. box                        19.5         8          156       11.5
 High Dump Wagon
    300 bu.                           13          8.5         111        13
    360 bu.                           15          10          150        13
 Gravity Flow Wagon
    165-220 bu                       10.5        6.5           68        8
    225-380 bu                      11-12.5      7-8        77-100      8-9
    450-550 bu.                      12-17        8         96-136      9-10
    650 bu.                           16         8.5          136       9.5
    1000 bu.                          24         8.5          204       9.5
 Grain Auger Cart
    400 bu.                          15.5         8           124       10
    575 bu                            18          8           144       10
    650 bu.                         20.5         8.5          174       10
    700 bu.                           23          10          230        9
    820 bu.                           25         8.5          213      10.5
 Trailer (cargo/implement)
    20-26 ft.                       25-31         8         200-248
 Gooseneck Trailer
    20-32 ft.                       28-40         8         224-320
 Laydown Implement Trailer
    18 ft.                            30         8-12         240
    1.5 ton                           21          8           168


 Rotary Mower/Disk Mower
    5 ft. (rear mounted)             7.5         5.5           41
    6 ft. (rear mtd,rigid)         8.5-11        6.5          55-72
    7 ft.  (rear mtd,rigid)        9.5-11.5      7.5          71-86
    9 ft. (rear mtd,rigid)          7-11.5       9.5         67-110
    13.5 ft.(rear mtd,rigid)         7/12         14         98/168
    15 ft. (drawn,folding)            12         8.5           102
 Stalk Shredder
    6.5-20 ft. (flail-type)           10       7.5-21.5      75-215
 Skid -Steer Loader
    18 HP                            7.5         3.5          26
    25 HP                            8.5          4           34
    30-35 HP                         9.5         4.5          43
    40-45 HP                       9.5-10      4.5-5.5       43-55
 Front-End Tractor Loader          14-15.5       5-6        70-93
 Mixer-Feeder Wagon
    150 bu.                         16.5         7.5          124
    235 bu                          18.5          8           148        8
    312 bu                           20           9           180        8
 Grinder-Mixer                       12           8            96       8.5
 Tub-Grinder                         24          9.5          228      12-13
a The hitching terms "drawn" and "pull-type" are used synonymously,
Also, equipment height (far right column) is shown only if height
exceeds 8 feet.

b Add 5 feet (and recalculate area) for tractors with duals, 2.5 feet
if dualed one side only.

c. Sizes given are general requirement for mounted, semi-mounted or
pull-type; including 14, 16, 16, 20, 22-inch bottoms.

d Add 3 to 4 ft. to height if equipped with tine-toothed finishing

e Grain drills with markers are 10-12 feet high

f Extension on grain bin may exceed height shown

g See self-propelled combine for approximate dimensions of direct-cut, row-crop and
pick-up headers.


              Machine                         Length x Width  =   Area
              Description                      (ft.)   (ft.)     (sq. ft.)


















                                                  Sum for Total
                                                                      x 1.15*
                                           Total Space Required

*Multiply by 1.15 here if length and width dimensions used above were
actual dimensions. Do NOT multiply by 1.15 if you used (actual length
+ 1 ft.) and (actual width + 1 ft.) above.


Unless site limitations or aesthetic considerations dictate otherwise, there are many choices for building style and width-length combinations. For example, Figure 7 shows how 4,600 square feet of storage space can be met with a long, narrow building (24' x 192' or 32' x 144'), a wide, short building (40' x 11 5', 48' x 96' or 56' x 82'), or a nearly square building (64' x 72'). It a shop is planned at one end, length should be increased by 32-56 feet beyond that needed only for machinery storage. Building length selected should be some whole multiple of commonly used pole spacings or steel frame bays.

Figure 7. Different building shapes can provide the same amount of machinery storage space. Illustrated are six possibilities for 4,600 sq. ft. (±8 sq. ft.) ranging from a long, narrow building to a nearly square building.

Considerations with Narrower Buildings

Consider traffic flow patterns in the building, and ease of moving machinery in and out to determine overall configuration and door locations. For instance, maneuvering tractors and implements inside a narrow building (24-32 feet) is difficult regardless of the building's length. For such buildings, an open-front (or open-side) configuration and an I-type (in-out) traffic flow work best (Figure 8). Implements are backed-in and pulled-out, and self-propelled equipment is driven-in or backed-in, in most cases, tillage tools and other equipment must be placed one behind the other to fully utilize the space.

Figure 8. Traffic flow patterns in a narrow, open-front storage building.

Narrow-width, open-front buildings tend to fit the smaller farming operation that has 4-row planting and 2- or 3-row harvesting equipment. Bay openings with poles spaced 16 feet on centers will accommodate 13- to 15-foot equipment, but an 18-foot spacing works best; 16-foot pole spacing also will handle some 6-row equipment (which is usually 15-17 feet wide), but 20-foot spacing is better.

Considerations with Wider Buildings

Wide buildings (more than 40-48 feet) provide easier equipment maneuvering inside and are usually totally enclosed. It wide buildings are relatively short in length, end doors allow a straight drive-through traffic flow pattern (Figure 9). The driveway inside can be left clear for tractors with implements, self-propelled equipment, transport vehicles currently in use, or frequently used farmstead equipment such as feed trucks.

Figure 9. Traffic flow patterns in wider, enclosed storage buildings.

Long-term storage is provided on either side of the driveway. Long, narrow equipment is parallel parked along the building sidewalls. Short, wide equipment can be parked at a right-angle to the driveway, if the driveway is wide enough to allow for tractor swing-around. In wide buildings, never locate the driveway adjacent to a side wall, because of poor access to stored equipment on the other side of the building.

Sidewall doors are needed in a wide storage building if it is longer than 80 feet, or if there is to be a shop at one end separated by a full firewall. Traffic flow is then in an L-type pattern, with end entry and side exit, or vice versa (Figure 10). Side doors located 8-12 feet from endwalls (or firewalls) allow long-term storage next to the wall. Side doors also permit equipment to be backed into storage locations at the opposite side of the building.

Figure 10. Traffic flow patterns in longer, enclosed storage buildings.

For very long buildings, plan on two or more side doors, depending on how often and how much equipment is to be parked in the alleyway. Distance between sidewall doors should be no more than 75 feet.

Considerations with Clearspan-Plus-Offset Buildings

A clearspan-plus-offset building requires careful attention to planning detail because of roof (header) support spacings (Figure 11). The offset, entered from the clearspan portion of the building, is well-suited to long, narrow, relatively low-profile equipment, such as trucks, wagons, moldboard plows, and large planters or cultivators that are trucked endways. The offset area is most efficiently used if roof support spacing is great enough to allow storage of two or more units side by side in a single bay, rather than providing a separate bay for each piece of equipment.

Figure 11. Header support spacing can affect storage efficiency in a clearspan-plus-offset building.

Short, wide, low-profile equipment that is not trucked endways also can be stored in the offset if roof support spacing is adequate for maneuvering. Wide equipment usually must be placed one behind the other to fully utilize the space, which means "jockeying" equipment in and out from time-to-time. Extra wide, foldup equipment may be too tall either to clear the header at the front of an offset bay, or to be backed all the way to the rear wall because of the lower roof line at the building sidewall.


Doors 13-14 feet high will accommodate most farm equipment used in the Corn Belt now and for years to come. The exception might be fruit, vegetable or other specialty crop equipment, or equipment needed for extremely large field crop operations. See Table 2 for recommended door sizes.

Big tractors, self-propelled combines, and large foldup tillage or toolbar planting equipment are the units most likely to need plenty of head room. Big tractors from the major manufacturers measure 10-12 1/2 feet to the top of the cab, with an exhaust stack extending up another 6-8 inches. Self-propelled combines also have a 10- to 12 1/2-foot overall height (in transport position) without factory-built or homemade grain tank extensions; this is a few inches less than models of the late 1960's.

Table 2. Recommended Door Dimensions to Accommodate Various Size Equipment.

Machinery matched         Door size
to planter size        Width     Height
Less than 4-row       12-14 ft.     12 ft.
4-row, 38 in.           16 ft.      13 ft.
6-row, 30 in.           20 ft       14 ft.
8-row, 30 in.           24 ft.      15 ft.
12-row, 30 in.          32 ft.*     16 ft.
* Only 24 feet required for fold-up or end-trucked equipment.

Large foldup tillage or toolbar planting equipment probably requires the most headroom-up to 17 1/2 feet high (and 21 feet wide in transport position). Thus, if you have very large equipment, be sure to get specific measurements before deciding on door sizes.

Endwall Doors

For the most efficient access to and use of storage space, sliding doors in building endwalls should be no more than half the building width and centered (Figure 12b). In narrow buildings, this typically allows for 15- to 16-foot door openings, which is sufficient for most 4-row crop equipment.

Figure 12. Sliding doors usually are recommended for endwalls in machinery storage building. Illustrations show the maximum door widths that can be used for building width (W) to eliminate the need for track supports beyond the edge of the building. Note that inside storage depth along walls (dashed lines) decreases as width of door opening increases. Height of a sliding door opening in an endwall is usually the same as truss height (lower chord) with pole-frame construction.

In buildings 40-48 feet wide (or wider), endwall doors 20-24 feet will accommodate most 6- or 8-row (narrow) equipment and most wide implements that fold up or truck endways. In wide buildings, never locate the driveway adjacent to a side wall (Figure 12a), because of poor access to stored equipment on the other side of the building.

Wider end doors reduce the available long-term storage space on each side of the driveway. If end doors must be wider than half the building width, consider double-track sliding doors (Figures 12c and 12d) or bi-fold doors (Figure 13b) rather than a cantilevered track support that extends beyond the edge of the building (as would be required with a single-track sliding door wider than half the building width).

Figure 13. Overhead and bi-fold doors are not usually recommended as end doors for machinery storage building. Height of an overhead endwall door opening is usually 6 - 12 in. less than truss height (lower chord) with pole-frame construction. To maximize machinery clearance, use the overhead door as a sidewall door rather than an endwall door. Bi-fold doors can be used if an unusually wide opening is required in the endwall, but consider the loss of storage space along side walls. Height of a bi-fold end door opening is usually the same as truss height (lower chord) with pole-frame construction, but may be less depending on type and depth of door header required.

Sidewall Doors

Doors in sidewalls can be 12-16 feet wide to accommodate service vehicles and smaller machinery, but side doors need to be 20-24 feet for larger equipment. Don't "oversize" side doors to the point where the header depth required for roof support reduces door-height to a machine-limiting clearance.

Normally, overhead doors (Figure 13a) are a luxury for a machinery storage building, except possibly in that part of the building where frequently used service vehicles are housed. If used, overhead doors fit better in sidewalls than in endwalls because the roof support header reduces door height clearance, and some overhead space below the ceiling (or truss chord) is required for door storage and track support anyway.


The final step in planning a specific machinery storage building is to check out the compatibility of the building selected (size, shape, type, and door sizes and locations) with the machinery to be maneuvered and stored in it. A convenient way to do this is with grid paper and equipment-shaped cutouts (Figure 14).

Figure 14. Grid paper and cardboard cutouts of equipment can be used to check out alternative building sizes and shapes, and various door sizes and locations for the most efficient storage.

Grid paper with four squares per inch is a convenient size to use. If you let each square represent 2 feet (1 inch = 8 feet), then one 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of grid paper can be used for buildings up to 32 feet wide and 60-70 feet long. For wider or longer buildings, simply tape together two or more sheets of the grid paper.

Draw the outline of the building to scale; include door openings and pole or support locations. Use dashed lines to represent traffic flow or to define alleyways to be maintained.

Cutouts of the equipment to be stored must be to the same scale as the building. Cardboard cutouts are harder to make, but easier to pick up and move about than ones made from thinner paper. Make cutouts for anticipated as well as present equipment.

If you have allowed "extra" space in the building, simple rectangular cutouts of each piece of equipment using its maximum length and maximum width will suffice. But if extra space has not been allotted, cutouts should reflect the true shape of the items they represent. Label each cutout, and draw an arrow to indicate the front or primary direction of travel.

Two or more cutouts of some equipment will be quite useful, allowing you flexibility to develop the storage plan. If appropriate, make tractor cutouts with duals, without duals, with a dual on one side only (for plowing season), and/or with and without front-end loader, chemical tanks or other semi-permanent attachments. Make multiple cutouts for harvesters and headers-both separated and together. Extra cutouts of planters, wagons and other units with hitch extended and with hitch folded for storage would also be helpful.

The grid paper and cutouts help you to determine whether everything will fit into the building. Remember how and when the various pieces of equipment must go into and be removed from storage. For example, a combine cannot move sideways into a storage spacing; it must be driven forward, backed-up, or jockeyed into position. Also, heavy tillage equipment may be the last items stored in the fall and the first to be used in the spring; or grain transport or handling equipment might be needed before spring if stored grain is marketed off-farm during winter months.

If your "analysis" indicates serious building layout limitations, try different door sizes and locations or a different shaped structure (e.g., wider but shorter buildings, longer but not as deep or with an offset). If these adjustments do not solve the problem, you may have to increase the overall building area and dimensions to obtain a workable layout.

Construction Details


The most common mistake made in constructing a machinery storage facility is not elevating the floor level high enough above the outside grade to prevent runoff ponding and high groundwater problems within the building. The machinery storage floor should be at least 12 inches above outside grade. Avoid construction and road changes that may change natural drainage and create a problem.

To provide a well-drained floor surface and a solid base for heavy machinery, use 4-6 inches of gravel or crushed stone within the building, and extend it outside at least 12 feet beyond the entry apron of each door. Earth floors are subject to freezing and thawing, and become uneven over time. Because concrete or blacktop flooring are expensive to install, their cost can seldom be justified for a machinery storage building.


To provide support for large entry doors and to stabilize the entry door driveway, it is recommended that a concrete entry apron be cast in each machine access door (Figure 15). This apron, with a 1 1/2inch raised shoulder, should be the width of the door, and extend 2 feet inside and 3 feet outside the door opening. Make it 5-6 inches thick and reinforce it with No. 3 rebars.

Figure 15. Cross section of an entry apron recommended for machinery storage access doors.

For sliding doors, place a metal guide in the center of the apron to force the doors tight against the shoulder when closed; this provides support for the door and resists wind damage. This center floor guide is not required for overhead doors.

In conventional pole-framed structures, pole spacing is usually 8-10 feet on-center. If installing large, sidewall doors requires the elimination of more than one sidewall pole, it is recommended that double poles be used at the door edges. Extra poles generally are not required for 16- to 20-foot span doors using a girder to support the roof framing system. However, doors 24-36 feet in span will require a substantial size girder and double-pole support. (See Midwest Plan Service publications TR-2, "Girder Design," and TR-5, "Pole Design," for sizing recommendations.)


Only a minimum level of lighting is needed for the few times each year that a machinery storage building is used after dark. Two rows of 150-watt incandescent or 40-watt fluorescent lamps spaced uniformly across the building width and located 24 feet on-center should be adequate. Also, mount 110-volt duplex receptacle outlets 24 feet apart around the perimeter of the building and at each door location to accommodate such things as portable electric tools or battery chargers.

If additional lighting is needed in a wide structure, skylight material could be installed in the top 2-4 feet of the sidewall. Avoid roof-mounted skylights; too often they leak because the material expands and contracts in response to temperature changes at a different rate than metal roofing.

For the area surrounding the machinery storage, use a minimum of 200-watt mercury or other high-intensity discharge light, set 25 feet high, for every 8,000 square feet to be illuminated. Around drives and walkways, increase lamp size to 400 watts, and space lights no more than 125 feet apart. A single pole light plus lights mounted on the shop or machinery shed wall over large door locations are sufficient for most farm courtyards.


Condensation inside the storage building usually can be controlled by natural (or wind) ventilation. Continuous ventilation helps to keep inside and outside air temperatures nearly the same, which will prevent condensation. Insulation also controls condensation by warming the inside building surfaces, but it is expensive and not really needed with proper natural ventilation.

To properly vent the machinery storage, use ridge and eave vents equal to a continuous opening of 1/4 inch per 10 feet of building width. Thus, for a 48-foot wide building, you might either leave a 1 1/4-inch continuous opening along each eave and along the ridge or place a 6- by 30-inch vent every 12 feet in each eave and in the ridge. Screen all vent openings with 1/4-inch hardware cloth to keep out birds.


The time spent planning a machinery storage building on paper can be very profitable. Different building shapes and machinery arrangements can be tried quickly and trade-offs between convenience and cost evaluated logically. The result should be the best possible machinery storage unit for your money.


Single copies of the following publications are available free to Indiana residents from their county Cooperative Extension Service office or by writing to the Media Distribution Center, 301 South 2nd Street, Lafayette, IN 47905-1092:

Insulating Livestock and Other Farm Buildings (AE-95)

Wind and Snow Control for the Farmstead (AE-102)

Planning Farm Shops for Work and Energy Efficiency (AE-104)

Determining Required Field Capacities or Machinery Sizing Decisions (ID-155)

The following building plans are available from the Farm Building Plan Service, Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (prices are subject to change):

New 6/86

Cooperative Extension work in Agriculture and Home Economics, state of Indiana, Purdue University, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperating; H.A. Wadsworth, Director, West Lafayette, IN. Issued in furtherance of the acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914. The Cooperative Extension Service of Purdue University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity institution.