Feb. 26, 2007

Farm Rite sections were a sight to see

By Becky Sorenson of Meeker Cooperative
Reprinted with permission

Two immense halves of an implement building — cut right down the middle lengthwise — were clamped to massive wheeled dollies which crept along country roads at a painstaking one to three miles per hour.

Each half of the building measured roughly 32 feet high, 43 feet wide and 140 feet long.

The building was purchased at Consolidated Ag’s liquidation auction in Renville about 2-1/2 years ago by Tom Cox and Tim Cox of Farm-Rite Equipment of Dassel, who have been in the process of moving it from Renville to their location on the western edge of Dassel. This move brought the last two pieces of the building from Renville; the first two pieces were moved to Dassel last September.

When the new 22,000 square foot building is finished, Farm-Rite will relocate its entire business to the new space which will be reassembled just behind their current business location, owner Tom Cox said.

What goes into a move this size?

“The most important thing is the planning,” said Tim Gilbertson, Meeker Cooperative’s Line Superintendent. Planning involved three electrical cooperatives — Meeker, McLeod and Renville-Sibley Cooperatives — since the building would cross all three service areas.

Also involved were Xcel Energy and Meeker’s generation and transmission supplier, Great River Energy, who was on hand to help with a transmission crossing. Highway patrol officers, MnDOT personnel and onlookers added to the crew that followed these structures mile by mile.

It all began on the morning of Jan. 17. The plan was for the moving company, Rick Rossow House Moving, to travel through Xcel, Renville-Sibley and McLeod service territories on the 17th and then begin to move through Meeker’s territory sometime during the morning of the 18th.

“They started out in Renville four hours behind schedule,” said Renville-Sibley Line Superintendent Dan Kramin. Apparently, a pole had to be removed for the building to get on the road. Once underway, the crew traveled 24 miles through 20 crossings in Renville-Sibley Cooperative territory.

The moving crew spent the first night parked about five miles south of Lake Lillian,” Kramin said. “They kept the buildings lit up all night with portable lighting units.”

Once they entered McLeod Cooperative Power territory, things started to go wrong. The moving crew trucks suffered a broken axle, some flat tires and a near disaster as the hind wheels of one of the buildings slid into the ditch.

“They had to get a tractor from a nearby farmer,” Gilbertson said. “The tractor was hitched to the building to keep it from tipping over until they could drive it out of the ditch.” These mishaps caused major delays while line crews waited up the line.

“There were six trucks waiting at one time for the buildings to arrive,” said Mark Walford, McLeod Cooperative Power’s Line Superintendent said. “I had two trucks just sitting there, so I sent one away and kept one.

“Just after the buildings got to McLeod’s territory, they had a flat tire right under a line we had taken down for a customer.” Walford said. “That customer was without power for three to four hours.” In all, it took six hours to move just six miles and go through four crossings. As a result, Rossow didn’t enter Meeker territory until 3:30 Thursday afternoon.

Rossow had a permit to spend Thursday night parked near the intersection of County Roads 35 and 18 northeast of Cosmos, so they had no choice but to keep going until they reached that location before quitting for the day. They reached it at 11:30 p.m. that night. Meeker line crews got what sleep they could, then were up and ready to go again at 5:30 a.m. on the 19th.

Although electric cooperatives and utilities don’t get involved with the building move itself, they are required to assist the movers by lifting or cutting electric lines so the building can move through the system safely.

“We had our entire crew involved,” Gilbertson said. “Plus, we hired seven men from Highline Construction on the 18th and five men on the 19th to help us with the overhead lines. There were 34 miles and 45 crossings on Meeker Cooperative’s system — 64 miles and 69 crossings total to Dassel.

The line crews went ahead of the movers, cutting or lifting power lines to allow passage so the buildings could keep on going with no stops. Line crews back fed electricity from other substations to keep as many members as possible energized. Meeker had a total of 400 members affected by the move.

“We did everything we could to notify those who would be affected,” Gilbertson said. “We had the Cooperative Response Center call every one of them.” Public service announcements also were run on the radio for two to three days leading up to the move.

The move progressed more smoothly along Meeker’s section of the trip. However, because of the width of the buildings, Rossow Moving was forced to dismantle mailboxes along the route and MnDOT had to remove and reinstall some road signs.

The move came to an end at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, January 19 as it pulled onto the Farm-Rite lot.

By Jan. 29, the pieces had been pulled onto the concrete slab and finishing work began. The building is expected to be completed sometime in April.

Meeker Cooperative Light and Power Association, Litchfield, has been providing its members electricity and other services, such as high-speed internet and security services, since 1935.

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