Demolishing a silo, solo!

I had to laugh at this video clip of a man demolishing a grain silo on a farm – even as I winced at the lack of safety precautions, and the danger in which he placed himself!

He’s lucky that didn’t turn into an instant Darwin Award . . .



  1. Peter,

    For a number of years, I worked for a company that both moved (by taking apart and then rebuilding in a new location) and built new concrete stave silos.

    On many occasions, a farmer would ask us to demolish an additional silo that was on his property that we had no use for in our business. We would normally try to get out of doing the demo because, as you note, it is somewhat hazardous. We would tell the farmer the steps to take in order to get the job done as safely as possible.

    Every once in a while, we would do the demo ourselves. I have been involved in this activity with about a dozen concrete stave silos (which is what this silo was). I have to tell you that he did it about exactly right. It is one of those things that looks far more hazardous than it actually is, particularly with a relative sound structure like that silo. It gives you some warning before it goes – it will usually just tip over on the side you have broken out with the hammer, but sometimes will drop straight down. Then the challenge is to avoid the temptation to go over and hit it again. When it does drop straight down, it will generally fall more or less towards the break after a little while, though it is better if it doesn't go straight down.

  2. We are so used to big demolition companies doing this job, but they also charge a lot. If the farmer needed it done, and didn't have the money, this would have been his only alternative. Phil K's comment makes sense.

  3. I recall seeing a show about Steeplejack and demolition expert Fred Dibnah. He would take down smoke stacks in a similar manner, except that he would insert wooden bracing made from railroad ties in place of the removed bricks, then set a fire which would draw through the stack, and burn through the supports, bringing the chimney down while he was safely out of harm's way.

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