I need to lift a barn with jacks

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Yes, this is wayyyyy overboard for many of you, but us farmers are used to doing things like this. However, this one is a little overwhelming even to me. I have a barn that is a steel barn with wood framing. It's roughly 70 feet long and 30 feet wide. The bottom is where animals used to go, and was originally rock walls. The top is a heavily built wooden frame with tin on the sides and roof.
The problem is that the rock foundation is gone on one side and one end. All that is holding it up are the oak 6x6 posts in the center, but the corner where the both missing walls are, settled about 30 inches and was literally floating. When I bought this farm, one of the first things I did was shove a few massive rocks under that corner to keep it from settling more. Today I decided to see if I could lift it. Using a common Hi Lift tractor jack, I was able to raise that corner about 15 inches, or half the height it needs to be raised to get back to normal. Lifting that 15" not only had my eyes bulging out to operate the jack, but caused the jack to bend. However, I have it stabalized now, using a stack of concrete blocks under that corner.
My plan is to get it close to normal height and put railroad timbers (ties) on end under the corner, and at 12 foot spacing along the wall. Because there is still part of the old rock foundation below the ground level, I can not dig them into the ground, but instead plan to use 45 deg. braces on the top where the post meets the barn frame, then pour concrete around the post bases, and embed the cement into the old rock. Once it's close to normal height, I can then run horizontal treated 2X8's from post to post. I dont plan to get this barn exactly level, but with some shims, (and some luck) it should be close.
I am not sure what I will do once it's all back on posts. I have considered concrete block, re-using the old rocks with mortar, pouring concrete walls, or just using treated wood for the underground (and above ground, since it's built into a hill, walls). At this point, the wood seems the easiest.
Either way, I am posting this because I need more jack power. I have a 20 ton bottle jack, but those things lift so little at a time. I believe I can only lift 4 inches before I have to put more blocking under the jack for another 4". The tractor jack is not strong enough and neither am I to lift any higher with that jack. I do also have some of those old screw jacks, but those things are harder to use than bottle jacks, but will come in handy for temporary posts.
Does anyone have any idea what other jacks are available for this sort of thing? I need POWER, and lots of it, because my tractor loader would not even lift it, and I can easily life a one ton round bale with it.
The other question is how much does something like this actually weigh? It's all Oak framed, an covered with steel barn siding. The sill plate as well as the floor joists are 2x8 (actual size, rough cut timbers). There is also a bad section in the sill plate (about 8 feet) where I will have to attach a large timber when I lift at that point. I should note that lifting this will be a slow process and I wont be lifting the whole building at one time. The barn will flex as I lift at different points, and I'll be doing most of the lifting from the outside until it is stabalized. Then I will work on the posts under the building, which appear strong but some of the support beams have dropped off the outer walls and are suspended in the air, only jammed under those posts.
Mark
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snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

You do seem to know what you are doing and I hope you are aware of safety. The bottle jacks are the only solution I know of but you need more than one of them plus a lot of dunnage for blocking as you go.
Your project sounds much more intimidating (safety wise) than I would care to tackle and I have done some strange things in my long life.
Harry K
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snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

That's roughly same size as one grandad built--38x66. It's frame construction, however on poured foundation w/ wood siding and shingle (now shake) roof...

Damn lucky you didn't kill yourself w/ that make-do contraption...
Raised ours enough to replace sill plate on one end and half of the length using three 20-T bottle jacks and several 4x6 to spread load across several rafters. ....

There are long-lift versions of bottle jacks that will do the job although you will need several lifts even there. But, they're expensive and I would be very reluctant to trust the really cheap Chinese imports for this kind of work where my life is at stake.
If I had to make such a high lift, I think I'd call the guys local here who do house moving and borrow/rent a couple of lifts from them as it will be pretty pricey to find the capacity and the length I'm thinking.
As for how much you're trying to lift, would need a better picture more data to actually guess, but probably not more than about 10T I'd guess in a given lift.
My recommendation is to go slow and steady rather than try to get the whole thing at one go. It's possibly going to get more unstable as you get higher owing to the long-term "set" the building has taken over the years. Whatever you do, be careful--I'm amazed you didn't have a disaster already w/ the over-stressing of the jack you already did.
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On Wed, 17 Aug 2005 02:09:21 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com scribbled this interesting note:

Mechanical railroad jacks do a fine job of this. The amount of lift isn't all that much (six or eight inches at most) but the ones we have are 30 ton jacks, mechanical, and can easily lift a house when shimming a foundation, so your barn would be easy. The hard part in this project, as you already know, is deciding how to spread the load correctly so the structure stays stable and safe to work around.
Good luck.
-- John Willis snipped-for-privacy@airmail.net (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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First off -- good luck.
You want "power", but are complaining about the slowness and small lift height of your jacks. Those two facts are related, of course -- if it went faster, you'd have less power. Laws of physics and all... But renting 20T bottle jacks should be cheap.
I would be real hesitant to use railroad ties for anything in this project, other than laid flat on the ground for a temporary base. Especially if they are old, used, or weathered. Remember, these things are designed to lay flat to take a load, not raised on end. Loaded end-wise, they could split, splinter, or collapse. Use steel screw-type columns, or decent wood 6x6 posts. Or better yet, use a 3'x3' stack of 4x4 lumber (see below).
There are some other things being neglected. Supposing you do get the whole barn up (30''!) in the air, supported on lally columns, or whatever. Just the slightest wind will tip your whole barn over. You need horizontal (diagonal) bracing, and a lot of it.
The way a house-mover does it is to build several stacks of 4x4 or 6x6 lumber -- in the corners, along the walls, in the middle, etc. Each square stack has two pieces laid down about 3' apart. The next layer has two pieces laid 3' apart across the first layer, and so on, in a tall stack. Takes a lot of lumber to do, but will give decent horizontal bracing. Especially if you nail some diagonal bracing to the stack. As you raise, you put another layer on at each 4'', and every few layers bind the whole thing together with another diagonal brace.
A house mover would probably use large steel beams on top of the built-up columns, to support the floor. You could just use 6x6 beams, or something, though.
Finally, for the walls, I would probably go with poured concrete walls and footers. It seems by far the easiest, and probably the cheapest as well. A concrete contractor might be able to tell if the remaining stone footer is good enough, and just put up frames and pour on top of that. It take little labor, and be done in a matter of days.
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80 or 90 of your frinds & neighbors??? .... alright everyone lift together now... on three... 1..2.."
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kevin wrote:

A 6x8 unless it is so rotted/split that it is falling completely apart to begin w/ is <not> going to fail at a 30" column height. Nor would it fail at a full length in compression unless that were the case.
It is also highly unlikely that simply raising the one side back to its original level is going to create a major additional lateral wind load...he's "only" raising it 2-1/2', after all. While that's a lot of sag for a building in functional terms, it isn't much in the overall height of what is probably something like 40' to the ridge beam...
That said, I agree that short lifts w/ adequate bracing and extreme care is warranted to make sure the structure doesn't shift unexpectedly. If would, of course, help to have some idea of what overall shape the rest of the structure is in. If it's stood in the present condition and only sagged downward rather than leaned greatly, it would appear to be pretty well constructed.
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Misunderstanding, I think. I was under the impression that he was going to be lifting the entire barn at least somewhat, with one side at least 30'' or so. And that this would be done by placing jacks and colums on the floor in the lower level (basement), and putting pressure on the floor 8' or more overhead, resulting in a floating barn on 8' or longer "stilts".
I didn't mean to imply that wind load would increase. I meant to say that if the whole building was on stilts, with no bracing, then the slightest horizontal load would topple the whole thing.
My concern for the compression on railroad ties was based on the assumption that he had these just lying around, and probably not in the greatest shape. I have some too -- they have been outside for at least a decade, and many have rotten cores, even though the outside seems mostly okay.
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kevin wrote:

OK, I can see that...
His statement was there's one corner/wall that has had a foundation failure and he's jacking it back to grade...
I guess the condition of ties depends a whole lot on the where they are stored--here where it's dry I have 30 yr old ones that have been stacked for the proverbial <long time> and they're still as sound as when we got them...
I do agree that if he uses one on end for blocking under his lift he needs to be sure he does have lateral support to keep it from rocking/shifting...
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The building is still on it's foundation on two walls, it's the other two that collapsed, and the corner in the collapsed section is what fell the most, which is what I jacked up 16" yeaterday, (just that corner). I wont use crappy ties. They dont have to be new, but must be solid. If I decide to keep the ties as part of the permanent structure, I will likely buy treated timbers for at least the corner and where the support beams rest. Then I will use solid ties elsewhere.
There are still several solid 8x8 oak posts under it too, but that corner that I lifted is the part that was beyond all the posts and good foundation, and thus dropped the most. However, the entire length of the barn is lower along the "long side" where the foundation fell. On the end where the good foundation is, it's near perfect. As it goes toward the read where that corner is gone, it gradually gets lower. My guess would be the "long side" drops from 4 to 12 inches (getting worse as it gets toward that corner. Then the last 12 feet (past the last posts) (which is that corner), dropped about 30". I now raised that corner, so it's only got to go up about 15 more inches.
I tend to think the whole barn will always be slightly lower on that one side after all it's been thru. I'd settle for that whole side being 4" lower and leave it. I spent time looking it over today and walking in it was much more solid now. That upper structure was built extremely wall, considering it is still intact and relatively tight. The foundation was build very poorly though. It looks like the mortar in the joints of the rocks is nothing more than sand. Of course, this thing is probably 60 ro 70 years old, and water has been running against it for years. When I do complete the foundation I will need to get a dozer to redirect the runnoff around it, not thru the building. The barn is worth saving though. The frame and tin are all in good shape yet, except a few spots.
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Either way, I am posting this because I need more jack power. I have

Slow down, Mark!
Have you ever watched shows where they move barns, houses, and even lighthouses?
They have a vast array of hydraulic jacks, and lift only a very small amount at a time. You have to get the thing coming up evenly, or there's a kink, a snap, and a collapse. I would get some more bottle jacks like you have, plenty of crosstimbering, and do it just as slow as it takes to keep it from tweaking, breaking, and collapsing into a messy pile. Bottle jacks are cheap, and you could probably borrow enough to do the job without having to go buy some. And even if you had to buy some, they aren't that expensive.
Think about it.
You're lifting up a barn. It ain't like using a car lift. It goes s l o w l y.
Steve
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snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

I got to watch a church being raised up as 6 or 8 blocks worth of cinder block foundation was built underneath it on the fly. (Across the street from where I was working that year.) They did it with screw-type jacks spaced around the entire sill and would move them a few block widths sideways as needed.
--
"The career politicians are keeping the elevator at the penthouse
floor and not sending it down for the rest of us." - Kinky Friedman
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<snip> | Either way, I am posting this because I need more jack power. I have | a 20 ton bottle jack, but those things lift so little at a time. I | believe I can only lift 4 inches before I have to put more blocking | under the jack for another 4". The tractor jack is not strong enough | and neither am I to lift any higher with that jack. I do also have | some of those old screw jacks, but those things are harder to use than | bottle jacks, but will come in handy for temporary posts. | | Does anyone have any idea what other jacks are available for this sort | of thing? | I need POWER, and lots of it, because my tractor loader would not even | lift it, and I can easily life a one ton round bale with it. | | The other question is how much does something like this actually | weigh? It's all Oak framed, an covered with steel barn siding. The | sill plate as well as the floor joists are 2x8 (actual size, rough cut | timbers). There is also a bad section in the sill plate (about 8 | feet) where I will have to attach a large timber when I lift at that | point. I should note that lifting this will be a slow process and I | wont be lifting the whole building at one time. The barn will flex as | I lift at different points, and I'll be doing most of the lifting from | the outside until it is stabilized. Then I will work on the posts | under the building, which appear strong but some of the support beams | have dropped off the outer walls and are suspended in the air, only | jammed under those posts. | Check with the local heavy truck wrecker company. Many have air bladders that they place under a tipped load to ease it back into place with air pressure. FWIW I've seen these things move a Mississippi river barge.
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I lifted a somewhat smaller building, a cottage. I used bottle jacks, and a few screw jacks. . The key is, IMO, and I'm not a profesional, is to go SLOW. Bring it up the capacity of the jack, put in cribbing, let it down, raise the jack, repeat. My project required 16 footers at 48" deep, on top of that I build my block piers. This building was on a hill. My tallest piers were 48". On the up hill side I built right on the footings. I really like the concrete suggestion. The materials are cheap. Once you get the barn raised you can build your forms and call the concrete guy. If the rock foundation is still there I may consider pouring my concrete over it (Inside forms of course). You can also consider stem walls and retaining waslls while you are at it. Once the concrete is set up, you can SLOWLY lower the thing back down. I would NOT have any wood in contact with the earth. Thats why the building probably failed to begin with.

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Mark,
I suspect you're not going to like this advice but get help. A structural engineer can make a reasonable guess as to the weight that you are lifting and suggest where to locate temporary supports. Once you know where the temp supports go you may want to pour some footings. You'll need support columns. The type with screw jacks are good for this. See if you can rent the columns, screw, and bottle jacks. Use a level to be sure that your support columns are plumb. Now at each jacking point you'll have a bottle jack under a 6x6 under the barn's sill plate. At each end of the 6x6 you'll have a support column. Jack up, raise the support columns to support the weight, move to the next jack and repeat.When you're done the barn will be up on the support columns and you can remove the bottle jacks, pour footing and build a foundation.
Dave M.
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used railway jacks and H.D. 120 ton house movers jacks they work well. Any thing lighter than that and you'll end up killing yourself or someone. Whatever you do Don't use concrete blocks, they just explode under pressure .. Make yourself an crib out of timber and stack as you would an log house. Good luck man.
Rey
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I don't think will help you with your prticular problem due to its size, but I once lifted a small cabin in small increments (for levellingpurposes) using nothing more than a forklift! haha Hey, it worked and I didn't put myself in too much danger. I simply made sure the forks were placed in a reinforced area and let er rip. Slowly, of course.

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Update your life insurance. Sue Minocqua, WI Yamaha '00 VStar 650 (old reliable) '04 TW200 (mud = fun) Kawasaki '95 Vulcan 1500 (new friend) V#15937
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I faced a similar situation in 1990 with my 52' by 30', three story, balloon-framed barn my grandfather built in 1921. The undersized footing had cracked and sections of the foundation had toppled over. The central 8" by 8" posts were the main supports holding the barn erect. To correct these problems we used braced, screw-top, post jacks at 3' intervals under 4" by 8" by 8' beams which crossed under the floor joists of the second floor. Sequential turning the screws first leveled then slightly raised the second and third floors as a unit. With the building lifted we sawed off and removed all of the first floor walls and old posts. With the upper 2/3's of the barn lifted we excavated, formed, and poured new footings and foundation walls around the perimeter. When these cured we built new first floor walls using 2" by 6" studs and replaced the posts with new 8" by 8" and then set the building down on the new plates and posts. All the jacks (over 50) and beams were rented from an equipment rental outfit. My barn was free-standing not dug into a hillside and the low points of its sagging wasn't more the 12 inches in one corner so our post jacks with screw tops could handle the task. I had 8 hydraulic bottle jacks that I was ready to use in lifting low points but they were not needed. My use of the term "we" in the above is not accurate in that the vast bulk of the work was done by a talented friend of mine with an acquaintance of his helping. Most of the job went well but for one jack kicking out under load and cracking a bone in the helper's arm. We never computed or learned what weight we were trying to lift but figured we would keep adding jacks until we succeeded in lifting the building. Our first guess at the number of jacks needed was sufficient.
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I have done a bunch of new foundations under barns and houses. It's not that big a deal, as long as you have lots of jacks. I'm not clear on the configuration of the framing, but it sounds sort of like you need to cut any rot off, make the walls the same height above the rot, and attach a honkin' big mud sill, like a 6x6 treated timber to the bottom of the wall. Then you can put several jacks under the mud sill and bring the whole building up as a unit. Avoid jacking much on one point, or you will rack the framing, possibly beyond repair.
Once you have it jacked into position, crawl around inside and re-nail or metal strap anything that looks loose. You would hate to do all that work, only to have the barn blow over in the next wind storm.
Hmmm. 30x70 quonset hut on stone foundation with one side swinging free. I STILL can't get a picture of this in my head.
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