John Deere is a company that has been synonymous with agricultural machinery. It’s a centuries-old businessthat was founded by a young blacksmith in Grand Detour, Illinois in 1837. It produces seed drills, field sprayer, tractor, lawn mower, and of course, corn shellers.
Who is John Deere?
John Deere is best known for inventing the first commercially successful steel plow in 1837. Born in 1804 in Vermont, Deere entered Middleburry College before becoming an apprentice to a successful blacksmith named Captain Benjamin Lawrence.
Settling in Grand Detour, Deere initially had no problems finding work in the area because there were a few blacksmiths in town. He found that cast-iron plows were difficult to use in the tough prairie soil of the state. He realized that a plow constructed of high polished steel and an appropriately shaped moldboard would be able to handle the soil conditions particularly the sticky clay.
In 1837, Deere developed and produced the first commercial successful steel plow. It had a polished steel and wrought-iron frame. It was ideal for the tough soil in the Midwest, working better than other plows.
A year later, he sold his first unit to a local farmer. Soon enough, the news about the plow spread like wildfire that two neighbors soon placed orders. By 1841, Deere was producing up to 100 plows a year.
By 1855, Deere’s factory had grown bigger that it was producing 10,000 units a year.
By the turn of the 20th century, John Deere was one of the largest firms in the Midwest. It was big enough to purchase Marseilles Company. The latter had been producing corn shellers as early as 1887, when it launched its cyclone self-feed corn sheller.
It was during this time when mechanical corn shellers were the rage in the market. Farmers back then could choose from simple, hand-held shellers to more elaborate and bulky units.
When John Deere acquired stock control of Marseilles Company in 1911, it proved to be a boon to the then fledgling corn sheller production of the Illinois based firm.Three years earlier, Deere had been marketingits own line of Deere and Mansur corn shellers.
Yet the purchase of Marseiller Company in 1911 was a big shot in the arm for the corn sheller production unit of the company. In fact, the John Deere corn shellermodels in the 1920s bore a striking resemblance to the Marseilles corn shellers.
Interestingly, the corn shellers of Deere came in a few years earlier than John Deere tractors. It was only in 1917 when the company bought the maker of Waterloo Boy tractors after years of contemplating to go into tractor production. Soon enough, the said vehicle became the company’s core product.
John Deere corn shellers may not have lasted long enough as those of the company’s tractors but these early 20th century machines remain popular among antique collectors and machine hobbyists.
The first three models of John Deere corn shellers were also called the “one-hole” shellers. All of these models were produced in the firm’s Moline, Illinois production plant. The units were manually operated at first although external belt-drive pulleys were eventually offered.
The No.1 Deere sheller was in production from 1915 to 1924. It had an angle iron frame for the lower level, with its top body made from segmented iron. Its internal pieces were also made of cast iron. Wood, meanwhile, was used for the upper and lower side panels and the internal baffles.
Then there was the No.1A, the second one-hole sheller from the firm. It was in the market from 1924 through 1936. It had an extended iron angle to contain the upper part of the sheller, and essentially replaced the cast iron portions of the earlier model. Aside from that change, the internal pieces in the No.1 were retained in the newer model.
The next model, the No.1B, was manufactured from 1936 to the early 1950s. It no longer had an upper portion, which was now redesigned into a couple of casting halves. There were several attachments included like feed trays, corn nubbers, and electric motor power.
The Two-Hole Shellers
The very first two-hole sheller from John Deere was appropriately the No.2. It had a design that resembled No.1, with an added feature to complete an additional path. It was manufactured from 1915 through 1931.
It was a bigger machine than the No.1, with an angle iron frame for the lower level. Its segmented cast iron top body, meanwhile, was composed of three major pieces. Large iron pieces made up the interiors, with a back-to-back design for simultaneously shelling two ear paths. Wood was the material for its internal baffles as well as upper and lower side panels.
Unlike its older counterpart, the No.2 had a sacking elevator for gathering and elevating shelled corn. This allowed users to package the corn into sacks. There were also large feed tables and power pulleys for external belt drive connections.
The next model, the 2A, was basically the same as the 1A. But it had an extra feature which was to shell a complete additional path. Cast iron was used for the internal pieces, with a back-to-back design facilitating the shelling of two ears simultaneously. The said unit was also manufactured in Moline, Illinois. Its production run was limited from 1930 to 1936.
Commercial Corn Sheller
In 1955, the company launched a corn attachment for its Model 45 self-propelled corn sheller. It was a breakthrough of sorts, as farmers no longer had to hire a commercial corn sheller for shelling a lot of corn for feeding or selling. For the first time ever, the machine allowed corn to be threshed like wheat, oats, or soybeans. With the machine, famers could pick, shell, and clean up to 20 acres of corn in one operation.
These days, there are still many John Deere corn shellers that you can find in antique shops and online stores. These items may be past their prime but they still appeal to hobbyists and antique collectors.