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Celebrate early engineering ingenuity

Forgotten Tool: Manure loaders were a giant step up from the pitchfork.

November 24, 2022

1 Min Read
manure loader bucket from 1950s
BIG BUCKET: Why is this manure loader bucket so large and odd-shaped? If you know, let Indiana Prairie Farmer know. Tom J. Bechman

The John Deere No. 25 manure loader on this John Deere Model A tractor predated the sleek hydraulic loaders of today. Instead, it featured a unique mechanical lift system, ingenious for its time. Live power for the loader came directly from the engine’s flywheel. Yet if you needed to operate a belt-driven machine, like the John Deere 4-B corn sheller featured in the November issue and online, you could raise the loader out of your way.

One foot pedal both raised and lowered the loader. It wasn’t exactly the toggle switch operation many loaders use today, but flexing your foot was much easier than working a pitchfork by hand. The bucket automatically tripped and dumped at a certain height, or you could trip it manually with a rope.

Need your input

There is something else unusual about this loader, purchased by an Iowa farmer in 1950. The bucket shown is large and odd-shaped for a manure loader bucket.

What was this optional bucket used for? Why is it shaped this way? If you know, email your answer to [email protected] or mail it to: Indiana Prairie Farmer, 599 N. 100 W., Franklin, IN 46131. One correct entry drawn at random will receive a gift card. To be eligible, include your physical mailing address.

Mark Schlegel, Hagerstown, Ind., correctly identified that the John Deere 4-B machine featured in the previous column was a corn sheller. Congratulations! Historians say this model was designed for small farms. While most farmers powered it with tractors, John Deere claimed a 6-horsepower engine could drive the corn sheller.

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