The John Deere Model 300 (Series 2) Portable Farm Elevator

The John Deere Model 300 (Series 2) Portable Farm Elevator


Brian Wayne Wells

           This article remains under construction.  Periodically, new blocks of text will appear in the article and/or  current blocks of text will be corrected.


  Deere and Company of East Moline, Illinois, had been making portable elevators for use on the average family farm since     .  One of the early versions of the John Deere portable farm elevators was the Model 5-C elevator.

The Model 5-C John Deere portable farm elevator.

The Model 5-C was often accompanied with the wagon lift which was designed to make unloading of the wagon of grain or ear corn much easier.

The John Deere Model 5-C farm elevator.

The elevator was positioned along side corn crib or the granary where the corn or grain was intended to be stored on the average family farm.  Once in operation the elevator and wagon lift would greatly speed the operation of unloading of wagons and the storing the wagon loads of corn or grain during the busy harvest season.

This advertisement of the John Deere Model 5-C elevator positioned up against the corn crib on a family farm. Ear corn is being unloaded from a wagon into the hopper of the galvanized all-metal portable elevator. Because of its strong “trussed frame,” this piece of sales literature brags that the “elevator never sags.”

The Model 5-C elevator was made largely from galvanized sheet metal.  Galvanized metal resisted rust far better than exposed unpainted sheet metal–lasting decades longer that exposed sheet metal.  Originally, the elevator was powered by its own stationary hit and miss engine.  Later, after the advent of tractors as a common power source on family farms, the John Deere elevator was fitted with power take-off shaft which allowed modern tractors to power the Model 5-C elevator.

A professional drawing of the power take-off shield on the John Deere Model 5-C galvanized farm elevator. The artist creating this drawing has attempted to recreate the visible effects of “spangling” on the sheet metal PTO shield which are the results of the galvanizing process.

However, during the Second World War, wartime restrictions imposed on the manufacturing industry directed that all galvanizing would, for the duration of the war, be used only for the military effort and galvanizing for civilian use would be prohibited.  Accordingly, John Deere elevators began to be made out of regular sheet metal which was painted “John Deere green” for protection from rust.  Following the war, a new John Deere  elevator was introduced in 1946.  This was the new improved “Model 300” portable farm elevator.  The Model 300 rode on just two wheels rather than four wheels.  The wheels were located new the center of balance on the elevator.  Thus, even with the hopper attached to the bottom end of the elevator, the a single person might be able to pick up the bottom end of the Model 300 and attach the elevator to the drawbar of a tractor.

This center section of a 1946 piece of sales literature shows the Model 300 John Deere elevator carefully positioned against the corn crib on a family farm. Because this is a 1946 piece of literature, we know that the elevator advertised here is the older and  narrower “Series 1” John Deere elevator.  As noted below, the Series 1 John Deere elevator was replaced in 1953 by the Series 2 elevator.   With the top end of the elevator directly over the proper hold in the roof, the spout of the Model 300 has already been lowered into hole. Inside, out of sight of the camera, the extension chutes have already been attached the spout have been attached to the spout which will direct the ear corn to the proper area of the corn crib.

Indeed if the ground was firm and level as in the picture from the 1946 piece of sales literature shown above, a crew  of two or three people might be able to “fine tune” the position of the elevator by muscle power, to get the spout of the elevator directly over the hole in the roof of the corn crib or granary.  Additionally, the elevator could be raised or lowered by winch operated by a hand crank  This made the 300 easier to position next to the corn crib or granary.  This made the elevator easier to transport.

In the picture from the 1946 advertising literature shown on the lower right side, a John Deere Model A tractor can be seen transporting the Model 300 elevator down a public road. The fact that a Model A tractor is being used means that the elevator is a “Series 1” John Deere elevator.  In later advertising pictures of the “Series 2” elevators similar advertising pictures will show the John Deere Model 50 and/or Model 60 tractors transporting the elevator.  Since the 50 and 60 tractors replaced the Model B and A John Deere tractors in 1953 we can surmise that the new improved “Series 2” elevators replaced the Series 1 elevator in 1953 coincident with the introduction of the numbered (Models 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80  tractors.  In this particular picture of the elevator being transported we can see that the elevator has been lowered to a moderate level low enough to avoid power lines, telephone lines and trees that might be hanging over the public road.  The cables holding the elevator can clearly be seen extending up to the fixed high point on the supports over the wheels.  In the picture on the bottom of the left side of the page, the elevator is shown in operation, positioned against a corn crib.  Note that the elevator has been raised to the extreme high position such that cables are hyper-extended under the elevator channel.

However, with the temporary removal of a spacer bar between the two uprights the the elevator can be lowered to almost ground level as in the picture below.

This John Deere Model 300 elevator has had the cross member bar between the two uprights over the wheels removed to allow the elevator to be lowered to the extreme lowest position. The cross member can be seen dangling from the upright on the left side. With the cross member removed a great deal of the weight of the elevator rests on the two uprights. causing them to spread or squeeze together Accordingly, the cross member will be attached before the elevator is moved very far.  A new ball type hitch has replaced the original hitch on this Model 300, indicating that it is a restoration project being transported home by a new purchaser.

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