Homemade Corn Sheller Built to Work

Follow this life story about a homemade corn sheller built to work better and more efficient than when it was bought.

| May 2020

Shelled corn pouring into wagon, the kind of scene that would have made Harold Kemmerer bellow, “More corn! More corn!”

Harold Kemmerer died in 2007, but people still talk about his work ethic. He bought a farm (and equipment) in 1937 and paid it off in three years. At his farm near Plainfield, Illinois, he raised corn and oats, feeder hogs and cattle.

Over the years, he hauled grain commercially and ran a grain service to sell others’ crops. So when he bought a small, pull-type corn sheller that couldn’t keep up with him, he didn’t lose any sleep over it. He just built an implement that could.

Working with his brother-in-law, Lloyd Erickson — a mechanical genius in his own right — Harold devised a mounted sheller that would operate on an industrial scale. They started with a 1944 468ci Buda-Lanova diesel engine salvaged from a Greyhound bus once used in the Chicago area and put it into a 1932 Le Moon truck purchased for $75 from a junkyard.

In the process, the truck was lengthened by 4 feet: 1 foot in front, to accommodate the Buda engine, and 3 feet in back, where a 1950 Joliet Big 6 corn sheller (purchased for $2,400) produced by Belle City Mfg., Racine, Wisconsin, was anchored to the chassis.

Harold’s creation, completed in 1950 when he was 34, mirrored his work ethic. “It was built to go to the job, shell corn, come home, refuel and be ready to go the next day,” says his grandson, Jim Kemmerer Jr., Fort Scott, Kansas. “His sheller was bigger, faster and stronger than others of the day.”


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