Grain cart upgraded to weigh wagon

This year when Jeff Phillips harvested replicated plots, he didn’t have to line up someone with a weigh wagon. And because the plots were only 100 feet long, he was wary of relying on just using the weight recorded by the yield monitor on the combine. Instead, he was able to get accurate weights from a grain cart that the combine dumped into before corn was dumped out of the cart into another wagon or truck and taken to storage.

Key Points

Inexpensive grain cart gets turned into a weigh wagon.

The cost for the conversion was under $3,000, plus labor.

Three load cells were installed to measure weight in the cart.


Phillips, Tippecanoe County Extension educator, assisted with Indiana Prairie Farmer/Precision Planting plots at Throckmorton Research Center near Romney. The plots were designed to help determine if specific combinations of planting speed, tension on planter units and seed depth placement resulted in better stands, and ultimately more yield. Watch for a report on those results soon.

Until this year, Phillips had to round up a weigh wagon to weigh small plots. Last winter, Nate Linder and Pete Illingworth, part of the farm crew, decided to revamp the farm’s older grain cart, a John Deere model that holds about 400 bushels, so that it could double as a cart for unloading the combine and a weigh wagon at the same time. The goal was to install digital scales. Cost, without labor, would be under $3,000. The farm crew supplied the labor.

“It took parts of several days because we didn’t work on it full time,” Illingworth says. “But it was just a matter of doing it step by step.”

Installing load cells

To accomplish weighing, the crew needed to add a load cell inside each rear wheel and a load cell just behind the hitch to the tractor. The first step was to remove one wheel at a time and revamp the hub. “The cart doesn’t have a true axle that runs all the way across,” Linder explains. “But the inside of each wheel had to be redesigned.”

With the wheels off, Linder cut the spindle so the load cell could be mounted. Instead of using a torch, he used a cutting blade on a disc. “The torch would have been faster, but we wanted a clean cut so the cell would fit properly,” he explains.

The tongue was also a challenge. He had to remove the original hitch and redesign a hitch, placing the load cell just behind the actual hitch that hooked to the tractor. It also required precise cutting and fitting.

Finishing the job

Mounting the digital display on the front of the cart was relatively easy, Illingworth says. The person recording weights and pulling test weight samples can read it at eye level. By zeroing it out after each dump, the new weight represents what was in the combine grain tank.

“It was simply a matter of running wires that could be connected to the tractor when in use,” Illingworth says. “You could also install the readout in the cab if you wanted to do so.”

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New life:
This older grain cart is now more valuable in the field because a scale was added.

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Install load cells: Revamping the wheels and spindles to install load cells was a major task.

This article published in the December, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.