1970s Claas Mercator
Bought second-hand 25 years ago for about £500, this Claas Mercator is thought to be from the early 1970s.
Owned by the Taylor family from Lower Dairy Farm, Colchester, it has had just one breakdown this harvest while combining their 12ha of barley.
Despite a crumpled rear – a result of parking on a bank without a handbrake – it is still going strong. It is the only working combine on the farm, although there are the two similar models kept for spare parts.
Owner Humphrey Taylor says that he was most excited by the prospect of power steering when he bought it. He also notes that air-conditioning malfunctions are not a problem he has encountered.
1959 Massey 780 special
Pete Price from Bucknell, South Shropshire, cuts his 1.2ha of spring barley using this 1959 Massey 780 Special, bought from a local farmer 15 years ago for £130.
A non-removable 10ft header and a top speed of only 4mph makes transporting it down the road the main hurdle during harvest.
But Mr Price reports that it’s as good as any once it’s in work. “You get as good a sample as you do from the new combines,” he says.
A 1961 Massey 788 is kept for spares, which he has used to replace the gearbox and water pump – both common problems with this model.
Using a 3t trailer on corn cart it takes two days to complete the combining.
1962 Ransomes 902
This Ransomes 902 had last been used in the field in the early 1980s, until it was completely overhauled and rebuilt over the past two-and-a-half years by owner Paul Roegele.
Top speed is 11mph, meaning its 17-mile trip to a local vintage day in Norfolk takes almost three hours.
As Ransomes is now defunct, spare parts are either restored or built to order. In the field it sticks to a steady walking pace and, with no cab, it makes for a dusty ride.
1980s John Deere 955
This John Deere 955 with a 12ft header is seen here at work this September in some of the 60ha it cuts each year.
The picture shows Syd Clark cutting Optic spring barley for Mary Singleton at Scotston Farm at St Cyrus on the north-east coast of Scotland.
Alasdair Orr, who sent Farmers Weekly the photo, says the combine is in its 31st season. “Sometimes it’s slow progress with these old machines, but because it’s well maintained it still gives a good sample, there’s no depreciation, it’s easy on fuel and reliable, so it’s cheap combining,” he says.
“Also, being light and on duals means it can keep going when it’s soft underfoot.”
1959 Massey 780 and modern Deutz-Fahr
A family affair: pictured is a 1959 Massey 780 Special unloading into a Massey 35 and trailer, driven by Brian and Cecelia Webster. Following behind is a 1998 Deutz-Fahr 4075HTS, driven by son Alan, whose 21ft cut dwarfs the modest 8ft 6in cut of the Massey.
Brian Webster bought the combine five years ago for nostalgic reasons – it was the first combine he ever drove. He comments that the yield and sample of the wheat were just as good for both combines on the day, yielding 6.7t/ha.
Although the combine’s engine hours are unknown, Brian reckons it’s had a relatively easy life and always starts first time. However, as a petrol/TVO model, the chaff gets hot on the engine and can catch alight if you don’t keep it clean.