The scorching mid-July weather allowed one Darlington farmer to fulfil a dream by running all four of his Massey Ferguson 865 combines in one field.
Chris Hodgson’s gang of six-walker Masseys have taken 25 years to assemble and have drifted in and out of use – one joined the ranks from a Lincolnshire farm earlier this year, while another has been used for spares and had not done a day’s work in 12 years.
The combines’ 18ft headers were chomping through 52ha of Volume winter barley at a steady 3.5kph pace. Grain moisture was around the 15% mark, but the early-season crop left some sappy-looking straw.
Mr Hodgson was helped by a gang of combine enthusiasts from Somerset and Norfolk, including Rob White, who was a member of Dale Starks’ iconic US custom-cutting team of the 1970s.
Built in the mid-1980s at a time when Massey Ferguson was still ruling the roost in the world combine market, the Canadian-built 865 was a genuine prairie monster, and its predecessor – the 760 – was the biggest combine made during the 1970s.
Powered by a big Perkins V8 powerplant driving through a hydrostatic transmission, the 865 was at the cutting edge of technology for its time. It offered digital read-outs for the cylinder and fan-mill speed, which was almost unheard of for a combine of its era.
Its standout feature was the Dronningberg Powerflow header. Still pretty similar to the one used on the latest MF machines, the front row of belts made it ideal for cutting through oilseed rape crops.