3 September 1999

Big claim for big harvester

SDF, with the giant fly-by-wire

Deutz-Fahr TopLiner 8XL

combine enters the big

league. Andy Collings reports

IT is the worlds largest conventional combine harvester, claims SDF for the new Deutz-Fahr TopLiner 8XL.

And equipped with a 408hp engine, eight straw walkers and a potential to harvest up to 45t/hour of wheat, that claim that may have some substance.

The 8XL is powered by a water cooled, turbocharged V6 Deutz engine driving through a hydrostatic transmission, four-wheel drive is an option.

In terms of initial threshing, the system remains much the same as other TopLiner models with use of a 60cm diameter, 1.15m wide drum followed by a turbo separator. All rotational speeds and clearance gaps can be set from the cab using a new computer-controlled system. But more about that later.

Deutz-Fahr designers realised that to expect straw passing through a combine in high volumes to spread itself over a wider area than the width of the drum was a pious hope. So, to ensure the 2m width of the XLs eight straw walkers is fully exploited, the new combine is also equipped with a spreading drum.

Straw walkers, with their 7.48sq m separation area, comprise two sections – two banks of eight walkers having a counter agitation action – with straw being passed from one bank to the other. Straw exiting the combine is either directed through a chopping unit or, if required, left as a swath on the ground.

Header options include 7.2m, 8.1m and 9m cutting widths with both lateral and fore and aft compensation – 20% and 6%, respectively.

If one ignores the shear size of the 8XL – it has a 10,500-litre grain tank on board – the actual threshing is, as the manufacturer says, pretty conventional.

But there are features which set it apart from other combines. Before entering the cab to discover what these might be, it is worth noting that the drive to the header and elevator is hydrostatic, rather than mechanical. Deutz-Fahr says this not only allows the width of the combine to be contained to road manageable proportions, but makes power available which cannot easily be transmitted by belts.

Not fully necessary in UK crops, a 10-row maize header may, says the firm, require maximum use of the available 140hp provided by the hydrostatic system. There is also the option to control header and elevator speeds in respect of certain crop requirements.

But the jewel in the crown is in the cab, in the form of the Terminal Control System (TCS), which not only monitors and controls all combine functions but can be used to automatically set up the combines concave, fan and sieves having been told what crop type is to be harvested.

On the standard screen the operator is provided with information such as ground speed, straw walker losses (compensated for ground speed) sieve losses, returns elevator load, grain tank level, bed cutting height and bed balance (for slope compensation), grain moisture and yield data. A neat feature is the ability to "shut down" the width of the header when working out triangles or narrow strips. This helps ensure accurate yield reports.

The TCS system on the 8XL also incorporates an Automatic Machine Adjustment feature which is responsible for the automatic setting of the combine for any given crop.

When activated, the operator first enters the type of crop – there are 16 to choose from. The screen then asks whether the crop is normal, wet or dry. Once entered, the drum speed, front and rear concave gaps, turbo separator speed and clearance, spreader drum clearance, fan speed and sieve gaps are all placed at pre-programmed settings. Operators can tweak these settings if required.

TCS can also be used as part of a GPS yield mapping system with data downloaded to an office PC by a chip card. Conversely, information concerning field data can be programmed into the TCS unit.

Price of the 8XL with 7.2m header is listed at £190,000. &#42