7 April 2000

Born-again combines at such affordable prices

Reconditioned and second-

hand parts could prove a

suitably cheap alternative for

those who want another

years service from old, but

useful combines.

Geoff Ashcroft strolled

among the combines at a

Lincs recycling business

WITH about 150 combines crammed on to a 2ha (5-acre) site, Stuart Johnson prides himself in being able to source virtually any part for most popular makes of combine built during the last 40 years.

"Weve got quite a collection of combines being recycled and if we havent got what customers are looking for, then we probably know someone who will," says Mr Johnson who runs P & SM Johnson Agricultural Engineers with his brother Paul, at Dog Drove, Holbeach Drove, near Crowland in Lincolnshire. "Some of our combines date back as far as the 1950s, with our latest machines being late 1980s models."

For the Johnson Brothers, the interest in recycling started about 10 years ago with just one combine. Since then, the brothers have developed the business into a parts reconditioning and supply service which also extends to servicing about 50 combines each year.

Development of the business also means a 24-hour breakdown service is now available during the harvest period and as a result, four service vans, two fitters and a storeman are kept busy, along with Stuart and Paul Johnson.

"Over the last 10 years, dismantling combines has led to pre-harvest servicing in addition to the supply of new and reconditioned components," says Mr Johnson. And to keep up with demand, a new workshop is under construction so more combines can be serviced during the quiet winter months.

Unlike traditional scrap yards, Stuart Johnson does not let customers loose in the yard with their own tools. "We spend the winter months stripping out useful components and reconditioning parts as required. By the time harvest comes around, we have a good supply of fast moving items such as wobble boxes, sieves, concaves and hydraulic components which are already on the shelf, in case of breakdowns," he says.

Mr Johnson reckons his business represents an affordable option for growers looking to get more use from their ageing combines. Compared with new parts prices, his reconditioned parts – at about 50% of new price and with a seasons warranty – are an attractive proposition.

"Few will want to reinvest thousands of pounds in new combines when corn prices are so poor – it makes better financial sense to repair equipment and use reconditioned parts where possible," he adds.

And recognising the value of good quality, reconditioned parts for old combines, Mr Johnson has been expanding the engineering side of the business so drive shafts and other easily made parts can be remanufactured on site.

Currently, about 95% of parts are sold throughout the UK, either through direct collection by customers or by mail order. Exporting parts is an area P & SM Johnson has yet to develop.

At Dog Drove, Mr Johnsons stock of combines is continually updated. Machines are sourced from various outlets including farm sales, unwanted dealer trade-ins and fire-damaged write-offs from insurance companies. And when totally stripped of everything useful, a local scrap metal dealer is called upon to dispose of what little remains from what was once perhaps, a fine example of 20th century harvesting technology.

"Theres not a lot that gets wasted – when a stripped-down combine eventually leaves here, it really has reached the end of its useful life," says Stuart Johnson.

P & S M Johnsons stock of combines includes MF, New Holland, Claas, John Deere and Laverda models. If Stuart Johnson doesnt have what you need, chances are he knows someone who does.

Stuart Johnson sees machinery recycling businesses like his as an economical way of getting more life out of existing machines.