25 February 2000

Have an eye for a bargain

What ailments are there to

look out for when choosing a

used combine? There might

be fewer second-hand

machines on the market, but

for the trained eye, there

are still bargains available.

Andy Moore takes some

tips from Claas

UKs Trevor Tyrrell

FOR every two new combines sold, about three used machines are traded into the second hand market says Trevor Tyrrell of Claas UK.

Such a figure might suggest a wealth of available used machines, but with only half the number on hand this season compared with 98/99, Mr Tyrrell advises buyers to move fast and snap up bargains.

"The best time to purchase good used machines is from September, although there can be occasional bargains available up until the following February," he says.

"Poor farm incomes and a steady increase in higher capacity combines are the main reasons for the drop in available used machines. Larger growers or contractors are replacing one big six walker combine instead of two five walker machines."

Mr Tyrrell suggests a typical retail price of about £55,000 for a five year old Claas Mega 218 in good condition with 1250 hours on the clock.

But while price, age and hours are a good starting point to narrow down the choice of machine, the next challenge is to determine whether the combine has had a hard or easy life.

With combines encompassing a vast array of components, mechanisms and drivelines, where is the best place to begin when checking the machines overall condition?

"A switched-on buyer would always start at the header because it gives signs of the machines previous operating conditions and what has gone through the threshing system," says Mr Tyrrell.

He suggests inspecting the cutterbar skids for wear, while dents in the table and broken auger fingers will indicate that stones and debris have taken their toll. Welding and re-plating four skids costs about £150.

With the header removed, the next component to check is the conveyor for bar straightness, chain tension and wear pads. All of these, he says, will offer useful telltale signs of what has passed through the machine.

On most machines, the drum and concave can be inspected by removing a front and two side panels.

A glance at the drum rasp bars and concave bars for dents and straightness will save unnecessary expenditure later, especially with a reconditioned drum costing about £725 fitted, Mr Tyrrell explains.

"When checking under the side panels, also check for chain/belt tension wear, pulley hot-spots and oil leaks," he says. "It might seem basic advice, but looking at the obvious could go a long way to see if the machine really has had one careful owner."

At the back of the machine, important components to consider for wear are the return grain elevator, unloading auger and straw chopper blades. Failure to do so could result in extra outlay later on. Replacing a full set of straw chopper blades will cost about £150 – an unloading auger about £1060.

"After a thorough inspection of all the major components, final attention should be paid to the safety side of the machine such as panel work, cab interior, glazing and road/work lights," advises Mr Tyrrell. "Also look for machines covered by a warranty for extra piece of mind."

Average prices

Average prices for a Claas Mega 218 and the former 108 model with header and warranty, all in good condition according to age.

Age Hours £

4 1000 60,000

5 1250 55,000

6 1500 49,000

7 1750 46,000

8 2000 43,000

9* 2250 33,500

10* 2500 29,000

*108 model