15 August 1997

OKafter a troubled start

One of the first customers to buy Claas flagship combine, the £225,000 Lexion 480, was TC Shaw & Sons. Just into its second harvest, Geoff Ashcroft went to check on progress

"ITS not the same combine it was last summer," says Peter Shaw of TC Shaw & Sons, about the Lexion 480. "Its much more reliable this time round."

From Mortgrove Farm, Lilley near Luton, Beds, the Shaw family runs 1618ha (4000 acres) of combinable crops – an area which proved to be just out of reach for the farms previous combine fleet of two rotary Claas Commandor 228 models, and meant a contractor had to be called in to help.

"The Lexion appealed on account of its higher output capability. On paper, it could be used to replace one of the Commandor 228CS and avoid having to employ a local contractor."

"It was a great theory, but with some sort of teething trouble almost every other day with the Lexion, we ran up additional combining costs last harvest by still using the contractor. I anticipated a few problems, but I wasnt really prepared for what we did get."

Further explanation reveals Mr Shaw had enough of his fair share of troubles and as a result, had the original model replaced rather than modified, in time for the 1997 harvest.

With about 404ha (1000 acres) under its belt already, Mr Shaw is much happier about the farms investment – if only because it has not missed a beat on barley and oilseed rape.

Using a combination of APS pre-threshing system, 60cm drum and twin-flow rotary separation system, the German maker rates its Lexion 480 at about 40t/hour, but Mr Shaw reckons a 30t/hour average in barley this season is a truer reflection of its capabilities.

"Last year, the biggest problem lay with the rear end of the machine. The straw chopping and spreading system just couldnt handle the volume of straw being put through the combine. We suffered a couple of blockages, burnt some belts and broke a few pulleys – as a result, we had to work below full capacity."

"Claas seems to have made all the right changes from last years specification, though I would like better access to the engines radiator," he says. "The rear hood is longer with an improved straw chopper and better access to the rear sieves. Im still a little sceptical about the machine and wont be truly satisfied until I know it will tear through a standing wheat crop."

Problems aside, Mr Shaw describes the Lexion as a drivers combine.

"The cab is comfortable and quiet, and the controls are easy to use. But the best bit is the on-board computer – it makes setting up for different crops an absolute doddle."

"I only have to select, say oilseed rape on the display screen and the combine sets itself. The concave gap, drum and rotor speeds, and sieve openings are then all set according to a pre-set programme. I can adjust the settings manually from the cab, if I want to alter the sample."

"In addition, the reel speed can be set to automatically adjust itself to changes in forward speed."

Clearly more enthusiastic about this much improved Lexion than last years model, Mr Shaw remains convinced theres still plenty of life in the farms older Commandor 228CS.

"I think wed need another 1000 acres before we considered the purchase of a second Lexion."

CLAAS LEXION DATA

&#8226 Model Lexion 480.

&#8226 Header width 7.62m (25ft) standard, 9.1m (30ft) optional.

&#8226 Engine 10.9-litre, 375hp Mercedes V6 turbo diesel.

&#8226 Separation system APS pre-threshing unit followed by 1.7m wide, 60cm diameter (66in x 23in) drum and two longitudinal separation cylinders.

&#8226 Output about 40-50t/hour in wheat.

&#8226 Cost £225,000 (9.1m header adds £6000).

Output of the Lexion is about 20% more than that of the Commandor 228CS according to Peter Shaw (below). He expects the Lexion 480 to handle the lions share of the 4000-acre harvest workload.