Scrapheap Challenge – sourcing spare parts from the UK’s biggest combine breakers

Sourcing spares for ageing combines is becoming something of a challenge. Nick Fone visited to one of the UK’s biggest breakers to find out what’s on offer.

No matter what your colour preference, combines tend to have a voracious appetite for replacement bits. It’s to be expected after all, given that the average harvester carries about 1500-2500 moving parts.

But if you are running a machine that has been in service for 15 years or more then you might find getting hold of major components a struggle. Dealers are less likely to carry replacement parts as certain models begin to fade into obscurity and manufacturers own centralised stocks start to diminish for ageing bits of kit that no longer feature regularly on their parts itinerary.

So what’s the option when big chunks of metal start to show their age? Year after year chomping through acres of crops can prompt a degree of fatigue. So it should not be too big a surprise when the main table cross-auger begins to bend or the straw-walkers give out after another big blockage.

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But the cost of replacing such vital components can often cost more than the combine is actually worth – if you can track down the spares at all.

The solution? Contact one of the UK’s specialist combine breakers and see if they have what you’re after in stock.

Based on the Isle of Sheppey in north Kent, Burden Bros would claim to be one of the largest stockists of accident and fire-damaged machines.

With more than 200 combines, 40 tractors and another 40 balers lined up, the yard is an impressive sight. It has everything from ancient to modern – from classic Claysons through to the latest Lexions.

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Many of the real old-timers won’t be touched and end up tightly wedged into containers destined for countries where mechanised harvesting is still a novelty.

“The popularity of different machines really varies from country to country,” says Guy Burden.

“For example, in Guyana they go mad for Laverdas whereas in Morocco they’ve got a bit of a thing for Deutz-Fahr.”

Running the family’s export and breaking business alongside brothers John, who handles a big contracting operation, and Dale, who has recently taken over the North Kent franchise for John Deere, Guy sources most of his machines from insurance salvage agents. But increasingly, farmers are realising the value of their redundant harvesters and contacting him direct.

“Getting hold of smaller combines that are popular in places like India and Pakistan is becoming a bit of a challenge because of the tendency towards higher capacity machines in the UK,” he points out.

“For example, here on Sheppey there were over 20 combines 20 years ago, now there are only seven.”

Farmers in developing countries like the simplicity of models like the Claas Dominator, New Holland 1540 and the John Deere 1075.

They can fabricate replacement parts themselves and their light weight makes them ideal for cutting rice in paddy fields without sinking.

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Independent combine parts suppliers


Burdens Top Ten – popular parts prices

  1. Gearboxes – axle-drives, chaff-spreader gearboxes, bubble-up auger drives, etc
    Example: JD 1075 main drive gearbox – £1000 (£4420 genuine)
  2. Wobble-boxes
    Example: MF 40 wobble-box – £400 (£2052 genuine complete assembly)
  3. Pulleys
    Example: NH TX34 variable speed drum-drive pulley – £500 (£900 genuine)
  4. Drums and rotors
    Example: Claas Lexion 450 straw-chopper rotor – £1500 (£2743 genuine incl blades)
  5. Duals and wide wheels
    Example: 800/65 R32 tyres and rims – £1500 a pair (£3490 – new)
  6. Straw-walkers
    Example: NH 8070 complete straw-walker assembly – £1000 (genuine not available)
  7. Valve-blocks
    Example: JD 1175 main 5-port hydraulic valve-block – £250 (£3760 genuine)
  8. Header cross-feed auger
    20ft JD 2266 – £1000 (£3550 genuine)
    20ft NH TX34 – £1000 (genuine not available)
    20ft Claas Lexion 450 – £1000 (£5870 genuine complete assembly incl bearings)
    20ft MF 40 – £1000 (£3500 genuine)
  9. Unloading auger (for 20ft header)
    JD 2266 – £1000 (£3355 genuine)
    NH TX34 – £1000 (£1472 genuine)
    Claas Lexion 450 – £1000 (£2420 genuine)
    MF 40 – £1000 (£1230 genuine)
  10. Throat elevator lift-rams
    Example: Claas Lexion 480 – £500 (£1170 genuine)

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