COMBINES ADD EXTRA OOMPH
The pursuit of extra harvest performance means manufacturers continue to push up engine power to add a few more mph to their machines performance potential. Peter Hill reviews the latest developments.
DEERE, Claas and New Holland have more powerful engines on selected models for next season, as well as tweaked specifications. From Agco, comes the biggest yet Powerflow table for MF combines.
At the top end of the performance scale, however, there are all-new contenders from Deutz-Fahr and John Deere – both out to tackle the biggest Claas Lexion, New Holland TF and Case-IH Axial-Flow combines.
The Deutz-Fahr 8XL is a conventional machine in that it uses straw walkers – but there are eight of them and they are longer than usual. Deeres newcomer, the CTS, has a threshing drum followed by rotary separation.
There is more to come in this sector. Having completed an initial UK evaluation programme with the Arcus rotary combine, Case will soon decide whether to sell the novel machine here for the 99 harvest. And Agco is expected to have limited numbers of new straw walker combines out next year.
Developed by Agcos Dronningborg business in Denmark, the MF models will push performance beyond the current range-topping MF40RS. Later, with subtle differences in cab equipment and engines, they may also produce a newcomer to the UK combine ranks as Fendt colours appear on harvest machinery for the first time.
The combines have already been shown in this guise in Germany. There are four models, with five and six straw walkers respectively, powered by latest-generation Deutz liquid-cooled engines ranging in output from 220hp to 330hp. Grain tank capacities easily out-rank current MF models at 9,500 litres, to cope with growing yields and bigger outputs.
While there is an understandable preoccupation with high powered, big capacity machines – these are rapidly becoming the biggest sellers as growers seek economies of scale – the other end of the market is not being ignored. There are still growers who could use hire or contract services on their more modest acreages but like to keep control of their harvest.
Claas and Deutz-Fahr have new offerings as alternatives to existing models from MF and Deere, along with Case which will be pushing its new range of straw walker machines for the 1999 harvest.
EUROPEAN combines can get only so big, which is why designers have been scratching their heads for years trying to come up with ever more intensive methods of grain extraction and separation to boost output from a package no bigger physically than current models.
Having to move from field-to-field by public road is the main limitation, because of both regulations and physical restrictions imposed by road signs and other street furniture, not to mention bridges and the like.
Germanys MDW has gone furthest in tackling this problem with its Arcus combine, which is now part of the Case-IH stable. By installing twin threshing and separation rotors in what would normally be the crop elevator, and stacking duplicate shaker shoes one on top of the other, the Arcus design promises 40t/hour performance potential in a package no more than 3m wide.
Moreover, with its driving wheels positioned nearer the back of the machine, and those that steer brought to the front, the combines driving characteristics are more akin to a conventional vehicle. And that has given the Arcus a 40kph (64mph) road speed from its pedal-operated hydrostatic drive transmission.
New Hollands contribution to the mobility problem is the TX67 – an equivalent model to the 260hp six straw walker TX66 but with a different drive axle and more modest wheels and tyres that reduces overall width to a more manageable 3.3m.
Claas sees its Mobil Trac option, introduced for 1999 harvest Lexion 450, 460 and 480 combines, as a solution to the mobility problem as much as for the traction and stability advantages it offers.
On standard 800 x 32 front tyres, overall width of these models is some 3.9m. Add larger tyres for extra flotation and things become more extreme.
On tracks, transport width is reduced to 3.5m – and in some farm situations, that could make the difference between having access to upper-level performance and making do with a slimmer, less productive machine.
Tracks are also reckoned to have the advantage over tyres when out-and-out traction is an issue, says Claas, especially as an alternative to four-wheel drive.
MORE power for some Lexion models, bigger Vario tables, and improved specifications for Dominator combines are among a package of changes to the Claas harvester line-up.
Among the Lexion triple drum straw walker combines, the Lexion 410 gains an extra 10hp from its Perkins motor, while the range-topping rotary separation Lexion 480 aims to lift output potential with a 25hp hike from 375hp to 400hp. A further 20hp is on tap as increased load pulls down engine speed thanks to the power bulge characteristics of its engine.
Cool running should be assured now that a belt-driven chaff and dust extractor is fitted to all Lexion engine coolant radiators.
Hydraulic adjustment, to extend or shorten the distance between cutterbar and auger, is a novel feature of the Claas Vario table. Short settings suit stumpy or laid crops while, at its furthest extension, that table emulates a conventional table with oilseed rape kit.
For next season, 5.5m and 6.7m sizes join the existing 6.1m and 7.6m offerings to cater for more combine models.
The Dominator single drum straw walker machines are aimed at growers with 180ha to 380ha of cereals and wanting a machine relatively free of electronic systems and other frills.
So, despite inheriting the more spacious Vista cab from the Lexion range, the Dominator VX line-up (which replaces the Classic) keeps push-button controls instead of the touch-pad computerised control system of the more sophisticated Lexion, and manual adjustment of many functions.
The driver gets a more comfortable place to work, however, and an easier view of the cutterbar and reel thanks to an extended crop elevator. Air conditioning, a cool box and radio/cassette player are standard. A portable GPS receiver can be added to log harvest yield data.
Grain tank size is increased to cope with higher yielding crops – and having reduced the UK Dominator range to just the 88 and 98 models last year, Claas brought back the 108 as an alternative to lower-range Lexions. In a tight market, purchase price remains a key factor that, for some buyers, takes precedence over performance/cost-efficiency considerations.
The 108VX takes a 6m (20ft) table, packs a 221hp engine and comes with a straw chopper, chaff spreader and 8,000-litre grain tank.
WITH no further changes to Axial-Flow combines following a package of improvements to 98 harvest models that also celebrated the designs 20th year, the spotlight falls firmly on the conventional straw walker machines that have extended the marques market coverage.
The former MDW/Fortschritt designs offer no-nonsense specifications for growers wanting straw in good enough condition to bale easily for stock use. Already substantially improved in terms of materials quality and specification before the Case acquisition, the combines should now be further improved thanks to raised quality control and assembly standards.
There are five models in all, kicking off with the four straw walker 514 (140hp) and 521 (150hp). In the middle come the five straw walker Case-IH 523 and 525, which have two threshing drums plus a beater rotor to remove as much grain as possible before the crop moves to the straw walkers.
The 523 comes with a 175hp motor and variator belt drive, while the 525 offers 190hp and hydrostatic drive.
At the top of the range, the 270hp hydro-drive 527 has a similar threshing/separation system but of larger dimensions and with six straw walkers for final removal of grain from straw.
ITS been a while coming but John Deere has finally accepted the potential for its CTS rotary combine to work effectively in UK crop conditions. And given that its the companys first rotary separation combine in Europe, the caution is understandable.
Deere is also waiting for the second generation model to come off the production lines. It packs 500 litres more grain tank capacity than the original and, more importantly, a much more powerful engine – up from 260hp at rated speed to 305hp.
With output reckoned to be at least as good as top-end Lexion, TF and Axial-Flow combines, the CTS delivers some 10-15% more output than Deeres conventional 2200 Series on a spot rate basis, but is reckoned to go further through extended working days thanks to a separation mechanism that tolerates morning and evening moisture.
That is because the two separation rotors, running lengthways behind a conventional threshing drum, guide roller and crop beater, are in a housing with sufficient headroom to allow the crop to expand and loosen during its tangential course to the back of the combine. That helps extract grain and reduces the risk of blockages, says Deere.
The rotors are formed with bolt-on straight tines, working against rasp bars in the bottom of the housing and guide bars which keep the crop moving in a spiral towards the back of the combine. Beneath the rotors are four dual-flow fans delivering air through the sieves but also between a pre-cleaner pan and sieve directly behind the auger grain elevator to take off chaff and light grains from the start.
Grain tank capacity of the CTS is 9,500 litres, and rapid unloading on the move is encouraged by a electronic engine governor that automatically boosts engine output by some 34hp to power the auger without impairing work rate. The 8.1-litre Deere PowerTech engine also has power bulge characteristics that increase power from its 305hp rating to 331hp as revs are pulled down under load.
Standard cutting table for the combine is a 7.6m with Contour Master float and stubble height control.
John Deeres 2200 Series gets a package of improvements for the 99 harvest that includes more power for the 2256 and 2258 mid-range models, increased grain tank capacity pretty much across the range, and a re-engined version of the range-topping 2266 that packs 300hp, rising to 330hp.
The 2266Extra also gets an additional 2,000 litres grain tank capacity – other than the Hillmaster self-levelling model which gains 500 litres on the original 7,500-litre capacity.
HAVING introduced several Plus models to its range for the 1998 harvest, New Hollands model changes for next year are modest.
Differential lock is added to get extra traction in difficult conditions from the five straw walker TX65 Plus and six straw walker TX68 and TX68 Plus, while the TX68 also gains a 280hp PowerStar engine in place of the Iveco unit used previously, and with it, a flip-up rotary screen for the coolant radiator.
New Hollands rotary separation TF models get an extra 15hp to further maintain performance; the TF76 Plus hikes to 275hp, while the TF78 goes to 345hp.
As an improvement in its data logging and GPS yield mapping facilities, developed in partnership with RDS Technology, New Hollands InfoView monitor and the RDS Data Logger are now fully compatible to enable information to be shared and transferred.
ALTHOUGH some form of rotary threshing and/or separation system has been the favoured route for stretching combine capacity at the top end, Deutz-Fahr has decided to stick with proven principles for its 40t/hour contender, the TopLiner 8XL.
It simply has longer and wider straw walker and sieve assemblies to cope with the quantity of material pushed through a threshing system revised from the drum/straw beater/separator combination of TopLiner 4080 and 4090 models. The 8XLs is the same width at 1.52m but there is an additional cylinder to help spread crop across the full width of the straw walkers.
Unusually, these are significantly wider than the threshing and initial separation components at 2.3m. And there are eight straw walkers in all, split into separate sections – short ones at the front, long ones then running to the back of the combine – which oscillate in opposition to keep things as smooth as possible.
Sieves are also 2.3m wide to boost capacity, and further indications of the combines potential include a 10,500-litre grain tank and 408hp V6 Deutz diesel motor.
The TopLiner 8XL also features hydraulic drive to the crop elevator for easier speed adjustment, and more in-cab automation than before, with electric adjustment of drum and turbo separator speed, and concave clearances, as well as a crop settings memory system for rapid selection of different settings to suit various crops, conditions and operator preferences.
Another novel feature is the electric aspiration fan drive which adjusts automatically to compensate for the difference in crop trajectory on to the grain pan when working up or down slopes.
Same Deutz-Fahr lists a 7.2m cutting table for the 8XL but the factory also has a mammoth 9m version. Both come with auto contour control, as well as auto angling when fitted to the self-levelling Balance version.
Deutz-Fahrs Terminal Control System – an in-cab monitor – is a standard fitment offered as an option on other models in the TopLiner line-up. It has three main functions: monitoring all aspects of the machines operation; recording yields and moisture content; and maintaining a field information database.
This package is one step away from the global positioning yield mapping system that is being offered with full software and technical support for the first time on 99 harvest Deutz-Fahr combines.
Further down the Deutz-Fahr range, specification changes to other TopLiner models include a staggered lath formation for the crop elevator to give more even feeding of difficult crops, colour coding of grease points and fitment of spring tension indicators for easier maintenance, and bigger wheels and tyres on certain models.
For smaller growers, the PowerLiner 4030M and 4035M are introduced. Though similar to the TopLiner machines on which they are based, features are fewer and specifications simpler.
Both have 1,100mm wide, 600mm diameter threshing drums and five straw walkers, as well as six-cylinder Deutz engines. A 116hp unit coupled to variator drive powers the 4030M, while the 4035M has a 150hp motor and hydrostatic drive. Cutting tables are 3m, 3.6m and 4.2m with 4400-litre grain tanks on both units.
Tall guide vanes are fitted to the grain pan and sieves in anticipation that these machines will often be used on smaller farms in hilly areas. Where this limits output because of potential grain loss, a levelling sieve assembly can be fitted.
SPECIFICATION tweaks rather than wholesale changes mark changes to the MF combine line, and mostly in response to Agcos customer surveys of new users over their first two harvests.
Control switchgear for the unloading auger is moved from the instrument console so that it is easier to operate while keeping a whether eye on the end of the auger. Swing-out is by a switch on the multi-function control lever; on-off by a foot pedal.
Emptying the stone trap is easier too, now that the operating lever has been relocated in front of the left-hand wheel; it can be done from a standing position near the point where the optional single coupler for table hydraulics and electric is located, and with a flap ensuring clean discharge to ground without hang-ups on transmission and brake assemblies.
Modifications to the Datavision II screen bring more key information on to a single display if required, there are finer settings for table cutting height and, in response to a new EU directive, MF combines now carry a substantially bigger fire extinguisher.
More significant from a performance point of view is the full availability of a 7.6m Powerflow table. Despite its extra bulk over the 6.7m version, lighter weight construction means it weighs only 3% more which helps retain lightness of control via the Datavision system.
One-piece hydraulic coupling (for reel drive, height, fore-aft) is standard on this table, and an option for all other MF tables.
How the new combines line up
Claas Dominator VX combine range
88 98 108
Engine 159hp 200hp 221hp
Drive Hydrostatic Hydrostatic Hydrostatic
Cutterbar 4.5m 5.1m 6.0m
Drum width 1.32m 1.32m 1.62m
Sieve area 4.25sq m 4.25sq m 5.10sq m
Grain tank 5,200 litres 6,200 litres 8,000 litres
Straw chopper standard standard standard
Chaff spreader optional optional standard
Case-IH mid- and upper-range conventional combines
521 525 527
Engine 150hp 228hp 271hp
Drive Variator Hydrostatic Hydrostatic
Cutterbar 4.3m 4.8m-6m 5.4m-7.2m
Drum width 1,300mm 1,300mm 1,630mm
Grain tank 5,000 litres 6,300 litres 8,400 litres
Straw chopper standard standard standard
Chaff spreader n/a n/a standard
John Deere 2200 Series updates
1998 power 1999 power grain tank grain tank
@ rated speed rated/max 1998 1999
2254 180hp 180hp/180hp 6,000 litres 6,000 litres
2256 210hp 220hp/228hp 6,500 litres 7,000 litres
2258 235hp 250hp/267hp 7,000 litres 8,000 litres
2264 250hp 250hp/267hp 7,000 litres 8,000 litres
2266 270hp 270hp/278hp 7,500 litres 8,000 litres
2266E – 300hp/330hp – 9,500 litres*
* Hillmaster version 8,000 litres