As combine manufacturers swing into their main selling season Peter Hill reviews product developments for the 2000 harvest.
ALTHOUGH combines with some form of rotary separation – and threshing in some cases – still hold sway in the ultimate performance stakes, the conventional straw walker concept is clearly not finished yet.
New models are stretching the performance envelope, despite the physical constraint of overall size for European combines. The improvements have come from careful analysis of crop flow through the machine and innovative refinements of basic concept.
With Claas, John Deere and New Holland presenting established models for the year 2000 harvest, it is left to AGCO, Case and Same Deutz-Fahr to grab the headlines with significant upgrades and new machines.
No news, however, on Fendt versions of AGCOs latest models – which have more power from different engines, different cab interior and turret grain augers – as these are not destined for the UK.
Nor of John Deeres new rotary model which features a longitudinal single rotor, with increasing diameter surrounding concave, behind conventional threshing equipment.
WITH stronger axles for increased durability the only significant change to John Deeres 2200 Series combines for next season, the spotlight falls on the companys CTS (cylinder tine separation) rotary machine as far as product upgrades are concerned.
Threshing and initial separation are performed by a conventional drum and concave. But after that, two contra-rotating cylinders, arranged lengthways, take over to remove free grain from the straw. Short tines along their length create a pull and release action as the straw mat spirals along the rotor housings, with centrifugal force driving out the grain.
With power often a crucial factor with rotary combines, John Deere fits an 8.1 litre PowerTech diesel with variable power output. Under normal conditions, it develops a rated 305hp. Under load, this climbs to 331hp at 2,100rpm. To ensure rapid unloading of the 9,500 litre grain tank without compromising performance, power output temporarily rises to 365hp.
Drivers benefit most from changes on latest versions of the CTS, thanks to a new cab with higher specification controls and instrumentation. A number of functions are controlled from a console on the drivers air suspension seat arm rest, with back-lighting to help find the right switch in the dark, while the cutting table, performance and function monitor displays are now viewed head up on the right-hand cab pillar.
THE first results of Case Corporations acquisition of the former MDW/Fortschritt combine business is seen in the form of the Case-IH Cross-Flow 80, a high capacity straw walker machine that is largely new from the ground up.
Initial details of the new model suggest its performance should be comfortably ahead of the 527, which currently heads the Case-IH conventional combine line-up, because it has more power, a bigger threshing and initial separation system, bigger straw walker area and larger sieves.
It also draws on proven components from the Axial-Flow combine and MX Magnum tractor. The CF80s cab is based on the rotary combines structure, for example, with air suspension seat, a control console mounted on the seat armrest, and automatic air conditioning.
At the heart of the CF80 is a four-drum threshing/separation system – total concave area is 2.8sq m – followed by six straw walkers giving a total area of more than 10sq m to more than match competitor machines. A three-step cleaning system, said to be of unique design, includes a self-regulating air system that adjusts to crop load. Clean grain is conveyed to a 9,000 litre tank.
The power unit is a 300hp diesel driving through a three-speed gearbox and hydrostatic ground drive.
DRIVERS of big capacity combines fitted with wide cutting tables will welcome the laser-guided automatic steering system developed by Claas.
Its main benefit will be to remove one of the operators numerous monitoring tasks. But it will also guarantee full capacity cutting at all times for maximum output and accurate yield mapping.
Laser Pilot comprises a laser generator mounted on the left side of the cutting table. It projects an oscillating beam 15m (50ft) ahead of the combine, sweeping a 50cm arc. Return signals from the laser are processed by a control module which then adjusts the rear axle steering.
The position of the rear wheels is known thanks to a potentiometer on the axle. So, to activate the system, all the operator has to do is position the table in the crop, then press a button on the cab floor.
From then on, Laser Pilot maintains the required cutting width using the edge of the crop as a guide. As a result, the system can only be used in standing crops which provide a well-defined guide. But it is said to be unaffected by dust.
Turning the steering wheel instantly over-rides the system, so drivers will, literally, have to adopt a hands-off approach. Claas points out that this latest item of auto control leaves the operator to concentrate on driving to the performance monitor to get optimum output from the machine and the best possible sample.
Laser Pilot costs £3,900 as a factory-fitted option on 7.6m and 9m Lexion combine tables; it will also be available as retro-fit.
ANEW range-topping model and a big increase in grain tank capacity are the headline changes for AGCOs Massey Ferguson combine range, now called the 7200-series.
While much attention inevitably focuses on the biggest capacity machine, the 7276, there are improvements across the range which sees model-for-model performance gains of 10-20% through increased engine power and torque, more aggressive grain cleaning, and higher capacity grain handling equipment. There is also a higher level of standard equipment than before.
Conventional and belt conveyor cutting tables remain on offer, the 7276 getting a new 7.62m wide version to make the most of its capacity potential without having to use excessive forward speed. The Powerflow table makes a significant contribution, AGCO maintains, by ensuring that a high proportion of crop is delivered into the threshing drum head-first. It is also reckoned to give a smoother flow of bulky crops like oilseed rape, as well as reducing seed loss from brittle pods.
All models are fitted with the latest Sisu Diesel turbo engines which, being bigger volume and slower running, promise greater fuel economy and longer service life. Rated power and torque are up in some cases, while double rotary screens on larger versions, while a fan and tube dust removal system help keep things cool.
Beneath the new sheet metal panels is a stronger and tougher chassis, beefier axles, and bigger rear tyres to help spread the load. A four-speed gearbox, providing an extra gear and push-button engagement, is part of the drive train changes.
WHILE most combine manufacturers have looked to different forms of centrifugal (rotary) separation for their biggest combines, Deutz-Fahr has stuck with tried and tested methods for its new range-topping machine, the TopLiner 8XL.
Normally, physical dimensions are the limiting factor. But by packaging things a bit differently, the German manufacturer has crammed eight straw walkers and the largest sieves available into its machine.
The result is an increase in capacity potential of at least 30% over the companys next biggest model, and daily performance that is said to be more than a match for the highest capacity rotary machines.
At the same time, UK sales company Same Deutz-Fahr emphasises the versatility of straw walker combines in coping with less than ideal conditions, and their gentle handling of straw destined for stock bedding or feed.
Several class-leading statistics are claimed for the 8XL, including the biggest grain separation and cleaning areas. Its 408hp puts it top – just – of the power stakes, and the 10,500 litre grain tank equals the best the competition can offer.
It also has the biggest price tag – £192,000 with an 8.1m cutting table; £194,000 with the largest 9m table.
Threshing and initial separation is performed by the same 1,520mm wide, 600mm diameter drum assembly used in lesser TopLiners. Then comes the Turbo Separator drum which has its own concave and is adjustable for both speed and clearance.
None of these elements can get any wider because of front axle width constraints. But there is more space aft of that point where the 8XL chassis broadens to accommodate another, slightly wider, drum which spreads the straw mat across the eight walkers.
The walkers themselves are arranged in two separate sets, oscillating in opposition. This pulls the straw mat apart – as well as countering the familiar straw walker combine rock- to let loose grain fall free.
More sophisticated electronics are also part of the 8XL package. The Terminal Control System is essentially an in-cab computer – there is a smart-card slot and a keyboard in the drivers seat arm rest for data entry/downloading – which displays performance information and enables the driver to set up the combines internals for different crops and conditions.
Power adjustments include drum speed and concave clearance, fan speed, Turbo Separator speed and clearance, spreading drum height and sieve openings. There are several factory crop settings, all of which can be re-tuned as well as new ones created.