One of the first combines brought into this collection in Somerset was Howards 1953 Massey Harris 780, this combine came from Burnham on Sea in Somerset it was parked outside under a giant bramble bush it would of probably ended its days there but on inspection from Howard he realised it was a very early model from the first year of production of this popular model.
However when the combine arrived home the amount of work that would be required to turn this machine around again to harvest presented a considerable challenge indeed, but a start had to be made and Howard began stripping off all the components belts,chains,sieves, walkers,any seized bearings,thankfully the combine was mobile the engine ran ok although lacked full power, the panels and guards and walker hood was extensively rusted after suffering from the salt laden air from this seaside town.
Howard began the task of removing the rust and corrosion and treating with a rust converter and primer the many moving parts were removed and treated with anti seize solutions and various parts chains and adjusters were soaked in oil for long periods but the table reel bats and spindles which were made of wood were all rotten and had to be replaced,the sieves were beyond repair unfortunately and despite a good deal of time trying to source a good second-hand set it looks likely these will have to be remanufactured in due time, after assessing all the removed parts the straw walkers, the grain tank,and unloaded arm, and fuel tank were all removed for priming, the fanning mill surround had rusted right out and had to be completely re-built.
This early 780 is fitted with a grain tank and not a bagger platform combination as it probably started its early working life many 780s were converted to tanker models as time went on also this combine could of possibly had a 6cylinder gasoline engine when new and was retro fitted the Perkins L4 engine it carries now at a later date!?.At the turn of the sixties gas oil /diesel became more popular also was much safer on a machine that was continually covered in dry dust and very prone to fires as the engines were slung underneath the combine and any operator would be encouraged to keep the dust and chaff away from building up around the engine and manifold or face the consequences.
These self propelled combines would of revolutionised the labour intensive work of harvesting and for sure would of added to the slow exodus of labour away from farming a trend that has continued to this day with the continuing mechanization of farming.
The following pictures of Howard's combine is where we are today it has taken several years to reach this stage, however it is hoped that this combine will be returned to a working machine! and further details and photos of progress will be added to this page in the future. Colin