Vintage Harvest 2015
Harvest for us started about 10 days later than 2014 on 8/8/15 near Bath cutting Tipple Spring barley! for our regular customer! .
This would be around the time for harvesting here unlike at home which is about a 1000ft above sea level and slower to ripen.
Th 860 this year required a new 90 amp alternator which was purchased from Germany! we also replaced a set of belts on the shaker shoe shaft, and despite the customary pre season check over and engine oil and fuel system filter changes and the replacement of one of the two batterys she was ready to go!!
Storing the combines over the winter in a clean condition helps to prevent damage from rodents, these issues can be very frustrating especially on the 860 as it has speed sensors on the various shafts and more electrics than the sixties and seventies built combines, and troubleshooting these issues can be very time consuming indeed!!
Without doubt for me the worse part of combine driving is actually getting to the various farms!!
Here in Somerset the lanes are very narrow with steep banks and most years we will have to negotiate getting to the crops across fields! Some not belonging to the customer!! but it usually works out ok.
At 12 ft wide we always use an escort as required and pull in at regular intervals during the journey, unfortunatley every one following you is in more of a hurry than you are!! But in reality they are probably not, as when the crops are ready it's a race against Mother Nature and the weather windows !!and there's no time to lose!
Operating these older combines you have to bear in mind that they have done their work for other owners and were frontline machines for many seasons, and now although still more than capable of doing the job! operating and maintaining them requires a great deal of respect! But for sure in these cost conscious times they suit our small operation.
Our season got off to a great start with 3 good long days and late evenings cutting! The crops were above average yield as was a lot of growers this season.
During the third day we had fuel starvation issues, which caused the engine to run slightly underpower, on inspection of the usual suspects! The fuel filters, and the lift pump filter, nothing out of order was found! And any work on the fuel lift pump should if possible be tackled with a cold engine!!?
Because the lift pump is located just a few inches under the turbo charger!! On these 6 cylinder A6 engines! And if you are slightly big in stature? You would need to lie over the engine and dangle your head into the engine bay!! To see the job in hand, failing that you will have to feel your way!! Yes not the best of jobs!!
So the problems continued! And an inspection of the tank suction pipe filter! Proved negative, by the early evening the engine power was fluctuating erraticaly , and the only other thing that could shut fuel off was the Murphy valve!! This electric operated shut down valve is a safety feature used to cut off the fuel to the engine in the event of low oil pressure overheating etc.. These devices are normally reliable but on this occasion we decided to bypass the valve with some flexible hose and that rectified the problem.
On the 4th day we moved the 525 combine to its first job to cut some winter wheat, unfortunately after testing the grain the moisture was to high to continue!!
And the forecast was not looking to good for the following week! But little did we know then this bad weather would continue for at least 10 days!!!
More to come and pictures!!
After at least 10 days! The rain stopped but the persistent cloud cover meant drying of the crops was painfully slow also the average temperatures for August was way down on normal, and for sure the forhcoming crops of wheat to harvest had that blackness which comes from the consistent soaking from the weather .
Fortunately the grain was intact and There was no sign of any ear loss on the ground at this stage! .
The first crop of Organic wheat came off at 17% this was acceptable to the customer who would mill it for feed it to his small herd of steers, the straw although not the best was ok for bedding at least.
After a couple of hours cutting with the 525 and a few minor adjustments carried out, the table auger and surfaces began to shine up and the combine settled down to a steady flow and a contented purr of the Perkins A6 engine! You just get a sense that everything is flowing well, but in the back of your mind you know that this old lady is getting on a bit now 1979 and despite good care and attention! You must always expect the odd problem.
During the afternoon of the first day cutting at Stratton on the fosse I caught a glance of a very low aircraft heading in my direction! There was no mistaken it's identity when it came closer it was the distinct delta wing of the Vulcan bomber!! Escorted by a further aircraft obviously going or coming from an air show!
As the plane flew overhead I could clearly hear the roar of the Olympus engines over the steady roar of the 525, as the plane disappeared over the horizon I realised I would never see it fly again as unfortunately age and financial costs has sealed the aircraft's fate after this year's flying season has ended.
With this in mind I looked around this old combine and gave thanks that I am at an age where I have seen huge technological advancements in every aspect of modern life and appreciate just how far agricultural innovation has travelled!!