So far So Good

Harvest for us started on the 13th August at our first regular stop cutting Spring Barley.

We moved the 860 about a week before harvest to the farm ready to roll with the header (table on).

Pre harvest servicing and minor repairs had taken 2/3 days and consisted of the usual oil and filter changes some welding to Header a knife changeover, hydraulic male and female couplings replaced on Header and pretty well 101 other things to check and or adjust.

Following this we repeated the process on the 525 as it also was facing some increased acreage this year and also one 400 model, plenty to do!

The journey to the first farm was carried out late evening to cause minimal disruption on the local roads, but Canadian combines and Somerset lanes are not the ideal partnership! And some delays are unavoidable unfortunately.

Within 4 days the crops were showing 13% moisture at one point despite the grey overcast weather there had been little rain leading up to the harvest.

After several years harvesting here and the same fields you get a sense of what the crop is yielding like and my thoughts were that it was slightly above average! And this turned out to be true in volume although the grain weight was lighter than would be hoped for.

The first days cutting was very uneventful for our old 860 and it was a pattern that was repeated throughout her harvesting days thankfully this season.

Throughout the first week of harvesting here the skies resembled a black canvas which looked threatening any minute! But alas for this first farm it stayed dry, and crop and straw was gathered in without the usual delays.

After navigating several fields due to the narrow lanes we are nearly at our destination

On our way!

Tight fit!!

Making use of any spare room verges and banks!

Late evening arrival and the worse part over with for the time being.

And we're off!!

Crops in the late stages of ripening will need checking almost on a daily basis, we were less than 4 days from arriving at farm and the call came it's go!

Despite the gloomy skies the drying wind had pushed the crop ready to harvest and just after midday on the 4th day we were away.

Cutting out the headland on the first field you are always apprehensive about any problems with combine that may have been overlooked! As untill the combine is working you never really know if there are any underlying issues, but thankfully this was not the case and we soon settled down to a steady pace with the gentle contented purr of the Perkins 6 cylinder.

As the afternoon turned to late evening it was apparent that the crop was slightly heavier than previous years.

The forthcoming shots were taken by Terry Veale my son in law, and combine escort driver, over a few days of harvest.

Once again my harvesting partner and co owner of the 860 Hillary Pugsley took care of the trailers and haulage to the farms, which this year with new land planted was a considerable distance.

Cutting out the first strip of spring barley, this will be her 29th season.

Despite the gloomy skies this Brantford survivor's paintwork still looks fresh! The result of cleaning and waxing every season

The rolling somerset countryside in this picture

A cracking shot this from Terry a beckoning finger of dust rises from the throat of the feed elevator.

The customer pays a visit to the field to check on the progress!

The first two days of our 2016 harvest has gone very well!.

My harvesting partner Hillary busy with the trailers.
photo Sandy Cox

One to Forget!!

Our Harvest started out very well, the 860 over the first week gave us no problems whatsoever and the weather although overcast and gloomy allowed us to cut through two customers crops which yielded pretty well above average in this area.

However with a short breakdown in the weather we were soon preparing and moving the 525 up to its first piece of wheat to cut.

On the 24/8 we started cutting wheat and within a few hours my ever reliable 525 broke a spring that holds the floating tensioner pulley on the fanning mill! 

A quick rummage at the farm and a suitable replacement was found and off we went again, and within a few hours the engine was running hotter than normal and with only an hour of daylight I decided to shut her down for the night and investigate the following morning when everything was cooler and check the coolant levels.

The following day the forecast was for rain the following day I checked the coolant level which was fine and next step was to check the fan belt, which was ok and I knew the radiator was clean as it was blown through after the last season had finished! 

However as I had a spare set of thermostats in my truck I decided to renew them as a precautionary measure also to rule out this as a  potential problem.

As the afternoon moved on the old girl settled down to a steady pace in the crop of organic wheat which was full of everything you don't want to put through a combine.

There was no repeat of any overheating issues and the weather was particularly hot today so all was good in this department at least.

The day was soon stopped again after the straw walker drive belt broke! 

Another trip back to farm to sort through the many belts we keep in stock, many of them secondhand, but disappointingly I never had one, and despite checking over every belt before season starts it doesn't always mean nothing will fail.

Buying from a main dealer will be not only costly but probably 2/3 days, and I contacted Cliff Arter at Arter Brothers in Kent who had a belt with me in 24 hrs!! A new one which was made in Germany.

With the new belt fitted late afternoon the following day we were soon on our way again, and the forecasted rain passed us by thankfully.

The following day we finnished the wheat and moved the combine over a couple of miles to await the spring barley, which would require a few more days to reduce the moisture which was showing 21%.

The weather gave us a few hot sunny days and within four days we made a start on the spring barley, a couple of hours into this very light and disappointing crop I noticed the sample was very trashy coming into the tank so on investigating the fanning mill setting which was fast but the belt looked slack! after removing the guard it came apparent the pulley was located past the end of the shaft? And was allowing the belt to drop down from pulley onto shaft itself allowing no tension on belt!

A quick investigation resulted in finding that the 25 mm circlip had came off, which locates the pulley into its correct position.

After this problem was rectified we were off again, my partner Hillary was running trailers about 9 miles each way to the customer who had bought the grain,and unfortunately suffered a puncture which held us up also.

 The following couple of days we checked our other crops of spring barley and realised they were near to ready to harvest although the weather now had other plans and prevented anymore action untill the Bank holiday week end.

A return to the field on the Friday afternoon the moisture now 16% it was decided to proceed so after checking over the 525 an attempt was made to start the 525 but she was having none of it and after checking and cleaning all the terminals on the solenoid and battery it came to no avail, bypassing the starting switch and crossing the starter resulted in no joy,there was a good chance the solenoid had failed but this motor was 39 years old and for the cost of an exchange starting motor I decided to order one online for 24 he delivery, but it left us without a combine and a good deal of work to remove the old one?.

As we prepared to remove the starting motor our harvesting partner Howard made a start on our Barley at Stratton on the Fosse with his 400 , but this didn't go smoothly ,as frequent fuel starvation resulted in him replacing the tank fuel pump after checking all the other possible fuel scenarios.

Our progress on removing the starting motor from the 525 had been slow, the position of this item is directly under the hydraulic spools that connects to the operating levers on the dashboard, and to have any chance of removing we would have to remove and drain down the hydraulic tank and hoses and a considerable amount of guards trim and dashboard components! A job for a workshop and not in a field.

With the majority of our barley now waiting to be cut we took the decision to move the 860 up to our position despite the problems of access which resulted in cutting of several tree limbs and widening a gateway and removing part of a wall.

Not a sight you want to see at harvest time!

A very good service from Anglo Agri parts!

Decisions Decisions.

Our Decision to bring the 860 back to home prematurely was the right one as despite the journey the weather was very unpredictable and with the 525 laid up for a couple of days we couldn't afford to lose any decent harvest weather now we had our own crops in front of us.

After a couple of days it was all systems go and we had 3 combines tackling our own crops Howards 400 my 525 and the 860 which made short work of the rather disappointingly light crop and yield, but just as we were making good progress the weather came in again and halted cutting for another couple of days.

Both machines taking refuge from the British summer weather?

The hedgeline offers some shelter from the unseasonable wind and rain.

A lesson learnt here? Always check your empty tanks before starting work! The far tank would not empty at all and a trip back to the farm during the evening resulted in dropping the tank bottom hatch and poking around obviously with the engine off ! And eventually the grain flowed out.
Turned out to be a plastic carrier bag had found its way into the bottom of the tank blocking the narrow openings.

Harvest 2016

More pictures Harvest 2016 2