The Life and Death of a Combine !

With the Spring Barley all wrapped up! We move on another 17 miles to our next customer and it's time for the winter wheat!

With the ever present dry hot sunny conditions Harvest was tantalisingly looking like it could be wrapped up by the end of August!? But this next section of story and the events was probably every combine operators worse nightmare !

We made a start on the wheat on a Friday we had a minor problem with the cylinder speed not powering up! But we soon rectified this and in the evening we blew down the combine ready for a busy few days harvesting high up on the Mendip Hills here in Somerset .

That fateful day!

We started combining about 11 am on the Saturday morning, we was about 3 hours into our day without issue, I had just unloaded the tank and was just starting back down through the now nearly Finnished field when I spotted smoke billowing out from the Louvre side panel left hand side!

As I started to shut down combine a low hydraulic fluid level warning came up on the monitor! As I ran around side of combine my trailer driver shouted flames up on top of combine around engine bay!

I climbed upon combine grabbing one of two fire extinguishers and sprayed all over the engine and exhaust manifold, I could see that a hydraulic hose off the hydraulic pump had split showering the hot engine and manifold which runs over the top of the engine, with one extinguisher used I I grabbed the second one which extinguished the flames!

The smoke now was choking and I climbed down carrying the extingusher I thought I had contained the fire! But as I walked away from combine someone shouted it was burning underneath !

I made a futile attempt to extinguish this but with the very dry conditions the straw underneath the combine ripped up through this stricken old maiden! And all I could do was walk away and watch all the hard work and my pride and joy destroy itself in front of my very eyes!

In the many years I have operated combines I have been very fortunate that I have never had a fire! I've had hot bearings! Smoking belts! And hot engines, but fires always seem to happen to everyone else, but this day it was my turn sadly and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

The speed of the fire consuming the combine and indeed what was left of the crop still to cut was   Sickening to witness! 
With the emergency services contacted and the customer now swapping grain  trailers and hitching up slurry tankers to try and contain the field fire from spreading it didn't take very long before local neighbours came in with tankers and even balers to try and clear some of the straw off the field before the fire reachd it!

The following photos i very reluctantly took it's the end of the road for her sadly , she would of hopefully seen our combining days out as we are approaching our senior years, but alas that just wasn't to be.

A shocking end to this combine

Within minutes the fire starts consuming the field!

The local fire department try and contain the blaze! But the fire spread and it was up to friends and neighbours of the customer to spray the field with water and slurry to stop it reaching other crops!

The tractors and tankers do their best to contain the fire!

Once a place of work! Now totally destroyed!

The table powerflow belts burnt away!

The very rear of combine still showing some paintwork!

The Aftermath!

The irony of this combines life and death is before we purchased her she was earmarked for breaking to be used for spares for other combines! 
And now at this stage despite our noble efforts she now has very little use to anyone! Sadly,

The Gentleman who transported her down from her previous home in Bedfordshire just happened to have a contract for picking up fire damaged machinery for the insurance companies in this south west area, he was very disappointed to have to collect it and dispose of it as he knew to us it was a big challenge to get her back harvesting and the considerable effort required to do that.

on a dry September morning he came to load her up for its last journey to the breakers yard.

Of all the stories I have featured on this website this is one I wish the outcome wasn't as catostophic as this has turned out, but it's important to highlight a subject that is far to common with farm machinery today.

The Future!?

At this time I haven't a frontline combine for next season! For our customers crops! Although next season is a long way off? Time moves incredibly fast and I guess I can only hope there's another machine sat looking for a new lease of life that may well return to the Harvest Fields!

Regards Colin Cloude.

Loading up with two tele handlers!

The final journey! The Header and Combine leave the field.

One thing this event did bring home to us all is whenever things go drastically wrong and you are up against it! Your friends and neighbours are quick to respond plus a couple of contractors who stopped working and came to help! Without their efforts this could of been a whole lot worse!

Can I say a big thank you to all of you and the local fire brigade for your help on that fateful day.

Regards Colin 

Kind regards

colin cloude