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Combine

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2004 John Deere 9760STS Combine
Combines, also known as combine harvesters, are agricultural machines developed to reap (cut a crop) and thresh (remove grains from their outer coverings) in one operation. In general, combines are used to harvest grains such as wheat, corn, soybeans, rapeseed, and rice. Some specialized combines have the ability to bale straw that has been left after threshing, and some may be configured to pick cotton.[1] These extremely large, self-propelled machines are extremely complex, comprising over 17,000 parts.[2] They cost between $150,000 and $500,000 due to their enormous harvesting capacity.[3]

Two main types of combines are prevalent: conventional, and rotary. While traditional combines relied on pulleys and belts, modern versions include electronic controls, and hydraulic power.

Contents

[edit] History

[edit] Combining Reaping and Threshing

Before the dawn of combines, reapers and threshers worked separately. Though Scottish minister Patrick Bell invented the world’s first reaper in 1826, it was an American, Cyrus McCormick, who sold one of the first successful models in 1839, improving on a design his father had begun.[4] Threshers were invented in the late 1700s and were being utilized all over England and Scotland by the 1830s.[5] Twin brothers, Hiram and John Pitts, obtained a patent [6]on what is generally considered to be the first successful American thresher in 1837. The brothers operated separate firms from about 1840. Their firms and successor firms marketed the device as "Chicago Pitts," (Hiram) and "Dayton Pitts" and "Buffalo Pitts" (John). Numerous other firms manufactured the "Pitts Patent Separator" under license to the brothers. The first machine to combine the two jobs was produced in 1838 by Hiram Moore.[7]

[edit] The First Combines

Moore’s combined reaper-thresher was not self-propelled—rather, it was horse-pulled. This machine was extremely heavy and required the power of twenty horses to move it forward. Though the first one was not widely accepted or used, Moore continued to improve it. By the mid 1840s, he had developed a harvester, pulled by 16 horses, that could cut, thresh, clean, and bag an upward of 150 acres (61 ha) of wheat in a season.[8]

Other combines were produced subsequently, with the majority being developed in California due to a favorable wheat-growing climate.[9] In 1867, D.C. Matteson built a combine in Stockton, California; many other patents were obtained in California and Oregon around this time. By 1890, several companies such as Best, Holt, Houser and Haines, Mingee Shippee, and Young and Berry were producing combines.

Early combine harvesters developed in the U.S. had cutting widths of 30 feet (9.1 m) or more. They were made of wood, and as a result, were extremely awkward and heavy, often weighing 15 tons. Because of their weight, 40 horses or mules were required in order to pull these combines.[10]

1993 Gleaner R62 Combine

[edit] Hillside Combines

A harvesting issue arose when farmers attempted to operate these cumbersome combines on hilly areas, and the need for a leveling device became apparent. Wheat slid to the bottom of the threshing cylinder, where it piled up. As a result, wheat kernels could not be properly separated from their stalk, and would come out the back with the straw.

To compensate for the lack of productivity farmers were experiencing on hills, hillside combines were developed in 1891 by Holt Co.,[11] and were later used in the Palouse area of Washington. The hillside combine, in contrast to the prairie type, employed a leveling mechanism and could work on slopes up to 40 degrees. The leveler provided the combine with an adjusted center of gravity, diminishing its chances of falling over.

[edit] From Ground Power to Motors

In the late 1800s, ground-powered combines were used. By 1906, the machines, previously known as combined harvesters, were now becoming known simply as combines. They were gaining popularity in Washington State, where 13 units were introduced.[12] The first units were ground-powered. Essentially, the power required to run the sickle bar, header reel, belts, pulleys, and thresher was provided by one of the combine’s wheels, called a ground wheel. As the combine moved, its power was transferred to the components with the help of chains and sprockets. These combines were pulled by approximately 32 horses, or sometimes up to 50 in difficult jobs.[13] By the 1920s, engines had been added to the machines in order to power their mechanical parts. Horses were still needed to pull the combines, but the number of horses needed was reduced to 27.

[edit] Mechanically-driven Combines

Following the era of horse-pulled combines came their tractor-pulled successors. The first such machine was invented by George Stockton Berry.[14][15] This machine, pulled by a discarded steam engine, comprised a header that was over 40 feet (12 m), and could thresh over 100 acres (40.5 ha) in a day. By 1925, International Harvester had introduced its first line of tractor-pulled combines.[16]

[edit] Self-propelled Combines

As further mechanization was taking place, self-propelled combines began to take shape. The first such machine, incorporating a tractor and a combined harvester into one machine, was invented in Australia in 1938.[17] Subsequent models were introduced, such as International Harvester’s 123-SP in 1942, including a 12-foot (3.7-m) grain head and hydraulic platform control.[18] Massey-Harris was also developing its prototype self-propelled combine around this time, known as the Model 20, proceeded soon after by Model 21. Other companies followed later, such as John Deere with the Model 55 in 1947.[19]

[edit] Features/How it Works/Types

Two types of combines exist: conventional and rotary.[20] In spite of their differences, both types utilize a rotating cylinder through which to run the crop; the grain is then rubbed off on a concave-shaped surface. Combines comprise their large primary drive wheels at the front, and an engine and smaller wheels for turning at the rear. These machines consist of several parts, including a header, a feeder house, a thresher, and a straw walker or rotor.

[edit] Conventional Combines

The conventional combines comprise a cylinder that is mounted crossways, or perpendicular to the direction in which the combine is traveling. The crop to be harvested is then fed into the cylinder in such a way that it has one chance, or approximately one third of the cylinder’s rotation, to be threshed.[21] Following this, straw walkers and sieves separate the chaff from the grain.

[edit] Rotary Combines

2004 Case IH 2388 Rotary Combine
Rotary combines normally have a larger cylinder, mounted lengthwise in the direction of the combine’s movement, rather than perpendicular. The crop is fed into the cylinder in such a way that it revolves between the cylinder, or rotor, and the concave until the grain is completely threshed and separated. This type of harvesting can be gentler on grain than conventional methods, thereby turning out a better quality product.[22]

[edit] Header

The header is the cutting and feeding mechanism on a combine; they can often be interchanged between machines. The two main types of headers are row-type and platform headers.

[edit] Row-type Header

The most common form of row-type headers is known as a corn header.[23] This header is specifically designed for harvesting corn, as it differs from other grains. This mechanism is able to remove only the ear of a corn plant, reducing the amount of unneeded material that passes through the combine. As the combine moves, two parallel snapping rolls on every row to pull the corn stalk down. As the ear is too large to pass through the opening, it is snapped off, and gathered up into a trough, and carried into the center of the header by a large auger, to be fed into the combine’s thresher.

[edit] Platform Header

This header is suitable for various sorts of crops, as the cutting height can be adjusted for anything from soybeans, which require a low cutting height, to wheat, which requires a high cutting height in order to harvest only the heads of the plants. It is equipped with a sickle bar, which is a reciprocating bar with multiple serrated knife segments. The sickle bar moves back and forth, sometimes up to ten times per second, in order to cut all crops in the path of the combine. The platform header has a reel with adjustable speed, height, and location, in order to efficiently feed the crop into the header.

[edit] Feeder House

The center of the combine’s header is attached to the feeder house, whose function is to feed the gathered material into the thresher. The feeder house is comprised of rotating drums. These drums move a feeder chain, which grabs material such as straw or stalks and moves them toward the main area of the combine where the grain is removed from the rest of the plant.

[edit] Thresher

A combine’s thresher can be one of two types: a rotor or a cylinder. Both types of thresher rotate rapidly inside a set of metallic, concave shaped grids below them, known as concaves. Material passing through the concaves is moved and confined to a small area; seeds are able to pass through the grid, at which point they are collected in a grain pan. Combines that include a cylinder thresh crops by spinning a several hundred rpm and impacting the plants. The cylinders in a thresher are comprised of either spike teeth or rasp bars, in order to thresh aggressively. The latter type, more prevalent in combines, extends across the entire width of the cylinder. In rotary combines, threshing is carried out when the crop is rubbed against the rotor, on which a rasp bar is mounted in a spiral pattern.

[edit] The Separation Process

In conventional combines, the threshed material that does not fall into the grain pan moves onto straw walkers for further separation. Straw walkers move material upward and toward the rear of the combine, a process that separates seeds from their stalks. Seed that is removed from remaining material falls through the straw walkers onto a conveyor where it is moved to the front of the combine and added to the rest of the grains separated in the earlier process. The straw walkers eject remaining material from the back of the combine.

In rotary combines, the rotor, spinning very rapidly, separates remaining grains from stalks or leaves. Dense grain is driven through openings in the rotor’s rear. Stalks, leaves, and other materials are propelled backward until they are cleared from the rotor and ejected from the back of the combine.

[edit] Common Manufacturers

[edit] Additional Photos

Lilliston 6200 II Edible Bean Combine
1983 Massey Ferguson 860 Combine
2001 Caterpillar Lexion 480 Combine
2001 Caterpillar Lexicon 485 Belted Combine
1974 Laverda M152 Combine
1981 Sweco 681 Combine
2003 New Holland CX 840 Conventional Combine

[edit] References

  1. http://www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Combine.html
  2. Made How. 2008-09-23.
  3. Kubik, Rick. How to Use Implements on Your Small-scale Farm. MBI Publishing Company: 2005.
  4. Made How. 2008-09-23.
  5. Made How. 2008-09-23.
  6. United States Patent Office, John A. Pitts and Hiram A. Pitts of Winthorp, Maine, Machine for Threshing and Cleaning Grain. Specification of letters Patent No. 542, dated December 29, 1837.
  7. Combine. History Link 101. 2008-09-23.
  8. Canine, Craig. Dream Reaper: The Story of an Old-Fashioned Inventor in the High-Tech, High-Stakes World of Modern Agriculture. University of Chicago Press: 1997.
  9. The First Combined Harvesters. Ag Equipment. 2008-09-23.
  10. The First Combined Harvesters. Ag Equipment. 2008-09-23.
  11. The First Combined Harvesters. Ag Equipment. 2008-09-23.
  12. The First Combined Harvesters. Ag Equipment. 2008-09-23.
  13. The First Combined Harvesters. Ag Equipment. 2008-09-23.
  14. Combine. History Link 101. 2008-09-23.
  15. 100 Years. Mid. 2008-09-23.
  16. Combine History. Toy Tractor Show. 2008-09-23.
  17. Agricultural Mechanization. Great Achievements. 2008-09-23.
  18. Combine History. Toy Tractor Show. 2008-09-23.
  19. Machines. Living History Farm. 2008-09-23.
  20. Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers. Equipment Valuation Assistant. Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Incorporated: 2004.
  21. Farming Show. Farm Industry News. 2008-09-23.
  22. Farming Show. Farm Industry news. 2008-09-23.
  23. Heldman, Dennis R. Encyclopedia of Agricultural, Food, and Biological Engineering. CRC Press: 2003.

[edit] External Links