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John Deere Rotary Combine
Before Deere and Company introduced their new Maximizer combines a year ago, there was much speculation as to whether the new machines might be the long awaited Deere rotaries.
Deere, the only major U.S. manufacturer not making a rotary, has been adamant in stating that in a variety of crops and conditions, the conventional combine is still superior. They backed up that statement by sticking with a conventional design on their new series.
Deere should know what they're talking about since, as the photos show, they began with their own rotary experiments in 1957 with the XCC-1. At this point, Deere called these combines centrifugals. Thus XCC stood for "Experimental Centrifugal Combine." This combine was based on a pull-type model 65 chassis. The combine was tested in 1958. A product Research Department report stated that "field losses have been low and harvest capacity acceptable in rye, wheat and oats."
Encouraged by these early tests, a new model, the XCC-5, was built, based on the 95 chassis. This model was "styled" in 1959 by covering it with sheet metal. A series of four different sizes of this combine was considered in the winter of 1960. The name "Axial Flow" was often used for these machines. This name wouldn't be heard again until 1977 when IH introduced their first rotary, calling it the Axial Flow.
In 1960, it was reported that the concaves in Deere's experimental rotaries plugged with sap and weeds, and that there were too many cobs in corn, and too many cracked beans.
In 1961, while being tested near Dalton, Neb., the grates built up with mud in soybeans. A high loss of grain was also experienced at low feed rates, due to ricocheting grain.
Despite these problems, Deere engineers had hoped to have the combines ready for market in 1964. In 1962, an industry rumor that IH was about to introduce a revolutionary rotary combine caused Deere engineers to worry that these would be the first commercially-available rotaries. Their fears were unfounded, however, as 1H introduced the conventional 303, 403 and 503 models. These were little more than updates of the previous 101, 151 and 181 models which they had built since 1957.
Somewhere in the early sixties, Deere dropped their all-out efforts to produce a rotary combine, even though some experimentation continued right up until the time the 4400, 6600 and 7700 were introduced in 1969.
In 1975 New Holland introduced their TR70, the first rotary by a major manufacturer. We still haven't seen a Deere rotary and maybe never will.
(Reprinted with permission from Green Magazine, Richard Hain, Publisher, Box 11, Bee, Neb. 68314.)

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1990 - Volume #14, Issue #1