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30-Year Old Combine Still Going Strong
“The International 1480 Axial Flow combine that I bought new in 1984 is still going strong with more than 4,000 separator hours on it,” says Indiana farmer Howard Ewen. “I’ve done a lot of work on the machine to improve it over the years, but the time and money I’ve invested has all been worthwhile.”
    When Ewen first bought the machine he widened the axles so the 30-in. tires would run between the 38-in. rows on his farm. IH didn’t have spacers to fit his needs at the time, so Ewen made his own using 4 by 6-in. tube steel. He also put two 1 1/4-in. truss rods under the frame to provide extra support. After installing the extensions, he mounted the wheel rims facing in rather than out. Ewen says that puts less strain on the bearings and the final drive. In the 30 years he’s owned the machine he’s only replaced one seal on a final drive.
    Another reason Ewen wanted extra axle strength was to accommodate a larger grain tank. Ewen expanded the original 200-bu. grain tank by 70 percent, adding extensions to the top. He installed metal supports that connect to the engine mounts and others that extend down to the axles. That bracing strengthens the tank and helps carry the 300 bushels that the tank now holds.
    “I’ve never had a problem with the frame or the tank seams cracking,” says Ewen. “We generally don’t drive more than 3 mph while harvesting, and we always unload at the ends of the field. We don’t drive across rows or through gullies, which puts a lot of stress on the frame when the machine is fully loaded.” Ewen also widened the rear axle and strengthed it with 1/2-in. plate steel. Eventually he installed a Mud Hog 4-WD axle and built a whole new center section so the rear wheels would track directly behind the front wheels. Ewen says the setup helps reduce compaction because the rear wheels are operating on their own power rather than being pulled along by the main drive wheels.
    When Ewen’s machine was 10 years old he installed about $15,000 worth of parts that updated the machine with features that new machines had. “We improved the capacity and were able to run an 8-row corn head, which made the machine more efficient,” Ewen says. In recent years he’s updated sieves, bearings, gears and the grain unloading system. He put new gearboxes in the corn head and also welded ¼-in. square stock to the spirals on the snapping rolls so the head does a better job in downed corn.
    Ewen cleans his machine thoroughly after each season of use and stores it inside. He washes and polishes the side panels and says the red paint is just like new. “I’ve always been a stickler for preventive maintenance, and that really pays off with a combine,” Ewen says. The engine is still running strong because fluids are changed at regular intervals and it’s not overloaded, even with an 8-row head and a larger grain tank.
    Ewen says the foam padding in the cab is deteriorating and will need replacing soon. The seat, however, “looks like new and had plastic on it until a few years ago.” Ewen keeps it covered with a rug during harvest so it doesn’t get much wear.
    “The fancy new machines have all sorts of electronics, computers, chips and new technology that costs a lot of money,” says Ewen, “but I’m extremely happy with this machine. The engine runs fine, the cab has air conditioning that works, and the machine does a great job delivering clean grain. Better yet, if anything breaks on the machine, I know how to fix it.”
     Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Howard Ewen, Jr., 6997 W State Rd. 8, Lacrosse, Ind. 46348 (ph 219 754-2365).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #4