«Previous    Next»
Did Deere & Co. “Bury” The Bi-Rotor Combine?
Recent news that the prototype of the original Bi-Rotor combine was auctioned off after the death of inventor Mark Underwood raised a question I haven’t thought about in a long time: Did Deere purchase the 17 Bi-Rotor Combine patents in 1995 just so it could bury the promising machine?
As a reminder, Underwood’s combine had a threshing system with dual-rotating drums, one inside the other. The outer drum moved slower than the inner unit and reports said the system was more efficient and did less damage to crops. Underwood first put the system inside an IH 1480 combine and then he teamed up with Ralph Langergren to build a Bi-Rotor prototype from the ground up. Field tests were promising when FARM SHOW first reported on the machine in Vol. 10, No. 3, in 1986. It was a beautifully-designed machine that eliminated nearly all chains, augers, shafts, pulleys and other high-wear components.
Bringing a new combine to market proved to be more than the Kansas farmers could handle and they reportedly had competing offers from Caterpillar and Deere in 1995. When Cat missed a deadline, the two men sold their patents to Deere which many of us suspected had no intention of putting it on the market since they had their own rotary combines in development. Cat went on to buy the North American rights to Claas combines.
The prototype Bi-Rotor was bought at the recent auction for $22,000 by David Hockemeyer, president of Peridot, Inc., a Hoagland, Ind., product development company that makes planter parts for Deere and Kinze, among other things. The company plans to set its engineers loose, taking the Bi-Rotor apart and determining whether the innovative harvesting system can be improved with modern technologies such as computer-aided design. Since the patents have expired, they should be free to finally bring the Bi-Rotor design to market. Stay tuned.

  Click here to download page story appeared in.

  Click here to read entire issue

To read the rest of this story, download this issue below or click here to register with your account number.
Order the Issue Containing This Story
2018 - Volume #42, Issue #6