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Top tips for buying a used self-propelled forager

Weighing up the condition of a second-hand self-propelled forager can be challenging.  

 

Jane Carley runs through a few key areas...

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Top tips for buying a used self-propelled forager

A self-propelled forage harvester is a major investment, but can also be a good earner for an up-and-coming contractor or allow a farm to take control of its own harvest.

 

Buying a used machine is often the first step on a ladder when diversifying and can be a good option when putting fewer acres through a machine for your own use.

 

It can also be a way of boosting capacity as a second forager or to back up an existing machine.


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Finding a good second-hand model can be a challenge, as many will have already worked hard, and well-maintained or overhauled examples can command a premium.

 

To avoid purchasing pitfalls, we take a look at various manufacturers and models and identify a few key points to ponder over.

Claas type 492 800 series Jaguar

Claas type 492 800 series Jaguar

Claas’ type 492 self-propelled forager series was first introduced in 2000 and ran up until 2014.

 

Changes were minimal throughout its life cycle, with the firm’s proven four-feed roller intake, classic-spec chopping cylinder and crop accelerator remaining largely unchanged across the range.

 

More automation and convenience was added to the options list on later models.

 

In 2002, two new Speedstar 890 and 900 models were added, with 40kph transmissions for faster road travel and larger Michelin XM28 650/75 R32s being fitted on the front and Goodyear 540/65 R24s on the rear axle.

 

Laser Pilot was offered as an option to provide automatic row following and hands-free steering when working in grass.

 

GreenEye models were introduced in 2005, with Stage 3 engines giving a small uplift in power, and the addition of ComfortCut adjustable feed roller speed to vary chop length and a new ‘fly by wire’ joystick. These harvesters also came with a heavy duty crop processor.

 

Points to look out for

  • Check the chopping hours as well as engine hours – high chopping hours suggest large throughputs in the machine’s previous life
  • Check the front feed rollers - dents and bent teeth give an indication of how the machine has been looked after. Wear to the pick-up and augers also tell a tale
  • Type 492 foragers have proven to be highly reliable over the years, while the 494 type that followed offered extra refinements

 

For sale

  • 2000 Jaguar 860: 2,265 engine hours, mechanical drive, 30kph – £42,500
  • 2004 Jaguar 890: 2,562 engine hours, Profistar version, PU 3000HD header – £80,000
  • 2005 Jaguar 890: 5,500 engine hours, 3,333 chopping hours, 30kph hydro transmission – £55,000
  • 2006 Jaguar 890: 5,336 engine hours, 4,040 chopping hours, 40kph hydro transmission – £52,500

Krone Big X

Krone Big X

Chopping systems on the Big X have changed little since its introduction in 2000, but power trains have evolved with engines initially from Mercedes – modified during their lifespan - then MAN and most recently, Liebherr.

 

Krone also expanded the range of models available considerably, spanning 450 to 1100hp. The Big X 1000 caused a stir when it was introduced in 2005, using twin engines to deliver 1000hp.

 

The twin engine approach was also extended down the line in 2006 with 500 and 300hp engines in the Big X 800. The VariStream crop flow system was added in 2009, using six pre-compression rollers and a 660mm diameter and 800mm wide chopping cylinder.

 

Chopping cylinder options also grew with 20, 28 and 40 knife variants available.

 

Older Big X models were fitted with the joystick used in the Fendt 820s, which was swapped to a Krone joystick for greater functionality in the MAN-engined 750 and 800 in 2010.

 

Points to look out for

  • Transmissions were initially from Bosch and then Poclain, the latter more straightforward to repair if needed
  • Wear and tear are the main points to look out for – a tidy machine may have had £10,000-15,000 spent on it to prepare it for sale
  • Machine hours were initially shown on the Krone Machine Controller. If this has been removed, they should be in the new control box

 

For sale

  • 2006 Big X 650: 3,577 engine hours, 2,128 chopping hours, 4WD, 20 knives, air conditioning, Easy flow 3001 header – £65,000
  • 2010 Big X 700: 2,140 engine hours, 1,444 chopping hours, 40kph 4WD Tri power, 28 knife drum, Easy Flow 3001 grass header – £99,950

John Deere 7000 series

John Deere 7000 series

John Deere’s 7000 series was introduced in 2003 and a number of updates and new models were added before it was superseded by the 8000 series in 2014.

 

Two wide-body versions – the 7700 and 7800 – joined the line-up in 2004, designed to match the size of the crop channel to the increased horsepower.

 

Four-wheel drive, now standard, was an option on earlier 7000 series; it is complemented by the 40kph Pro Drive four-speed gearbox added in 2006, which is better on the road than the original three-speed versions.

 

Most machines were sold with the IVLOC (infinitely variable length of chop) feed roller drive and chop length adjustment, which allows chop length to be adjusted to match crop conditions and thus forward speed.

 

Originally, 7000 series foragers were offered with 40-knife drums, giving a chop length of 7-26mm, but 48 and 56-knife versions, subsequently added, give the shorter chop is needed for AD work. Knives can be taken out to give a longer chop.

 

Some 7000 and 7050 machines were offered with the ‘i’ technology package which allows HarvestLab yield monitoring to be fitted, which could be a useful add-on for a developing contractor business.

 

The 7950i launched in 2008 broke the 800hp barrier and could be fitted with a 12-row Kemper maize header.

 

There were a number of header series with the C series having simplified drive lines, increased capacity and improved feeding.

 

Points to look out for

  • The drum itself may look good, but if you run the machine flat out with the drum engaged, vibrations can indicate damage to the drum or blower
  • If the forager has HarvestLab, check that it works. If the bulb has gone, it cannot be removed from the sealed unit, which has to go in for refurbishment
  • Wear plates on the blower and spout, and liners on the turret can all be replaced, but be prepared for the costs

 

For sale

  • 2003 7400: 4,448 engine hours, 3,069 drum hours, three speed hydrostatic transmission, IVLOC header drive, 40 knives, auto shearbar adjust, 630A header – £49,500
  • 2005 7400: 2,790 engine hours, 4WD, IVLOC, maize processor – £69,000
  • 2011 7450: 1,993 engine hours, 40kph Pro Drive transmission, IVLOC, 40 knife drum, 630C grass header – £95,000

New Holland FX/FR

New Holland FX/FR

New Holland switched from the FX series to the FR in 2008, and Malpas Tractors’ service engineer Rob Jackson suggests a £60,000 budget would get a reasonable FX, but is a bit tight for a newer FR.

 

The FR featured significant improvements, including the introduction of a 40kph transmission. It is a higher output machine altogether with a larger drum and wide choice of blade configurations.

 

It was also designed to withstand 1,000hp, as opposed to the maximum 450hp of the FX.

 

Later FX machines were equipped with HydroLoc feed roller drive and adjustable chop length which has also been adopted for the FR.

 

The FX would be a good choice for a farmer wishing to chop his own grass, but with a bigger acreage or to harvest maize, especially for biogas, the FR is the machine.

 

FR foragers came with a new drum, designed to offer the chop quality required for biogas, initially as a ’16 by 16’ configuration and more recently as ’20 by 20’, which could be purchased separately for an older FR.

 

FR foragers also got the Intelliview monitor and cab shared with the CR combine series.

 

On the mechanical side, FX foragers had straightforward drivetrains, with the Caterpillar engines used on FX56/58 machine considered to be especially strong.

 

Points to look out for

  • Check the turbo on FR 9060 engines – turbo gaskets tended to blow which could make the turbo fail
  • Again, wearing parts add most to repair bills on the New Hollland forager with the condition of liners and drum worth particular inspection on a second hand machine

 

For sale

  • 1999 FX48: 3,578 engine hours, 2,113 chopping hours – £43,777
  • 2008 FR 9050: 3,882 engine hours, 2,959 chopping hours, 4WD, four speed hydrostatic transmission, 16 by 16 knives, kernel processor – £69,000
  • 2010 FR 9060: 2,400 engine hours, 1,900 chopping hours, 4WD, cruise control, air conditioning – £87,250

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