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Buyer's guide: What to look for in a used Grimme GT170 potato harvester

For smaller potato growers looking for a fresher harvester but not wanting to break the bank, we take a look at a used example of Grimme’s popular two-row, trailed GT170.


Geoff Ashcroft reports.

With new GT170s costing about £200,000, significant savings can be made by buying a used machine.
With new GT170s costing about £200,000, significant savings can be made by buying a used machine.

Grimme’s GT170 first appeared in the UK for testing in 2004, ahead of its 2005 launch as a replacement for the GZ1700. It brought a new wheel drive assist system, tubular chassis, and revised driveline to improve front-end visibility, along with the option of mechanical or hydraulic web drive. The latter can be identified by two large pipes coming from the top of the hydraulic filter.


Specification includes M and S models offering two key differences. M has no digging web, and is shorter, but steeper, while S offers a digging web plus agitation on the main web and either the firm’s MultiSep or RS cleaning systems.

Separation choices grew in 2006, and by 2008 there were improvements to build quality, including a strengthened drawbar, stronger main web nose roller mountings on S models, and tougher haulm roller supports. An uprated clutch in the driveline, along with improved cooling and a new windrower chute also followed.


Five years after launch, the GT170 gained a VC50 touch-screen controller along with improved diagnostics. An upgraded axle also followed along with larger steering rams and mountings. Double haulm roller drives were upgraded and wheel and tyre options included wide, low profile rubber for the left-hand wheel to carry weight and spread the load, with a larger diameter item on the right to sit between rows and deliver a long footprint for better traction.


In 2013, the GT170 gained remote adjustment of clod roller speed on all double MultiSep machines, using cable controls.

Grimme UK’s marketing manager, Adam Johnson explains: “By 2014, standard specification was extended to include hydraulic oil temperature monitoring on the in-cab controller. Wheel drive motors were changed to Poclain units and a 1,000rpm main drive gearbox was fitted to the headstock.


“Specification is vast, with a huge array of options available,” he says. “So you might find additional spec which you do not need, or vice versa.”


But with new GT170’s costing in the region of £200,000, a used buy becomes an even greater proposition.


To get some used buying tips, Mr Johnson walks us round a 2013, GT170-S example, fitted OptiBag crop elevator and MultiSep cleaning system.

Lifting equipment

Lifting equipment can be two individual rows with four discs, or full-width bed, as shown here.


Mr Johnson says: “Check wear beneath the lifting shares, where they bolt on – if there is only an inch or so remaining up to the mounting point, they will need swapping.


“Without adequate metal on the shares, you run the risk of not getting under your crop. Also run a tape measure across the lifting area to make sure the machine you are looking at matches your beds or rows.”


Any part which is ground engaging will wear and comes at a price. Though hydraulic adjustment of diablo rollers does let the operator tweak the distance between shares and rollers, wear still takes place.


Webs are the key to soil separation and crop handling. Check for positive drive or Grimme’s Multidrive mechanisms for web drive. The latter is suited to those who are likely to change webs through the season to cope with differing soil conditions and moisture.


Positive drive also offers greater longevity for webs, while the Multidrive system allows you to fit any web spacing to the machine.


Check the area where the web makes contact with the Multidrive mechanism – this is a wear point. Run your finger across the top of the web bars to gauge wear. Bars will gradually flatten, identifying points to watch.


Some models feature a cushioning roller between the digging web and main web. Ideally, the harvester should be capable of carrying soil all the way up to the top of the main web to cushion the crop.


There are many different web sizes available. Measure across 11 bars (10 spaces) and divide by 10 to establish web size. Pay close attention to web joiners too.


Grimme’s double MultiSep cleaning system is fitted to our example machine. It comprises spiral and smooth rollers. The speed and space between them is variable, to adjust cleaning intensity.


Roller segments can be swapped if damaged or worn from the abrasiveness of crop stalks. Early models used a chain and sprocket to run the haulm roller at the front of the MultiSep. Later models gained a gear drive and better durability. This is available as a kit and can be retrofitted to early harvesters.


The GT’s chassis is a two-piece bolt-together design and the joint was covered by a welded plate for added strength on latter models. Additionally, the lower chassis was beefed up with later models, so look for stress points and cracking which may need attention.


Inspect all drivelines, pto, drive belts and the hydraulic system for obvious signs where repairs and replacement parts are imminently required.

Crop elevator

Crop elevator material can be solid, or like this OptiBag version with its perforated, open design. Inspect the material for damage and tears.


OptiBag affords greater cushioning and easier replacement in the event of damage. Individual sections can be replaced, without need to renew the entire conveyor belt.


“The elevator can be run in reverse with a windrow kit too,” Mr Johnson says. “So while you are waiting for trailers, you can carry on lifting and place the crop between the next two rows. This is where full width lifting is an advantage.”


Check for play on pivot joints and look for hydraulic leaks too.


If the GT has a picking table, available in four or six-man versions, the crop gets additional cleaning capability over the final web before entering the elevator.

Typical used prices:

  • 2014 GT170-S: MultiSep, VC50 controls, £87,500
  • 2010 GT170: wheel drive, chassis levelling, £59,500
  • 2008 GT170-S: 4-man table, levelling, 45mm webs, £28,000
  • 2007 GT170-M: wheel drive, 4-man table, RS, £28,000
  • 2005 GT170-S: 35mm web, RS, £19,100
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