With manoeuvrability and safety issues associated with transporting combine cutterbars coming under scrutiny as they get ever wider, header trailer manufacturer Shelbourne Reynolds has introduced three new all-wheel steer variants at the top end of its range designed to address both concerns.
“Combines with headers as wide as 12m are becoming more and more commonplace in the UK as arable farm enterprises get larger,” points out Shelbourne sales and marketing director, Neil Smith.
“While big machines with big cutterbars can do a lot to maximise output in the field, some of their advantage can be lost if transport becomes a problem because a long header proves slow to transport, being difficult to negotiate around lanes and through gateways.
“Given the size of the investment required in a big new combine, ensuring it and its header spend as little time as possible on the road makes sense. It doesn’t earn money there.”
The new FWS (four-wheel steer) versions of the standard FW (four-wheel) C9000, C10500 and C12000, capable respectively of handling headers of 9.0m, 10.5m and 12m, feature the standard front end of conventional front-wheel steering FW models, with a swan neck from which pivots the front axle, incorporating the tractor drawbar. The new element of the design is the way in which the front axle is connected via a pair of pull rods to each of the rear wheels, ensuring they move in the opposite way to the leading ones, and therefore that the rear of the trailer tracks the front. The result is a header transporter capable of handling the widest cutterbars available, yet easy to manoeuvre around both narrow lanes and on main roads, as well as through gateways.
The new design of all-wheel steer trailer has been welcomed by a Notts farm manager who ran one during harvest 2014. Keith Challen, manager for Belvoir Fruit Farms, operates a Case IH Axial-Flow 9230 equipped with a 12.5m (41ft) cutterbar. Between fields this is transported using one of the first Shelbourne Reynolds all-wheel steer FWS C12000 header trailers to be manufactured at the Suffolk firm’s Stanton factory.
“I wouldn’t want to go back to towing a big header on a trailer without rear steering,” says Mr Challen.
“Manoeuvring this size of header on a conventional-type trailer was a more difficult operation. While most of our land is within a block, when we have to go between fields on the road, being able to move quickly to minimise wasted time is important, but just as importantly so is road safety. We don’t like to rush around and work under pressure at harvest, but do the job efficiently and ensure we work safely.
“Because the header trailer precisely tracks the tractor that’s towing it, it’s much easier to take bends with and to manoeuvre into road junctions and gateways. Despite the length of the whole combination, there’s no need to shunt to get around corners.”
Equipped with a specification that includes a full lighting package and a generous toolbox, FWS C9000, C10500 and C12000 header trailers can be supplied for 9m, 10.5m and 12m cutterbars from most combine manufacturers. Retail price for an FWS C12000 is £12,780.