Field experience: a few machines I remember well

I was born and raised on a small mixed farm and started out working on other peoples’ farms.

I studied farm machinery in technical school and after graduation in 1970, moved to Steinbach, Man., to work at an Allis and Massey Ferguson dealer. After three years there I became a regional service representative for Massey.

That was the year the 1105, 1135 and the 1155 tractors came out. Tractors in those days sometimes had their design issues.

For instance, that one had a roof liner that allowed the fan in the cab to bypass the filter and blow dirt-laden air straight into the operator’s face, turning it black. It had a closed centre hydraulic system that had to be set carefully.

I taught that system in schools for what seemed like a long time, no matter how old this tractor got. These days, it is no more than an old chore tractor, but it is still around and still has the same issues.

I was around when the 2000 series tractors came along, which took a lot of effort to keep in the field. If we weren’t changing a transmission unit or timing the engine, there would be something else.

I was skeptical when tractors came out with completely computer controlled transmissions, which allowed the operator to shift from any gear to any gear, at any speed in any direction.

The computer decided the characteristics of the shift based on the speed you were travelling, the load on the engine and the temperature of the oil.

I was sure computers would not work on farm machinery. How could they last in all that heat and vibration? Was I ever wrong.


The year I started working for Massey was also the year that the 750 and 760 combines came out. The first ones didn’t have the high inertia cylinder. They did in the second year, however, and what a difference. Massey kept that basic design for about 14 years.

In 1985, Massey came out with the rotary combine. The company gave each of its service reps a combine to run during harvest and show customers what we had. I ran mine in all kinds of crops, even in wet peas, all the way from south of Shaunavon, Sask., to north of Tisdale, Sask.

I had just spent the summer visiting 128 Hutterite colonies trying to convince them the conventional way of threshing was the best. I told them those rotaries that the other companies were pushing were no good in wet conditions and you couldn’t bale the straw.

Now, here I was trying to sell some of the same colonies on the idea of a rotary, only a month or so later. They thought it was funny. The two faults I had previously listed just weren’t true. What a great machine.

I spent two harvests running an 8570 after I retired, and it was a fine design.

I worked with Deutz Allis and spent a lot of time with the Gleaner combines.

A lot of things make the Gleaner stand out from the rest. The most obvious is the accelerator rolls, which allow the combine to clean a lotof grain in a hurry. It remains one of the few combines that is especially good in canola.

I just spent about two hours riding in one of these machines with GPS guidance. Talk about computer controlled. It senses everything and adjusts the combine as needed. However, despite all of the new tools, it is still, at its heart, a great threshing design.


I think my strength was the combine clinics I conducted for farmers. As the instructor, I learned a lot about combines.

I also saw the introduction of the 124 baler the first year I worked for Massey. It seemed everything that went wrong with the baler could be fixed by setting the knotter knife.

With Deutz Allis, I learned about the air cooled engine. Did you know it takes twice as much air to cool a water cooled engine as it does to cool an air cooled engine?

One year I was assigned the mystery of the vibration problem with Massey combines. I was given a vibration analyzer to check them out. It was a great tool that would tell me within five minutes what part of a machine was causing the vibration issues.

When it comes to specific machines, the AGCO ones are what I know best. That doesn’t mean I won’t speak to general issues in farm equipment because they all share a great deal in common, but those lines are where I am most competent.

Keep the questions coming and I will do my best to keep answering them.

Henry Guenter is a former service manager for Massey Ferguson. Contact: