Wildfongs combine business with family

Saskatchewan farmers who operated Harvest Services release new concave for Deere STS

REGINA — A family with a storied history making replacement combine concaves and parts is back in the business after a 19 year hiatus.

Rick Wildfong’s family began building concaves and other combine parts in the early 1980s.

Last fall’s release of a new, high-wear concave for Deere STS machines brought another generation of Wildfongs into the enterprise: son Russ and daughter Danielle.

Grandfather Bert got the family into the business when he teamed up with Californian Ray Stueckle to design and build a line of precision bored, replacement concaves. The Wildfongs sold their company, Harvest Services, in 1995. It is still in business.

“We went to replace some (STS) Deere concaves and the price caused a bit of an ouch,” Russ said.

“The high wear ones were a lot more. And we said, ‘why not build them ourselves?’ ”

The Wildfongs built their own replacements last winter and added a few modifications to the basic Deere design.

The family found that only one aftermarket company was building high wear replacement units and decided to get back into the business.

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Danielle said the family’s choice of steel made manufacturing a challenge.

“We went AR400, military grade metal. It means the cross bars won’t fold over if a rock gets in there or melt away in sandy land, but it meant we had to find a way to cut it,” she said.

AR400 steel resists abrasion and toughens the metal through a combination of alloy choices and quenching and tempering.

Russ said they are sending the steel out for laser cutting to avoid milling and drilling at their farm shop near Craik, Sask.

“We assemble and weld the concaves and ensure they are true,” he said.

“This stuff would take a long while to cut ourselves.”

A former pressure system welder handles many of the assembly welds of the toughened material.

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“The fit and finish of our concaves is to a very high standard. Our wire spacing is exactly equal,” Russ said.

“I can’t say that the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) stuff is as good.”

The Wildfongs’ units also allow more depth between the top of the bars and wires, which allows more room for grain-on grain threshing.

Frame bars are continuous and set lower than the OEM version, acting more like wires.

The $2,000 price is more than $1,500 lower than the standard Deere replacements and considerably cheaper than the $5,400 price tag for the comparable high wear units from the manufacturer.

The company also makes replacements for Case IH rotaries and plans to expand into other lines in the coming year.

For more information, contact Russ or Danielle at 306-734-2345 or email Russ at russell@wildfongenterprises.com.

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Contact michael.raine@producer.com