Versatile enters N.A. combine market

Tested in action | The RT490 has operated through four harvests overseas under the name Torum 760

REGINA — Versatile’s first combine, the RT490, might be new to Versatile, but it’s not completely new to the world of harvesting.

The 490 horsepower, Class 8 machine has been used in Europe, Russia and the former Soviet republics as the Torum 760.

With four years of production, parent company Rostselmash offers the combine in Europe with either a Mercedes or Russian engine.

The new Versatile gets the 11.9 litre QSX 490 h.p. variable geometry turbocharger-stuffed Cummins engine.

The machine relies on a Claas driveline, three speed hydrostatic transmission and hydraulics and Winnipeg’s Macon for pickups and draper headers up to 35 feet.

“Rostselmash has been refining the machine since it came out, and we have two years of advising them about where it needs improvements and modifications for the North American market,” said Adam Reid of Versatile, who attended the release of the new machine at Canada’s Farm Progress Show, which ran June 20-22 in Regina.

The machines have been in tested in Western Canada for two years and in the United States for one.

“We put the 490 through its paces with wheat and barley. Canola and lentils do very well in the rotary.

“We ran it in corn and soybeans. We knew it worked in corn from Russian experiences. We even tried it last season in rice in Arkansas. Big rotaries are typically good in most crops with a few adjustments and this is no exception, and we think the design makes it better than most.”

While the drive train and crop gathering components were developed by other manufacturers, it’s all Rostselmash when it comes to threshing.

A counter-rotating concave that turns at eight r.p.m. enables the rotor to push the crop mat and thresh over the entire processing surface rather than missing the top of concave as happens in most machines. Three adjustable concave sections surround the rotor and provide 8,371 sq. inches of threshing area.

The technology is called the RCR360 and has been around since 2005, when it received an innovation award from the large Paris farm show SIMA.

The concave is rotated with a large drive chain, while the cylinder spins via hydraulic drive. The rotor can run from 250 to 1,000 r.p.m.

A secondary cylinder at the top of the grain return reprocesses material that is sent back to the cylinder. A cross auger distributes the grain across the processor to avoid overloading one side or area of the rotor and concave, which causes grain to be carried over the back end.

The machine’s threshing surface puts it in the Class 8 category, while the engine is closer to Class 9.

A pair of beaters and a pair of oppositely footed cylinders get material to the front end of the 30 inch rotor. This combination provides initial threshing and creates a uniform crop mat that flows into the cylinder. This is a technology not unlike the process used by Claas in its Lexion machines.

The Versatile has a pre-sieve to handle the early threshing that is located under the front of the concave and rotor.

“It produces a very clean sample and it is highly adjustable and serviceable,” said Reid.

The 340 bushel grain hopper can be emptied in about two minutes, or three bushels per second.

“To work in Russia and the Ukraine, the machines can’t be relying on a lot of highly trained service technicians and repair facilities,” Reid said.

“They have to be reliable and farmers need to be able to look after the maintenance.”

The 490’s service access has an open design. The access to the threshing or drive components allows for full access to the systems.

“We brought over $200,000 in parts with the first production machines for final testing and for the dealers to experience. We didn’t end up using any of them,” said Reid.

A limited number of machines will be available in Canada for this fall, but the company is planning to have the combines widely available in Canada and a limited release in the U.S. for next year.

The new Russian-made machines are inspected when they reach Winnipeg, and one change is made on each. The Eastern European operator and training seat is replaced with a more comfortable version for the North American market.

Noticeable in the machines’ shiny black paint are the traditional side grinder marks from cleaning up the steel and coarse casting surfaces that are more common on machines from Eastern Europe. However, the large glass surfaces and firm, well-fit controls and solid feel share the Versatile heritage.

A two-wheel-drive version has a list price of $389,000, about $40,000 less than comparable machines of similar capacities. An hydraulically powered all-wheel-drive version costs $399,000.

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