Re: The push button Combine [ & Tractor ]
You have a good point about the life of a combine being measured in tonnes throughput, doorknob, or for Americans, tons!
The problem is that exactly the same argument can be mounted that separator hours plus some allowance for engine hours are the critical numbers to measure the economical life of a combine.
Both of these arguments break down when we start to take into account the types of crops harvested by the machines, the conditions under which they operated as well as the abrasiveness of both the soil types and even the crop type.
NDDan made a very interesting comment in the Two Rotors thread which i think you also commented on about the differences in cage wear in combines that are operating only a few miles apart.
By Australian standards the soils where Rolf farms are regarded as reasonably "soft" soils and not very abrasive so harvesting the likes of lentils with a flex front right on the ground and I mean right hard on the ground if you look at Rolf's R62 photos, still wears a combine quite significantly but not like it does doing the same job in some much more abrasive soils found in most other parts of Australia.
America from what I have seen of it also has a wide range of soils from the very soft soils in some of the corn belt to some pretty harsh soils way up in places like northern Montana.
The crops also harvested also have a very big influence on the wear rates of combines and their life.
Even varieties of the cereals and no doubt corn if you want to do some real research, has a significant effect on combine wear rates with the likes of rice being notorious for wear on the combines and with stainless steel being used in a lot of OEM components for rice combines to reduce wear to an acceptable level.
All grasses such as cereals and corn and etc and most tree species have what are called micron sized "Phytoliths" or "Plant Stones" incorporated the cell walls of the plant.
These Phytoliths are composed of silica, the same mineral that sand is composed of.
Sugarcane has a very high content of Phytoliths and a few wheat varieties have anything up to at least 4 times the Phytoliths / Plant stones of other varieties of wheat.
There are suggestions that a very small number if wheat varieties have even higher levels of these micron sized silica bodies in the cell walls of their stems.
And I think we grew one of those high silica straw varieties many years ago but did not at that time know about Plantstones / phytoliths.
The ripe straw on that variety was extremely hard and brittle and bright and you got straw splinters from it just like that as well.
It was well known for that straw characteristic but was a good yielder for the times.
There was never much interest in Phytoliths except in paleo-archaeology where the phytoliths which are very stable and are still around after some 30,000 years were being used as date markers.
Then it was discovered that phytoliths incorporate significant amounts of carbon in their molecular structure which of course was also locked up for many thousands of years and suddenly there was great interest in some quarters as anything to do with locking up carbon attracted absolute truckloads of money and you didn't even have to prove anything and often couldn't so you made it up or just claimed to be experimenting in reducing atmospheric carbon by using plants and stopping global warming or some similar BS to get that dollar largesse poured out upon you in large quantities. [ /sarc ]
If interested check the above Phytoliths / Plant stones with Bing or google
OK back to topic!
Those silica Plant Stones are very abrasive hence the reason for tossing this info into here as it is probably not known to many that crop varieties can also be another factor in hours and tonnages throughput that put a limit on a combine's economical life.
All that was very well for the older fully mechanical or the heavy duty and large gauge wire automotive type electro hydraulic / mechanical systems in the likes of the L's and all the way up to the R62's and R72 series.
But as anybody who has delved around in behind the console and monitors of even the above generation of combines will know, those wires got a heck of lot smaller in gauge or cross section and multiplied into fat bundles as the model years went by.
Wildcat above in a post noted that the number of circuits and electronic gadgetry that festooned the latest model he was driving caused him some misgivings as well.
The current design of the electronics in the current models of combines and tractors seem to have stagnated in some very critical design sections of the electronics in the new production combines and tractors.
All of them rely on wire and increasingly fine gauge wire with minimal abrasion and insulation cover protection to transmit the signals from the sensors to the computer board.
As the electronics have taken over more and more functions, the number and complexity of the sensors in the machine has risen creating another vulnerability in some critical areas and the number of wires in the looms have multiplied like a plague.
To keep the bulk of the loom at a level that still allows for weaving across the machine structure, the sensor signal and function control wires are constantly being reduced in cross section and in insulation and abrasive covering and protection.
The wiring and loom technology in ag equipment has stagnated although there might already be some suitable digital systems where all signals can be sent down one wire or bus or even some similar technology to the common consumer Bluetooth type radio signal could be used for sensor signaling to the central computer board from across the machine thus doing away with most of the wiring loom except the alternator, lights and some other major pure electrical systems.
We have already had some very hard to find problems in the loom on one of our tractors that merely has a computerised console read out with a few odd sensors scattered around the tractor.
In the end we just bypassed the bad section without finding the actual fault but this may not be possible with sensors that use the wire as a part of a capacitance or resistance type sensor circuit.
I have been told the number of kiometres of wiring in one make and model of a computerised tractor but don't have the exact figures to hand and yes, that was "kilometres" of wiring!
The circuit boards can be replaced at some serious cost when they blow up or just fail but a wiring loom consisting of possibly dozens of fine wires with minimum covering for protection and tightly wrapped and bound so that a loom wire fault is almost impossible to find, spread and woven across the entire structure of a combine or tractor and nesting in amongst hot, vibrating and shaking, abrasive dust loaded parts of the working combine or tractor will be almost impossible to replace let alone being able to get that same exact replacement loom layout to suit that model's sensors and the computer architecture in decade or two into the future.
There is an awful lot to be said and not much more to prove about the reliability of some fencing wire sized electrical wiring and the continuing and judicious use of a few push, pull levers in the harsh machine working conditions of Agriculture