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Discussion Starter #1
One thing I have heard on here often is that Gleaners are cheap to maintain compared to other brands and I'm wondering how closely you actually track that?

I've owned a Gleaner S67 for almost 5 years now. I know I haven't been the biggest Gleaner proponent for the last year or so but there is one Gleaner claim that I have always felt was pretty accurate and that was that the cost to keep them running was pretty low. Often you'll hear how someone spent $30,000 at the 1,000 hour mark on their Deere or CNH machine and the Gleaner fans will say, "holy cow, I can't imagine spending $30,000 on my Gleaner in 5 years much less all in one shot like that".

And honestly despite having no great love for Gleaner anymore, I have agreed with them right up until a few days ago. I have just "had a feeling" that my Gleaner has been very economical to maintain and repair over the years. But the truth is that I have not carefully gone through the numbers until now.

Now that I have thoroughly analyzed my costs over the last 825 sep hours though, I no longer feel that way at all.

This analysis is the expenses I have incurred from 533 separator hours (how many hours it had on it when I bought it) to 1358 separator hours (how many hours it has on it now).

I have spent $33,000 in parts and I have spent $12,000 in dealer labor while doing an estimated 50-60% of the labor myself. I'm charging myself way less than they charge me but it takes me longer so I would say maybe $10,000 in my own labor (that may be a bit high yet).

So between parts and labor over 825 sep hours I'm at around $55,000 or $67/hour in just repairs. Before I bought the combine I did an analysis comparing custom harvest to harvesting my own and I used $30/sep hour as what I had budgeted for. I expected it to be less than that though because of what I had heard about Gleaner maintenance costs.

The combine has depreciated by about $42/sep hour over the time period that I have owned it if you go by Auctiontime auction results for current value so I guess I'm close to $109/hour for combine ownership costs between repairs and depreciation.
The repairs side really surprised me. I haven't even had anything major and this is not including header repairs, just combine repairs (and maintenance as I have included oil and filters in this cost). If I were to include upgrades like Headsight and yield monitor and GPS and GPS correction subscriptions the cost so far would be MUCH higher. Probably another $30,000.

Some of the more major stuff has been:

1. Replacing the rear feederhouse chain and sprockets
2. Replacing the accelerator rolls
3. Replacing the bearings on both sides of the main shaft that goes from the left side to the right side of the combine
4. Replacing the water pump (major job on that engine)
5. Replacing the thrust washers in the transmission (not expensive since I did it myself but time consuming)
6. Replacing the bushings in the big pulley on the back side of the feederhouse on the right side
7. Replacing the driving variable speed sheave hub on the feederhouse (manufacture defect that I got to pay for)
8. Replacing the driven sheave on the feederhouse variable speed (just worn)
9. Left a tape measure on the deck between the engine and rotor and it fell off and landed on the main belt and ruined the belt. When it broke it tore up a few other things ,maybe a wiring harness, etc.
10. DEF pump
11. Rebuilt left final drive
12. Replaced idler bearing in separator drive.
13. Did some mods to the swivel mount for the unload auger to make it like an S9 and repaired some cracking there.

I also replaced rotor bars early on and I should not have. I was paranoid. Looking back I bet those rotor bars had at least 500 sep hours of good life left in them but I didn't know much at the time and thought being ultra careful on threshing components would result in enough better performance to make it worthwhile.

I have not had to get into what I anticipate to be more expensive stuff yet. Over the next 825 hours I'm sure I will end up replacing nearly every auger on the machine and maybe the feederhouse floor and maybe the clean grain elevator and definitely the clean grain elevator chain and on and on. So I really see no reason for the next 825 hours to be any cheaper in terms of repairs than the last 825 hours were.

Anyway, I guess I'm saying that I'm just not so sure the Gleaner is as economical as what everyone says in terms of repairs. I haven't had anything major like an engine or transmission or hydrostat or hydrualic pump or rotor gearbox and I haven't gotten into the more costly wear items and I'm already getting to the point where I'm going to have to start replacing some wear items the second time.
 

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You’re only at about $40. in repairs per hour for the over all use on the machine unless you paid new price for a machine with 533 hours on it aren’t you? Someone else took the charge for the first 533 hours of use to bring your purchase price down, but you ended up paying for the betterment on the machine later on.

All combines are time and money pits IMO. Everyone has to do what they need to operate the things within their individual means.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You’re only at about $40. In repairs per hour of over all use on the machine unless you paid new price for a machine with 533 hours on it aren’t you?

All combines are time and money pits. IMO
I guess I'm not sure what you're saying.

I have spent $67 per separator hour in repairs so far and the combine has depreciated by $35,000 since I purchased it which means I have lost $42/sep hour in depreciation for a total loss of $109/sep hour for the 825 hours I have put on it. I don't feel terrible about that but it doesn't give me warm fuzzies either.
 

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We try to figure out the per acre cost not per hour. $67/hour isn’t bad if your doing 20acres an hour. Not very good if your at 10.
 

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Yep working it out per hour is silly. If you got someone in to take it off for you they’ll charge by the acre. Same with people worrying about how much fuel their machine burns per hour, it’s the work done that matters. Doing repairs yourself is so you save money, your time isn’t recorded on the books as repairs like a mechanics is, you still get paid even if the mechanic is there
 

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I would agree with the others that $ per acre is what counts more so than $ per hour but, unless you have a acre meter on the combine it would be harder to nail the cost down that way although you should be able to get close knowing how many acres you farm and how many seasons you've used it. However, having said that, perhaps it's different in Australia or elsewhere, A buddy of mine did custom for a few years, starting in Texas and working his way north to northern Alberta and he charged by the hour. The reason being that his operating costs are set by the hour but the acres per hour can var=y considerable pending the crop type, size and conditions.
 

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Well this somewhat addresses what I've thought for years. I see folks on here go on and on about this brand or that (usually it's silver or yellow guys) and how they are incredibly cheap and easy to maintain and never break or wear out. They then go after the poor saps running any other color (usually they're after the green guys). I mostly don't say much. We've got no color loyalty, we've run several over the years (we custom harvest as well as farm), they all break and they all cost a lot. Are there variations within categories? Yes. But my experience is they all do the job, cost money, wear out, and break. Service and parts are what we look at when deciding on a brand. Any time I hear a color fanboy cheering I quit listening.
 

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Well this somewhat addresses what I've thought for years. I see folks on here go on and on about this brand or that (usually it's silver or yellow guys) and how they are incredibly cheap and easy to maintain and never break or wear out. They then go after the poor saps running any other color (usually they're after the green guys). I mostly don't say much. We've got no color loyalty, we've run several over the years (we custom harvest as well as farm), they all break and they all cost a lot. Are there variations within categories? Yes. But my experience is they all do the job, cost money, wear out, and break. Service and parts are what we look at when deciding on a brand. Any time I hear a color fanboy cheering I quit listening.
Yup, they ALL have a parts and service department for a reason. If one WAS head and shoulders better than the others, it wouldn't take long and all the others would cease to exist unless they were REALLY cheap to purchase (Belarus tractors come to mind).
 

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The first 533 hrs likely had minimal expenses. Just because you bought it with the first 533 hrs of fun used up you can't say that your parts that needed replacing only lasted 800 hrs. If a combine is costing any amount in repairs in 500 hrs from new I don't want it lol. Oil, filters, grease belts etc are just a given consumable. You also can't consider a mistake like wrecking wiring and destroying a belt from forgetting a tool and it falling into the machines pulley as an operating expense and normal maintenance lol. Yes you had to pay for that mistake but to compare it to expenses of operating different brands isn't justified. It's like me comparing my Dodge to a Ford for operating expenses. I hit a deer causing $5000 damage with my dodge my buddy cant say see my Ford is cheaper to own lol.
 

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At $109 per hour total is pretty reasonable. I've seen RB auction result's showing +$350hr depreciation on 2 year stuff. Low balling the acre's per hr at 13 is only $8.38 per acre. A far spread from eating the depreciation on new iron.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
At $109 per hour total is pretty reasonable. I've seen RB auction result's showing +$350hr depreciation on 2 year stuff. Low balling the acre's per hr at 13 is only $8.38 per acre. A far spread from eating the depreciation on new iron.
I agree, better than new although I don't think there is anyone who is rolling machines every two years that is paying $350/hour. Maybe some at $200 per hour but most are less than that I think from what I hear talking to people who should know. The RB deals are usually situation where either the bank owns it and is trying to dump it or a dealer gave the first owner too much on a trade for it and they are just finally throwing in the towel after not being able to sell it for a long time.

I have way less risk exposure owning used stuff as well. If I owned new of every piece of equipment that I use I would have more invested in equipment than my net worth. Just not at the point in my career where I can even think about that kind of activity.
 

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I think there is a valid point that even though you bought the machine used, the repairs should be charged back to the total number of hours which would lower the cost per hour. You get hung with those costs but you also didn't pay retail for a new machine. It's about life of the parts and buying used put you in the middle of that cycle. I would guess that you are still money ahead buying used vs. new.

There is also some other factors in the depreciation that are skewing the numbers. You and I bought our machines at a high cycle in the equipment market. A few years later when the equipment market collapsed, my machine lost $70,000 in value just setting in the building. So that is skewing the accumulated depreciation and I'm not sure how one would go about getting a clearer picture.

Like someone said earlier, it's about cost per acre or even per bushels. Yeah your cost per hour may be high but what are you getting done in that hour? I showed you my costs per acre and per bushels and they are very reasonable in my opinion while my cost per hour doesn't look great. Kinda like that saying, it's not the size that matters, it's what you do with it. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I think this came off as an attack on Gleaner and it really wasn't meant that way. I think my Gleaner has had higher than average repair costs due to quality control stuff at Hesston that seemed to all hit my machine and due to me doing a dumb deal. Were it not for those two things my parts cost would likely be down around $25,000 during that same time period.

Another thing that has added to repair cost is that maybe some people are able to trust themselves to do their own inspections. I'm getting closer to that point but I have paid for at least 3 inspections in 825 separator hours. If I were confident I would not miss anything on inspections my total costs would be down further still.

Even with all of that being considered though, when I was researching combine ownership costs I asked around on what to expect for repairs per separator hour and it seemed like the higher end of what people were saying in general was $30,000 parts and labor per 1,000 separator hours. People with Gleaners would reply saying there is no way I could spend that much. My experience tells me it's likely that everyone was too low. I really don't see how I could get it down to $30,000 parts and labor even if I did not have to deal with the lack of grease by the previous owner on the bushings and me dropping the tape measure and not hiring any work (even inspections) done and not replacing the rotor bars earlier than they needed to be replaced. I just don't see how a guy could get down to that number. Maybe $35,000 if everything went right but if you're charging yourself for your labor I don't see how you could get much below that.

Not saying I would expect it to be better with a Deere or a Case. Just saying that after the last 4 or 5 years and after looking at the numbers, I don't see how I could expect to pay that low of an amount on any modern machine.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think there is a valid point that even though you bought the machine used, the repairs should be charged back to the total number of hours which would lower the cost per hour.
I agree that repair cost per separator hour would be lower with buying new and that depreciation per hour would be much higher to come up with a significantly higher total ownership cost. It's just that when I bought the combine I had done what I thought was thorough research on what to expect for repair costs. When I went into it I figured if I bought the machine right it would depreciate at $60/sep hour and the repairs/labor would cost me less than $30/hour for a total of $90/hour.

The reality that I have experienced suggests that the depreciation has been lower than I expected (wonderful!) and the repairs/labor have been more than double what I expected (darn:() for a total that is a bit more than I expected but still less than owning a new one.

You get hung with those costs but you also didn't pay retail for a new machine. It's about life of the parts and buying used put you in the middle of that cycle. I would guess that you are still money ahead buying used vs. new.

There is also some other factors in the depreciation that are skewing the numbers. You and I bought our machines at a high cycle in the equipment market. A few years later when the equipment market collapsed, my machine lost $70,000 in value just setting in the building. So that is skewing the accumulated depreciation and I'm not sure how one would go about getting a clearer picture.
Heck man, I thought I bought mine right! Lol. I think mine has only depreciated by $35K so far based upon auction values and hopefully I could sell outright and get more than that? Hard to say.

Like someone said earlier, it's about cost per acre or even per bushels. Yeah your cost per hour may be high but what are you getting done in that hour? I showed you my costs per acre and per bushels and they are very reasonable in my opinion while my cost per hour doesn't look great. Kinda like that saying, it's not the size that matters, it's what you do with it. ;)
My acres per hour were not very high this year. I think it was about 12 acres per separator hour. I would attribute that to a lot of backing up when I was trying to pick down corn on the end rows and couldn't see where I was going as well as a lot of leaving the separator on while roading back to the other end on the short rows of some fields so we could pick one direction. I really did not track acres per separator hour last year but I would imagine it may have been close to 15. We had 3 combines at various times in 2018 and they all got different hours and I never took the time to separate out how many acres each machine had over the course of the year.

If we split the difference between your 14.27 this year and my 12 this year to come up with a conservative number of what I might have on an average year that would be 13.14 acres per hour. If the combine is costing me $109/hour that is $8.30/acre cost. I don't think that is too bad, it's just higher than I expected going in.
 

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Yep working it out per hour is silly. If you got someone in to take it off for you they’ll charge by the acre. Same with people worrying about how much fuel their machine burns per hour, it’s the work done that matters. Doing repairs yourself is so you save money, your time isn’t recorded on the books as repairs like a mechanics is, you still get paid even if the mechanic is there
I don’t charge by area. All costs are by the hour. The machine depreciates by the hour. Operator/owner is paid by the hour. Dealership charges labour by the hour. R&M is by the hour. My labour working on & maintaining the the machine in the paddock or in the shed is by the hour. Finance/insurance etc. etc. is all worked into the hourly cost & hence, charge out rate.
Hourly charge out is the fairest way for both parties ......... AS LONG AS THE OPERATOR IS GAINING THE MAXIMUM POSSIBLE MACHINE PRODUCTION UNDER THE CURRENT CROP/PADDOCK CONDITIONS ....... & MORE IMPORTANTLY, THE GROWER IS PROVIDING THE FACILITIES TO MAXIMISE HARVEST PRODUCTIVITY!

As for machine depreciation ...... & this is real money that needs to accounted for ....... in 5 years, 50% of the value of the machine will be lost.
As a professional contract harvester, I buy new machines because customers want new technology. I want new technology that improves productivity & efficiency. I want new machines for reliability. Professional harvesters CANNOT AFFORD TO BE STOPPED during harvest. The income earning window of opportunity is small & any lost time simply cannot be made up elsewhere.
Irrespective of machine colour, 12-1500 hours will see a pretty major rebuild & input of parts & labour. 30-35,000 tonne ...... all chains, sprockets, many belts, many bearings, idlers, all sieves, concave(s), rotor/cylinder bars, wear plates etc. etc. etc. will all need to be replaced. If you do a lot of ground hugging crops ...... peas,beans,lentils etc. ....... the rebuild will be earlier. Dirt/mud f...ks machines!
People SHOULD keep good records of the maintenance items & costs of each machine. A line item in the yearly financials called “Repairs & Maintenance” for all R&M costs is not that helpful to individualise the costs. Data provides information for the current owners. It also provides good discussions with dealers & new owners & it provides irrefutable facts.
 

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The 14.27 was the average since I bought the machine. This year I was down to 13.37 acres/hour due to down corn and heavy wheat. Last year I was running 15.01 acres/hour average.

Maybe $/bu would be a better measure since yield can affect acres/hour.
 

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As a farmer/owner/operator I’ll keep close track of operating costs as soon as someone proves I won’t have to pay them if I do.
Simply the cost of doing business.
 

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I find the responses to this quite interesting to what should be a rather simple question. "Repair cost per separation hour". In my world, I find that I sometimes experience the same thing as the OP in that, my repair costs are often higher than what I perceive. However, since we do have a line in our operating statement for R&M for each piece of equipment (sprayer, primary water truck, nurse truck, pickups ), I check it at the end of each fiscal year and when I find the expense on a piece higher than expected, I check it out and invariably, it's the little things that add up quicker than expected (>$500). I also calculate all my costs on a per acre basis since I charge by the acre. For me this is important because it keeps things in perspective. Example, I had a planetary pile up this fall (the first mechanical breakdown on the sprayer in several years). The repair cost was $8500. On the surface, that is a LOT of money. However, it comes to a shade over $.02per acre. Inlet the dealer know that I have another planetary on the other side with the same amount of acres on it so keep one in stock as I may need it soon. Then again, I may not. It was the seal that failed causing the planetary to fail and I had them inspect the others when it was in for the repair and they all looked good so.......
 

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No matter what colour of combine they all are expensive to repair. Gleaner is just as stupid in parts pricing as the rest. High wear items like feeder chains and sprockets and elevator chains are just the Norm for all combines. Gleaners added cost is the second feeder chain and the accelerator rolls. Where it does have the advantage on operating costs is in fuel consumed and less moving parts everywhere else. The chopper has 1/5 the chopper blades of any other design. My blades seem to last forever in the gleaner compared to my massey at $300 for 2 sets of blades. Now the comparison of straw spread is another difference though. The mav is just superior for tough straw spreading. The less bearings and belts and pulleys the less chance or need for repairs.
 
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