9600's were a very good combine. I have seen plenty still going with 6000+ seperator hours. Sure they don't have the capacity of todays combines, but I bet you won't see any of todays combines still running with 6000+ hours on them, no matter the color.
There's actually quite a few older 9600's in the 8,000 to 9,000 hour range now. Those I have looked at, may not be spring chickens, but they are still far from the graveyard, too, provided they continue with all the good care that has put them there.
Agree with you, 100 percent, on the cost of maintenance, Iron! too many people tend to look at an older combine and declare it's a money pit before even calculating cost of repairs for the newest and biggest.
I worked on a 93 that was a custom cutters. The machine had a few hours over 9800. Customer said that was the third new tach put on the machine so he didn't know the real hours he was guessing around 14K. HE said he had put the sheet metal above the concave in 4 times. I went out to the service call for a no start complaint. Guy had about 15psi cylinder pressure. The machine was done.
I sure hope not!
When he said "the machine was done," I thought he meant his job servicing/repairing was done....as in completed/finished.
I sure did not take it to mean the combine was dead or totaled.