Take me home!

Ever since I can remember, I've had this real thing for Claas combine harvesters, and Claas Matador (esp. the Giant/Gigant model) in particular. Late summer brings out the passion again, and I don't expect anyone else to understand, but more for self gratification than anything else, here is a page dedicated to Claas combine harvesters...  View in 1280 x 1024 or more to get the full screen.


This is the first self propelled Class combine, the SF. Built in the 1950s it carries the early Claas paint scheme of silver and red.

The SF was followed by the Europa/Mercur models in 1958. First models were silver before the introduction of what became know as 'Matador' green.

A very early Matador Standard (on the left) and a later more representative example (on the right). The Standard model was basically the same, but with smaller grain tank, shorter straw walkers, more girlie wheels and a 4 cylinder diesel engine instead of the Giants 6 cylinder Perkins engine.
This is the actual one that started it all, when owned in the early 70s by the Ogilvie family estate and based at Elm Tree Farm, Aldringham, Suffolk. It ran alongside a Ransoms combine, and later a Senator. Later on (when these pictures were taken in the late 1980s) she had been sold to the neighbouring farm, Cherry Tree Farm in Knodishall.

Farmer Michael Easy (son of our next door neighbour when I was a child, who farmed Red House Farm) owned KRT28D (registered in 1966) until the mid 1990s.

I saw this Giant working in 2001 beside the A14 at Stowmarket. The next day I took my camera, but rain had stopped play.
A real treat in 2013 was to find the Matador Giant above...

Also in 2001 I spotted this in a farmyard at Martlesham in Suffolk. I assumed it has reaped it's last, until the following year I spotted FDX401D working again near Wickham Market. I stopped and chatted to the farmer and he even let me harvest two lengths of the field.

That was the last time I saw a Matador Standard in action, but I still keep my eyes peeled for the distinctive shape in late summer/early autumn...

This 1968 Matador Standard met a sad demise, rusting in a field between the A12 and the London - Norwich railway line.
The Matador was replaced in 1969 by the Mercator/Senator model. Basically a Matador in posh clothes! Note the change of paint colour and logo.
My other favourite Claas combines are the Lexion range, which seem to be everywhere. The local farm to where I live now has now had four of 'em!
The launch of the Lexion 580 in Suffolk, August 2003 Lexion 580 launch, 2003
A Claas Dominator harvesting rape in 2002 in Suffolk. Claas Dominator Mega 202 in 2004 at Wickham Market.

The same Dominator 98SL Classic as above near Tunstall in 2003. I found this Lexion 560 in Sweden whilst visiting there in '05.

Above is a two week old Lexion 570 at Darsham in 2005.

Above and below are the two Lexions being run in '08 by the farm closest to where I live, a 560 and a 580, both with 9 metre cutter bars.
And this beast (below) is run by Westrope Farming in Suffolk and driven by Ben - the first working 600 I saw, in Aug 2008.

Ben and Westrope Farm's 600

Westrope Farm's 600 near Ramsholt


Westrope Farm's 600 in Sutton

In 2012 Westrope replaced their 600 with a 770TT





Readhead's Lexion 760 in Knodishall, July 2012


Westrope Farm's 770 in full flight near Bredfield


Claas launched the Lexion 780 at the Claas One Vision event in August 2012, but it took until August 2013 before we saw a customer owned unit.


Hillfair Farm's 7700TT in Suffolk


Two Lexion 780s in Blythburgh, Suffolk


Forrest Farm's Lexion 8900TT on Stonham, Suffolk

Forrest Farm's Lexion 8900TT on Stonham, Suffolk


Thanks to Kim Woods for sending me Karina Bourke's magnificent photo of this Matador Giant taken in 2011. Owned by Brian Bourke of Wangaratta, in North East Victoria, Australia. She was bought in 1965 by Brian's father for $11,500. More details of the machine and it's history here.

Kim works for Henty Machinery Field Days in New South Wales. Henty are celebrating 50 years of Field Days in 2013 and is Australia's biggest agricultural event. Visit them at www.hmfd.com.au


Now aged 71, he may be semi-retired but it hasn’t stymied his creative talents.
 Here is another story from 'down under' courtesy of Kim at HMFD.

 Tyson Jones is a 71 year old farmer from Holbrook, NSW, Australia, who owns a lovely Claas Mercur from the early 1960s.

 Still in original condition, the combine was bought by Tyson at a local clearing sale for $300 in 2007. He has added nothing but grease and the old girl, boasting a 3.6m cutterbar, fires up first go, ready for harvest each year.

“I got the Claas for the only bid at the clearing sale,’’ Tyson said. “I drove it home and haven’t done anything to it – one bearing was making a noise so I pumped some grease into it and away it went.’’

The old combine is set to take centre stage at this year’s 50th Anniversary Machinery Field Days.

The field days anniversary sub committee members have spent hours giving the machine a spit and polish and the Mercur will represent the original Claas combine demonstrated at the one-day "Header School" at the Henty showground in 1961.