Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Combine: 101

I really wanted to get some pictures of the combine unloading, but as I got to the field, this is what I saw. One of our "straight" trucks driving away. Dang! Missed my opportunity...for now. Anyway, why is it called a "straight" truck? Because, unlike a semi, it has a bed connected to the truck and therefore doesn't bend. Didn't think the explanation would make sense, did ya? These are terms that I lived with for years and never bothered to ponder. I still call them grain trucks, but the hubby seems to call them straight trucks. I don't know why. Now that truly makes me ponder things.

I arrived just as Ted was finishing up cutting the beans (that's soybeans) in this field. Beans get cut with a "flex" head. It's called a flex head because it is...well...flexible. More on the flex head later, but this is what it looks like. (And that is Ted inside the combine cleaning the windshield...again.) Combining beans is dusty work!Is that duct tape on the end of the unloading auger? Duct tape fixes EVERYTHING! (For those that don't know, the unloading auger is that arm sticking out of the back of the combine at the top.) And for those that don't know, duct tape is a farmer's best friend. Driving through the field, the reel (flex head) rotates much like a paddle boat. It grabs the beans, and those "fingers" on the reel feed them back into the cutters. If you look about smack dab in the middle of this photo, just under the reel , you can see the cutters. The cutters are actually called sickle knives. Let me tell you, they are sharp, sharp, sharp! And they slide back and forth faster than you can see them move. My camera has frozen them in time for us, but to watch in real time, you just see a blur of silver metal.
Under the sickle knives is an auger. The auger has retractable fingers that help grab the crop being cut and feed it all to the center of the combine where it will go through a magic transformation. I call it magic because the "separator" truly does separate all of the "chaff" (a.k.a. "junk") from the beans, or corn, or sunflower seeds, or wheat, or whatever...
Clean seeds then get pushed up into the hopper on top of the combine. Amazing! Now, how can you tell if this combine has gas? It doesn't. It runs on diesel.
(Sorry, I just couldn't help myself!)

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