This week was exciting for me because we scored an Allis Chalmers 72 Harvestall combine!
A combine is used to harvest grains and seeds from the field, and the Allis is a classic machine that can be pulled behind the tractor.
Besides the challenge of finding good equipment, the real battle is getting it back to the farm. This is the adventure I want to tell you more about.
Before we get more into it, let’s set some context. Our 65-acre Cavaleiro Farm is considered a small farm, something from the past. As such, the modern technology for growing and harvesting crops is for another scale of farm on the order of hundreds and thousands of acres.
Therefore, the best equipment I can get for our farm is from the ’70s or older. If there is a modern version that works, it tends to cost so much more than a used option, that it makes little sense to purchase.
Being just north of Toronto, there are not too many options for equipment that is close to the farm. This has a big impact on purchase decisions because when you’re going to tow back farm equipment at 40km/hr (the maximum speed you can pull farm equipment down the road), then you want somewhere close.
In the case of this Allis combine, it was located in Hampton, Ontario, just passed Oshawa. This is actually a bigger machine, over 12′ long, 8′ high and more than 11′ wide, so my plan was to get the machine towed on a flatbed.
That was the plan until the tow truck driver loaded the machine and found that it was too wide. He could get in trouble for towing it, so my next option was a semi truck with a trailer, which would have cost me over $1000 for the 1 hour drive.
So, what’s a guy to do? Went to plan B: I’ll move the combine myself behind the truck!
Gary, the guy I bought the combine from, filled up the tires the day before and they looked like they were holding air. So, with a little help from Gary, we came up with a country road route that would get me from Hampton to Schomberg while avoiding highways, major roads and other challenges.
See, although the combine is already wide, it’s more pronounced because of where the tow link is located. The combine sticks out towards the center lane a fair amount. Check it out while parked in our barn.
So, I began the journey with 2 hours of light, as farm vehicles are not allowed to drive at night without lights. When I am pulling something, I drive with no radio and the window open. I can hear the wheels rolling on the road, rocks hitting the metal, and the whistle of air passing this big box.
It must have been 15 mins into the journey before I heard a loud bang. I pulled over as quickly and as much as I could to check, and found a big flat tire.
Luckily, a big driveway was near and this is what I had come to.
The 15 minutes into the journey worked out. Gary came up from his house to help me get the wheels off. I wanted to replace both the tires and be certain I could continue the journey.
By then, I had ran out of daylight. Classic farmer problem!
The lady whose driveway I pulled into let me keep it there overnight. Rural people aren’t surprised by breakdowns like this. She said, “Schomberg! You’re a long way from home. No problem.”
The next day started with preparing jacks and tools to put the new tires on, plus I had to get the new tires. I went over to my local tire shop Northway Tire, which always seems to have the tire, patch or repair that I need to keep rolling.
On the way back to the Allis combine, I needed to confirm my route to Hampton. It was like being in a rally, checking out my road map notes and corrections I needed to make. I needed to avoid highways, service roads and traffic in general.
It took 3 hours to get back. But I was able to avoid cars, curbs and recycling bins to make it back.
It’s a big machine and the sheep lose some room in this part of the barn. The machine is partly for them and the corn, oats and wheat.
Other Cavaleiro Farm members will use it for harvesting grains also because up till now we have been doing it by hand, which is way too much work!