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A huge vehicle which combines grain harvesting operations with threshing and cleaning. The first combine was built by Hyram Moore in Michigan, USA in 1838, only 7 years after the first mechanical reaper, invented by McCormick. Originally, combines were traction-powered and horse-drawn, but later steam and internal combustion engines were used. Self-propelled versions appeared in the 1940s, around the same time as the machine became widespread. Nonetheless, there are still models which are propelled by tractors.

Operation

At the front of the combine is a series of oscillating blades on a rod, like a demonic kebab spelling death and corn flakes to cereal grains everywhere as it...Yes, anyway. This array of blades cuts the wheatstalks as a revolving reel pushes them back towards the auger. This conveys the freshly-cut wheat (for example) into the machine to the threshing cylinder, which rubs the grain out of the heads of wheat against a 'concave'.

The grains, along with the chaff and stalk fragments are filtered through the concave into the 'cleaning shoe'. Check flaps separate the straw from the grain, the former going to the back of the machine for baling, which can be done on some models within the machine.

Meanwhile, in the cleaning shoe... The grain is separated from the chaff and cleaned by blasts of air and sieves. Then the chaff -you guessed it- gets chucked out of the back of the machine. The grains of wheat fall through the sieves to another auger which conveys them to a conveyor belt whence they are put into bags.

Suitability and mind-blowing statistics

Modern combines are used for cereals, legumes, and oil-seed crops. This makes them fairly ubiquitous on arable farms. The width of one pass is 5 metres (18 feet), meaning that in a typical day, 1 combine harvester can harvest 12 hectares (30 acres) of corn flakes! (This is according to one source. Another suggests 41 hectares or 100 acres. Size matters.) For those interested in the country life, modern combines have air-conditioned cabs. This is not a job to be scoffed at, however: the driver must exercise fine control over the process, especially the cleaning in the shoe, to ensure minimal grain loss through filtering.


The Song

The combine harvester was immortalised in the tremendously silly song by the Wurzels, Combine Harvester (Brand New Key), commonly known as 'I've got a brand new Combine Harvester'. It is a parody of Melanie's Brand New Key done in a delightfully rich West Country accent, like.

I drove my tractor to your haystack last night (ooh-aah ooh-aah), I threw me pitchfork at your dog to keep quiet (ooh-aah ooh-aah), Now something's telling me that you'll confide in me (ooh-aah ooh-aah), Come on now darling, you've got something I need. 'Cos I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key, Come on now, let's get together in perfect harmony; I've got twenty acres and you've got forty-three, Now I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key. (She made me laugh, ha-ha!) I'll stick by you, I'll give you all that you need (ooh-aah ooh-aah), We'll have twins and triplets, I'm a man built for speed (ooh-aah ooh-aah), And you know I'll love you darling, so give me your hand (ooh-aah ooh-aah), But the thing I want the most is all the acres of land. 'Cos I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key, Come on now, let's get together in perfect harmony; I've got twenty acres and you've got forty-three, Now I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key. (Phwoar, she's a lovely bit of stuff and all.) For seven long years I've been alone in this place (ooh-aah ooh-aah), Pigs sleep in the kitchen, it's a proper disgrace (ooh-aah ooh-aah), Now if I cleaned it up, would you change your mind? (ooh-aah ooh-aah) I'll give up drinking scrumpy and that lager and lime. 'Cos I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key, Come on now, let's get together in perfect harmony; I've got twenty acres and you've got forty-three, Now I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key. (Who loves you baby?) Weren't we a grand couple at that last Wurzel dance? I wore brand new gaiters and me corduroy pants, ha-ha-haa! In your new Sunday dress with your perfume smelling grand, We had our photos took and us holding hands! Now I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key, Now that we mow past our hedges I think that you and me Should stop this gallivanting, and will you marry me? Now I've got a brand new combine harvester and I'll give you the key. (Arr, you're a fine-looking woman and I can't wait to get me hands on your land, a-ha-ha!)


Sources:
  • http://www.worldofyak.com/flops/flops.cgi?page=lyrics&for=combine-harvester
  • http://www.iao.com/howthing/harvehtw.htm
  • http://w1.xrefer.com/entry/213173
  • http://www.encyclopedia.com/articlesnew/39848.html

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