Equipment inspection tips: used combine harvesters

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Combines for sale at Ritchie Bros. equipment auctions.

What to look for when inspecting a used combine harvester for sale.

When inspecting a used combine for sale at one of Ritchie Bros.' many onsite auctions or online through IronPlanet, we have a process which may help you decide on what type, make, and model you would like to purchase. We'll walk you through the process of inspecting used equipment, which will help give you tips to do the same.

1. Serial number/odometer

Serial number of the combines sold by Ritchie Bros.

The first step of the process is to verify the serial number on the unit you're interested in. Once you have reviewed and recorded the proper serial number, you will be able to verify year, make, and model through a dealership. After you know this is the right combine for you, we may be able to provide the number of hours/acres it was used for. These details are very important to know when buying used equipment.

2. Examine the combine's overall appearance

Start up the piece you are inquiring about and drive it forward and backwards to make sure the transmission operates smoothly. Take a walk around the unit and pay close attention to sounds from the engine, condition of the paint, and any damage or leaks you may see. The appearance of the combine can dictate how well the unit was cared for by the previous owner(s).

3. Engine compartment

As with all pieces of equipment, lift the hood, let it run and check for any signs of leaks from the engine, hoses or hydraulics. Check for any cracked or worn hydraulic, coolant and fuel lines. Locate the engine plate, verify the specifications, and make sure that the engine meets emission standards for your jurisdiction.

When the machine is off, remove the air filter. Check the operator's manual for the manufacturer's recommendation on proper replacement times. If regularly replaced, the air filters should not appear dirty.

4. Cab

Cab of the combine

When going through the cab, the first thing you will notice is the condition. If it is a well-maintained unit, the cab will generally be clean with little to no damage inside. In a combine, there can be value-added options you need to view: displays, receiver, activations, etc. Make sure displays turn on and function properly and are not damaged - these accessories can be costly to replace.

5. Front attachment

Front attachments of combines

When purchasing a used combine, it will typically be sold with a generic pick-up header. Verify year, make, model, and size through the serial number. Check the condition of the auger, hook up, belts and hoses, and make sure there are no missing shields or parts.

6. Combine body details

Combines have many working parts, so when purchasing used, you will need to pay close attention to any wear or damage from previous owner(s). The first thing to look at is the feeder house. Check for chain wear and the condition of hydraulics surrounding it. Then proceed to check under the main body shields. Remove shields to locate concaves, sieves and hydraulic hoses and pumps. Proceed to the top of the combine and check the grain tank condition. Examine any grain tank extensions and note the type. Some combines will have aftermarket or power folding extensions. Verify these parts are up to your standards prior to purchasing a combine.

7. Rear attachment

Rear attachments of combines

The chopper can be internal, fine cut, extra fine cut, or integrated. Check for missing blades on the chopper. Spreaders will come standard with a newer combine, but some will be more sought after, such as the Advanced PowerCast and PowerCast tailboards from John Deere. Verify the condition and type of rear attachment on the combine you're interested in.

8. Side body attachment

Side body attachment of a combine

The next step is to verify the type and size of your unloading auger. Augers will come in many different sizes and best practice is to determine the length you will need to reach your trailer or grain cart without interfering with your header. If you are running a 40ft header, you will want a long unload auger. You can always add an auger extension to the standard sized augers. Some augers will also have a power folding rear section for easier storage. Continue to check for any damage to the tubing and spout while doing your inspection.

9. Undercarriage and drive train

Combines can be equipped with rubber tires or tracks. When inspecting rubber tires, check make, size and quality of tread. Make sure to check the rims for any cracks or deficiencies. When inspecting tracks, you will need to check for missing rubber/tears, the depth of tread and the rollers and drive sprockets for excessive wear. These can be costly to replace and may need to be replaced before it is field ready. While looking at the undercarriage, check the drive train for any leaks and stress points from being towed. You will also tell if it has rear wheel assist when viewing the rear drive train.

10. Additional parts

Combines may have certain parts stored away at our sites, such as displays, receivers, and unused parts. At each auction site, these will be kept indoors, when inspecting ask the main office where they might be located and to view them. It will be hard to test these devices, but you will be able to see if they have any damage or if they are missing.

11. Inspect maintenance log and supporting documents

We encourage sellers to supply maintenance logs, inspection lists, work orders and other supporting documents. Make sure to ask at the auction site for these documents. They provide valuable insight into how often and what types repairs were performed.

In most cases, we will be able to give you the owners information to allow you to contact them and get more details if needed.

If you're interested in buying used combines being sold in upcoming Ritchie Bros. auctions, visit the auction site to test, inspect and compare different models before you bid. Or see what's available for sale on IronPlanet, including a large selection with IronClad Assurance Equipment Condition Certification.

Register to bid online

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