The very first Axial-Flow combine to come to Europe returned to the exhibition where it made its debut 40 years ago, with the restored International Harvester 1460 model displayed outside the Case IH stand. 

International Harvester launched the 1400 series Axial-Flow combines in North America in 1977, after more than two decades of development perfecting the concept of replacing a conventional drum/concave and straw walkers with a single longitudinal rotor and sectional concave system for both threshing and separation. There followed two years of testing and fine-tuning to measure and perfect the machines’ performance in higher-moisture, heavier-strawed European conditions, before the full Europe market debut of two models, the 1440 and 1460, at SIMA 1979. These were later followed by the larger 1480 and smaller 1420 machines. 

The combine on display at SIMA was the original machine shown at SIMA 1979, the official European launch event for the Axial-Flow combine range. The judges of the show’s machinery awards scheme recognised the advances in efficiency, simplicity, reliability and grain quality offered by the Axial-Flow design, and awarded it a Gold Medal for technical achievement. The decal applied to the machine to display the accolade can still be seen on the combine today. 

Corn/maize and cereals grower M Stereiss, the Ardennes-based customer who purchased the machine, did so after a demonstration during the 1978 harvest. His machine was not only the first to be publicly displayed at a major European show, but also the first Axial-Flow sold in Europe. He is no longer actively involved in farming, but upon his retirement the 1460 was bought in 2013 by an Axial-Flow enthusiast, Hanss Françis, who has invested time and money in restoring the combine. Once this process is completed, it will return to work during harvest 2019. The operator who drove the 1460 Axial-Flow for its first owner today still spends his summers operating a combine – a Case IH Axial-Flow 2388. 

“The condition of this combine, and the fact the design has remained essentially the same through nine generations of upgrades, underlines the effectiveness of the Axial-Flow concept,” says Louis Verhaege, harvesting specialist at Case IH.   

“Over the past four decades, Axial-Flow ease of operation, reliability and low time and cost requirements for maintenance have proven themselves superior to conventional or more complex rotary designs. Through those nine generations Case IH has enhanced these qualities by introducing innovations including the capacity-boosting AFX rotor, CVT drives for both the feeder and the rotor, AFS yield mapping and precision farming technology, the Cross-Flow cleaning system and the Xtra-Chopping package. 

“Owners of the latest 50 series Axial-Flow combines also benefit from considerable advances in power, cutting width, cleaning capability and comfort. And with the latest AFS Harvest Command™ developments, they also gain automation possibilities that can enable them to maximise throughput, minimise losses and protect grain quality, to get the most from their combine’s potential performance while still retaining its values of reliability, operating ease and technical simplicity in mind. But the principles of the original design, with simple, gentle, yet effective and thorough threshing and separation, remain essentially unchanged.”