Classic choppers take to the fields

A delightful bunch of two, three and four-row self-propelled choppers from the 1970s and 1980s thrilled the crowds at this year’s edition of the Dutch classic forage harvesting day.

by Steven Vale

8 Oct 2019

Known under the Dutch name of Old-timerhakseldag Dalen, this was the third successive year for the one-day event, which turns back the clock to show visitors some of the machinery that was used to harvest maize more than four decades ago.

A 7ha maize field on the outskirts of the village on Dalen was the venue, and visitors enjoyed seeing classic tractors coupled to mounted and trailed single and two-row forage harvesters fill classic trailers from the likes of JF, Krone and Schuitemaker.

A highlight for many was the opportunity to see eight rare self-propelled choppers, a mixture of US and European built machines, in action in the same field.

The eight included a Farmhand F600. Powered by a 275hp six-cyl Detroit block, we understand only five were shipped from the US to Europe. Two of them ended up in the Netherlands, and the one at the maize day, which arrived in 1973, is believed to be the only working specimen in Europe.

The Claas Jaguar SF70 (three-row) and SF80 (four-row), both belong to friendly and enthusiastic Dutchman Harry Renting. Launched in 1975 as the successor to the SF60 (the first Claas SPFH), the SF70 is powered by a 150hp 5.7-litre Mercedes engine.

The SF80 that succeeded it in 1978 was initially powered by a 217hp V8 and later by a 240hp V10. The SF80 was replaced in 1984 by the Jaguar 600 series.

Harry is searching for two more classic choppers to complete the line-up – a rare SF60 and an even more elusive  Kaweco SPFH (approx. 50 units made). This was a joint development between Dutch Claas importer Kamps de Wild (engine and driveline) and Claas (chopping unit which was based on the trailed Spicer).

In the meantime, the 1973-made Hesston 4000 he has just bought is believed to be the only one in the Netherlands. Developed in cooperation with Field Queen, the first models made in 1970 were powered by a Cat 3160, which was later swapped for a 10.4-litre 3208 V8.

The Fox 6350 (185hp Perkins V8) was never sold in the Netherlands, Dutch contractors preferring the more powerful Fox 6650 (256hp Detroit Diesel). Bought by the Goselink family in 1988, the 6350 at the Dutch event was used on the family farm for 25 years.

The most unusual forager was the New Idea 702 Uni system. Made by North American firm AVCO in the early 1970s, the tool carrier concept allowed the machine to be fitted with different attachments, including a one-row maize harvesting unit, maize cob picker and even a snow blower.

As far as we are aware, the Dutch importer only offered the New Idea with the maize chopper. The engine is a GMC V6. The machine at the Dutch maize event is in its original condition.

Made in 1979, the Mengele SF3000/2. Deutz 12.7-litre 215hp V8. This particular model was initially owned by a German contractor.

Seen for the first time at the event, this 1979-made Hesston 7650 belongs to a Dutch contractor.

If like me, you are interested in classic harvesting machines, then you might like to know that it usually takes place on the first Sunday in October.