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Thread: header fires are common as weather heats up, & the wheat harvest continues

  1. #1
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    header fires are common as weather heats up, & the wheat harvest continues

    • Header fires are costing farmer and contractors hundreds of thousands of dollars
    • The NSW RFS says it's attending one harvest-related fire per day on a 30 day rolling average
    • Most crops and machinery are insured but the fires are dampening spirits after years of drought



    '''Heart-stopping''' header fires increasingly common as weather heats up, harvest continues - ABC News
    Iím pretty sure the dinosaurs died out when they stopped gathering food and started having meetings to discuss gathering food

    A bookshop is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking

  2. #2
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    There have always been header fires - just we have got used to not having any for the last few years; no harvests due to the drought!

    Going to get the mail yesterday, I notice that next door has taken one cut around a paddock next to the road and stopped - looks like the header is not coping well with all the Pattersons Curse that has sprouted throughout the crop with the last lot of rain!
    John

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    1986 110 County 3.9 diesel
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    Yep, doesnít matter how old or new the header, how well maintained or what colour the machine is, it is a fact of harvest that someoneís going to have a bad day at some point.

    The video below is from a Canadian farmer I watch and he caught on camera one of their 2019 Fendt Ideal 9ís burning to the ground. Investigation later showed one of the gearboxes at the back had **** a seal and overheated causing the chaff to catch fire. On this machine though, that was right next to a plastic 1500 litre diesel tank so once that melted through, it got out of control real quick. One of very few videos out there that shows so much footage from almost the start to the aftermath.

    Mikes commentary during this and in subsequent videos is very interesting to listen to if you have the time to watch a few of his videos. Heís an acquired taste shall we say, but I like his honesty with his equipment, he doesnít favour one brand over another and tells it like it is. Probably why John Deere didnít end up letting him demo their latest header even though it was about on his doorstep when the pulled the pin on that.



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  4. #4
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    Been there, done that. Fortunately I was able to confine the fire to the header and the surrounding stubble. I had driven the header out of the crop to a harvested area and drove around the header at a distance with the fire cart hosing down the burning stubble after emptying the fire extinguisher on the header. As all alloy components had melted in the fire it was impossible to pinpoint the cause.
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    In SA's Mid North after the Pinery fires they got together and set up a network of weather stations covering a very big percentage of the area. These stations updates a data base every 10-20mins and is displayed online over a map.

    The information from each site includes temps, wind speeds, humidity, rainfall and a bunch of other stuff depending on the site.

    Online when you select a site, you can see break downs over the last month or so, again, depending on the site.

    The data gathered at each site get calculated into a figure of the grain harvesters something (can't think of the word right now), but this essentially gives a number and it is compared against a index where the number 35 and above are bad for harvesting. I believe this index is common, but it has to be manually calculated on information you find yourself.

    The good thing I have seen with this is it has added extra areas in SA, Riverland and York Peninsula.

    The site is called "Mid North Mesonet" and it is worth a look.

    Was also a good talking point with farmers, cos they love the weather..
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    Years ago a cousin of mine had his header pick up a stone that went into the threshing drum - struck sparks, and had an impressive dust explosion, followed by a fire.

    Its the only one I have heard of like this, most seem to be overheating bearings.
    John

    JDNSW
    1986 110 County 3.9 diesel
    1970 2a 109 2.25 petrol

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    Quote Originally Posted by JDNSW View Post

    Its the only one I have heard of like this, most seem to be overheating bearings.
    Is there any particular brand of header that is prone to catching fire? Or is it across the board ? May be a foolish question, but I wouldn't know a header from a stump jump plough.
    Iím pretty sure the dinosaurs died out when they stopped gathering food and started having meetings to discuss gathering food

    A bookshop is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking

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    header fires are common as weather heats up, & the wheat harvest continues

    Quote Originally Posted by bob10 View Post
    Is there any particular brand of header that is prone to catching fire? Or is it across the board ? May be a foolish question, but I wouldn't know a header from a stump jump plough.
    All brands, old and new - thereís quite a few different ways they can catch fire, and as the paddocks are tinder dry when harvesting and the chaff and dust gets everywhere, one spark from an ingested rock, etc or an overheated part/exhaust can cause them to go up. Regular blowing down of the machines and good maintenance and checks are vital during harvest to prevent this, but even then they can still go up as usually by the time anyone realises it can already be too late to do much.

    Most farmers will have a water cart or some other fire fighting appliance with them so if they catch them quickly you can get away with some damage instead of a total loss.


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  9. #9
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    Sometimes fires are started by chafed wires shorting - a particular common brand was renowned for this a few years ago, but dry bearings especially if the header isn't shedded is commonplace. Grain dust and stubble caught behind safety covers is also commonplace, although as I'm the only operator of mine most of mine's covers have been removed. The hot exhaust of service vehicles driving though stubble when a break-down occurs is another cause.

    I suspect that the root cause of mine may have been a faulty oil pump whereby oil leaked from the high pressure side to the low pressure cooler part of the system as someone had previously fitted a pressure relief line from the low pressure side back to the tank so something may have failed, possibly the alloy oil cooler, spraying hot oil everywhere as the fire was instantly everywhere in the engine bay.

    Fire fighting equipment is mandatory when harvesting.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob10 View Post
    Is there any particular brand of header that is prone to catching fire? Or is it across the board ? May be a foolish question, but I wouldn't know a header from a stump jump plough.
    Pretty common to all brands.
    The crop makes a lot of difference. We did chickpeas a few years ago. Had to stop the header every 40 minutes and go over it with the (water) extinguishers.
    The dry leaves from the crop are extremely flammable. Turbos were an obvious choice, but one of the biggest problem areas was around the hydrostatic drive.
    More than once we would be calling each other on the uhf to say we smelt smoke.
    Made for a looong harvest.
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