Just as farmers were starting to get used to the idea of a 300-hp Class 8 combine, German combine and forage harvester manufacturer Claas rolled out its biggest-ever harvesting machine and called it a Class 9. The new Lexion 500 series combines include the 590R — a 462-hp, 360-bu. monster that is, for the time being, the world's largest combine. Smaller, but still large by industry standards, are the new 560, 560R, 570/575R, and the 580/585R, which range from 290 to 400 hp.

The Lexion combines will continue to be sold exclusively by Caterpillar dealers, with the new models powered by Caterpillar engines, including the 3126B, C-9, C-12 and C-13. Models are available with suspended Mobil-Trac or wheeled axles, including an optional, increased capacity, two-speed-powered Mudhog rear axle. The gearshift is an electrohydraulic bush-button system. Fuel tank capacity is 210 gal. The 560 uses straw walker separation, and the other models use a twin-paddle rotary system.

Premium features

These combines offer many of the same premium features that Lexion combines are known for, as well as a few new innovations. That includes the accelerated pre-separation system (APS), a high-performance threshing system that delivers crop to the main threshing cycle at a constant speed, angle, width and thickness so that the main threshing cylinder can operate at maximum efficiency. Claas points out that up to 30% of grain separation occurs before it even reaches the threshing area.

All models have a wire concave with touch-of-the-button, on-the-fly concave control and a new, more rapid and reliable overload protection system. The rotary separation system consists of a multi-crop paddle rotor with rippled grates that can handle variable and challenging field conditions. An optional variable-speed rotor drive is available for increased performance and optimal grain quality.

For cleaning and residue management, a new Jet Stream cleaning system is available on the 580R, 585R and 590R models. It features higher wind pressures and more precise distribution. Increased pre-cleaning cascade action relieves the cleaning shoe load before foreign material hits the sieves. Electric sieve adjustments now are standard on all models, and 3-D slope compensation is optional. The chopper on these machines spreads chopped residue in up to 40-ft. widths.

Cab

A larger cab includes a variety of operational improvements, such as wider operator and trainer seats, icebox, climatic air conditioning, new multifunction lever, and an improved ergonomics in-console layout. All machine settings are adjustable from the cab and are set through its standard electronic board information system.

Grain handling

Grain tank capacity has expanded up to 360 bu. On Jet Stream-equipped cleaning system models, the tank features hydraulically foldable grain tank extensions that keep rain out of empty grain tanks. The clean grain elevator, with improved wear characteristics, is enlarged, and an increased capacity unloading rate system of up to 3.3 bu./sec. is available. Claas says the 26-ft. unload auger is the longest in the industry. (Other augers available include 24.2- and 22.6-ft. models.)

The wide range of sizes and options on these Lexion combines makes for a large price range as well. Of the new models, the lowest priced is the 560 straw walker model at $181,870. The highest-priced model, the 590R, costs $308,000.

16-row and flex heads

The industry's largest combines require large attachments as well. Claas now makes its Lexion headers available directly from the factory. The F540 has the new MaxFlex cutting system on a 40-ft. flex head and a 16-row corn head for 30-in.-row spacing (25- and 30-ft. flex head models and 6-, 8- and 12-row corn head models also are available). A multi-link coupling system uses a single unit to make head-to-combine connections simple, fast, self-sealing and contamination free. The combine features a variable-speed feeder house with an improved heavy-duty reverser. The F540 flex head is priced at $38,990. The largest 16-row corn head, the 516-30, is priced at $92,660.

For more information, contact Claas Omaha LLC, 8401 S. 132nd St., Omaha, NE 68138, 402/861-1077, visit www.claas.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 211.