Lexion 475 features Caterpillar's Mobil-trac undercarriage.

Soon after they hit the farm show circuit in 1997, Lexion 480 and 485 combines staked their claim as two of the most productive combines in the world. The big yellow machines gobbled up acres with what Caterpillar claimed was unprecedented size, speed and mobility. And though most growers with mid-sized farms weren't quite ready to super-size their harvesting machines, many said they would be interested in a standard-size Class VII Lexion combine that could match its technology against combines such as the John Deere 9750 STS, New Holland TX68 and Gleaner R72. Caterpillar listened and soon started tooling up its Omaha plant for a standard-size Class VII machine, the Lexion 470 combine.

By the time the 470 rolled into fields in the summer of 2000, it was already the company's most popular model. Though less powerful than its bigger brothers, the 470 had the same advanced threshing technology, precision engineering and electronic controls. The frame, however, didn't allow for a tracked option, which, to some farmers, seemed a bit odd coming from a company with such a strong reputation for tracked farm machinery.

Meanwhile, as the 470s were busy working in the fields, Caterpillar was busy testing its new tracked Class VII Lexion 475. According to the company, the machine's Mobil-trac system undercarriage, Accelerated Pre-Separation (APS) threshing system and 330-hp Cat C-9 engine performed smoothly even in the most difficult harvest conditions. The company claims the new combine provides the largest production capacity in the industry, after the Lexion 480 and 485 models, and will be available for delivery in time for the 2001 fall harvest season. Farmers got their first look at the 475 at this year's Illinois Farm Progress Show.

"Farmers are looking for more productive combines, and the Lexion 475 is perfect for someone who needs to upgrade capacity," says Dennis Disberger, new product introduction manager for Caterpillar. "High horsepower, the patented Mobil-trac system and the ability to handle 12-row corn heads puts the 475 at the top of Class VII machines."

As with its larger models, Caterpillar has used technology to tame power. In-cab controls and options on the 475 allow the operator to make adjustments and monitor the effects without stopping. Unlike full rotary combines, the Lexion combine's threshing and separating operations can be adjusted independently.

Like the belts on the smaller Lexion 465 and larger 485 tracked combines, those on the Lexion 475 are 35 in. wide by 72 in. long, providing 5,040 sq. in. of surface area to support the front axle for enhanced flotation, traction and reduced compaction. The belts feature a 2 1/2-in. grouser height for extended wear in all conditions.

The 475 brings the number of Lexion combine models to seven; the others are the 450, 460, 465, 470, 480 and 485. In addition to the Lexion combine line, the Caterpillar agricultural equipment line includes rubber-belted tracked agricultural tractors; versatile flotation system (VFS) tracked undercarriages for use with grain carts, fertilizer tanks and implements; and specialized material-handling products for use in ag applications.

List price of the Lexion 475 is expected to range between $210,000 and $220,000. Available headers include 6-, 8- and 12-row corn headers, a 30-ft. rigid small-grain header, a 30-ft. flexible header and a 25-ft. rice header. Contact Caterpillar, Dept FIN, 8951 S. 126th St., Omaha, NE 68138, 402/861-1070, www.Cat.com or circle 204.