The Literature Rack
White to Massey Ferguson to AGCO Rotary Combines
by Gordy Schultz
Rotary combines have played major roles in wheat harvests for over 30 years. One of the early pioneers of rotary technology was the White Corporation. White's Cockshutt and Oliver combines were well known conventional machines. In 1980, White introduced the largest rotary combine on the market.
The White 9700 blew the competition away. In the grain tank department, the White 9700 held 265 bushels surpassing the Gleaner and NN6 at 245 bushels, the IH 1480 at 208 bushels and the New Holland TR70 at 145 bushels. When it came to unloading rates there was no competition. The White 9700 dumped out 2.5 bushels per second and the Gleaner N6 2.1 bushels per second, the IH 1480 1.9 bushels per second and the New Holland TR70 1.5 bushels per second. The White 9700 was one big combine. With a threshing and separating area of 6221 square inches and a cleaning area of 7339 square inches. In comparison, it was 1000-2000 square inches larger than the aforementioned models. The White combine was simply a monster for its day and could out perform two conventional combines. Unfortunately, it was another victim of the poor farm economy of the 1980's. In an era when International merged with CASE, Alice Chalmers was sold to Deutz and Ford purchased New Holland, White Farm Equipment was struggling to stay afloat.
In 1985 White was expanding its rotary line to include an upgraded model 9720 in a smaller rotary 9320. These combines were produced in the former Cockshutt/Oliver combine plant in Branford, Ontario. Unfortunately, due to the farm crisis, both the US and Canadian divisions of White were thrown into involuntary chapter 7 bankruptcy. Courts allowed White to reorganize under chapter 11 bankruptcy. During this same time, Massey Ferguson was looking to revamp its combine line. Massey was once the number one manufacturer of combines in the world and its Massey-Harris self-propelled clipper combines started the famous 2000 mile harvest from Texas to Canada during WWII. The Clipper combines harvested the grain that fed the world.
The legacy of the Clipper combine held strong with Massey through the 1970's. The John Deere Titan series combine and International's Axial Flow combines knocked Massey Ferguson from the number one spot. During the 1980's Massey put on a strong showing with its 850 and 860 combines. They were strong machines offering a 200 bushel capacity on the 860 and 180 bushel capacity on the 850. In the horse power department the MF combines put out 190 HP and 150 HP respectively. In 1985, Massey Ferguson was trying to develop a rotary combine but decided to introduce a new model 865 and 855 combine. These combines offered minor upgrades over the 860 and 850. Massey knew it needed to change if it were to stay a leader in the combine market. The White combine became the answer to Massey Ferguson's combine problem and White's financial situation. In 1985, Massey offered to buy the White combine plant in Branford, Ontario. Massey was able to acquire the plant and the combine technology for less than half what it would have cost to engineer an all new combine. This combine merger took place in July 1985. The rare 9320 White literature is 8 pages long and well sell for $50.
Initially the White name stayed on the 9720 but an MF logo was added to the machine. There is a piece of literature from Massey Ferguson featuring the White 9720 and due to its rarity, this one page flyer will bring 30 dollars or more at auction. Other rare pieces of literature from the MF White merger is the four page Massey Ferguson 865/855 brochure. There were 865 and 855 combines produced although very few and this brochure will bring about 15 dollars at auction. The rarest piece is the White 9320 combine. Literature was printed on this machine for the July 1985 introduction at the White dealer meeting in Phoenix, AZ. A total of 10 9320's were rolling down the Branford assembly line as Massey stepped into the picture. Those combines were re-decaled and sold as the Massey 8560 combine. We can follow the development of the Massey rotary combine through sales literature. From the White 9720 and 9320 combines came the Massey 8560. The 8560 was beefed up and became the 8570 in the early 1990's. Under AGCO the Massey combine continued to grow and became model 8780 in 1997. Today the AGCO Massey Ferguson 9790 combine leads the company's combine line with a 330 bushel capacity and a 330 HP Cummins engine. The 9790 is also sold as a Challenger combine from AGCO. Introduced in 2002 after AGCO took over Caterpillar's Ag line the Challenger 670 offers a 330 bu. capacity and a 330 hp Caterpillar engine.
Today's big AGCO combines from MF and Challenger use the same design established by White in the 1980's. These big combines offer serious harvesting solutions for today's modern farmers. Next month we will shift gears from harvesting and look at Steiger's earth moving line.