Farm Classics with Peter O'Brien
The 1990s was an exciting time for the development of silage harvesting machinery, in particular self-propelled silage harvesters. Most manufactures had taken their harvester designs to their limits and the early 90s brought new models from all of the big players in the market – Claas, John Deere, New Holland, with even Case and Deutz throwing their hat momentarily in the ring.
The 90s also saw the withdrawal of Hesston from the forage harvester market. Horsepower, which had previously peaked at 300hp, soared towards and broke the 500hp mark which, along with many other advances, greatly increased output.
Following the great success of the 600 Mega range of silage harvesters, Claas went back to the drawing board to design their new 800 series, known in-house as the 491. Cosmetically and mechanically, little was carried forward from the previous models with its newly designed cab, bodywork and colour scheme.
However, behind the panels, Claas had made a radical move installing the engine in a traverse position, across the rear axle. The engine of choice for all models for the range was a Mercedes V8 with the range topping 503hp 880 being powered by the 14.6l 442 engine while the entry level 840 received a slightly smaller 12.7l 402 unit producing a respectable 381hp.
By mounting the engine sideways, power could be sent directly from the flywheel to the front via a V-belt, eliminating the need for 90 degree gearboxes that conventionally mounted engines required. The advantages were twofold – a simpler driveline system and reduced parasitic engine power losses resulting in more of the engines power being utilised. The radiator, oil cooler and air conditioning unit were mounted forward of the engine, behind a rotary screen with clean air being drawn in from above the machine and blown out the back.
At the front of the machine a 3m header with twin crop rollers picked up the grass, while a 75cm wide chopping cylinder (which was almost market leading – the New Holland FX being a mere 1cm wider) had knives arranged in a V format with a crop accelerator propelling the chopped grass up the shoot.
An all-new cab fitted with a curved windscreen and passenger seat provided the operator with great amounts of visibility and space.
However, it was still a familiar place for Claas users with the control layout more improved and upgraded rather than changed. Worthy of note is the extensive working lights which face both forward and downwards.
Interestingly, both the 10,000th and 15,000th Claas Jaguar harvesters produced in 1994 and 1998 respectively were both 800 series harvesters.
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Claas Jaguar 880
Mercedes OM442LA V8
Years of manufacture