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Driving Impression: Claas 770 TerraTrac Combine

Editor’s note: Profifield tested a preproduction European version of the 770. Some of its features are different than what the company offers on North American models. To avoid any confusion, we’ve updated the report to reflect what farmers can expect to find on machines here.

Fifteen years down the line and Claas continues to push the Lexion harvester brand onwards and upwards. For 2011, the newcomers promise more output for less fuel consumption. So on the basis that it’s a good idea to go straight to the top, we sample the new range’s delights by driving the boss model, a 770 in Terra-Trac form.

Unlike the green and white European color scheme, the new 2011 North American models still wear the same Caterpillar yellow paint; but the Claas name is now prominent on the side panels. The rejigged cab measures some 150 mm longer and 150 mm wider than before, it brings a 50 per cent larger grain tank window and a better seat with an adjustable Cebis monitor on the armrest.

Settle in and you’ll spot joystick differences too. While not finalized for production on the machine we used, the potential new version sits in the hand pretty well and puts switches for the header, reel, auto-guidance and emergency stop under thumb control; the auger and unloading are worked by your index finger, while your middle digit can extend and retract the Vario oilseed rape (canola) header’s table. Though this might sound complicated, it works well ergonomically.

And gone are the days of a black and white monitor. Instead a rather swish colour Cebis terminal gains “hotkey” control for fast access to a range of adjustments. Using this and the existing Cebis selector you can change many settings in double-quick time, which is excellent (North American combines use this feature, too, along with existing Cebis selector knobs to control a variety of functions).

Other changes around the cab are more subtle. The roof overhang is 50 mm higher, the A-posts slimmer, the door handle is shorter and the (larger, full size) passenger seat gains an armrest. Apart from additional comfort, these minor adjustments make for better visibility and a clearer sighting of the tank unloading auger. There’s also a small extra window in the back bulkhead. Borrowed from the Tucano, this lets the operator look straight into the illuminated returns auger. And speaking of light, the 770 carries up to seven white-light xenon lamps, while lamps for reversing or the auger can be automated via Cebis. All very helpful stuff.

Road speed gets a boost for 2011. Top whack on all the new 760 and 770 combines rises to 30 km/h., while the TerraTrac version of the 750 model can optionally run to 40 km/h. Faster travel should be popular with farmers and contractors facing substantial roadwork.

The European preproduction 770TT model on the left was field tested by Profimagazine. It’s slightly different than the model on the right, which is the one offered to North American farmers.

Generation III TerraTracs (the 750TT, 760TT and 770TT harvesters) roll on rubber bands, whose hydropneumatic suspension aims to improve ride comfort in the field and on the road. And it really works, letting the combine flow over bumps without a tractor’s roll or bounce. Higher top speed aside, piloting the 770 through narrow villages and down tight farm tracks takes an experienced and disciplined operator, particularly with the header in tow, for the new two-speed, electronically controlled transmission provides very snappy acceleration and braking. The revised transmission and new suspension, along with engine speed control that can peg revs to a relatively frugal 1,800 r.p.m. when selected for tarmac (road travel), make for smooth and swift movement between fields where the road and traffic allow.

Time might be saved elsewhere, too, because potentially better economy on the road is backed up by extended fuel capacity: 1,150 litres, extending the working period between fills. Usefully, and in a move borrowed from the automotive industry, the Cebis system can show how long fuel left in the tank will last. An equally helpful idea, though one still in the pipeline, is to use yield monitor information to flag up how far the combine can travel before the grain tank hits full.

For the new 770, power output from the Mercedes OM502 LA engine is pegged at 563 peak (523 rated) horsepower. Emissions comply with current Interim Tier 4 requirements.

Conditions were less than ideal during our initial tryout, ie a low-yielding crop of winter barley with plenty of volunteer wheat, plus hilly land. Yet output was OK: with a 12-metre V1200 header, the Lexion 770 delivered 35 tonnes per hour while travelling at 5 km/h.

More updates can be found lurking under the combine’s panels, which themselves have changed: the large side covers now sandwich a plastic core between aluminium, rather than being made from sheet steel, and can be part-opened straightaway rather than fully opened first. The theory behind the material change is to save weight and improve corrosion resistance, explains Claas.

A rather more drastic change has overtaken the hydraulics. A load-sensing pump now moves the oil around in a constant-pressure system, which runs at 200 bar rather than 180 bar. Pump capacity jumps by 50 per cent to 120 litres per minute, and steering system pressure rises to 175 bar. The end result, says Claas, is a quicker hydraulic response and smoother operation.

More detail:

The 770 rotor speed runs from 450 r.p.m. to 1,250 r.p.m., rather than the old models’ 360 r.p.m. to 1,050 r.p.m. Rotor cover plates are now moved hydraulically rather than by electric actuator

The sampling window has a removable container, used also when calibrating the yield monitoring system

The new LEXION range has a larger cab, 40 km/h. top road speed (750 TT only), upgraded hydraulics, faster electronics, a new generation of tracks, a color CEBIS display, new range of headers plus many more enhancements to improve efficiency and operator comfort. The new flagship 770 leaves plenty of room for higher numbers in the series, so be sure to watch this space as CLAAS looks to expand on its line of machines.

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