What counts as “throwback technology” is relative. A Model 64 International pull-type combine? Obviously, that represents throwback technology. Maybe you don’t consider a Case International 1600 Series Axial-Flow combine with a rotor as throwback technology. Yet the truth is, Case IH introduced the 1600 Series in 1986 — 32 years ago.
Ronald Reagan was president, Iran-Contra dominated the news, and laptop computers, cellphones and yield monitors were all things of the future. Yet the red Case IH combine used a rotor instead of cylinder bars to thresh grain. New Holland introduced the TR twin-rotor combine in 1975. International showed dealers the Axial-Flow 1400 Series in 1977, featuring a single rotor for threshing.
Push rotor concept
You might remember how some early advertising literature that promoted tractors spent as much time championing the tractor over the horse as that tractor over its competition. In much the same way, one colorful promotional piece for the 1600 Series combines seems to still be selling the axial-flow/rotor concept as much as pushing that machine. Here’s a quote from Page 2:
“The shift to Axial-Flow combines continues. More and more efficiency-minded farmers across the country are recognizing the many plus factors of harvesting their crops with an Axial-Flow combine.”
The pamphlet does point out 12 ways the 1600 Series was more efficient than previous combines. But it footnoted that not all advantages applied to every model!
Here are a few advantages: “More power to maintain top speed in toughest conditions, plus increased threshing and separating capacity to handle high yields at faster speeds. Improved cleaning efficiency reduces dockage for top price, and increases grain-conveying capacity to match higher threshing and separating capacities. Increased cooling capacity increases engine efficiency, with up to 40% less braking effort for easier maneuvering and safer operation.”
Wouldn’t you want to know if your model had a certain advantage? Just proof that in 1986, it still paid to read the fine print!
The last two advantages were: “Many comfort and convenience cab features make long days seem even shorter, and better visibility, improved lighting for more efficient operations day or night.”
If you look around on the internet, the most common improvements real people who used the machines talk about over the 1400 Series are better visibility, especially to the rear, and more convenient cab features. One person noted it was easy to find 1400 Series combines with dents in the rear.
The 1600 Series lineup started with the 1620, which featured a 124-horsepower diesel engine and a 125-bushel grain tank — small by today’s standards. The 1640 cranked out 150 hp with a 145-bushel tank. The 1660 jumped to 180 hp and 180-bushel capacity, and the 1680 featured 225 hp and a 210-bushel grain tank.
BELLY OF THE BEAST: Early literature featured cutaway views of equipment. The Case IH 1600 piece emphasized the rotor design by also showing a centerfold cutaway of the inside of the combine.
Today the Case IH 240 Axial-Flow Series features three models. Horsepower ranges from 410 to 550. Grain tank capacity ranges from 315 to 410 bushels.
Those are some pretty big changes. But what did Case IH really want you to remember about the 1600 Series in 1986? The back page says it all: “Now you can own an Axial-Flow, the most advanced harvesting system in the world, for the price of a conventional combine.” And it’s complete with a graph showing how rotary combine prices, while once higher, were then equivalent with conventional combines.
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