Reviews

Pöttinger Jumbo Combiline 7210

Jaiden Drought visits the West Coast – a place the locals affectionately refer to as “the coast” and probably the best spot in the country to try and convince the tax man that a jet boat is a legitimate farm vehicle.

I’ve been to the coast a couple of times before and I always meet some cracking characters who call a spade a spade – if they don’t like something, don’t try and talk them around because you will lose. They’re a tough bunch with high expectations of their machinery and vehicles. For example, a Land Cruiser can’t be called reliable until it has done over 500,000 clicks without being touched.

So yes, they demand a lot from their gear and rightly so: you pay enough for it, and by the look of some of the kit around this region, it’s had a hard life on this hard country. Really, if you want to buy a quality piece of gear, you should visit the coast: if a machine can handle the constant barrage of stones down here, it will be a worthy investment in any other part of the country.

Contrary to popular belief, the West Coast is one of the hotter places I’ve visited lately (I know, I should get out more), with temperatures reaching 22 degrees before 10am. So I have taken from this – and the lack of air conditioning in my hotel room – that I must have experienced the biggest heatwave on the coast since the Romans built the Colosseum. To back this up, Gary Graham, who I went to visit, is even in the process of setting up his third pivot. Irrigation on the coast? Man, times have changed.

Graham is a man in the Grey Valley area with plenty on his plate, working in some rough country up to 4.5 hours from his base. He owns and runs a 380ha/1100 cow dairy farm, with numerous run-off blocks scattered around the district, as well as a nine tractor contracting business.

I was sent to the West Coast to investigate his most recent purchase – the Pöttinger Jumbo Combiline 7210. Why was the coast the only feasible place to test the wagon, I hear you say. Well, currently, it’s the only one of its kind with this level of spec, sporting six wheels – I was pretty excited to check it out.

To buy or not to buy a chopper?

Why not have both? A wagon of this size does ignite the debate of chopper vs loader wagon, given the capacity, but I really think something of this size is limited to larger contractors who probably already have a chopper or who work with one. This is where the Pöttinger wagon comes into its own: chop grass all season then fill it with three times as much as a truck during maize harvest and it will not get stuck. The tractor will stop before it sinks, particularly on triples.

This dual-purpose feature is where the Jumbo Combiline gets its name. It can achieve this by the bolted construction, which leaves the top of the wagon completely clear of any obstacles, such as ropes, bars, etc, for the chopper. The heavy-duty six-chain scraper floor allows it to take massive loads of either precision chopped silage or maize.

The Combiline also has another trick up its sleeve: the hydraulically adjustable three-position front flap. This folds down for harvest, when opening up paddocks, and can then be folded up on the go, giving you a full load. The top flap also couples as the top plate for the auto-loading feature when chopping grass.

Pickup and rotor

On the Combiline, Pöttinger has used a combination of new technology alongside tried-and-tested components that have withstood the test of time on predecessors. For example, whereas the drive has been beefed up to handle tractors of up to 450hp before it shreds itself to bits, the high performance two-metre pickup, with eight rows of tines and loading rotor, has been field-proven for years.

The gear drive is driven by a wide-angle PTO shaft, with a cam clutch protecting the drivetrain. The power is then transmitted from the input gearbox to the loading rotor and on to the pickup. The rotor, which is where all the strain is taken, is driven by a large bevel gear. This is submerged in oil and, as a result, is completely maintenance free. The pickup also features a two-hinged support system, which not only allows it to swing forward and backwards but also allows it to tilt up and down for those tricky humps that like eating pickups for breakfast.

There are two ways to mount the rotor tine rings onto the inner drum: either in one piece or clip them on individually. Both methods have benefits and pitfalls, but the Pöttinger system is well proven and seems to gobble up the grass, which is the desired result.

According to Pöttinger, the distance between the Jumbo’s pickup tines and rotor has been “optimised” – yes, in heavy crops it has, but I’m not so sure about in the light stuff. In the crop we tested the machine on, there was a variety of light and heavy paddocks. In the heavy stuff the machine was unstoppable, but in the light, short green grass (which is hard on any machine to be fair) the crop just bubbled away in the gap before the rotor and rolled the crop until it had a big clump that then could block the machine.

Jacko (Graham’s driver) said that this was the only time the machine had blocked and he never had any troubles in the heavy crops. Jacko also mentioned that the pickup wheels worked well, but being a bit wider would benefit the machine in the rough ground as they have the tendency to get stuck in ruts, which puts massive pressure on the pickup itself.

Knives

Existing Pöttinger wagon users will recognise the swing-out knife bank. However, the Jumbo series has a new individual knife protection, with 34mm theoretical chop length. It wasn’t chopping it to 34mm, more like 50mm, but to be fair it was mature grass so the longer chop will be better as winter filler when the cows are dry.

To access the knife bank for either sharpening or replacing knives, the chopping unit is lowered hydraulically either from the controller or the buttons on the left-hand side of the wagon. The knives are removed without any tools and simply clip back in. I was very impressed with this whole system: no tools and the fact you are not under the wagon trying to remove or replace knives is an excellent feature.

Controls

Because of the spec of the tractor, the wagon could be run through the standard Pöttinger controller or through the tractor armrest with the ISOBUS controller.

The standard Pöttinger controller is easier to use, as everything is clearly displayed with pictures on the buttons for each function and a clear screen. The ISOBUS is good, but you have to exit screens and chop and change a bit. However, as this machine had scales attached, it is better with the ISOBUS screen when using with the chopper; this gives a digital reading and all that is necessary is to operate the door and the floor when unloading.

Design and build

As I mentioned in the Pöttinger Novacat test carried out last year, the Pöttinger factory’s machine testing facility is second to none, and for loader wagons this is particularly important. They get the proverbial shaken out of them in order to represent the tremendous stress on the components through the machines lifetime and find any faults.

The straight side columns are bolted to the frame, not welded, with both floor and side channels positioned close together for optimum strength. The side panels are then bolted to a continuous rib around the front three sides of the machine so the loader has no top structural support but remains rigid in conjunction with the large tail door.

For unloading, the tail door lifts high out of the way, while two hydraulic motors drive the scraper floor and are located in the middle of the machine. I thought this was unusual, but it means the tail door won’t get taken out on posts or create twisting in the middle of the shaft.

There are two settings for the unloading speed. The 7210 also has six floor chains for both strength and speed to get back to the paddock faster.

Axles and tyres
Usually I wouldn’t dwell on this area much as it’s usually either a walking beam or sprung axle, but the system on this machine is the business.

Because this machine was on tri (tridem) axle, a ball coupling and closed system hydraulic forced steering came as standard. How does this work? Two rods are connected to either side of the hitch and two separate arms on the drawbar of the wagon. As the tractor turns right, the lever pushes back, extending the ram and making the front and rear axle of the wagon turn to follow the tractor, hence the name “forced steering”.

Also on the wagon was individual hydro-pneumatic suspension, good for up to 26 tonnes each, and the self-levelling feature gives 270mm of swing per axle, making this machine incredibly stable on both slopes and pits The hydro-pneumatic suspension and the tri-axle, spec’d with 800s, distributes the massive loads across a large area, resulting in the machine not even marking the paddock – this is quite remarkable given we were carrying well over 12 tonnes of chopped grass per load, plus the tare weight in the machine’s 40m3 capacity.

Verdict

Overall, you really can’t fault the machine’s ability to chop grass in an efficient and timely manner, with the flexibility to be chopping in the morning and working as a massive bin trailer in the afternoon. Spec’d with the tri-axle, steering, suspension, self-levelling and scales, farmers and contractors can accurately calculate how much silage is in the stack, with a simple dry matter test. There is no need to worry about the machine making a mess of the paddocks either. Throw away your bin trailers and even your trucks because, dollar for dollar, the Jumbo Combiline is the way to chop grass.

Likes

  • Steering tri-axle with ball hitch and brakes for safety
  • Suspension with 270mm of self-levelling ability
  • Excellent stability on hills and the stack
  • Large tyres considerably reduce compaction
  • Knife bank swings out for easy access
  • Dual-purpose, ideal for contractors who run wagons and choppers
  • No rails or ropes for sky-high loading
  • Three-way folding front flap

Dislikes

  • Cant see anything near the wheels at night
  • Automatic greaser would be good for the axles

Photography: Jaiden Drought

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