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johnfarnworth - (2/25/2013 2:45:30 AM)
RE:Family tractors remembered - gone but not forgoten
Here are some shots of my Grandfather's Massey-Harris 726 combine.  It is a machine which was and still is very close to my heart.  They show it at work on my Dad's farm only about a mile away from the Massey-Harris factory on Barton Dock Road near Manchester.

I went with my Dad and uncle to buy this combine from a farm near Wrexham in NE Wales.  It was in a shed and we were invited to start it up.  I was instructed - probably only 10 years old - to "jump up" and start it.  It roared into life and I felt like a King as I brought it up to full throttle and pushed down the lever to bring the whole machine to life. A deal was struck and home it came.  Within years I was often driving it, firstly to keep it working through lunch and tea breaks and then for full days.  Did I enjoy it!!!!?????  Vivid memories of greasing up maybe 100 grease points before setting off for the day and getting totally filthy in the process before ever setting off to cut anything.

It was a bagger machine and one of uncle's workers Phil Massey was usually on this task puffing at his pipe all day.  Periodically it would overheat due to the radiator air filter blocking but a quick stop and brush off fixed that.  It was fitted with a remarkably durable Morris 4 cylinder TVO engine which had as I recall a tremendous governor.  The single worst feature of the machine was the electric table lift which would stick or fail due to poor electric contacts or a slipping clutch on the lift motor.  It was tedious having to always fix these - but easily.

It was ultimately replaced by an MF 780 Special of which I have already reported but it did provide a back up to this for several years.

It ended its days on fire!  I was cutting in the very field where these shots were taken a few years earlier.  We were plodding along in a crop of barley when suddenly Phil shouted "John - we are on fire!"  I looked round and sure enough we were with flames licking up from the engine and around the fuel tank.  So we abandoned her.

The fire caught hold on the straw and in a strong wind swept down the field with a massive amount of smoke across the M62 motorway which bordered the field.  Traffic slowed to a crawl.  We watched and the straw soon burnt out.

The 726 produced a very clean sample of grain - far better than the tankers and we often used it in winter to rethresh grain to be used for seed the following season.  As I recall it used to consume an enormous number of bearings within it's mechanisms
- particularly the returns elevator and assoicated cross auger.  It ended its life sadly rotting outside in my uncle's yard until finally it went to scrap.  Combiing laid oats was a nightmare even with a pick up reel which we fitted for such circumstances and we often had to cut such fields one way otherwise it would literlly pull the cropout of the ground and block the drum.

The pictures show it working with Ken Swallow, my uncle's driver, at the wheel and George Kelly on bags.  Also shown is my Dad (right) picking up the dropped bags with George Kelly for hauling home to the farm yard.  Right in the left hand corner of this shot you can just see the bag chute of the combine.   Times have changed!!!!!!!!  I think the trailer is being pulled by our Ferguson TEA 20 tractor.