Claas Columbus Benutzerhandbuch

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Farming Heritage y Words Ben Phillips Photos Claas, Ben Phillips

Claas Columbus Manual

Ben aged four watching a Claas Matador go past in 1982.

It's amazing what sticks with you from your childhood - Ben Phillips recalls a fascination which began in childhood when he watched a neighbour using a Matador combine.

Ben aged four watching a Claas Matador go past in 1982.

Matador Dominator Mercator
Mercator, were bigger than those built before but unfortunately the lovely rounded tinwork as found on the Matador, and Europa models had been crudely squared off.

I can clearly remember sitting (well clinging) to a field gate with my Dad, we were watching John Styles go round our neighbour's 36 acre field that was a stones throw from our garden. The greyish-green painted tinwork looked massive as it sprayed dust and bits of corn all over us; my dad took a picture of that moment as it passed by and carried on down the field, I often look at this picture with very fond memories.

Ken Briggs owned two Claas Matadors (to my knowledge) at the same time, though one was used purely for spares, it was parked up in the hay field next to our house. Although it was a little way down the field I could clearly see it every time I visited my gap in the hedge (which was most days), it was there for years and provided parts for the one they ran. In those days I never knew where Ken kept the 'good' Matador, it was probably at the farm down the road he also owned.


The Claas brand is a major success and is still a family owned company based in Harsewinkel, Germany. It all started in 1913 by a man called August Claas and was originally based in Clarholz but soon moved to Harsewinkel in 1919. Their main product was a reaper which was a means

August Claas

A Mähdrescher, built in 1936-37 these were some of the first Combine Harvester's to be made. They had a Binder attachment and this machine paved the way to the first 'self propelled' harvester.

Antique Farm Tractors

A Dominator 105 model from the late 1970s.

Another Dominator this time a 218 Mega model from the late 1980s.

A Dominator 105 model from the late 1970s.

to cut the corn and leave it loose on the ground, this made for hard work and needed farm workers to follow close by to bunch up and tie the corn together. It wasn't until 1921 that they developed efficient knotters to bind the corn that tied it up, their designs in this area lead to the company's first patent.

In 1930 they saw the need to develop a harvester to meet the needs of the European market; our land is a lot different from the massive, flat dusty plains of America where Massey Harris and McCormick were producing such machines. By now Claas was a major player in Europe for harvesting equipment. When you look at what they achieved up to and throughout the 1930s it was truly amazing and by the end of the decade it was marketing a new combine harvester (reaper/binder) for Europe and even moved on to volume production of this machine.

The onset off WWII halted development of the brand and it wasn't until 1946 that they were back in full swing and building the first self propelled combine harvester which appeared in 1951. It was called the Claas SF, they wanted another name for this model but it was already being used by another company. The combine was finished in silver with red lettering and made for a truly beautiful looking machine; the SF later became the improved SFB.

The smaller Europa was introduced 1958 with an eight foot cut. This machine was in production for exactly 10 years, along with its smaller more compact brother, the Columbus which had a six foot cutting width - this model went on to be made until 1970. In the 1960s Claas also produced the Mercur, another smallish combine with an 8.5 and 10 foot cutting width available; these intricately made machines paved the way for the bigger Matador which effectively replaced the Claas SFB. These popular models were available from 1960 in two models - the standard which had a 8XA foot cut and was fitted with a four-cylinder Perkins diesel engine that produced 62hp and the Giant a 12 foot beast with a Perkins six-cylinder diesel which gave the driver 92hp at his disposal.

In the 1970s farming equipment was taking major strides forward, Claas were again at the forefront of these 'industrious times' bringing out the most popular combine model ever, the Dominator. Little did they know that it was going to do exactly what it said on the tin work. These new models, which also included the Senator, O

Another Dominator this time a 218 Mega model from the late 1980s.

A Mähdrescher, built in 1936-37 these were some of the first Combine Harvester's to be made. They had a Binder attachment and this machine paved the way to the first 'self propelled' harvester.

1950 Terra Trac

The Lexion 570 Terra-Trac, this and the new generation of half tracked machines take harvesting to a new high tech level.

Farming Heritage

Protector and Mercator, were bigger than those built before but unfortunately the lovely rounded tinwork as found on the Matador, and Europa models had been crudely squared off. The attractive designs that had made the former models such a work of art, had been consigned to history along with the old badge, which resembled a hammer and a pair if grips. It was replaced by the red capital letters spelling Claas we know today.

The first of the Dominators now had a 15 foot cutting width, small fields that made up many farms were disappearing fast and hedges were regrettably removed to make longer wider fields, so a 17 foot Dominator was also made available a year later in 1971. Local farmer Mike Halford has used the same Dominator 86 for over 20 years, his Q plate example keeps bringing in the harvest year in, year out and for many years it lived constantly outside and although the paint work is a little shabby its works like clockwork. However his combine doesn't give me the same appeal as watching as Ken's old Matador once did.

Still available

Amazingly the Dominator range is still available to this day with models 130,140,150 this range sits under the Tucano, Mega and Medion models. The Lexion range was introduced in 1995 and was one of the most powerful combines ever produced and capable of harvesting 40 tons of grain an hour. This range of combines is one of the most popular on the market today and with an extensive model list available it isn't hard to see why, 510-560, 570 and 580 then the mighty 600 are included. There are also two special adaptations available, the first is the Montana which has been specially developed for sloping ground. The cutter head will automatically tilt up to a 17 degree angle either side while leaving the driver level as it cuts an even crop. The second 'special' Lexion is the Terra-Trac, this half tracked machine will hopefully

Claas Avero 240

A new model of CLAAS combine harvester is rolling out into the field, the AVERO 240. This compact combine harvester fits perfectly into the power category between the Dominator 150 and TUCANO 320. It has been designed especially for businesses which operate their own machinery.

protect any soft ground more than the normal wheeled one would. The Flagship model the Lexion 600 (introduced in 2005) was the biggest combine in the Claas line up, until recently when they announced the Super Lexion 700. Like the 600 it's bristling with the latest technology, which as with previous Lexion models includes Laser Pilot, this uses electro-optic sensors to accurately sense where the end of the crop is and where the stubble starts, steering the combine accordingly so none of the crop is wasted - the driver doesn't have to do anything! The 700 is faster and more economical and yet more technically advanced, which even for a young computer literate adult is far to complicated for me to get my head around, give me a simple Matador any day with levers that move belts which engage drives that cut corn, all combines do the same job - only the new ones do it more quickly and efficiently.


I would like to thank Claas for their help and assistance with their archive pictures. They also have a museum dedicated to the brand in Harsewinkel, Germany, which looks crammed full of their old products that are magnificently restored. While I am on the subject of their history, I do wish they would bring back that old badge. ■

Claas SFB

I mentioned in my main article that the Matador first got me interested in Claas combines. But if the truth be told I can't recall seeing one work since being a kid, in fact I don't think I've even seen a static one either. However this 1950s Claas SFB caught my eye at the 2010 Burwarton Show in August, the SFB was the forerunner of the Matador and its not hard to see the resemblance between the two machines.

This example was in working condition which was lovely to see (even though I am a restorer I still appreciate an original machine) the tinwork was bent and rotten in places but this added to the appeal. The dash was simple containing just one gauge! The decals were still extremely good, which included the original emblem (which I championed in my article) sitting proud on the rear chute. The engine looked to be what was normally found in a Fordson Major, the Simms' pump was clearly seen first, then the familiar Ford engine block.

This one is owned by local Claas dealers Morris Corfield & Co and was believed to be the first self propelled combine working in Shropshire. It was delivered to Joe Rowson of Charlecote Farm, which ironically is the neighbouring farm to the Burwarton Show ground. It was used mostly by Joe's son-in-law George Green, upon the sale of Joe's equipment George bought the Claas SFB and used it extensively doing in excess of 200 acres a year until very recently.

Sadly in July 2010, just a month before the Burwarton show, George Green passed away, so Morris Corfield thought it would be a fitting tribute to bring the SFB and display it in his honour. Even though it isn't

Claas Matador For Sale

a Matador the shape is very reminiscent of this and many other Claas combine of the late 1950s to late 1960s - before the badges, colour and of course shape changed at the start of the 1970s. Seeing this SFB bought back many memories of seeing John Styles use Ken Briggs' Claas in the fields at Trimpley as a kid in 1982.


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