Reducing harvester fire risk with the right bearing choice

October and November are peak harvest months for crops such as canola, barley, oats and pulses. The season is also associated with higher risk of harvester fires – a major issue for the grain industry in the dry summer of the southern Australian cities.

Research conducted by the Kondinin Group shows that every year, on average about 7 per cent of combine harvesters – or ‘headers’, as the growers call them – operating in Australian paddocks are likely to catch fire. Of those, 10 per cent will result in significant machinery destruction and crop damage – in addition to the potential risk of injury.

The issue is one that David John (DJ) Sincock, the owner of DJ Sincock Header Repairs business in West Wyalong of New South Wales, is familiar with first-hand.  As a seasoned header repairer whose business services as many as 150 to 200 headers each year, DJ says bearing failures are a major cause of fire in harvesters.

“As you can imagine, there’s often a heavy buildup of dry straw and chaff in the header. So, if the bearings are not sealed properly or the seal is damaged and the bearings get overheated during the operation, there’s a serious fire risk. Bearings that are of inferior quality or are not fitted properly have a higher risk of getting overheated.”

A few years ago, Russell Randal, the then CBC Regional Sales Manager, introduced DJ to the NTN Black Bearing – a bearing specifically designed to offer superior sealing and corrosion resistance in agricultural environments.

DJ says his servicing business has since not used any other bearing for repairing headers but the NTN Black Bearing.

“Russell showed me the NTN Black Bearings and asked me to try them just once. We were using a different product at the time but when we switched to NTN Black Bearings, I found them to be great. They offer much better sealing and can withstand extreme temperatures and extreme dust,” DJ says.

“We’ve never used any other bearing since. These bearings are extremely reliable and so we use them for our customers with the confidence that they will last for many years.”

As Australia’s largest distributor of bearings and other industrial solutions, CBC Australia, in partnership with NTN Australia, supplies the NTN Black Bearings to multiple customers in the agricultural industry.

The inner and outer rings of the NTN Black Bearing are coated with black oxide, offering excellent corrosion and fretting resistance. The black oxide surface also allows for easy removal of the bearing from the shaft, which is very important when quick replacements are necessary.

The superior sealing capability of the Black Bearing is offered by the ‘trash guard’ seals that feature a heavy-duty nitrite rubber bonded to a seal plate to resist the entrance of contaminants. The Black Bearing is also 70% factory-filled with ‘SRS2000’ to offer long lubricant service life in the field.

With over 60 bearings installed on a typical header, DJ says the bearings’ long life makes the job of servicing technicians easier. It also makes the bearings a cost-effective solution for farmers who are struggling with financial hardship during the droughts.

“During the drought, when the farmers were struggling financially, we could put a Black Bearing on the header and it would last several years; whereas some inferior bearings need replacement every year.”

DJ says he enjoys working with CBC as a supplier of quality products.

“It’s very valuable for us to have a supplier like CBC that supports us with quality products like the NTN Black Bearing. I’ve found CBC terrific to deal with. They help small, regional businesses like us to grow and build a good reputation with our customers.

“In fact, my business has been growing continuously, despite the previous years’ droughts. We now have three technicians who travel to the farms whenever we get a call from a customer and we help them get their equipment back to work with minimum downtime,” he concludes.

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