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Combine insulation blankets

Thursday, September 15, 2005
filed under: Equipment

Paul Herman’s company, Firwin Corp. ( has been a leading supplier of custom-made heat insulating materials for over 20 years. The North York, Ontario, is a maker of removable insulation “blankets” to help prevent heat and combustion damage in equipment over a wide range of industries, including marine and rail transportation equipment, mining, forestry, and even military applications.

In the last few years, Herman’s company has also made insulation blankets to help prevent combine fires (you may have even seen the company’s ads in this magazine). Four insulating pieces cover the combine turbo and exhaust parts, and come in two colors, Case IH red and John Deere green.

John Burch, Longmont, Colo., tried the insulation blankets on his JD 9600. While the intention of the product is to keep chaff away from hot combine parts, that’s not always easy to do, especially with sunflower fines, particularly when crop harvest conditions are dry. “I ended up taking the blanket pieces off, because fines were getting underneath the blanket and smoldering. That sunflower dust can get so fine, I’m not sure there’s anything you can put on there that would make a difference. I think the best thing is still to keep the combine as clean as possible.”

Burch has since sold his combine in favor of having his crops custom harvested. He says a leaf blower works good to blow away sunflower fines and chaff, and when he harvested ‘flowers, he carried along buckets of water, setting them on the back platform where the motor sits. He also carried several fire extinguishers. “But those can get expensive and can make a mess. I think what is ideal is a fire extinguisher you can fill with water and spray a mist.”

Gary Knell of Hazen, N.D., jokes that “if cavemen had raised sunflower, they would have found fire a lot sooner.” He bought an insulating blanket last year for his Case 2188, but got busy with harvest and didn’t find the time to attach the pieces. “We’ve since switched to a Case 2388, I plan to try the insulation out this year.” He points out that the concept of insulating blankets isn’t new: similar products are used on lignite coal mining equipment in the area. “They’ll even put them on electric motors, so the airflow goes one way, to deflect coal dust that might be explosive.”

Herman welcomes ideas from farmers to improve the combine insulation product. “We are in a program of on-going development, relying on the experience of the individual farmers to improve on the design,” he says.

Harvesting sunflower in more humid weather conditions and when seed moisture is higher will greatly reduce problems with combustible chaff and fines. – Tracy Sayler

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