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Top tips for buying a used Case IH Axial-Flow combine

Case IH’s Axial-Flow combine has been around for more than 40 years and its mechanical simplicity has won it many friends.


But what should you be looking for when considering a second-hand purchase? Geoff Ashcroft find out...


Since it first broke cover in 1977, Case IH’s Axial-Flow combine has been through many subtle changes.


Many have been horsepower led, but the single rotor combine design has changed little from that early introduction – that is, to use a large longitudinal rotor to provide a generous threshing and separation area in a short wheelbase harvester.


While the Axial-Flow produced a good sample, critics highlighted the lack of a decent swath of straw for baling.


But more recent versions – along with the knowledge of correct settings – give impressive results.


In 2008, when the firm revealed two new ranges in preparation for the 2009 harvest, they comprised the three-model 20 series and the smaller, slightly less sophisticated 88 series.


And with the 88-series came an all-new 7088 model, as featured here, designed to close the gap between the two series.

Importantly, these new models gained a small-tube rotor with fewer rasp bars.


According to Cotswold Farm Machinery’s combine specialist Mark Kipling, the smaller rotor diameter allowed for a bigger threshing gap, for greater throughput.


And fewer rasp bars resulted in far less damage to the straw.


“A correctly set Axial-Flow will produce as good a straw swath as any hybrid combine, and throughput and productivity are not to be sniffed at,” he says.


“They are a well-kept secret and with mechanical simplicity and fewer drives than other makes, they are easy to look after. There are less than a dozen drive belts, and gearboxes just need frequent oil changes.”


Continuous improvements have seen additional changes to the small-tube rotor, further boosting performance in a wider range of crops.


In 2012, the 88- and 20-series were replaced by the 130- and 230-series, gaining Stage 3b compliant FPT power units.

Threshing and separation

Threshing and separation

The heart of the Axial-Flow is its rotor. The 7088’s smaller diameter tube – now 76cm – offers two modular cleaning areas.


These include a front section and a rear section, with each carrying three concave modules offering 156-degrees of wrap.


Grain drops into augers below, which move grain upwards and rearwards onto the sieves.

“Put the rotor in neutral and use a pry bar to gently turn the rotor and inspect its threshing bars,” says Mr Kipling.


“Concaves should be lifted out and inspected, and the grain augers should also 
be checked.”


“There are two decks of sieves and they sit on rubber bushes, which can wear over time,” he adds. “If there is any sign of cracking on the sieves, it points to worn sieve bushes, as the sieves then try to work against themselves. Again, check them for play with a pry bar, and there are 10 on each side of the combine.”

7088 Axial-Flow specifications

Engine: Cummins 9-litre, 325hp (rated), 375hp (peak)

Transmission: Three-range hydrostatic

Rotor diameter: 760mm

Rotor length: 2.8m

Concave wrap: 156 degrees

Total cleaning area: 5.1 cubic metres

Grain tank: 10,500 litres

Header options: 2010-series 6.1m, 7.6m, 9.1m



There are no emissions concerns for the stage 3a Cummins 9-litre engine which powers the 7088, developing 325hp (rated) and a peak of 375hp. There is also a 25hp boost, to help unloading.


The engine tail shaft carries a pulley and a multi V-belt which drives the hydraulic system. A hydraulic pump coupled directly to the end of the shaft powers the hydrostatic drive system.


An often overlooked grease nipple sits in the tail shaft coupling, and if not lubricated, its splines wear and the hydrostatic drive will no longer get power.


Climbing up on top, inspect the ribbed and toothed rotor drive belt, and the multi-V belt that is used to drive the separator. If both need changing, there will be no change from £1,000.


“Check the drive belts and hoses for chafing, leaks and splits,” Mr Kipling says.


“There is not a lot to be worried about, though on older kit it is more a case of catching problems before they escalate.


“It is worth swapping the hydraulic system’s main filter each season and inspecting the oil for discolouration and signs of over-heating.


“Similarly, some of the 600-hour greasing intervals really should be shortened on a machine that is not going to cover many hours each year.”



Up front, pay attention to the condition of the two main drive belts which come down from the separator to power the intake feed and header drive.


“At the base of the intake elevator is a cast pulley on the header drive shaft, which can suffer from wear,” Mr Kipling says.


“It sits on a shaft with just six splines and is prone to wear.”


Take time to inspect the intake elevator slats too.


“If the combine has been used in stony conditions, there is a good chance you will find bent, broken or welded-up slats in there,” he says.


“Lift the lid on the top of the trunking and inspect the anti-chatter wear plates that carry the intake chains. These are bolt-in, sacrificial items and are easily replaced, but if they have not been replaced and are worn through, it can become an expensive job.”


Header choices were 6.1m, 7.6m, 9.1m (20, 25 and 30ft), and a 22cm increase in wheelbase made it easier to cope with a 9.1m header without the need for additional ballast on the rear of the combine.

Typical Axial Flow used prices

2011, 8120, 7.6m header, self-levelling, 1,500 hours, £89,500

2010, 5088, 6.1m header, chopper, 800 hours, £82,000

2006, 8010, 7.3m header, self-levelling, 1,750 hours, £75,000



A fold-down canopy for the straw spreader allows an access ladder to be hinged down, making it easy to get up onto the rear deck for regular inspections, access to the grain tank, and the engine’s air filter.


Crawling beneath the canopy gives access to the straw chopper and chaff spreading unit plus drop shafts for the ‘witch’s hat’ spreaders which can be attached to boost the spread width.


“Take a look at the straw chopper for missing blades and inspect blade condition,” Mr Kipling says. “The 7088’s chopper came with free-swinging flails.”


Pay attention to the chain drives on the right-hand side which power the grain elevator and the returns conveyor.


“If the tensioners are coil bound, the chains will need replacing,” he adds.


“Pop the belts off too, and spin the pulleys to listen for bearing noises. And this will help you to move the grain elevators and inspect the condition of the paddles.”

Retail parts prices

Header drive pulley: £471.00

Rotor drive belt: £610.00

Separator belt: £441.00

Intake elevator slats: £29.00

Sieve bushes: from £13.55

Straw chopper blades: £10.00ea

Knife section: £1.07ea

Main hydraulic filter: £52.00

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