VIDEO: Prevent combine harvester fires the Heath Rowe way

By: Anna Game-Lopata, Video by: Andrew Britten

Presented by

Self-taught engineer Heath Rowe invented a simple but ingenious attachment for a combine harvester which is preventing fires, ANNA GAME-LOPATA went to Mungindi, New South Wales to check it out.

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Up to 15 headers worth half a million dollars each or more burn across Australia every year, along with the crops and livelihoods of the farmers and contractors involved.

Self–taught engineer and mechanic Heath Rowe experienced a similar ordeal first-hand while helping his mate Max Buchanan harvest his chickpea crop.

However, he was one of the lucky ones as he managed to escape unharmed by putting out embers caught in the muffler of the combine before they had the chance to start a fire.

It was then Rowe realised people might often be looking for the source of a harvester fire in the wrong area of the machine.

"You’ve got a lot of dust around the sides and the hot parts of the machine," he says.

"It’s so fine it only takes an ember to get it going. The rate and direction of the air flow will determine where those embers hit and ignite."

It was also then that he decided he was going to fix the problem.

After some tinkering around and three years in development,  Rowe managed to create the Fire Prevention Shield, a marine-grade aluminium attachment which fits over the muffler of a combine with a bracket. What it does is simply redirect and increase the velocity of airflow around the muffler.

Patented as the HRFT [Heath Rowe Family Trust] Fire Prevention Shield, Rowe’s device successfully keeps the whole left-hand side of a combine directly above the gear unit, with all its hydraulic pumps and belts, significantly cleaner and cooler.

"The shield allows the debris around the muffler to circulate faster. All the trash is directed to the side of the machine in the resulting airflow, so there’s less chance of having a fire."

"The process increased the reliability of the machine tenfold straight away," he adds.

Watch the video above to find out more about Heath Rowe’s innovative Fire Prevention Shield, or pick up a copy of New Farm Machinery magazine issue 23 (on-sale June 22) for the full feature. 

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