Posted 6/11/2021 00:16 (#9052645 - in reply to #9052392) Subject: Regarding the 800 row unit
Deere frequently gets a rap for “copying” other manufacturers, but when a superior design comes around all manufacturers work to include those features in their products. IH had just lost a patent infringement case on the 800 series corn head in 1978 that eventually led to a $28M judgement against them. The 7000 series row unit was vastly superior to the 400, but smarting from the court loss on the corn heads IH was keen to avoid a repeat on the planters (which Deere patents Kinze was able to invalidate later on interestingly enough).
The key features that made the 7000 row unit work were a robust shank, wide spaced four bar parallel linkage for keeping the row unit level throughout its vertical travel, double disk openers and the gauge wheels that were centered fore/aft with the exit of the seed tube. The shank was easy to design around and four bar linkages had been used previously. Double disk openers weren’t new and offsetting an opener added a new feature/benefit. The fore/aft location of the gauge wheels needed to stay the same so by switching to trailing arms with wheels parallel to the opener disks and arms on the outside of the wheel is dissimilar enough to the Deere leading arms on the inside of the gauge wheel and non-parallel to the disks to avoid infringement. They also designed a different closing system as well. So in the end they had a row unit that had the key features that made the 7000 successful but sufficiently different to avoid infringement.
It’s really too bad we are down to so few manufacturers in North America. Oliver, Minneapolis-Moline, Ford, Massey-Ferguson, Allis-Chalmers, Case etc. all contributed to advances in ag individually. With fewer players and several “brands” being little more than cosmetic differences under the same corporate umbrella we have lost innovation.