Oldest Working OPICO GT Dryer Winner!

The search for the oldest working OPICO batch dryer in the UK is over: the Viner family of Smokedown Farm, near Faringdon in Oxfordshire have revealed they own a PTO-driven, gas-powered 370 GT which was built in 1977. 

Mark says: “We rang up to order a replacement flame detector during the summer and the service engineer couldn’t believe it when my brother, Adam, gave him the serial number,” It was at this stage he was encouraged to submit a picture of the machine working, along with another picture of the serial plate for a chance to win a service including parts to the value of £500.

“Clearly we were pleased to win, but frustratingly we probably won’t need the full £500 of parts, just a new base plate which has worn thin over the years, a new intake hopper which has received the odd knock, and maybe a few new dials,” he adds.

Adam is responsible for keeping the dryer in good working order and puts its longevity down to regular maintenance and storing it in the dry. “It’s fairly robust and easy to service which is probably why it has lasted so long, but it certainly helps to store it under cover,” says Adam. 

He does however, have one small complaint. “Climbing inside can be a squeeze. We’re a broad family and the hatch feels like it was designed at a time when children were still being sent up chimneys,” he says.

With 121ha (300 ac) of arable land, typically consisting of three and sometimes four crops across three holdings the dryer’s workload is unlikely to win any boasting competitions, but since it was purchased second-hand in 1981 it has played its part in ensuring crops meet contract specification.

The GT dryer may be 35 years old, but David Viner and his sons Mark and Adam have no plans to change it. 

“We’ve looked at the new models with the extending top section which would help us when moving between our three farms, and the increased throughput would be a boon for dad, but it would be more than we need,” says Mark.

“Our dryer is cheap to run. The tractor used to power it burns very little diesel and it’s still quite efficient. And as Opico have a seven day-a-week service centre during harvest, we can be assured of obtaining the parts we need, as we need them,” he adds.