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McCormick b-23 finger mower cropmaster combination

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:25 am
by Matt101
Hi guys,
I'm still looking for a mower for my 1952 cropmaster, a b-23 finger bar mower has come up for sale near to me in working order.
Does anyone know if this will fit on the cropmaster ok? I only have about 3 acres to cut, can any of you see any reason why it would not be suitable before I commit to buy?
Thanks,
Matt

Re: McCormick b-23 finger mower cropmaster combination

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:31 am
by Scooby
The IH B-23 was a brilliant mower - in it's day. I have cut hundreds of acres with them. It will fit and run on your Cropmaster O.K. BUT. Be aware that a cutterbar mower needs to be handled and looked after properly but firstly, almost certainly, you will probably need a top link with a rack on it to keep the mower frame at a reasonable height. I do not know Cropmasters but suspect that any position control on the linkage won't be good enough. It's not a case of just lifting it up and then dropping it to it's lowest point when you put it into work but maybe the Croppy has other arrangements for position(height) control.

Now for the mower itself. You need to have the cutter bar set properly. And I am assuming that you have a decent crop of grass to cut and that it's not being used for a bit of topping. The ledger plates on the fingers need to be in good condition with good edges, the sections of the knife need to be sharp and not worn out, the wear plates that hold the back of the knife up need to be in good condition and, possibly most important of all, the keepers need to be down well on the knife so that it mates nicely with the ledger plates. The keepers can, in extreme cases, be persuaded with a hammer so that they really are pressing the knife (gently) down on to the ledger plates. You are trying to emulate a pair of scissors when the section meets up with the ledger plates.

The cutter bar needs a "lead". In other words, the toe (swathboard) end of the bed should be 1/4" of an inch forward of the heel of the bed for every ft of bed. In effect about an inch and a bit ! That's because, and here it depends on how much wear there is on all the pivots points of the mower, the mower must be at 90 degrees to the crop when in work. There are other things to bear in mind. A decent swathboard is a necessity, as is the inner equivalent. Make sure it has a decent pitman (the conrod from the crank to the knife head) with a good tight fit when it is connected to the ball on the heel of the knife. Make sure the breakaway works and that it is correctly adjusted i.e. you can grab the toe end of the mower and snatch it back and the breakaway works as it should.

And finally, but most importantly, if you have never used a cutterbar mower before there is a big safety issue when you lift the bed up for transport. DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGERS IN BETWEEN THE MOWER FINGERS WHEN LIFTING. When you lift the bed the knife can, if it was at the end of the outward stroke, drop down. If your fingers are between the mower fingers and it does drop you will lose fingers !!!

Re: McCormick b-23 finger mower cropmaster combination

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:37 am
by SteveCollett
As Scooby says, these mowers often had chains from the top link to thew lower links when fitting to older tractors.
The advice of great care when folding is so important, many many fingers were lost on those things!!!
Set you correctly they can cut grass all day, particularly in seeds, but in old meadowgrass, you may regret your purchase!

Re: McCormick b-23 finger mower cropmaster combination

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:55 am
by Scooby
SteveCollett wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:37 am
As Scooby says, these mowers often had chains from the top link to thew lower links when fitting to older tractors.
The advice of great care when folding is so important, many many fingers were lost on those things!!!
Set you correctly they can cut grass all day, particularly in seeds, but in old meadowgrass, you may regret your purchase!
Yes, all very true. And the OP will probably only need to sharpen the knife once for 3 acres but if at it all day then it was a case of carrying your knife sharpening tressle with you. And customers who didn't roll their fields were soon sifted out. :wink:

Re: McCormick b-23 finger mower cropmaster combination

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:58 am
by Matt101
Thanks all,

All Sounds quite complicated, I'm abit of a beginner so don't want to get in over my head and run into troubles.
Il have a think and do abit more research, maybe a drum type mower would be a better option

Re: McCormick b-23 finger mower cropmaster combination

Posted: Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:41 pm
by Scooby
It all depends on what the B23 is like. I have seen one or two on eBay that looked reasonable but most are rubbish because understandably people of today don't have the experience to look after them and I think most are only used as toppers anyway and that's one of the worst things you can do with a cutterbar mower because the knife is chattering about doing nothing. If you do go for a drum mower make sure it's a 2 drum like a PZ165 or a Fahr KM22 but I don't know if a Croppy would drive a drum mower but someone on here will tell you. I have driven a PZ on a MF135 and that went O.K. unless you are in a really thick crop and laid grass like it is now after all this rain. That made her grunt a bit but it cleaned the cobwebs out of the old girl. :wink: .

Re: McCormick b-23 finger mower cropmaster combination

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:39 am
by cobbadog
That is some very valuable info there Scooby, well done.

Another option for use is an old Oxford Allen Rotoscythe. they have a 3' wide cutting bar and can knock over the 3 acres in no time. They are self propelled and you can choose which wheel or both to do the driving. Be prepared for a quick walk when on full throttle though. Our one is an old 2 stroke Villiers but they made them with 4 stroke engines too. Nothing seems to stop them and I have seen late model mowers with very wide cutter bars made in Germany that ran over a 5 acre paddock in 15 minutes but it did have a very wide bar and it was all hydraulic driven and operated.

Re: McCormick b-23 finger mower cropmaster combination

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:36 am
by blissakpo
You don't say what you want to cut the grass for.

If you are looking to cut it for hay/haylage then the two drum mower would be the best. I ran a Sperry/New Holland 482 on a 950 Implematic and that was fine cutting ...but in the transport position it was very easy to get the front wheels off the floor which was quite hairy and you had to steer on the split brakes. If the grass you are cutting is on your property and you don't have to travel to far then it's ok for short distances but not something I would recommend on the road. Front weights might help.

If you are just looking at topping off the grass I would have thought a flail mower would have been a better option. I run a Zanon 1.45m on the 950 and that is great for topping off.

Re: McCormick b-23 finger mower cropmaster combination

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:48 am
by SteveCollett
I would agree with the comments that finger bar mowers are not for newbies. If you had a neighbour selling one and happy to get you going it would be fine.
firstly sharpening the knife, a good file is required and you need to get the correct action but I had a good master showing me , My Dad, and god help me if I did it wrong.
The mower may work fine in a crop of seeds but cutting old pasture is a completely different story and will need to be honed to perfection.
My last question though , but also should be the first, can you still get fingers and blades? if the answer is no then it is only fit for display as the first stone will finish it.
Ps I still wonder what a man was thinking of letting a ten year old go mowing? how I kept my fingers!

If you go for a drum mower I would never use it if there is one stone in the field unless you have a cab! when that piece of stone goes flying you will be glad it lost its energy, as it hit the glass! One time we had a blade fly off and embed itself in the safety frame of the early 990 high cab. it was there till we sold it!