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SP Chopper Converted To 28-Ft. Mower-Conditioner
Last summer Ked Miller of Bad Axe, Mich., gave his old 1978 Deere 5460 self-propelled chopper a new occupation Ż he converted it into a mower-conditioner that cuts a 28 1/2-ft. swath.
  He removed the chopper head and mounted a 13 1/2-ft. Deere 945 MoCo disc mower Ż with the tongue removed - in its place. He pulls a 15-ft. Deere 955 swing-tongue MoCo disc mower behind. The chopper's blower drive mechanism is used to power both mowers.
  Miller made the conversion last winter and used the machine to cut about 4,100 acres of hay last summer. "It lets me cut twice as much hay in the same amount of time, and eliminates the need for another tractor and mower. I can mow up to 17 1/2 acres per hour," says Miller, who farms with his brother Eric.
  The chopper unit was worn out but the rest of the rig was in fairly good condition. He already had the Deere 945 mower, which was two years old. He bought the 955 new last spring for about $25,000.
  After removing the chopper head and blower, he used sq. tubing to widen the front axle by 19 in. on each side so he had enough room to mount the front mower close to the machine. He also replaced the original 23.1 by 26 front tires with smaller 14.9 by 28's.
  Where the blower was originally located, he made an adapter for a 6-groove V-belt pulley. The pulley is driven by a pto shaft that he made by cutting a tractor pto shaft in half. A set of bearings are fitted to each end. Three of the belts drive the rear mower and the other three drive the front mower. Three of the belts are hooked to a pto shaft that operates the back mower. The other three belts drive a right angle gearbox taken from a Deere 3800 pull-type chopper. The gearbox drives a pto shaft that operates the front mower.
  To modify the front mower, he removed the tongue and the wheel framing and made new wheel framing and lift arms which he bolted onto the mower. The mower is connected to the chopper frame by a pair of bolted-on steel arms equipped with lift cylinders.
  "It took about 300 hours of time to put this all together, but I'm happy with it. My brother-in-law Brent Wessels helped me build it," says Miller. "During the summer I had a lot of people watching me from the road. I call it my śChomoco' because it's part chopper and part MoCo mower. I got the idea for it last year when I was using just the one 13 1/2-ft. mower. I was cutting every day from 6 in the morning until 9 at night but I still couldn't keep ahead of the chopper. I figured there had to be a way to cut hay twice as fast without having to rent or buy another tractor and find someone to operate it.
  "We sell feed to two area dairy farmers. Those farmers keep getting bigger so we have to keep up with their needs.
  "I think there's a problem with the way hay machinery is made today. Choppers keep getting bigger but the mower sizes haven't kept up. My total cost, not counting the new mower, was about $10,000."
  According to Miller, the most difficult part of the job was beefing up the back part of the chopper in order to make it strong enough to handle the rear mower. "The rear mower has about 1,500 lbs. of drawbar weight which the chopper wasn't designed to handle. I used lengths of steel to double the drawbar size and welded a couple of 1-in. dia. steel rods, with flat iron welded to them, between the chopper frame and the drawbar."
  The chopper's hydraulic pump is used to raise, lower, and swing the rear mower and to raise and lower the front mower. Hydraulic hoses extend forward and backward from the chopper to the mowers. Miller uses push button electronic-hydraulic controls on the chopper's original joystick to operate both mowers. Both mowers start up at the same time using the same clutch lever that starts the chopper up.
  "When I modified the front mower I made sure that if anything ever happened to the chopper's engine I could unhook the mower, re-install the tongue, and pull it behind a tractor as it was originally designed," notes Miller.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ked Miller, 492 S. Pinnebog Road, Bad Axe, Mich. 48413 (ph 517 269-7751 or 6610

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2000 - Volume #24, Issue #6