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McCormick Deering No. 6

Being a novice at horse-drawn equipment, I decided to seek the advice of those who have actually used the equipment in the past. I located people with experience using different types and manufacturers of mowers. Of those I asked, the consensus was that for a mower, they would choose the McCormick-Deering No. 6 or the Big 6.

It took some time, but I was able to locate a No. 6 plain lift mower on a farm in Kentucky. The mower was in a field and had been exposed to the elements for several years, but the general overall condition was good. I convinced Harley to let me take the mower to the coach shop where I could begin working on the restoration.

The first question I received was, how do I know the model and make of the mower? The answer is quite simple; it is stated on the casting of the mower.  The name McCormick Deering is cast into the tool box lid and the model number, No. 6, is also prominently displayed on the frame.
No 6 located on mowerMcCormick Deering Tool Box Lid

The other question I received was, how do you know if it is a No. 6 or a Big 6? Again the easiest way is to look at the name cast on the mower.  The above picture shows the No 6 and the picture below shows the Big 6.

Another way to identify the Big 6 is the shape of the wheel spokes.  The picture below on the left is a Big 6 Wheel and the picture on the right is a No. 6 wheel. There are other differences, but it is not my intention to explain all the differences. The purpose of this page is to show the restoration of the No. 6.
Big 6 located on the mower
No. 6 WheelBig 6 Wheel

So far, the only thing that has been done to the mower is a general cleaning. We were fortunate to find some of the color still remained under the layers of grease. This may seem insignificant, but there is a controversy regarding the way they were painted. Having color remaining on the parts will, at least for that part, remove the doubts because it is very unlikely the farmer who purchased the mower went to the expense of having it repainted.

So now the work begins. We took the time to clean out the tool box which historically is the junk box for whatever the farmer had to store at the time. I must admit, I was a little excited not knowing what treasures might been buried beneath the rust flakes and debris. Unfortunately, there was nothing to support my hopes only broken pieces of harness metal and a rusty section of chain. Oh well, for a moment I was on a treasure hunt.

The final activity of the day was to take a can of rust remover and spray all the working parts and removable hardware. The mower seems small when standing beside it, but it took two cans of spray to coat all the areas I needed to spray. Now I have to wait for the spray to work.

It was decided that we should remove the cutter bar first. In order to get the correct angle on the bar, raise the front of the mower. In our case the tongue was still attached so we propped the tongue on blocks to get the correct height.

The illustration, Illustration 11, in the manual states to clear the ground the forward end of the tongue should be 31 inches off the ground. We used a concrete block and pieces of 4x4 to get the height we wanted.

Mower tongue blocks

We need to make sure everyone understands the importance of being safe around the mower and cutter blade in particular. The knife moves freely inside the cutter bar. Placing anything between the knife clips (teeth) with the knife in place can result in serious injury. We used a wooden block to make sure the knife does not move. However, we were also very conscious of our hand position and avoided placement where it could result in possible injury.

The protective block was placed between the knife clips so the knife would not move. We then removed the cutter bar stay rod nut and slowly lowered the cutter bar. Once the cutter bar was lowered, the cutter bar stay rod was put into the transport clip to keep it out of the way.

Now we decided to remove the pittman arm. On the cutter bar side of the pittman are in a latch which clamps the pitman arm end around a ball on the knife. By raising the latch arm the cups on the pitman arm spread and allow the pitman arm to separate from the knife. We had some difficulty raising the arm due to the age and rust. A punch was placed through the ring on the latch and with some pressure the latch moved to the release position. Once the latch was in the release position, a pry bar was still required to get the pitman arm off the ball on the knife.

The other end of the pitman arm is connected with a bolt. Once the bolt is removed, pry off the pitman arm. The ends of the pitman arm are cupped and fit into a dish in the attaching point. The pitman arm is now free and can be removed from the machine.

In order to get to the pins to remove the cutter bar, we had to access three pins. The pins were secured in position by cotter pins. The first two were removed with some difficulty, but they could be removed. The third pin was in a very awkward location.

For safety, next we disconnected the spring to make sure there was no weight on the cutter bar. When all cotter pins were removed, we found it impossible to drive the pins from the assembly. In order to get the cutter bar off, we decided to remove the three nuts that held the bar in position. We decided to remove the inner guard just to get it out of our way. One 13/16 nut had to be removed. Then I bent the bar so the guard could be removed from the shoe.