The McConnel Power Arm 'U'

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True Blue
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Location: Turriff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The McConnel Power Arm 'U'

Post by blackbob »

There have been various mentions of this machine on this forum over the years, but here are my recent experiences..

We don't have many hedges here in NE Scotland, fields are separated by fences, or stone walls, or conifer woodlands. There are a few beech hedges around, but not many hawthorn, although it seems to grow ok. As my family roots are in Leicestershire, where there are many miles of hawthorn hedge, I decided a few years ago to start planting hedges around our somewhat exposed farm, to provide shelter and make it look nicer.

So, I think 5 years ago, the first stretches totalling maybe 800 metres, were ready for their first trim. I found a local contractor with a modern flail hedge-trimmer, and he came and did them. The bill was £300, 10 hours @ £30/hour, which I thought was a little steep, but he made a tidy job. The following year he had some heart trouble, and was unable to work; last year I found another contractor and he agreed to come, but did not appear before the end-February deadline.

So in exasperation I decided to get my own machine to cut our now overgrown hedges. I thought a cutter-bar machine would look good on my Major; of course none were available locally, and via ebay I found a McConnel in Oxfordshire. It had not been used for a long time, and did not have a drive-belt; but I got it brought here on a pallet, and it seemed ok. From a separate ebay listing I also got a user manual, dated 1965 (!).

Our local Ravenhill (New Holland, and McConnel, agents) tried to get a belt, but McConnel can no longer supply parts for such an old machine. I tried a couple of conveyor-belt suppliers, but none seemed interested in supplying a 14-foot x 3" belt. So I went back to Ravenhill, and asked about belts for a round baler (we used to have a Farmhand baler, which I thought used similar belting). Success! I had to ask their workshop to fit a joiner, as I had sold the joiner-fitting device I used to have, when I sold the baler. But the total cost of the machine, transport, the belt, and a new hydraulic hose, was about £400, which I am happy with.

With some trepidation I fitted it to the tractor (I had to alter the top-link bracket, according to the book there are different brackets for different tractors, and I think mine came with a bracket for a Ferguson or 35). I do not have the optional hydraulic angling kit, so I have to set the angle of the cutterbar with a pin, then alter the height using the tractor's hydraulics. The tractor's lift arms do not move, only the arm of the machine. I guess if the field was bumpy it would be difficult to cut the hedge straight, as the tractor would be tilting, but that was not a problem here.

According to the book it can cut up to 40mm/one-and-half-inches branches; the blades are similar to mower blades, triangular, but with saw-tooth notches at the tips. I did most of the hedges in 1st gear, briefly pressing the clutch (the tractor has live-drive) if it got hold of a thick branch. But I would think that next year I will be able to use 2nd gear, and I can't see the whole job taking more than 10 hours. So I am happy. :D

I can't post photos of the actual machine tonight as Imgur has frozen; so here is a photo I found on McConnel's website. This machine must be even older than mine as it doesn't have the shear-bolt breakaway to protect it if you hit something. ... versal.jpg
1440276 - 1957 - working
1335674 - err - one day..
Claeys combine M103 - 1963 703129 - working
Ford 7710 2wd, 1983 - working

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Re: The McConnel Power Arm 'U'

Post by mathias1 »


nice find. Did you already used the machine? Just be careful when the neighbors head, when he comes to see what you're doing 8)
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Re: The McConnel Power Arm 'U'

Post by fenhayman »


Good luck with it. Used one in the early 1960's and I'm sure that we replaced the flat belt system with new pulleys and a double v belt. Saved an awful lot of getting on and off the tractor.

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