Farm Classics with Peter O'Brien
THE agricultural industry’s first dedicated self-propelled mower, the Krone Big M is now celebrating 25 years since its launch (on May 10th) in 1996.
Manufactured at the Krone factory in Spelle, Germany, the Big M caused quite a stir with not only spectators and media, but also with the Krone engineers due to the wiring loom catching fire that morning, which was luckily repaired in time for its debut!
Although initially met with some scepticism due to the size of the machine, Ireland’s insatiable appetite for high output silage harvesting machinery and tight weather windows led to the Krone mower being relatively quickly accepted.
Krone currently attributes 20% of all Big M annual sales to the Irish market – which is a remarkable figure.
Despite its size, the Big M proved equally at home in small and large fields, with its agile rear steering.
With the ability to group three swarths into one, or to lay in single rows and a 40km road speed the self-propelled mower was a favourite with large scale contractors.
Powered by an 8.1 litre John Deere engine, producing 300hp, the mowing powerhouse has ample power for its three mowers with a 9.2 mowing width – with which very few tractor-mower combinations of its era could compete with.
The cab of the MK1 was another item borrowed from John Deere, this time the Z series combine.
The cab interior remains similar, with combine header controls replaced with mower controls on the orange hydrostatic lever, as well as the addition of a Krone performance monitor on the pillar.
Power is sent to the hydrostatic transmission and three mowers though a central gearbox through a pair of V belts.
The mowers themselves were adapted from Krone’s product range and feature a ‘pull’ type front mower, which aids floating.
Big M MK1 mower beds were not without their flaws and were unforgiving when coming into contact with foreign objects which eventually led to the Krone ‘safe cut’ system which protects the mower bed when foreign objects cause damage. Electrical gremlins often plagued the MK1, most of which were ironed out by the end of the production run.
By the time of the launch of its successor in 2001, the MK2, the first Big Ms had established themselves as unrivalled machines to mow grass, winning two titles for mowing output in the Guinness Book of Records in 1999.
This year, a quarter of a century later, No 3,545 rolled off the production line on July 31st.
If you are using the BigM Mk1, we would like to hear from you.
Krone Big M MK1
John Deere 8.1l
Years of manufacture