i'm trying to install os 9 on a freshly initialized HD and the finder keeps quitting.
Are you booting the computer from the Mac OS9 CD, or from one of the hard drives?
This is what I usually do: I start the computer from an external hard drive that has Mac OS 9.1, or from the Mac OS9 CD, then initialize the internal hard drive, and finally install the new OS version in the freshly initialized hard drive.
What version of Mac OS 9 are you trying to install? To install Mac OS 9.2.1 or 9.2.2 on an older machine like yours (or my 7300), you can only accomplish the task with Mac OS9 Helper.
Since you haven't provided enough information, it's difficult to give you an answer.