View Full Version : Using a Gang Reel, GOOD or BAD
12-30-2004, 01:01 PM
Need some advice. I'm trying to score some big factories and high rent homes that take pride in their properties appearance. I am looking at buying an 8ft gang reel made by ProMow. It sells for $3200. I know that's what big golf courses use, but would it be a waste of money? I'm running a 64" Dixie Chopper and trimmer and blower and edger. I have a 16' tandem trailer and believe I have enough room to haul everything including the gang reel. Also, what is the new trends in mowing in 2005? How many of your clients want bagging, striping, mulching, etc.? Are you selling very many residential contracts? What's the longest commercial contract you've sold? Are you going up on your rates this year? How much? I have been charging an average of $36 every cutting without a contract and I collect on site. I want to grow bigger this year, but not by growing into big debt. I'm open to all advice. So give it to me straight.
12-30-2004, 02:59 PM
Worst thing about reels is sharpening. You will need to backlap often and if there are any rocks on the lawn they will chip and give you sort of a weird stripe look when they cut. Nothing really wrong with them just understand they need more maintence. Might want to go with a batwing set up or a flail set up instead.
12-30-2004, 03:52 PM
Explain what you mean by batwing or fiail set up. I've seen the huge tractor pull behinds used on golf courses, but I looking at rigs small enough to use on acre lots.
12-30-2004, 04:11 PM
Flail set ups have independent free swinging knives that are hooked onto a roller that is mounted inside a housing horizontally. As the driveshaft turns(usually from a power take off on a tractor) the vertically hanging blades spin with it. Like swinging something tied to the end of a rope. Centrifugal force keep s the blades in motion but if they strike something it will give way. There are many of these blades but they are cheap and connect with a cotter key in most cases. A bat wing mower in the case I am talking about is a trail type mower with it's own engine on top of it. They make power take off units consisting of several decks made in a triangular fashion as well. I'll name a few companies so you can take a look. http://www.tiger-mowers.com/files/product_gallery/uvfemxeb.jpg should show you the flail knives. Sorry don't have a pic of a batwing type. I'm not rally sure this the proper term for it it guess what i ment was more of the trail type mowers not actaully a batwing type. One last edit found a page with the batwings http://www.ssbtractor.com/page7.html
12-30-2004, 04:32 PM
gangs dont do well on un kept grass they dont like beer cans rocks and such
they r hard to matain and easy to mess up u cant back them up either
just my thoughts
12-30-2004, 04:38 PM
Mabe a set up like this would be more helpful to what you wan to do. http://www.agri-fab.com/trailmower45_0305.html Are you planning on towing with the Dixie, a Gator,compact tractor, or your truck? I would think getting the drag reels on and off the trailer without damaging the bedknife would be hard. The drag reels we had at work before they went to flails were set really close to the ground. It would add a lot of efficeny but would take time to get the stuff gingerly off the trailer for each large account and then you're doing resi also? Maybe consider a flex-deck and trail mower? Under the Turf link at top they have a links page for some of these products.
12-30-2004, 05:06 PM
We are wanting to go after three big factories and a community center with the idea of giving them a golf course finish cut. No one that we know of can give this clean of a cut. ProMow explains that they use less fuel and less time using their drag gang reel systems. I have an inside contact with two of the accounts and they stated that it would go over really well with the money men. The system can be dismantled into smaller sections for smaller yards that want the golf course look. I assume that I will be able to ask a higher rate for this type of service. Also I wanted to know what are you charging for each individual service? Are you going up on your rates in 2005?
12-30-2004, 05:15 PM
Find a ProMow dealer and take a look at the units first.
12-30-2004, 06:14 PM
I have used gang mowers for years on various course that I worked at. One sharpenning is not the problem it is the art of adjusting the pig ears so the bed knife and reel meet properly. It takes time to learn how to do that properly if not done right you get vary nasty streaks in the turf and everyone will notice. They need lots of grease they don't mow tall grass or weeds very well at all. We always mowed every 3 days any more was to hard on the gangs. The one great plus gang mowers cut like nothing else in the rain or when it is wet they mow and that is it. So if they would allow you to mow like that with gangs and you would most likly have to mow twice a week. Plus make sure they spray for weeds. Then you have the cost of gang tires always going bad plus the tractor. If you got any questions send me a message I have a lot of experience with reels.
12-30-2004, 06:32 PM
Can you look at their rigg and tell me what you think?
I have looked at promow in the past out of curiosity. DON'T do it. These units are not heavy duty. I own a golf course, trust me. Golf course grade reels are 100-200 lbs. each. Promow's units are light weight and will not perform in a commercial environment where the turf may grow too high for the reels to cut, such as you can't cut for 2 weeks because of rain.
Do you want to cut turf at 2 inches? Watch it burn up in the summer. Promow's reels are not large enough in diameter or thick enough steel to do a good job on turf that is not some kind of dwarf 1.5" or lower such as fairways on a golf course.
If you want to look at reels, look for a set of used gangs from a golf course equipment dealer. Toro and Jacobsen make good reels that are hydrolically driven instead and also ground driven.
You should have the reels GROUND not sharpened once a year. That will run atleast 150 bucks per reel. You have to have a special machine to do this. You can't take a angle grinder to them. Backlapping is a method to hone the knives and reel blades. A backlapping machine will run 400 bucks.
Good luck. Golf courses are going to rotary equipment where they can.
Those "Pro Mow" reels aren't commecial units. Those things are the equivalent of Murray or MTD grade stuff.
A good set of Reels from Toro or Jacobsen - 7 heads with a carrier frame will set you back well over $20,000 ! Does this give you some clue as to how far down the ladder from proffessional grade they are ?
You need to go out to your local country club and see the real thing [pun intended]
Reels that are going to be transported over parking lots or loaded and unloaded from trailers will have a hydraulic carrier frame and a hydraulic raised set of tires and wheels that lift and tilt up all the reel heads, so they will transport along on these two rubber tractor tires. This whole unit may weigh around 2500 pounds and the tractor you need to pull them with will weigh 2500 to 3000 pounds also. The trailer needs to be 18 to 20 ft minimum - maybe more. The trailer will cost 3 to 4 times more than the junk reels you are asking about.
As said above, it will cost at least $150 per reel head to have them sharpened on a blade lathe, and the bed knives ground - and if you are mowing around factories or office complexes where the grounds are not near perfect as they are kept on a golf course, then the potential for damage to the reels and bed knives is almost guaranteed. If you need to rebuild a set of mowers, replace some reels, bed knives, bearings , driver gears etc. figure at least $3000 to $5000 for your annual redo and repair of the set.
The reason that golf courses continue to use reel type mowers, is that they can mow the turf very short and not scalp the ground. They only use the reels where they are concerned with ball travel and with maintaining a surface that doesn't lead the golf ball off in some crazy direction - like on their greens. In the roughs, and even on the fairways, they will use rotaries any more, because reels are sooo expensive to buy and maintain.
01-02-2005, 12:41 PM
just remember golf course grass looks and is cut that way because it is bent grass. cutting normal turf with a reel mower would be hopeless. you would have to be out there every 3 days cutting or it would get too long.
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