Gang reel mowers

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by FrankenScagMachines, Feb 23, 2003.

  1. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Posts: 4,739

    Saw the tow behind gang reel mower units in Northern Tool and Equipment catalog and got me thinking. If I pull the $899 6' 10" model with my Wheel Horse at 6.5mph, that is 4.4 acre/hr wide open or about 3.5/hr at 6mph with obstacles. Zero turning capability (can trim around a pencil) fast, etc. Only drawback is max cut heigh is like 2 1/2" I think. I heard that the higher you cut the worse the quality is with them, but most people don't want it higher than 3" anyway and people with that much property it usually doesn't make much difference how high it is, the droughts still affect it the same because usually there are no trees or anything like that. Anyway was wondering if anyone mows large lawns with these at the highest height? Do they handle tall growth OK? I don't see any LCO's around here with them and I know there must be a reason but was thinking that I could get the jobs this year with my Scag and stick it out and then next year if the customers still with me get one to use. Maybe a bad idea for regular lawns I don't know, any ideas or opinions if this is a good idea to pursue or not? If it worked good, that would be about $90 an hour or so.
     
  2. quiet

    quiet LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 720

    Read the description of the unit, and go take a look at the unit. You'll be able to make some fast evaluations immediately. You'll understand why commercial grade gang reel units cost what they do.

    Nothin's prettier than cut with reels, but you'll quickly see why the practical applications are limited.
     
  3. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    BRB

    They are made for very short grass (like fairways on a golf course). Won't cut tall or wet grass for anything from what I've seen.

    BTW, how are you going to sharpen the reels?
     
  4. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Posts: 4,739

    I was thinking if using it worked well the first year then the next I'd upgrade to something commercial. Was just an idea I won't do it probably. I have no experience with them that is why I asked, but I had heard they were not good in tall or wet like rodfather said. I hadn't thought as far as sharpening. I'm not going to do it I guess, I was just curious if anyone else thought of it or uses the idea and how does it work. You answered my questions thank you.
    Eric
     
  5. Tony Clifton

    Tony Clifton LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 865

    BHB, one thing you'll want to check into is whether or not you can back them up. I worked on a golf course for years and we relied on big gang mowers but you had to have good judgement because you couldnt back them up, and when mowing between trees etc. it can be tricky unless you want to spend alot of time string trimming. We used 10 gang mowers so they were a lot bigger and older so maybe with the new smaller ones you can go in reverse.
     
  6. osc

    osc LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 502

    Trust me friend, you are barking up the wrong tree. Besides, good reels are not cheap and cheap reels are not good.

    Maintenance: You don't just take a file or an angle grinder to them. The reels must be taken off the unit and sent out to have the relief on each blade ground on a special machine. Then each bedknife must be ground and refaced even if you buy new bedkives this has to be done. After all that, each reel may need spin grinding to true it to the bedknife. 5 reels will start out at $1500.00 a year for grinding and that's a good price.
    Then buy yourself a backlapping machine for $250.00 and several pails of lapping compound and take each reel off and backlap every day to keep them honed properly after use. Should only take you a couple of hours with greasing and cleanup. And if you do it wrong or use the wrong grit you may damage or shorten the life of the reels.

    After all that, if the lawns you cut have any weed material, you can say hello the the old double cut or triple cut to get it all knocked down.

    As life would have it, many golf course are going to rotary cut machines for the rough. They get a clean cut on one pass and they don't have to worry about getting behind because of rainfall etc. Reels use to be the choice because of shaping and contours but modern rotary equipment is replacing the reels quickly.

    Good idea though.
     
  7. sdwally

    sdwally LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 385

    Approximate cost of blades for a 11' or 12' rotary mower a year - $420 to $560.
    Approximate cost of just reel sharpening and maintenance on reels for a 5 gang reel mower a year - $2,625.
    One small rock or hard piece of debris that gets caught in a reel can cost up to $500 just to repair the reel, depending on the brand.
    Do the math.
     

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