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Anyone familiar with Safe-T-Lawn heads?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Keith, May 24, 2006.

  1. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,979

    There is a local church that had asked for a system repair quote many, many moons ago. The system probably dated to the mid-70's. The person that asked me to give an estimate was over ruled before I could even get over to do it. They had decided that they would get someone in the church to do it. That was probably 8-10 years ago. Well, someone finally got around to doing it here in the last month. I knew that they had old Safe-T-Lawn heads in there, and I really wanted to grab a few for souvenirs. Darn if they didn't leave them right out near the dumpster :laugh:

    But did Nelson put a similar head to the Safe-T-Lawn rotor? I ask because from what I remember, the sprinkler system at my parents house had what I thought were Nelsons that looked just like these. It has been years since I have seen them. My Dad had the system installed around 1975 and I don't think it got used much after 1980. Most ended up buried never to be seen again. There was one that sat near the A/C compressor that remained visible...and I thought it was a Nelson.

    I have never encountered these heads but in two or three places. Two of them had Safe-T-Lawns, but I could have sworn ours were Nelsons.
  2. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,573

    Nelson did not have any ball drive head in their catalog, so far as I can recall. The Rainbird R-50 is the closest current equivalent to the old Safe-T-Lawn ball drive rotors, and shares its ability to work effectively at low pressures.

    Nelson did have an equivalent to the Buckner cam drive rotor, but it didn't have a stainless top. There was a brass-body ball drive rotor made by a tiny California company named Rain-O-Mat, but it had no reversing mechanism, and was more like the Buckner cam drive (which still exists, in a full circle golf course version) Another plastic version of a Rain-O-Mat type of ball drive rotor was made independently and sold by a few of the lesser sprinkler companies, like Moody. They would be closest in surface appearance to the Safe-T-Lawn, having a thin brass cover held on by four screws.
  3. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

    Wish I had a camera years ago when we pulled many of these out of field systems and replaced them with newer technology (Toro 640s at the time). They are monsters and most were installed on frozen galvanized swing joints off of CL 125 PVC laterals. We ended up breaking plenty of the laterals and had to resort to just cutting out the laterals and slip-fixing in new tees and swing joints. :cry:
  4. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,573

    I never saw the golf-course versions of Rain-O-Mat heads. I know they had several sizes of the part-circle rotors. The smallest (#7) was the same size, looking down at the cover, as a brass popup spray, and even had notches to accept a standard head wrench. They needed to have metal risers, for the most part, so their driving force wouldn't be dissipated. Conveniently, a Toro 300 could easily substitute for a Rain-O-Mat #7.
  5. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,219

    I have about 4-5 people with the Safe-T-Lawn heads. Ironically I went to one today. Of course I don't like 'em. I don't like anything.
  6. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,979

    Thanks for the info. I don't know what made me think they were Nelsons, but obviously they were not.

    About what year did Safe-T-Lawn start selling these? Whatever happened to the company? I don't know why, but I am fascinated by this kind of stuff. The whole time line thing. Not just sprinklers but pretty much anything. I remember going to my parents' friends house when I was a very young kid, playing in the front yard and admiring the sprinkler covers with the bird on them :)
  7. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,573

    Safe-T-Lawn heads date back to the early 70's, and may be a bit older than that. They were an early 'plastic' house, and had some neat stuff. The ball-drive rotors were almost fiendishly reliable. They couldn't spray as far as impact heads, so they suffered a bit in comparison. One unique feature of theirs was that the rotor nozzle was adjustable for trajectory, allowing for some nifty tricks. Their coverage didn't have any gaps, either, so they could easily be used in looser triangular spacings without any dry spots resulting.

    The company was bought by Hardie, when they set up their American operation. I'm not sure whether it was included in the sale to Toro, but the ball-drive head was becoming a dinosaur, and it wasn't worth the money to try and update it. I think the original molds for the Safe-T-Lawn stuff has been sold to some very-large installers, for them to maybe make their own sprinkler heads. Hey, why not, if they want to try?

    The Rainbird R-50 continues the Safe-T-Lawn ball-drive concept, with a more useful range of nozzles.
  8. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,979

    Interesting stuff. Thanks for the history lesson :)
  9. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 50,573

    Here's one Safe-T-Lawn innovation in common use, more or less. The anti-clog nozzle adjustment screw. Whether it was a question of side-stepping around a patent, or just a simpler way to achieve the objective, nowadays it's done in reverse. The seat on the strainer is shaped to work in an anti-clog fashion against an ordinary screw.

  10. PJ Thomas

    PJ Thomas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    I am looking for instructions for the Safe T Lawn sprinkler heads. I think Wet Boots had them?????

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