California Trimmer front throw mower (now eastman)

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Cloud9Landscapes, Aug 22, 2009.

  1. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    I don't know how old they all look the same I have had them for just under 2 years. Honda engines. I think they are probably in the $1600 + for new, the catchers alone are 75 + Mine have been customized with motorcycle racing chains rather than the stock factory chains and some other stuff that I can't remember. So that's 400 each, I paid 600 each and probably have not put 60 hours on them. So you get two for the price of 1/2 a new one.

    I will be taking them in for end of season sharpening and evaluation like I do with all my reels. I will get some pic's at that time and the shops recommendation. If you or someone else wants them great if not they can sit on my shop as back ups and the guys will just have to deal with the different drive system.

    PM me if you have any other questions I'm not on site frequently enough to keep up with threads.
  2. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    From a reel grinding, technician stand point I think the Tru-cuts are the biggest pos on the market today for commercial use.
    Personally I wouldn't recommend reel mowers unless the terrain is sloped beyond 8 degrees or so and very sharply at that.
    Do yourself a favor, check out the Hyiater mowers available from Seagro - they market these rotarys which will cut at 1/2", stripe as well as a reel mower, collect debris and are easy to maintain.
    I have posted many times about the mechanical faults associated with the Tru-cut design, the extreme difficulty in squaring the reel to the spin grinder do to the frame orientation plus the bed knife is a royal pain in the butt to remove from the frame without tweaking the frame even the slightest out of square.
    For occasional homeowner use these Tru-cuts are marginally acceptable, for commercial use - not at all.
  3. Cloud9Landscapes

    Cloud9Landscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ca
    Messages: 558

    That is true about the hyiater mowers, but I want to cut at 1/4 plus the scissor action of a reel is easier on the grass. I certainly know that eastmans reels are better than tru-cut's. Did I mention that I bent my tru-cuts reel on a brass sprinkler head? Resulting in a pricey trip to the shop. This is probably due to the fact that tru-cut reel's are about half as thick as Trimmers/Eastman's.
  4. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    First of all - there is no "scissor" action of a reel. Should the reel come into contact with the bedknife all sorts of bad things happen.
    The difference between a rotary and reel mower is the rotary mower requires an uninterrupted airflow across the foil on the blade to generate the lift necessary to draw the grass blade across the cutting edge of the rotary blade. The reel doesn't require this lift as it essentially feeds the grass blade across the face of the bedknife.
    And I have damaged massive reels on broken wooden tees while mowing golf courses so it doesn't surprise me about tweaking a reel on a brass irrigation head.
    Regarding the height of cut you wish to maintain the turf site, you will require a ten or eleven blade reel with a pretty well set bedknife to avoid irregular cutting - I'm not certain how well the eastman will cut at that height.
    For the money and height, you are better of getting a used Toro or Jacobsen walk behind 26" green collar mower.
  5. jasonlandscape

    jasonlandscape LawnSite Member
    from Georgia
    Messages: 124

    i'm pretty sure my reel comes in contact with the cutter bar on my trimmer therefore creating the "scissor" action....and i'm also pretty sure my reel mower will make a yard look 7272738 times better than any rotary mower
  6. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,778

    Mine too. If my reel isn't scissor action please tell me what it is? I am not trying to start an argument TX or be a smart ass, but explain to us what you mean/meant. Maybe we misunderstood your reply.

    I know this thread is old but I'm going to put in my two cents.

    I personally like the TruCuts, I prefer their controls over any reel made except for the higher priced Lockes. I prefer the 2 separate clutches, one for the drive and one for the reel...I like the ability to travel to my cutting location without the reel running dry. I have banged my TruCut around on the concrete and into the footer of my house and I have yet to see it come out of adjustment. For the price, I dont think you could get a more popular mower with separate drive/reel clutches and a more durable the California Trimmer, TruCuts have not changed a bit in many years...I know at least since the 70's - 80's.

    That being said, I am selling my TruCut and picking up a 30" Legacy which is a Cali Trimmer/Eastman clone sold by Peachtree Mower. I am not crazy about the drive system, but I can live with it for a 30" next reel will be a Locke though.

    Of all the mowers out there, I hear McClanes are some of the worst and they are not even that bad from what I have seen.
  7. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,142

    A reel that is set for some contact probably has a good relief angle ground into the blades. That means the reel runs with less friction and enables it to cut like scissors. Many mower shops grind off all of the relief angles by simply spin grinding the reel. Then you are forced to run the machine with zero contact and are unable to back lap to maintain the edge. A spin grind only reel means the reel has to be reground as soon as quality of cut has declined. I notice that spin ground reels get dull rapidly when cutting bermuda, seashore paspalum or zoysia lawns. Lawn services with reel mowers sharpened that way get less than a month out of their machines before they start tearing grass or jamming. A zero contact spin ground mower might be ok for bent grass on a putting green, most lawns are not bent and they are not cut every day.
  8. jasonlandscape

    jasonlandscape LawnSite Member
    from Georgia
    Messages: 124

    hhmmmm maybe that explains why my mower got dull so quick after i had a golf course sharpen it for 50 bucks. i know if i take it to the REEL mechanics they charge 110 bucks but i think the take the whol mower apart and all and backlap it.

    spin grinding is where they put some type of grit on the blades right?
  9. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    Alright, Jason - there is simply no good way to maintain a reel mower that has bedknife to bed bar contact. Regardless of the type of turf mown, C3 or C4, in order to prevent rifling, a gap has to be maintained between the reel and bed knife.
    Green, you are confusing what a relief verse spin grind consists.
    On a correct grind, a reel is ground into a true cylinder shape which results in the trailing edge of the reel needing that edge "relieved". Hence the name "relief" grind - all the reel technician is doing is relieving the trailing edge.
    The "spin" comes to play as most grinders, particularly those made after the early 1980's, drive or "spin" the reel to achieve the cylindrical grind through the use of a dedicated drive motor on the grinder.
    For instance my Neary grinder has three motors: 1 to grind, 2 to transverse the grinding head and 3 to spin the reel. See, a "spin" grind.
    Most newer grinding machines have 4 motors, the first three as described and the forth automatically feeds the grinding head into the reel. On mine I have to listen to the grinder "spark out" before manually feeding the grinding head into the spinning reel.
    The relief becomes important at lower heights of cut, namely 0.150" and below, where the lower height requires a smaller gap between the reel and bed knife necessitating the trailing edge to be relieved in order to acquire the correct gap without reel to bed knife contact.
    What you guys are confusing is prior to spin grinding, all grinding was done with a hand fed grinding motor mounted on the grinder. Because your left hand controlled the intake of each individual blade of a reel, you first hand to number all of the blades because you initially fed the grinding wheel back and forth across each blade before advancing to the next blade until you reached the last numbered blade of the reel.
    Then you would advance or close the distance of the grinding head and start grinding in reverse order - that way the idea was all blades of the reel assembly were ground more or less the same. However, as heights of cut became lower the discrepancies in grinding accuracy became a problem as a technician couldn't adjust the concentric bolt the bed knife assembly pivots on to make up for the errors.
    Which is why spin grinding was developed.
    What you guys get when your reel mowers are spin ground is a more accurate, controlled distance between the reel and bed knife and the reason back lapping (which is the process of applying a water soluble paste to the reel and bed knife) doesn't work is the relief aspect of the spin grind isn't what is out of whack.
    What has become dull is the edge of the bed knife itself - THIS is where you first need to address when correcting the quality of cut.
    Depending upon how good you are with a powered grinder, you need to "face" the bed knife, THEN back lap as just back lapping won't return the bed knife to the proper relationship to the reel.
    For those crappy Eastman, Tru-cut, essentially all home owner grade reel mowers where the bed bar assembly becomes a stressed part of the reel assembly frame, you MUST have some manner to "face" the bed knife as part of the maintenance process.
    Go to R&R products for a hand held facing grinder. Start with this first then once you have acquired the feel for facing you can up-grade to a powered facing grinder.
    Then back lap the reel to bed knife, wash the reel, blow dry then check with a piece of manila file folder material the cut across the ENTIRE bed knife face. Make whatever adjustments necessary which first results in a uniform cut while not having ANY contact with the reel to bed knife.
    Beginning to get the picture now about the differences in grinding techniques effect set-up?
    To avoid the constant headaches associated with spin ground reels, request that the entire grind be a relief grind. If you really want to give the technician hemorrhoids, demand the entire reel be first spin ground, THEN demand the entire reel have a complete relief ground into it.
    I'll warn you though, be prepared to either pay double for the grinding or to dodge a reel assembly thrown at you.
    Yes you'll loose more life on the reel assembly with a complete and true relief grind but until you acquire the feel necessary to maintain a spin ground reel assembly you will be fighting a constantly changing gap - and without a face grinder you are **** out of luck to properly correct in the field. Particularly when you consider your mowers are bouncing from one site to the next and this alone will whack the willy bejesus out of the reel to bed knife gap.
    You have to remember, a true spin grind results in a much closer gap in a much more uniform manner (if properly set-up which almost never occurs unless the guy doing the grinding is careful). One minor thump, one bump, one moment of inattention and you have lost that small gap which usually results in either a stringing cut or suddenly the machine is making that scissoring sound, cuts great for a moment or so which is usually preceded by a tortured metal on metal sound as the reel and bed knife eat themselves from the heat generated from the contact - which is known as rifling.

    Now that I have crossed everyone's eyes and wives are running in to determine that source of the "thump" your heads caused by hitting the table, I'll say this:
    At heights of cut from 1/2" to 2", a properly sharpened Harrier mower will be essentially indistinguishable from a reel mower, is orders of magnitude easier to maintain, is less costly to maintain and is almost always much faster to operate.

    As one final point, my experience grinding reels stems from over twenty years in the turf industry utilizing reel mowers on golf courses both C3 and C4 turf, through my time at Augusta National to running my own operation. I can and do operate reel mowers as a part of my business but that's because I know what I am doing - plus drinking a whole lot of beer with the Jacobsen/Ransomes reps while in Georgia.
    Hey, if you guys want to run reel mowers go for it - it's no skin off my ass. But be prepared to shell out some money to acquire the skill necessary to maintain reel assemblies unless you know of a good reel technician at a local golf course who will take you by the hand to demonstrate what I just typed.
  10. Grnhed

    Grnhed LawnSite Member
    Messages: 61

    "For those crappy Eastman, Tru-cut, essentially all home owner grade reel mowers where the bed bar assembly becomes a stressed part of the reel assembly frame, you MUST have some manner to "face" the bed knife as part of the maintenance process."

    You stick California Trimmer and Tru-cut in the same league? Eastman HAD a homeowner mower, but the commercials were being made when milk was still dribbling down my chin and I'm over 50. Then suggest that a Hoggwort Harrier will cut comparable to a reel mower at .50"?

    Your not serious?


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