California Trimmer front throw mower (now eastman)

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

  1. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,178

    NO! NO! NO!. Spin grinding is the process which txgrassguy described where a reel is spun by one drive and a grinding stone is spun by another, grinding the reel into a true cylinder. What I see happening even in my state where reel mowers are very common, is that is the extent of the sharpening. The next steps of relief grinding and backlapping to achieve a very slight gap along the entire length of the reel is totally skipped. If I see that the face of the reel is perfectly flat and the mower has to be adjusted to a really wide gap, my temptation is to drop that mower on the head of the person that did that. All he did was grind metal off the blades and ensure that the person would be back in short order because the machine stopped cutting cleanly.

    Backlapping is when a water based gel with silicon carbide is applied to a reel with a relief grind and then it is spun backwards. That and face grinding a bedknife are two relatively simple procedures that can restore quality of cut to a mower that is not rounded, nicked or otherwise severely damaged.
  2. Merkava_4

    Merkava_4 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,443

    What kind of reel mower are you referring to? I'm talking about the California Trimmer.
    I'm 44 years old and I've been using CA Trimmer mowers since I was 10 years old.
    When I adjust the blade, I insert a single telephone book page between the blade
    and the bedknife. In order for the blade to slice through the thin sheet of paper,
    it must make SLIGHT contact with the bedknife.
  3. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,778

    Jason, not sure where you are located in GA, but this is the company who sharpens my reels.

    They have done a great job in the past and I will use them again.

    If any of you have rollers on your reels they probably came from this company.
  4. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,778

  5. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    Nope - "slight" or any reel to bed knife contact causes heat build up which in turn causes rifling. If you have to have physical contact between the reel and bed knife your mower is set up incorrectly.
    The most operator confusing aspect I repeatedly see in reel set-ups is too small of a gap on reels mowing about 0.250" or so. The larger the leaf tissue mown requires a larger gap in order to pass the debris through the reel. Too small of a gap = heat generation from friction of the debris passing = excessively shortened bed knife life. This may not become apparent at small turf sites but continual all day mowing = a burnt bed knife leading edge and the need for facing.
    I literally cannot remember the quantity and different types of reels I have ground and/or serviced in the last twenty plus years - at least a couple thousand anyway.
    Reel mowers are just like commercial rotary mowers in that you get what you pay for. If the Eastman/Tru-cuts were worth a crap why don't you see them in use on golf courses or athletic fields? Simple, they are not meant nor designed to deal with the excessive mowing common to commercial use. As I said in a shorter post previously, for homeowner use these models are marginally acceptable but they simply are not commercial grade machines.
    For those of you who absolutely have to have a reel mower buy a used Jacobsen, Toro, Ransomes or Deere 26" collar mower with transport wheels and run the damned thing for essentially forever.
  6. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    Oh and Green - you are quite correct.
  7. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    Harry - how common are the old Eastman units now?
    I am referring to what is commonly available today.
    If I was going to suggest the best reel mower ever made it would undoubtedly be an old turn of the twentieth century Worthing - how many of you have seen one of these?
    Regarding the Harriet mower, I used one, well three actually, to mow tees at a public golf course at .5" in height. I found the quality of cut to be essentially the same, operation was much, much easier and maintenance was a snap. No more sprung reel to bed knives, no need to blow every stinking leaf, pine needle or broken tee off of the cutting surface plus the units bagged well. Performance on slightly sloping terrain was similar as I discussed before, however on undulating terrain a reel out performed the rotary. Since my tees were either flat of slightly stepped - I had no issues.
    So Yes, I am serious.
  8. Merkava_4

    Merkava_4 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,443

    I hope you're not referring to the recently acquired CA Trimmer
    mowers because they are built like tanks. They are the finest walk
    behind reel mowers on the face of the Earth. I'll bet my life on it.
  9. Grnhed

    Grnhed LawnSite Member
    Messages: 61

    I dont think there are any OLD Eastman's. Eastman took over a few years back. I was referring to the original California Trimmer. Mine was the 50th. anniversary model and was made in 1985 according to the model,serial,and engine code. Three chain drives, engine, drive wheel, and the reel. Single speed automotive type compression disc clutch. Eastman has quit making the 20" and only make the 25". I have never seen an Eastman only the photos so I dont know to what standard they are making their frame. Cold roll, plate, dont know) Mine is all welded machined steel. I see now that has an after market 7 blade reel for the 20's now which will be my next purchase. Even with the age and hours my commercial has seen over the years, there is still very little deflection in the frame which I'm sure you know will ALWAYS change the bed to reel clearance WHILE your mowing. The B&S original engine is still on it and is still strong enough to cut my roughly 10,000 square feet of bermuda.
    I have never ran a Harriet. The videos I have seen of them just hasn't "blown my skirt up". It has been MY experience that my Trimmer will out perform my quadracut Honda at its lowest setting 3/4". Now is that fair? Not really that is the bottom of the spectrum for the Honda and, even though there are three quadrants to rough in your cutting height on the Trimmer, 3/4" is approaching high for what the reel mowers were designed to do. I am a short grass fan and would LOVE to find a rotary that would perform close to a reel mower. After several mowings with the Honda after the first green up I always get compliments. After a few cuttings with the antique Trimmer I get...Wow!
    I dont use the Trimmer to work, I use the Honda all day long to make money. I use the Trimmer to make me smile.
  10. jasonlandscape

    jasonlandscape LawnSite Member
    from Georgia
    Messages: 124

    Hey TX my buddy works at Hawks Ridge golf course. One of the nicest courses in ga besides agusta.

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