Lawn Care Forum banner
1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
271 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
First time posting so I hope this works...
Anyways, I have the chance to buy a 15' cut reel mower. I have some large properties to mow that I currntly use an
Ferris 3000 on . What are the pros and cons of this?.....Other than blade sharpening issues, I hear that reels are supposed to give a better cut and take less power to run....By the way the Unit
I am looking at is an older Jacobson powered by a 4 cyl gas engine...All hydraulic reels w/ lifts on the various wings so mower can be used in narrow areas as well..Owner says the unit will gut as high at 4 inches using spacers....It is bargain priced and in great condition.
Anybody out ther use reels for "regular "
lawns?....Thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
587 Posts
I worked for a few months on a golf course called Black Diamond. And they use reel mowers for there green, aproaches, collars abd fairways. It gives a real close nice looking cut. And they just got two new jacobsons.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
I once worked for a private school doing sports fields ,had a 7 gang tow behind unit pulled it with a WWII jeep cut about 10' wide,worked great but required alot of maintaince
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
2,382 Posts
My ex father-in-law operated a 24' "Jake" gang reel mower until the day he retired.
The five blade reel is the only one that has a chance operating in a home lawn environment. A seven blade unit would choke on a twig, or a little heavy grass.
He always had to double cut, or cross cut to get a decent cut. And then it wouldn't cut plantain and some other weeds.
Sometimes he'd operate their 72" Toro rotary cut. It'd take about twice as long to finish, but the mower was close to 1/4 the width of cut of the bid Jacobsen too.

I bet you'd be faster on your Ferris than a 15' gang reel mower. Counting the trimming and all.

Dave
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,379 Posts
If you're going to be mowing something like a golf course fairway that would do the trick. Reel mowers are for very close cuts. They also require a lot of maintenance. Have you given any thought to how long it will take to sharpen all of the blades on a mower of that size?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
352 Posts
Stick with a rotary mower. A reel mower cuts great but only if you cut often every 2-3 days. As you stated the reels are very high maintenance and you need a special grinder to sharpen them, as well as the know how. You have to know all the proper angels for the reels the relief the bed knife. The only places that use these are mainly golf courses and sport's fields.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
861 Posts
I saw where many of you said the gang type reel mowers are high maintenance, I could not disagree with this statement more. I worked on a golf course for several years, we mowed the roughs with gang mowers, a 7 and 9 gang I think. These mowers were more than 20 years old, and were only serviced once a year in the winter. They cut great, and would rarely clog, in fact, I think a pine cone is the only thing that would clog it, and ussually it would cut it in half. I also remember one occasion where one of the guys on the tractor had his wallet fall out of his back pocket. He looked back just in time to see it being cut in half. The biggest problem with the older type gang mowers is that you cannot back them up, so you had better be skilled when using them around trees etc,.
On another note, the newer Jake and Toro reel mowers require much more maintenance. They seem to be pretty much shot at 5-6000 hours, and require a lot of work to get them to that point. I would probably stay away from one of these mowers unless it were an incredible deal, or if I were mowing zoysia.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
653 Posts
Theres still one company around my aria that uses nothing but reel type mowers. There all Locke Mowers. Locke has been making mowers sense the first war I think. The company still has a couple from the 60s.

They do a great job, but require a lot of maintenance. You have the have the right accounts for reel types. You have to charge for them too.

Locke Mower Web Site
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,696 Posts
Reels are more maintenance than rotaries. The bedknife has to be adjusted to the reel to keep it cutting properly. In a daily mowing operation, this may be necessary once or twice a week. This measurement is quite precise, as too tight of a bedknife will cause the reel and the knife to wear prematurely. Too loose a fit, the reel will not cut the grass. There is a knack to doing this, but with a little instruction, it is easily learned. Then, depending on amount of use, the reels will require backlapping. On non hydraulic driven reels, this requires a backlapping machine. Another note: the mower your looking at sounds like a Jac F-10 or F-15. If so, these are ground driven reels. Ground drive reels do not perform good on wet soil conditions - they tear up the grass. This was a main reason the golf industry uses almost all hydraulic driven reels on their mowers today. As others have stated, reels perform best on close cut grass. If you were to use it at 4", I don't believe it will give you the quality of cut that you are expecting. Given my experience with reels and rotary mowers, in this case, I would use the rotary mower.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,156 Posts
Originally posted by LawnMower
Theres still one company around my aria that uses nothing but reel type mowers. There all Locke Mowers. Locke has been making mowers sense the first war I think. The company still has a couple from the 60s.

They do a great job, but require a lot of maintenance. You have the have the right accounts for reel types. You have to charge for them too.

Locke Mower Web Site
The link didn't work for me. I didn't know Locke Mowers were still in business. What I remember of them is that they were huge, heavy machines, that cost 2-3 times as much as rotary commercial mowers. Also, they did not handle nearly as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
988 Posts
How would you transport a machine capable of 15' wide cuts? On a trailer? A Jacobosen F series weighs at least 5,000lbs.
I have built and maintained golf courses for over fifteen years before starting my own turf maintenance company. That said, I have tried reel mowers in residential turf and didn't like it.
I used a National mower, and while it cut great, the customers really couldn't tell the difference in cut. So why bust my tail to run a slower machine which requires more skill if the customers can't tell the difference? Thats why I stopped with reels.
Rotary mower development has come an extremely long way, addressing such issues as quality of cut, adaptation to different species, ease of maintenance, and versitility due to differing attachments. At the heights commercial properties and residential properties are maintained, why not use a rotary?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
271 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi,

Some really good info here from you guys. I really appreciate it.... I do have some questions still.....

Grass Mechanic: I'm new to reels....what
does backlapping involve?.....What about
Tony Clifton's comment that reels require very little maintenance?....Are reels to a certain extent self sharpening because of the way they contact the cutter bar?.....You are right
the unit I am thinkjing about is a JAC f10.....Any opinions on the machine itself?....The city golf course and park are currently maintained buy a ground driven tractor pulling gang of reel mowers so I guess from the city's perspective quality is ok w/ ground driven reels.....I'd like to get that contract...and I figure this machine would be the ticket for that (city I think may be biased towards reels because they use it themselves and after all....
all golf courses use reels...I think that would give me the edge over other contractors who bid and are planning to use rotaries.....I hope the powers that be would see it as a plus I'm using "the good stuff" and I'm hoping to sell it so that I may even be allowed a premium for using it (city contracts generally go to the low bidder).
I'm going to look at the mower tomorrrow sometime....Anything in particular I should pay attention to (hopefully you'll see and answer this before I look ... Thanks again.)

SWD : I'd transport the unit on a 21'
Tilt top trailer rated at 14K....It's not a deckover unit so I may have to bulid
something on the deck to allow the fold up wings to clear the wheelwells....I'll use a 1 ton Dodge dually to pull the combo. I agree w/ you concerning the rotaries....
I'd rather have one BUT this reel machine is suposedly in EC and $1800
VS the lowest priced Toro 580 D I've seen at $10,000....Of course I could get both (provided I get enough jobs)
and use the reel mower as a back up machine just in case the other breaks....but I was really hoping to use the reel as the primary Wide area machine and use the saved $$ for other purposes....I'll still use my Ferris 3000s on residentials but on really large fairly open areas I think a 15'
reel mower would still beat
a 61" zero
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,696 Posts
Backlapping is a process done after sharpening, and between sharpenings, to ensure the correct tolerances of the bedknife to the reel. This is done by spinning the reel backwards and applying a fine grit suspended in oil ( there are water soluble, premixed compounds available also) to the reel. The bedknife is then tightened and the grit wears the bedknife to the reel. This process will "true up" warped bedknives and will also remove knicks. Depending upon the amount of use and abuse the reel has went through, additional grit and tightening may be necessary to achieve the correct tolerances. This can take as little as 10 minutes per reel or as long as 1/2 hour or more. On hydraulic driven reels, there is usually a lever or valve than merely needs to be engaged to reverse the reels. On ground driven reels, there usually is an inspection cover on each reel that needs to be removed and a backlapping machine installed to turn the reel. On some mowers, each reel must be removed from the mower to backlap them. No, reels do not self sharpen. This is why backlapping needs to be done. My Rough mowers were backlapped once a month, fairway and greens mowers every two weeks of use.

I have to disagree with Tony Clifton about reels needing little maint. I don't know how much he knows about the workings of reels or how much time he spent in the mechanics shop, but I was the head mechanic for 8 years on a golf course and I've worked with Roseman, Locke, Jacobsen, Toro, National, and Ransome reels. I also ground reels and bedknives for several surrounding golf courses during the winter for additional income on our Ideal grinder.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
352 Posts
I think reels are high maintenance, however for the amount of acres being cut at a golf course they are also very efficient. In my experience (4 years as a assistant superintendent) well maintained used machines are hard to come buy. Even if you do find one if you don't have knowledge of them or the proper equipment they will be a HUGE expense!

They do give the best manicured look however most people will not pay the premium price. Most golf courses now cut all the roughs with rotaries because of the maintenance costs of reels. Do yourself a favor and don't buy one till you at least mow with someone else's for a season. Then and only then will you see the BIG PICTURE!!


Seriously just trying to help you from making a bad choice.:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
271 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi All

Again iI appreciate all your comments
and advise and thought I'd just fill you in
on my trip today.....I drove out to see the unit.....From what I could tell the machine seemed to be in pretty good physical condition....very little rust anywhere, hydraulics seemed tight...engine didn't smoke or knock....Over all seemed pretty
decent.....The drive tires and some of the reel tires were a little worn and some of the guages didn't work bit otherwise the reels seemed to function OK....I was going to make an offer but I acted prudently and decided to measure the machine to make sure it would fit on my trailer when I made
a horrifying discovery.....well actually 2....
My custom trailer that was supposed to be 21' long was only 17' (not a biggie since it will still fit)....but not being a
deckover, the width between the wheel wells is only 84"....that unfortunately was the same dist I measured between
the mower at its drive wheels!!!....aarg!....I bet a 580 D may not fit either.....I'll talk w/ the trailer people tomorrow.....My receipy says 21
feet (20 ' flat w/ 1 foot taper since the top tilts) but trailer is only 17' flat w/
1 ft taper)......I'm thinking I'll even ask them to take this one back (they said they would once befor when They accidentally had the wrong tires on
it).....and possibly ask them for the deckover model instead
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
271 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Sorry I must have run out of room on my previous post....not sure why my letters seem so disjointed when typed out either but if I can get the machine moved I believe I'll probably get it and learn first hand about it for better or worse.....as I mentioned before if worse comes to worse and I do get a few more large accounts this could always be my back up wide area mower and I'll probably get a
Toro 580 D (hard to find a 4wd one at a reasonable price tho but half the fun is looking I guess).

Andrew
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top