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JD RULES
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1,026 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi all ,

Does anyone own or use this system ??? I was looking at the Pro Mow 3 , 5
and 7 gang finish mowers , which is 58" , 97" and 136" swath from Northern
Tool ... I was wondering if you have to keep a certain ground speed for the
right cut and will it cut weeds , tall thick grass etc. ??? They quote full flex
and reverse capabilities and folds for easy storage ... I just thought you
could run at about 1/2 throttle , since you would'nt have your PTO engaged
which in turn would save in fuel costs and you would'nt have to clean a MMM
or RFM ... :fing32: Thanks in advance ...

Later,x595
 

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Janitor at Large
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5,618 Posts
I don't but I do have a group for reel mower owners....a couple of members have gang mower setups......see my National link in my signature.

I have a National Triplex reel mower.....I know it cuts grass a lot better than weeds...........it tends to push the taller weeds over before they get cut off.......
 

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JD RULES
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Discussion Starter #3
Hi poncho62 ,

Interesting link , it says on the home page that the gang reel mowers are not
well represented in any other Garden Tractor Forums , why is that ??? If they
work well and for the positives of the unit that I mentioned in my first post ,
I would think they would be better than sliced bread ... Although I have not
seen any threads here on MTF in regards to them ...

Later,x595
 

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Janitor at Large
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The thing is.......I think you need a pretty smooth surface for reel mowers to do a good job.....and good grass......The cut the grass like scissors, rather than chewing the grass blades like a rotary.

My National was designed for golf courses, where the terrain is usually pretty good......It works OK on my lawn.....but could be better...

Maybe, there are some other opinions.......
 

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AKA Moses Lawnagan
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The only places I've ever seen use ganged reel mowers are golf courses, to mow the fairways. My old roommate, years ago, was a groundskeeper for a golf course. He said he spent about half his time keeping the bed knives on all their reel mowers sharp and properly adjusted, and the other half out dulling the bed knives and knocking them out of adjustment. They had a big Toro tractor that pulled 8 or ten mowers, must have been about 30" apiece. It must have moved about 15-20 mph out on the fairways.
 

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I think the main problems for the average homeowner are that the maximum cutting height on these things is around 2 3/4", and you have to have a large open flat area to mow in order to make it worth while to use them.
While the thought of manicuring my lot with a set of gang mowers is appealing...I know it would be a PITA with all the imperfections in my yard in addition to going around all the trees, planting beds, etc.
Now...if I had a lot like my neighbor...two acres, flat and not a tree or shrub to be seen,,,I'd definitely be pulling a set of gang mowers around that place!
 

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I haven't used one, but remember my grandma talking about using one (single not gang). She mentioned that it didn't cut buckplanton very well at all, and her yard used to have a lot of it poking up at certain times of year.
 

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Not only do golf courses use ganged reel mowers but so do sod farms. The thing is, both operations have huge areas of very flat ground that are well away from trees (in most cases) and other obstructions. The only advantage to ganged reels is the width of the swath they cut in a single pass. However, anyone operating this setup has to be constantly on the alert for anything on the turf that shouldn't be there. Reel mowers are very unforgiving. Even a small tree branch will jamb a reel and stop it from spinning. When that happens, the bed knife is usually bent and the mower leaves a strip of uncut grass. Small stones will do the same thing and put nicks in the reel knives and the bed knife.

The amount of and the cost of maintenance for reel mowers is very, very high compared to rotary mowers. Companies such as Toro and Ransomes went to hydraulic powered rotary wing mower set ups years ago to get away from all that maintenance. Ask any groundskeeper about reel mowers and be prepared for a string of expletives. Whatever fuel savings you think you're going to achieve with a gang mower set will be offset ten times over with the cost of sharpening because you need special machinery to do this properly or pay someone who has that machinery.
 

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I looked into those same reel mowers when I first moved into my home. I found the same info above on maintenance etc, but also that you have to keep your lawn at a reasonable height, ie: mow often. I can't remember exactly what the numbers were, but you can't plow thru 5-6" of grass. If you think about golf courses, they are mowing almost daily.
 

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JD RULES
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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks to everyone for the replies ... :)

_KHodges , the ad says Pro Mow has a sharpening kit available , but I don't
know how complex or difficult it would be to use ...
_jabush , the 2 3/4" max cutting height would'nt be a problem for me , I cut at
2 3/8" ... I don't have alot of trees and we don't have any flower
beds (thank goodness) ...
_Loremaster72 , my Grandma had a single Gang push mower also , I remember
when I was probably 8 or 9 yrs. old trying to push that thing
man it was a B!tch !!!
_Caseguytoo , my property is definitly not flat ... I was thinking that maybe
the 3 Gang/58" could possibly maneuver better around the few
obstacles I do have ... I did'nt think about it , but you're
right , sticks , stones and Mole hills would take it's toll on the
blades , I have hit alot with my MMM ...
_70chevelle , that's something else I was wondering , sometimes the rain don't
let you get to it and before you know it your at 5"-6" or more ,
like you say I'm sure there's a limit ...

Thanks again ...

Later,x595
 

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Allow me to add the following.

Reel mowers have a five to seven bladed reel that spins. The blades are mounted in a bit of a spiral so that they act like a pair of scissors when they contact the bed knife that rides at the cutting height you set. The reel knives shear the blades of grass. Each one of the knives on the reel must be exactly the same as all the other knives. No knife can be even a hair longer or shorter than the other knives or it will hit the bed knife and stop the reel from rotating or it will miss the bed knife and not cut the blades of grass. When that happens, it leaves uncut grass behind.

Sharpening these mowers takes patience and skill along with a fair bit of time. They're great for sod farms and golf courses because both businesses mow the grass all the time, spray for weeds all the time and have huge, dead flat areas to cut. But ganged reel mowers are just one type of grass cutting device in their fleet. They won't take a reel mower into any area that isn't dead flat and free of the possibility of obstructions that could damage the reels. Instead, they rely on rotary mowers to handle the areas that are potentially dangerous to the reel mowers. And of course, the putting greens use a totally different type of mower to look after the bent-grass that grows on them.
 

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I don't use a gang mower , but do use a reel mower (single) . As was stated before , you must keep up on the mowing . If the grass gets to tall it will just get pushed over rather than cut . If you have a nice flat lawn and don't mind mowing more often , they work great .

I haven't found anybody locally that sharpens reel mowers , so found out how to do it myself . Actually pretty simple . I use valve grinding compound placed on each blade , spin the reel backwards , and slowly use the adjusting screws to close gaps . The compound will take down the high spots and make every blade the same height .

There are sharpening kits for the newer reel mowers out there . The older ones (like mine) don't have them .

One thing I have noticed using a reel vs my tractor and deck is that the grass grows faster when it's cut using the reel mower . Not sure if it's because it's a "clean" cut vs a more ragged with a deck . Just know that the area done with the reel has to get mowed twice as often as the rest .
 

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JD RULES
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Discussion Starter #14
_ptmmatssc , interesting that the grass might grow faster when using a Reel
Mower ...
_Caseguytoo , from what you say , they would be a major headache for me
and my rolling property , I'll stick with my MMM , I was just curious about this
system ... Now I see why the're not discussed on any Forums ...

Thanks again ...

Later,x595
 

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They won't take a reel mower into any area that isn't dead flat and free of the possibility of obstructions that could damage the reels
Very true . The smallest twig can cause havoc . And uneven ground can stop the blades dead . I learned to run my lawn sweeper after a day of high wind before mowing , to get the twigs etc removed .
 

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Over here in the UK cylinder mowers are used alot. Cricket squares, golf courses, estate lawns, hockey pitches etc.
I've worked on and used 11' trailed gangs, 9' hydraulic 5 gang mowers and pedestrian machines up to 3' cut. Cutting grass down to about 1/4" long in some cases.

Cylinder (or reel) mowers are designed to give a better cut, not to cut quicker. They wont cope with long or rough grass, wont cut weed stalks and require almost constant maintenance.

Sharpening the reels and bed knives requires a specialist grinding machine, the process that ptmmatssc outlines is called backlapping, and is only used to hone in an already well ground cylinder.
There are complex angles that need to be ground into the reel and bedknife for a fine cut. A well maintained cylinder will cleanly cut newspaper all the way along the length of the blade.
A stone or stick going through the reel will require the unit to be backlapped at best, but more likely regrinding. Regrinding a 3' pedestrain cylinder mower can attract a bill of up to $800 easily. Seems expensive, but when you consider the grinder can cost over £10k to buy its justified. Alot of labour involved too.
 

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They do cut nice. Here's a pic of a lawn freshly cut by a reel mower (Hollyrood Palace in Scotland). :)

 

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Sharpening the reels and bed knives requires a specialist grinding machine, the process that ptmmatssc outlines is called backlapping, and is only used to hone in an already well ground cylinder.
That's correct . Backlapping is to maintain the edge , not fix it . Kind of like taking a stone to a knife to keep the edge . If maintained , and care is taken to not get rocks/sticks caught up in the mower, it will last many years with just the need of an occasional backlapping .

I was lucky to get one that had been well maintained . No nicks etc . And it was actually cutting nicely when I got it . I've been amazed at how good the cut looks vs any of my powered mowers .
 

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JD RULES
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Discussion Starter #19
_mith_jay , that sounds alot like what Caseguytoo has informed me of ,
which sounds like a total headache to stay away from thanks ...
_JDFANATIC , that's a GRAND picture !!! Where did you dig that up at ???

Later,x595
 

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I grew up mowing with a push reel mower. I made enough money to buy a good used car. I then got a Lawnboy power reel mower. You need very flat ground. I was living in the city and everyone had large beautiful lawns. I am tired just thinking about it. LOL
 
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