Flail mower vs. RFM?
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Thread: Flail mower vs. RFM?

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    Flail mower vs. RFM?

    I have just over an acre of lawn that I mow. Not much compared to many on here. I have been mowing with my D160 lawn tractor and leave my 2032R for "tractor" tasks like hauling wood and plowing snow.

    But frankly, I don't use my 2032R all that much (25-30 hours/year) and I have 2 machines to maintain, store, etc... I purposely didn't buy a belly mower for the 2032R because it just seemed excessive at the time and I had the D160.

    So I'm thinking about selling the D160 and buying either a flail mower or a RFM and mowing with that. That acre is pretty clear and just grass so I don't have to deal with any trees although there is a slight slope (10-15 degree) in the front yard. That'd take me down to one machine to deal with.

    I've never run either type of mower but I think I want a flail mower. Is there a reason NOT to go with a flail mower? I can't think of any real advantage to a RFM over the flail. But maybe I'm missing something?

    Either one would probably be 60" and the cost would mostly be covered from the sale of the D160.

    Thoughts?
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    PJR832's Avatar
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    I have no experience with either but I've researched flail mowers quite a bit. One big advantage to the flail mower that I see is you can put different knives on them for different types of cutting, from rough cutting brush or finish knives for more like your yard.
    Oh, and they are much more compact and can be bought with hydraulic offset for fence line cutting.
    Last edited by PJR832; 05-11-2018 at 03:18 PM.
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    For a given width, a flail mower usually costs more than a RFM. If you are just mowing grass I see no advantage to using a flail mower.

    Here is a YouTube video that talks about comparing the two mower types.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrHQFAJz5zI

    Finish mowers seem to be plentiful on the 2nd hand market.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PJR832 View Post
    I have no experience with either but I've researched flail mowers quite a bit. One big advantage to the flail mower that I see is you can put different knives on them for different types of cutting, from rough cutting brush or finish knives for more like your yard.
    Oh, and they are much more compact and can be bought with hydraulic offset for fence line cutting.
    Yup. I"m toying with the idea of getting one with the hydro offset. I have a chain link fence around a section of the backyard to keep the dogs in and it might easier to mow near the fence with an offset.
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    D160 Mower/Bagger.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    Yup. I"m toying with the idea of getting one with the hydro offset. I have a chain link fence around a section of the backyard to keep the dogs in and it might easier to mow near the fence with an offset.
    That sounds different than "That acre is pretty clear and just grass so I don't have to deal with any trees although there is a slight slope (10-15 degree) in the front yard. ". It sounds like you do have some obstacles which would make an offset flail mower an advantage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgayman View Post
    That sounds different than "That acre is pretty clear and just grass so I don't have to deal with any trees although there is a slight slope (10-15 degree) in the front yard. ". It sounds like you do have some obstacles which would make an offset flail mower an advantage.
    Fair enough! I don't really think of the fence as an obstacle. I drive along it with the D160 but I've always used the weed eater and push mower to get up close. But it's a straight line. I'm not weaving in and out between trees or bushes. I guess it depends on what one considers an "obstacle".
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    D160 Mower/Bagger.
    2014 2032R tractor/H130 FEL w/Bolt-On Hooks/54" Snow Plow/iMatch Quick-Hitch/County Line 5' Scraper blade/County Line Carry-All/Artillian 42" Forks & QH Adapter/JD Ballast Box/Frontier SB1164 3PH Blower/Leinbach PHD/Wallenstien BX42 Chipper

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    It mostly comes down to cost - the flair mower being more expensive. A flail mower can be used in higher/tougher grass. Here is a good example where a flail mower shines over a finish mower:

    http://www.greentractortalk.com/foru...en-voyage.html

    A finish mower is going to give a nicer cut along the lines of any regular mower. A flail mower wonít leave quite as nice a cut when cutting at standard lawn length.

    A flail mower is more labor intensive and expensive to maintain - there are a lot of knives to replace.

    Iíve never thought of a flair mower as a regular lawn mower but more as a heavy grass mower like in the link. We used flair mowers for roadside mowing which would usually go a couple months between mowings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by coaltrain View Post
    Iíve never thought of a flair mower as a regular lawn mower but more as a heavy grass mower like in the link. We used flair mowers for roadside mowing which would usually go a couple months between mowings.
    Agree. You usually see flail mowers being compared to rotary cutters for rougher cuts in fields. The RFM is going to give the same smooth cut as your D160.
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    I have a rather high dollar flail,,,



    and currently, I have 3 rear finish mowers,,,

    This is my nicest RFM;



    There is ZERO chance that the flail could ever cut as nice as a RFM,,, ZERO

    BUT,
    there is ZERO chance the RFM could cut grass as tall as the flail can cut.
    The flail does not know it is doing anything until the grass approaches 3 feet tall,,
    then I got to start slowing down at 4 feet tall.

    I bought the flail to replace a 6 foot bush hog type rotary cutter, I was sick and tired of the bush hog windrows.
    The flail fixed that!!
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    I have a flail with knives for tougher weeds/small trees. It works great for that. Iíve tried mowing the yard with it and it does ok knowing there are better knives for that job. However when turning itís easy for the edges of the mower to dig in and cause issues. Also the knives have a bolt each and will loosen with use, so there will be more maintenance with the flail. I need to tighten all the knives every 10-15 hours of use. With a finish mower there wonít be maintenance other then sharpening the blades once a season and greasing. If I were you Iíd do the finish mower.


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