Finishing mower vs Rotary Cutter?
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Thread: Finishing mower vs Rotary Cutter?

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    Finishing mower vs Rotary Cutter?

    How rough is the cut from a RC vs a finishing mower?
    Why does the RC seem to require a larger tractor? Because its physically heavier or because they expect you to mow thicker stuff which requires more HP?
    How well does a finishing mower do in thick/tall grass? Assuming the terrain is otherwise fairly flat without stumps/rocks, etc.

    Thanks!

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    Fran_K's Avatar
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    The rotary cutter will be a lot heavier and stick out farther to the rear hence the ballasting number would be higher requiring a larger machine. Rotary cutters and finish mowers run from four to fifteen or maybe even eighteen feet of cut swath. Are you looking to discuss just a small single rotor rotary cutter vs a three blade finish mower or what sort of class attachment.

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    Most of the time I only take maybe 3" off the top of my lawn where as mowing with my RC mower its typically over grown. The finish mower uses smaller blades at a higher speed and it seems to pull my 1026 down more than my RC mower. That being said most of my RC mowing is more like off road driving versus my somewhat smooth yard. So forward speed could be a factor in my example. The placement of my finish mower is under the tractor and the 4' RC mower is on the 3 point so I couldn't tell you how a 60" finish mower feels hanging on the back. I think my 60" is in 350 pound range and TSC list my County Line 4' RC mower at 428 pounds. TSC says their County Line 60" rear finish mower is 590 pounds. Personally I'd assume the finish mower would need more power because of the tip speed and the amount of re-cutting it does. I can't imagine trying to run my finish mower in an overgrown area. It does a pretty good job of chopping up yard clipping where as my RC mower spits out grass that seems a lot less processed. Hope this helps.

    -636

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    Thanks that helps a lot. I have a small grass cutting company that does a mix of lawn cutting and "industrial site ground maintenance. AKA beat down the prairie grass. Most of the contract is the what most would probably term rough cut mowing. I'm using a JD F932 front deck mower(which is more like a finish mower) and after 5 years of abuse its getting pretty beat up. I want to goto a tractor with a 7 or 8 foot rear 3pt mower.

    A RC mower such as a MX8 takes 40hp min but an 7ft Woods finish mower is speced to work on a 24-40hp tractor. Seems like with a finish mower you can get away with less HP.

    I know I'm probably better off with a RC mower for the rough stuff that I do But I have to travel long distances to some of the sites I mow so having a small/light unit is beneficial and so far I have done ok with my front deck mower.

    Your comment about a finish mower is interesting as I know with my front deck mower its biggest problem in heavy grass is moving the cut grass out. It often clogs up the discharge and then stalls out. From what you were saying a RC mower would process the grass less and spit it out quicker.

    How often do you need to change blades on a RC mower? Currently I get 6-8 hours out of the blades on my F932 and then they need sharpening. I can usually on;y sharpen them once, maybe twice before they are done. Like I said, its pretty much all rough cut mowing and those blades take a beating!

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    636mullet's Avatar
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    Rough cut mowers normally don't get very sharp blades. Nothing like a Finish mower. It's not to say you can't keep them sharp. The theory I'm under is that RC mower's heavy blades beat more than cut. Now is that because they were designed that way or is it just the nature of beast? My RC mower will knock down any tree my 1026 will push over. I can't imagine my 60" MMM would be very happy if I plowed over 1" - 1.5" trees all the time. With the amount of tip speed it carries I'd assume it would eat itself alive. Don't get me wrong that 7 iron is HEAVY, but its nothing like the beef the RC mower has.

    -636

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    Rotary cutters like a Bush Hog are not designed to be razor sharp. Mine has about a 1/16" radius on the cutting edge of the blades. I've been told it causes woody plants to shatter when the blades hit it. I've been running this mower for several years and never sharpened it, it still cuts as well as it did new. It's a rough cut compared to a lawnmower, but it's consistent.
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    Carvel Loafer's Avatar
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    Another point is the RC mower on the the 3PH will lift and lower depending on the terrain, when you come to the top of a hill the mower lifts up as the tractor levels off on the crest. A 3PH mower on the rear of the tractor rides on wheels to maintain a constant depth of cut.

    The blades on the RC are free swinging so when you hit something hard they flail out of the way so to speak. If I'm not mistaken, finishing mowers have rigid blades, at least the ones I've seen.
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    I can't personally state anything about the rear finish mowers, I do see some 15 foot tow types used that I kind of wonder how they would work out for a second pass kind of tool where I choose not to harvest hay.

    I am sure there is no substitute for a front mount mower that mows before the wheels squash. An offset flail mower will mow in such a manner that one set of wheels is in the cut from the last pass. I have seven foot flail mowers with 44 perches and 88 blades. For a couple thousand I could get another main rotor and twice as many blades more suited for what you describe. but for my application not desired. The flail mower used with the three point in the floating draft link setting (if your tractor has this on both lift arms) does an amazing job of following the ground contour. I think any dual rotor will leave unsatisfactory results at least on the first pass in the middle. Along the lines of what the other guys say, I look at mx or hx 15 mowers at the dealer lot which are really just three rotors of what I have two and the new blades are not sharp especially at the very end, can't see any point in getting new. It also takes 900 foot pounds to undo the nut to change a blade.

    fran

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    Quote Originally Posted by clayh View Post

    Your comment about a finish mower is interesting as I know with my front deck mower its biggest problem in heavy grass is moving the cut grass out. It often clogs up the discharge and then stalls out. From what you were saying a RC mower would process the grass less and spit it out quicker.

    How often do you need to change blades on a RC mower? Currently I get 6-8 hours out of the blades on my F932 and then they need sharpening. I can usually on;y sharpen them once, maybe twice before they are done. Like I said, its pretty much all rough cut mowing and those blades take a beating!
    I've used a 5' rear finish mower, a 5' rotary mower, a 62D mid-mount mower, and a 39" mower on my lawn tractor. As you said, the big problem with a finish mower is jamming the output chute in high grass. My 62D is still pretty new, so I don't go that crazy with it, but both the lawn tractor and 5' RFM would get used in high grass with hidden obstacles (roots, tree branches, piles of dirt) and it didn't bother them too much other than the loud banging and dulling the blades. I never took any of the finish mowers over trees, but the rotary mower just runs right over anything the tractor will drive over.

    If you are trying to cut the lawn 3" high and leave a manicured finish, the rotary mower wouldn't be my first choice, but if you're leaving it 5-6" tall the rotary mower seemed to do a good job.

    A friend has a 7' rotary mower and he uses it for his entire lawn except right around his house and a few tight areas where the 7' mower won't fit. For the tight spots he uses a 40" or 42" lawn tractor. I've been over his house after he mows and I think the lawn looks pretty darn good.

    I'll also add, in thick grass I've gotten all the finish mowers to drop the tractor RPMs, but I never had any problems running the 5' mower with a 25 HP tractor, even through thick brush I had to use the loader to flatten a bit so I could drive over it.
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    Hmm I'm really thinking that a RC mower would be my best choice. Not having to sharpen blades all the time would be nice. I will probably need to hang on to the F932 for the finished areas or possibly sell it and get a slightly smaller mower with a 60" deck.

    One question that did pop into my head is how short can you cut with an RC mower? Typically I mowed the fields down around 3-4". They don't NEED to be this short but I found that the shorter the grass was the slow it would grow. Water would evap off of it faster. I never worried about the fields looking "burnt" or dried out. They just need to be kept looking decent and not grown over.

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