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Discussion Starter #1
I have a pretty steep ditch in the front of my property and along my driveway. My neighbors have the same issue and some of them just let it grow out of control. I can't mow it with any of my equipment due to the incline. It's close to 40 degrees in some areas I'm thinking. I have to spend a long time weed-eating this ditch which is a huge PITA. I end up sliding and falling and hurting my back due to the slope. So I was thinking a sickle bar mower attached to my 1026R might be a solution. Problem is, I don't know much about them. I need one that can mow when angled up or down. Can you give me some tips on what models to look for or ones to stay away from? Any problems that I should be aware of? Is there a HP per foot rating?

I see them listed in CL pretty regularly ranging in price from $150 to over $2000. I don't want to spend a ton of money on this. Does anybody make a descent new one that doesn't cost a ton? It seems to me that sickle bar mowers are almost a relic these days. It would be really cool if I could use the same mower on my old model 60 when I get it running. Then I could have a dedicated ditch mower.:lol:

I was thinking something in the 6'-7' foot range. That way I could stay on safe ground while the mower stayed on the slopes. What are your thoughts?
 

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I too could use one. I have areas that wiil remain a jungle, or I spend the time weed wacking on sttep incline (not fun).

A sickle bar would be PERFECT!

Hopefully someone has seen a decent new one for a good price......
 

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Didn't they have five foot long ground powered sicle bar mowers pulled by horses? With the more horsepower tractors of today the disc mowers are becoming the norm. The ground speed is much more and they will cut through tangled up stuff in any direction where at least in my experience the sicle bar in top working condition might work only in one direction and then might not work well. I have a three point new holland one which actually can still be special ordered new the guy at the parts place told me, they stock some other brand. It is model 45x I can't recall exactly it would be 45y if it had wheels. I don't think it is supposed to be used in the up position but it does turn through even folded back for transport. There are a lot of parts, the guards one for every two little blades, the wear plates, the hold down fork things, the rivet on pieces at the ends of the bar, I think I spent about $700 getting mine in order and only replaced 60% of the guards with a few spares. The industry standard for what you describe is an alamo hydraulic powered mid mount. There is another brand referenced in a previous post that does work in the up position. I just think the manual for mine states limits to the up and down to use it at.

http://www.greentractortalk.com/forums/combines-harvesters-hay-equipment/2903-sickle-mowers-3-pt-type.html

I can't say about anything other than the one I have but mine attaches to the top link spot kind of like a post hole digger and then has a fold out portion and it's own top link and a bunch of instructions on how to adjust it to the dimensions of your tractor. It might take some ingenuity beyond what is in the manual to make it work on something rather small. There is the trailer version of course.

fran
 

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The problem I ran into when I looked into this is that most sickle mowers use an arm to drive the teeth. They're not able to run at much of an angle. Massey Ferguson used to have a model that was belt driven and could run on an angle, but I never could find one for sale.

The answer might be a hydraulic unit, that would take the drive system out of the equation. You could buy an old sickle mower, slap on a hydraulic motor and have an answer. :good2:
 

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The problem I ran into when I looked into this is that most sickle mowers use an arm to drive the teeth. They're not able to run at much of an angle. Massey Ferguson used to have a model that was belt driven and could run on an angle, but I never could find one for sale.
Yes, that is a problem with the older ones. Here is one that can go down pretty far, but its over 5K: Tractor Mounted Sickle Bar Mowers With Hydraulic Lift Standard
 

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a belt driven wobble head(can't remember correct terminology) drive mower will work in all positions.
a Pittman arm mower is the one that is restricted.
7' needs about 30 pto hp to operate.
IH, NH, New Idea all make wobble head mowers.
there are others too but I can't recall them all
 

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As others mentioned, the belt-driven version is the one you want, not the old pitman arm ones. A friend of mine has one and he uses it in the vertical position to keep paths open around his yard. He said it works pretty good. As far as I know, the downward angle is limited to not far below horizontal. In other words, they will run up in the air at 90 degrees, but angled down maybe only at 10 degrees. That is what my friend told me anyway. And yes, they do have a lot of wear items (cutters and guards, as well as the pins and plates that hold it all together), and only cut in the forward direction. I still see a lot of them in use in my area to cut hay.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
a belt driven wobble head(can't remember correct terminology) drive mower will work in all positions.
a Pittman arm mower is the one that is restricted.
7' needs about 30 pto hp to operate.
IH, NH, New Idea all make wobble head mowers.
there are others too but I can't recall them all
I'm finding that seems to be the consensus amongst all the info out there. The only problem is it seems to me most of the sickle bar mower are belt driven in some way and the owner lists it as a belt drive when in fact it has a pitman arm. Everything attachments has a mower very similar to the one Kenny listed, but even it is over $3600. Way over my budget just to mow ditches.

I'm thinking a used one would be the best option for me. I don't know the model numbers of the ones that would be appropriate. Any suggestions?:unknown:
 

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I'm thinking a used one would be the best option for me. I don't know the model numbers of the ones that would be appropriate. Any suggestions?:unknown:
If you were up for a fab project, swapping a pitman arm drive for a hydraulic motor should work. Does your 1026 have a service at the rear you could run it off of, or would it need a separate pump on the PTO? The other concern is setting the angle. A hydraulic cylinder would be ideal, but it might be possible to modify the factory locking mechanism to lock it in place below horizontal.

I know a guy that has some hydraulic motors and pumps kicking around, and he likes building stuff. :munch:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
If you were up for a fab project, swapping a pitman arm drive for a hydraulic motor should work. Does your 1026 have a service at the rear you could run it off of, or would it need a separate pump on the PTO? The other concern is setting the angle. A hydraulic cylinder would be ideal, but it might be possible to modify the factory locking mechanism to lock it in place below horizontal.

I know a guy that has some hydraulic motors and pumps kicking around, and he likes building stuff. :munch:
Adding the hydraulics needed would require a PTO pump as the tractor driven pump only has something like 4.5 gpm available and isn't supposed to be used for hydraulic motor service. I can't remember where I read that in the manuals though.
Then I would still have to add some SCV to control the hydraulic tilt. That's going to happen, just not right now. It's not in the budget right now.:thumbsdown: A project like that can add up in dollars super fast. It would be fun though...
 

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a belt driven wobble head(can't remember correct terminology) drive mower will work in all positions.
a Pittman arm mower is the one that is restricted.
7' needs about 30 pto hp to operate.
IH, NH, New Idea all make wobble head mowers.
there are others too but I can't recall them all
I have a John Deere #5 with a 7' bar that I use on my 1026R.
It never bogs down the tractor at all.
It's a pitman arm drive so it doesn't have much travel up or down from horizontal but it works fine for what I do.
 
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The old horse drawn mowers were not designed for the speeds behind tractors and pulling them with a tractor ruins them. They seem like old junk to most people but they are getting harder to find for people that farm with horses...

The New Holland 450 and 451, the IH 1300, and the Massey 41 are examples of good wobble drive mowers. These are great mowers for ditch banks.
 

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I checked and I have the New Holland 451 which I have to travel over an hour for parts but it is pretty amazing what is in stock even though they carry an import out in the lot for new sales. The import does have little rivet on sections in the guard so you don't have to buy a new guard to get a fresh surface. I believe this model (NH 451 and the wheeled version 455?) is designed to make hay not do ditches. One sets up a suspension spring so that the end of the bar takes a certain amount of weight to lift, perhaps 100 pounds. When lifting the three point arms the bar stays pretty much level and comes up off the ground. I am not saying it couldn't be modified and a hydraulic cylinder added to tilt the cutter bar but the one Kenny linked to which is like $2000 less than the price for a new one like mine I got a quote for seems designed from the start to operate in the positions needed. Even the alamo one only rates the sicke technology to half an inch diameter thickness. I do pretty good mowing into drop off terrain backing in with a rear mounted flail mower, usually backing in at an angle. I know the initial post said up to 40 degrees of slope on the ditch but how much ditch is there and how much is suitable for the technique I describe. How far down would you need to mow so you could get the rest with a weed wacker type device standing on basically level ground in the bottom of the ditch? And how often does a backhoe or similar device come along and clean out the bottom of the ditch if at all?


Fran
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Nobody ever comes by to clean out the ditches. I was think of making a pass from the top mower facing downhill, and another from the bottom with the mower facing uphill. With any luck and the right size and type of mower, I won't have to do any manual trimming with a weed-eater. There is no flat bottom of the ditch. I can mow from the bottom to the outer edge to the road easily with the tractor. Not much of a slope there. It's from the bottom of the ditch going uphill to the top of my yard about 10' vertical rise in some spots.

IMG_2108.JPG

The pic doesn't bring out how steep the hill really is...
 

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Discussion Starter #16
:lol: I don't think that's a practical solution for my ditch. :lol:
 

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As to the little video, the guy ought repair the mower deck for his rider. If all the mowers were on swivel wheels and in a framework attached to the three point hitch it probably would work in the back in, pull out and back in farther down mode.

I see the ditch in question better now. What I had more in mind was more irregular and they clean out the bottom every couple of years leaving a 18 inch or so wide channel. It really doesn't look like a sicle cutter mower would have to angle down very much as the tractor would be not too much different angle than the bar. That exact spot in the foreground of the picture might be advisable to avoid from the top at least for the first few times but farther down looks possible. I have a spot sort of like that and I mow with the offset flail mower as far over as I feel safe and do the rest by hand, not sure how many times I fell over but there are stones a sicle cutter wouldn't like plus the last guy had a fence along there and used round up from the top for his purposes and cleaned the slope every 10 years or so I guess.

fran
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The picture really doesn't do the ditch any justice. You can't hardly stand on the slope at all. There are little gulleys in it from rain erosion as well. The slope is not smooth in the slightest, plenty of places to get tripped up and fall down to the bottom. I've had to use the trusty Stihl FS 110 as a prop a few times as I fell trying to clear it. It really sucks. :thumbsdown: A few times I've fallen, I'll get up and look around to see if anybody saw the idiot falling on his face in the ditch.:lol:
 

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I tried to do a search, but couldn't find it. There was a company a few years ago (5 or 6) that made flex wings that could be attached to your lawn tractor mower deck that allowed you to mow ditches and slopes and also increase your mower deck width on flat ground. I think the name was Flex-Mow or something like that, but I can't find their website now. So they might not be in business anymore.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I've thought about using my commercial walk-behind mower for this job. It wouldn't take a lot to build a hitch for it to do some off-set mowing. However the bad part is I don't know if the engine will survive running for extended periods at such an extreme angle. Too much of a gamble in my mind to try it.
 
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