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Forums > Active Threads > General Tractor Discussions > Mowers Field and Finish

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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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drconsult
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 16 Colchester, Ontario
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2010-08-08          172905



Greetings all! I have about 1.5 acres of level ground (except for a 100' x 12' sloped ditch area along the road) of grass needs to be cut.

I was thinking of a rear mount finish mower for my JD4200 because it could be used now and after the house is built on the property next year.

My questions:

1 - Does a 3ph "finish" mower produce a clean cut that is appropriate for a "front lawn" and has an appearance similar to a push mower or garden tractor?

2 - What specifications should I look for? Suction? Side or rear discharge? Inflatable tires? Anti-scalping rollers? Rotary vs flail?

3 - What size should I choose for use with my JD4200 (26hp with claimed 21.5 hp on 540rpm rear pto)? Right now the grass is cut 8 - 10 times a season but once the house it build it will be cut more often. I want to make sure there is plenty of power for suction and higher or occasionally wet grass.

4 - What about turns and backing up with a rotary mower? Could I back the rotary mower into harder to reach areas?

As always, thoughs and comments are appreciated!

Thanks in advance!


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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2010-08-08          172910


DR;
No, I've not seen a RFM that does as good as a midmount mower.
I'm not sure you really want one with 21-22 hp. I think the narrowest ones are 60 inches, only six inches wider than a regular 20-22 hp. rider mower. The very first compact I ever demoed was a Deere 4100, ?? HP. with a 60 inch rear mower. Going uphill in any kind of grass was a struggle, not to mention lifting it on the end, I did wheelies.
If you do get one with air tires, don't let tham sell it to you without THEM putting tubes in the tires. The little tubeless ones are always flat and you know how that goes trying to air up one of them.
Backing them around and under trees works pretty good but your neck gets stiff after a while.
I do have a Land Pride 84 in. RFM for my 4310. The tractor handles it fine, but it's much too wide to do a decent job. Mine is what they then called their "Wind Tunnel" side discharge, I don't know if they still call them that or not. I do know they have rear discharge models that I think I may have liked better.
Ok, what this all boils down to is I'd really like to discourage you from getting one. I know I keep singing the praises of a good used Deere rider and before anyone jumps on me I'm not any part of a Deere dealership, nor own any Deere stock, etc. there just the ones I've used since the 60's, found them to be reliable, easily repaired, etc.
So my song is to go buy a good used 54 in. 20-24 hp Deere rider and likely not spend much if any more than the RFM will cost, and you'll be a much happier camper.
Frank. ....

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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2010-08-08          172916


A good zero turn is where my money would be. They're fast and fun to operate. I have a RFM on a 33hp New Holland hydro and I can cut fairly fast. I cut 4 acres with berms and 2 ponds.

But the problem with any RM is the quality of cut. It's because the front wheels and the rears, plus the two mower front casters knock down the grass before it's cut. If the grass doesn't spring up or get lifted up you'll get stripes alright but not the kind you want. And if the ground is moist enough the casters when backing and then pulling forward tend to spin and leave divots.

As far as a flail mower do a search here on them. Plenty to read. In short though, they're very heavy, take 30% more power to run, cost 2 -3 times the cost of a blade mower, and are not suitable for cutting other than straight lines---the guage roller digs in in a turn. I had one and sold it. ....

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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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auerbach
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2168 West of Toronto
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2010-08-09          172935


1 - Does a 3ph "finish" mower produce a clean cut that is appropriate for a "front lawn" and has an appearance similar to a push mower or garden tractor?

That's the meaning of "finish."


2 - What specifications should I look for? Suction? Side or rear discharge? Inflatable tires? Anti-scalping rollers? Rotary vs flail?

Flails are for rougher brush. Suction is mostly a function of blade design. I like side discharge because you can somewhat direct the outflow and it doesn't chaff up your tractor. The wider the mower and the more uneven the ground, the more you need scalp prevention. Inflatables are cheapest and lightest, but no-flats are getting popular.


3 - What size should I choose for use with my JD4200 (26hp with claimed 21.5 hp on 540rpm rear pto)? Right now the grass is cut 8 - 10 times a season but once the house it build it will be cut more often. I want to make sure there is plenty of power for suction and higher or occasionally wet grass.

Not critical. Go 8 mph with a 4' or 4 mph with an 8' and finish at the same time. But an 8' might be too heavy for the hitch to lift. Narrower means more passes but easier turning, storing, servicing -- and buying. If agility is important look to a midmount (an earlier thread here examined the pros and cons). If agility is critical, look to a zero-turn.


4 - What about turns and backing up with a rotary mower? Could I back the rotary mower into harder to reach areas?

That's its major advantage.


The flatter and clearer the underside of the deck, the easier to clean. The easier to tilt it up, the easier to service the blades. (Don't mow wet grass unless you like cleaning.) ....

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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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Murf
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 7141 Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada
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2010-08-09          172941


Quote:
Originally Posted by auerbach | view 172935
[QUOTE=auerbach;172935]2 - What specifications should I look for? Suction? Side or rear discharge? Inflatable tires? Anti-scalping rollers? Rotary vs flail?

Flails are for rougher brush. Suction is mostly a function of blade design.

3 - What size should I choose for use with my JD4200 (26hp with claimed 21.5 hp on 540rpm rear pto)? Right now the grass is cut 8 - 10 times a season but once the house it build it will be cut more often. I want to make sure there is plenty of power for suction and higher or occasionally wet grass.Not critical. Go 8 mph with a 4' or 4 mph with an 8' and finish at the same time.
[/QUOTE]

I'm going to disagree with those two points a little.

The first, a good flail will give you a nicer finish cut than almost any rotary ever will, especially if the grass is wet, long or thick.

The second, speed is very critical to finish and cut quality overall. That is where a flail excels, it spins very fast and has many small blades, each blade then passes a certain point many more times. This greatly reduces the chance of uncut grass. Also, the cut grass travels directly out of the mower both helping with the vacuum, and also not interfering with any other grass yet to be cut. Even a rear discharge rotary mower doesn't work that way.

Also, the faster you travel with any mower, the less time it stays over a certain blade of grass. If you hit even a small bump at speed the mower can jump a bit, this leaves an area that isn't cut to the same length as the rest.

Best of luck.
....

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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2010-08-09          172942


Auer, an 8' are you serious? Well, okay, if he does that he WILL have a zero turn 'cause he'll be doing wheelies and then he can use his cutting brakes to turn.

And flail mowers ARE for finish mowing! Golf courses use them. In fact I read a study by the State of Michigan that flails are better cutting up to (I think) 4-5" after that rotaries are better.

Flails can be set up for cutting anything from grass to choppping branches---all depends on the hangers and cutters. The cutters I had on mine were double V blades that hung on a single hanger. When the rotor spun the blades would splay out like two airplane wings leaving a nice flat cut. ....

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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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kthompson
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5219 South Carolina
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2010-08-09          172947


I have a 27 hp tractor and use a 72 inch RFM. I also have a 52 inch ZTR mower of same band using same deck design and spindles and same blade design just shorter. The ZTR leaves a better finish for the reason pointed out the weight of the tractor hits before the cutter does. Posted the speed difference earlier in your question on 4 wheel steer so will not cover that. At same time the front wheels on the ZTR do some striping. Only way I know to not have that is front deck totally supported behind the blades. How do you say scalped lawn?

Do use weights on front of tractor and it needs them.

Have used both the 62 inch RFM and flail mower on the same tractor. Really liked the flail mower the best. The "V" cutters on mine did not flatten out as EW's did and left little rows in my lawn, look like a crappy hair cut. Still cut it great and left small clippings. Again agree with EW it does not turn as easy due to gage roller, you really need to lift it for any thing in sharp turn or on the one I used. Then it was not the gage wheel damaging the lawn it was tractors front wheels sliding. The flail does cost more but to me liked it's cutting much more with the right cutters on it. It being shorter can also be an advantage unless you are backing under limbs then it is a disadvantage. The flail mower is the only cutter I am aware of that with certain model you can change the cutters (not as easy and cheap as blades) and have a fine lawn cutter to brush cutter. Again with some models, not all.

But to recommendations on RFM for you. Buy a good brand. I say stay away from such as Tractor Supply or Northern Tool brands. I have side discharge and wish it were rear so could trim with either side. It needs to be wider by some than the tire width so you can trim but if too wide you will kill your self when you hit the unmovable object. Yet being wider makes cutting over the top of ditches safer. As to the width you can use with the HP you have think 5 foot would be the max but a good bit depends on the grass you have and will have. There is a lot of difference between the grass here and there but if you are cutting a real thick lawn grass keep the width down. If a thin slow growing grass probably can go with the 5 foot model might get by with a 6 foot but would never try it. Oh be sure it has floating hitch on it and easy to adjust wheels. Most use spacers and to me that is great. Reasonable easy to set and then not so easy my wife wants to lower it.

Oh the flail mower does not kick trash out normally like a rotary mower does. Have been behind a highway mower when it ran over a tire and it looked like a sponge being squeeze as it came out. Right funny looking. Never did understand whey the guy drove over it. Oh, did I had highway mower?

If ZTR have become as propular there as here you would do well to look for a used one. Many people parked their RFM and bought ZTRs. Just ask around, ZTR dealership might be a good place to ask especially if they sell both RFM and ZTR. ....

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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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drconsult
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 16 Colchester, Ontario
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2010-08-09          172950


Good to hear from the familiar posters! :)

Since the property is a 1.5 acre flat empty lot with few obstacles and decent grass (not a golf green), I think the rear discharge mower is the way to go for my application. I'm not looking for a super golf green cut or I'd probably go with a dedicated machine with front mounted reel mowers on gimbals for that. My machine has more work to do than that.

The grass is currently being cut with a vintage Ford 8N and continental mid mount rough mower which produces acceptable results.

A mid mower is not readily available for my 4200.

Two local trustworthy dealers both say that the 72" is a bit large and the 60" would work well with my JD 4200 for my usual mowing. And yes there are smaller 48" ones too.

Since I have a cab and loader on mine I don't think I'll be popping wheelies with a 60" deck. I might drop the bucket through.

I'm just about settled on a used Kubota OR new Buhler/Farm King 60" rear discharge finish mower (3 blades). According to the dealer they are both made by Buhler and the used Kubota is a year old that they took in on trade when a customer wanted a bigger deck. The Kubota with new blades is $1200 and the new Farm King is ~$2200. The flail mowers are out of my price range.

Anyone out there have a Buhler/Farm King or Kubota that they are happy with or hate?

Both units have inflatable tires with tubes and the new Farm King is pre-Slimed from the factory.

Once the house is build and all the heavy grading and yard work is done when might sell the 4200 for something smaller.

Thanks again for the comments!

....

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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2010-08-09          172951


Auer, an 8' are you serious? Well, okay, if he does that he WILL have a zero turn 'cause he'll be doing wheelies and then he can use his cutting brakes to turn.

And flail mowers ARE for finish mowing! Golf courses use them. In fact I read a study by the State of Michigan that flails are better cutting up to (I think) 4-5" after that rotaries are better.

Flails can be set up for cutting anything from grass to choppping branches---all depends on the hangers and cutters. The cutters I had on mine were double V blades that hung on a single hanger. When the rotor spun the blades would splay out like two airplane wings leaving a nice flat cut. ....

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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
TractorPoint Premium Member -- 5 Tractors = Very Frequent Poster  View my Photos  Pics

2010-08-09          172954


Slime eh? That alone is a good reason not to buy it. That's akin to buying a "very reliable" car from someone only to find spare parts and a tool box in the trunk. Someone ran the numbers and prolly figured it was cheaper and eaiser to Slime a tire than to offer a good puncture- proof ones.

Keep in mind that only passenegr and lite- and medium-truck tires have safety beads which keep them on the rims when deflated. Otherwise when a tire burps air or loses just a few pounds it comes off the rim instantly.

I USED to use Slime--- 5-6 gallons---- in my skid steer. The thing with Slime is you need enough pressure and reserve air in tire to ensure it keeps it inflated enough to keep it on the rim while and after the Slime plugs the hole. 9 times out of ten that won't happen. One hole in a 65 PSI skid steer tire (12" wide, 16.5" rim. 33" tall overall) would puke out a gallon at a time and STILL not fill the hole. I use tubes now, no Slime.

There are other options for tire fills. The tires that originally came on my skid steer were lined with a soft urethane compound that self-sealed. It was about 1.5 inches thick and was a godsend. Until that is I wore out the tires. The cost to replace ONE tire in '05 was over $550 EACH. I did some research and found a company that makes the compound and I could do it myslef for about $50 per tire but I needed an oven of sorts to heat the tire to 180 degrees F and a way to spin it slowly during application. It's on my TO-DO list though. ....

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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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hardwood
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 3583 iowa
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2010-08-09          172956


The fastest way I know of other than maybe calcum/water mix flat to get thrown out of a tire shop is to bring the guy a flat slime tire.
With the tiny air tires don't even condsider taking one home on any machine, mower, wheelbarrow, whatever unless the SELLER puts a tube in, "not you the SELLER".
More relegion has been lost trying to re inflate tiny tubeless tires than any other thing I can think of, mine has been strained to the limit a few times.
Frank. ....

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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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drconsult
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 16 Colchester, Ontario
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2010-08-09          172959



They come with a "self sealing compound" which may be what you have lining your good tires. I assumed it was something like Slime and since many know that product, that's what I called it.

Slime has worked great for me on off road and small equipment like a small yard trailer, power washer, hand truck, wheelbarrow, generator tires, friends ATVs, etc. I've only had small leaks that have sealed after I put the slime in.

Judging by it's viscosity and the directions on the bottle that say not to use it on road tires (except trailers), I don't think it will work well on larger tires or bigger holes like nail holes. It's probably only good for those tires that have pin hols or deflate slowly over time.

I put tubes in all my boat and utility trailer tires just to be sure.

The tires on the mower are small (about wheel barrow sized) and I already have a supply of several small tubes that I bought before I used the slime to seal the small leaks in the small equipment tires.

I was thinking of putting it in the JD4200 tires but now I won't bother using it on the tractor tires.

Thanks. ....

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What to look for in a rear mount 3ph finish mower

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earthwrks
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3853 Home Office in Flat Rock, Michigan
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2010-08-09          172960


I should have said self-healing. In the realm of tires there's a big difference. Slime is self-sealing---it's ground up rubber in a liquid carrier that rolls around in the tire looking for an opportunity to escape through a wound. The carrier pulls the rubber granules into the hole until it plugs it up. Slime says it will fill a 1/4" hole, which it has----but can take over a gallon in the process. I've found that at about 60 PSI it cannot withstand the pressure and can blow out. My tires are rated at 65 PSI.

There are other products (Berry Products) that use Kevlar rope pieces to do the same as the Slime ground rubber. Used it in my trucks and trailers but if they get cold it gells/thickens/freezes and throws off tire balance. It claims to be used for over the road trucks and be self-balancing but I don't buy it.

The self-healing urethane stays put as it is adhered to the inner tread and up the sides of the inner sidewalls. It looks like milky jell-o and is sticky to the touch. When a wound occurs, the urethane is thick and sticky enough to close back onto itself totally sealing up...errr... healing up. But even in a skid steer or other application where the sidewall can be pushed away even instantaneously, and air can escape the tire will go flat instantly. If I do go back to the self-healing I will use tubes too to prevent air burping from sidewall hits. ....

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