Chop off their heads!

May 17, 2002

Each spring, the tender blades of grass stretch their heads up with new hope. And every year, an employee of some highway maintenance department comes along and chops off the heads of these shoots. The highway department also plants grass or wildflowers or trees, but here we focus on the tools to turn back the waves of vegetation that yearly encroach on our roadways. Below, ROADS & BRIDGES takes a look at some of the products that keep our country’s roads from being overgrown.


Each spring, the tender blades of grass stretch their heads up with new hope. And every year, an employee of some highway maintenance department comes along and chops off the heads of these shoots. The highway department also plants grass or wildflowers or trees, but here we focus on the tools to turn back the waves of vegetation that yearly encroach on our roadways. Below, ROADS & BRIDGES takes a look at some of the products that keep our country’s roads from being overgrown.

Reaching the ditch two ways

The Saber Boom Rotary Mower Model SBR-50C from Tiger Corp., Souix Falls, S.D., is a long-reach boom capable of reaching out 25 ft. It will cut grass, brush, branches and trees. The advantage of a boom mower is its ability to reach up into trees, down embankments and over obstacles such as guard rails.

The Tiger Saber Boom (Circle 933) is capable of cutting 8-in.-diam. trees and branches 2 in. bigger than standard boom mowers on the market, with 77% more cutting area.

Tiger designed the unit to store the cutter assembly to the rear. That way, the operator has better side vision when traveling on roadways. With the cutter stored to the rear, the unit also is narrower than other mowers, so it takes up less space on the roadway when in transport.

The unit also comes standard with electronic joystick control versus separate hydraulic levers. This greatly reduces the fatigue factor for the operator, thus increasing productivity.

The Twin Rotary Mower also is new from Tiger (Circle 934). The Twin Rotary does two jobs at once: the rear cutter cuts the grass on the road shoulder while the side cutter reaches into the ditch to cut a 60-in.-wide swath.

The tractor of the Twin Rotary can travel on the shoulder of the road thus reducing the exposure to the operator from traffic approaching from the rear. The operator can tilt the rear mower or side mower to match the angle of the shoulder or ditch.

Expanding zero-turn line

The ZD28F expands the diesel-powered, zero-turn mower line from Kubota Tractor Corp., Torrance, Calif., with a bigger, more powerful turf mower.

Kubota entered the zero-turn mower market last year with the ZD18 and the ZD21.

The ZD28F (Circle 929) is powered by a liquid-cooled three-cylinder diesel engine rated at 28 hp. It features a shaft drive, a hydraulic deck lift, an 18,500-foot-per-minute (fpm) blade tip speed on the 72-in. mower and a tilt-up mower deck for easy maintenance. Roll-over protection with seat belt is standard.

All ZD-Series mowers utilize Kubota’s exclusive one-piece hydrostatic transmission. The low-noise, direct-shaft-drive mowers are 60 or 72 in. wide and have three blades.

Cutting height can be adjusted from 1 to 5 in. in 1/2-inch increments.

Kubota also has remodeled its T-Series lawn tractors (Circle 930). The line consists of four models from 15 to 18 hp, powered by overhead-valve gasoline engines.

Mow better

The 1565 Front Mower from the John Deere Worldwide Commercial & Consumer Equipment Division, Cary, N.C., delivers more durability, versatility and performance to the company’s line of front mowers.

The 1565 Front Mower (Circle 927) is powered by a 36-hp diesel engine, enhanced with a 55-amp alternator. For added productivity, the 1565 is outfitted with a 14.5-gal fuel tank that provides enough capacity for all-day mowing.

The mower features a hydrostatic transmission and dual-speed transaxle with a forward mowing speed of up to 8.5 mph and a transport speed of up to 15.5 mph.

The 1565 features a front-mounted offset mower deck that has a “tail follows the trail” design.

The 1600 Turbo Wide-Area Mower (Circle 928) is powered by a 64-hp, turbo-charged diesel engine with high torque. Equipped with a 22-gal fuel tank, the 1600 can operate all day at a rate of 8.5 acres per hour at 6.5 mph. The mower includes a hydrostatic, dual transaxle that can achieve a mowing speed of 8.6 mph and a transport speed of up to 14.5 mph.

New and improved

The Lazer Z zero-turn mower from Exmark Manufacturing Co. Inc., Beatrice, Neb., is now available with a 52- or 60-in. UltraCut deck featuring a 20-hp Kohler or a 25-hp Kawasaki engine, respectively (Circle 924).

The Kohler-powered units include a heavy-duty air filtration system and clean-out ports to improve engine life, horsepower and productivity, while decreasing maintenance requirements.

The Kawasaki-powered units offer more power, a 60-in. UltraCut deck and the same standard features on all Lazer Z models.

Swinging a big bat

The 3180 Batwing has a new gearbox shield made in one piece that flips up intact for easy maintenance. The new gearbox shield is just one improvement to the heavy-duty 15-ft flexible wing rotary cutter from Woods Equipment Co., Rockford, Ill.

The 3180 Batwing (Circle 935) also has new deck protection plates to prevent deck damage from a bent blade and a heavier C.V. input driveline.

The bottom side of the 3180 Batwing consists of a heavy-gauge, high-strength, steel box frame that provides a strong deck structure, so the top of the deck is free of structural components. The smooth deck sheds water and debris to prevent corrosion.

Other features of the Model 3180 include a 180-in. cutting width and a blade tip speed of 16,000 fpm.

Multiple uses

The three-cylinder, 30-hp TC30 compact tractors from New Holland, New Holland, Pa., can be equipped with a variety of implements, including a rotary tiller, a front blade, a front snow blower, a backhoe, a posthole digger or a front loader. The TC30 operator also has a choice of mowers: mid-mount, flail, rear finishing and rear rotary.

The TC30 (Circle 932) can be equipped with a three-range hydrostatic transmission or a manual gear transmission. Hydrostatic power steering is standard. If the operator’s work tends to stay in a single gear, the 9x3 mechanical transmission offers three ranges for more gear choices.

The TC30 is available with the choice of a heavy-duty two-wheel drive axle or front-wheel drive axle for better pulling power and fuel efficiency in slippery or sandy conditions. High-capacity live hydraulics, delivering 6.1 gpm, coupled with a heavy-duty rear axle, provides a three-point hitch lift capacity of 1,635 lb.

Fast blades

Rotary cutters from Agco Corp., Duluth, Ga., have blade tip speeds of 12,440 to 14,928 fpm (Circle 919). They are available in standard-duty, medium-duty and heavy-duty models recommended for tractors with 15-30 hp, 30-50 hp and 40-110 hp, respectively. They have heavy-gauge steel decks and structural reinforcements.

Round stump jumpers are standard equipment on all models and help prevent damage to the gearbox and driveline. Full-floating hitches allow even cutting over uneven terrain.

Agco’s finish mowers are available in rear-discharge or side-discharge models (Circle 920). They also feature a 7-gauge, commercial-grade deck for durability and a baffled under-deck for improved clipping distribution and discharge.

Master the roadside

The Roadmaster industrial mowing tractor from Kut-Kwick, Brunswick, Ga., is equipped with an 80-hp diesel engine and was designed for roadsides and other large areas (Circle 931). It operates safely on slopes to 31° while a tilting seat at the rear of the machine keeps the operator level at all times.

With an optional rear towed cutter, it cuts a path 15 ft 7 in. wide. Without the rear cutter, the tractor cuts an 88-in. swath.

The cutting height of the Roadmaster can be adjusted from 4 to 8 in.

On the prowl

The Prowler Front Cut from Encore Power Equipment, Beatrice, Neb., is available with 52-, 61- and 72-in. cutting decks (Circle 922). They have a dual-path hydrostatic drive to increase overall drive power, control and stability. There are both diesel and gasoline engine options generating 23-31 hp. For trimming efficiency, Front Cut Prowlers feature a zero turning radius. There’s also the option of single or dual tail wheels. The deck flips up for easy cleaning, blade access and compact transport and storage. The Prowler Front Cut now has maintenance-free blade spindles. Cutting height ranges from 1 to 5 in. with a single lever adjustment.

Flex your wings

The IV Series flex-wing rotary mowers will make big mowing jobs more manageable and less time-consuming, according to their maker, Alamo Industrial, Seguin, Texas (Circle 921). The mechanical mowers will cut 10-, 14-, 15- or 20-ft swaths through tough grass and weeds. The A20IV, for instance, will mow 7 acres per hour at 3 mph.

All four models attach to the tractor using a self-leveling clevis. The tractor must have a minimum PTO horsepower of 60. All models have an adjustable cutting height range from 2 to 15 in.

Level headed

The Hustler Model 6400 Hillsider has a self-leveling cab that keeps the mower’s weight evenly distributed (Circle 923). A 72-in.-wide deck and six-wheel drive add to improved traction and balance. With this configuration, the Hillsider exceeds ANSI B71.4-1990 static stability requirements at 40°, according to the manufacturer, Excel Industries Inc., Hesston, Kan.

The Hillsider’s heavy-duty, dual-trim rotary deck makes short work of roadsides and interchanges, according to the company, and a special turning mode allows the machine to make a true zero-degree turn without scuffing the turf.

Excavator attachment

Standing or fallen trees, brush, shrubs and stumps up to 24 in. in diam. can be chewed to mulch by five models of the Bull Hog attachment from Fecon Inc., Cincinnati (Circle 925). The attachments are designed for excavators with 55-500-hp hydraulic systems available.

The Bull Hog is equipped with fixed-position carbide-tipped cutting tools with a tool life of 300-500 hr.

The most powerful Bull Hog, model BH350EXC, features a cutting width of 48 in. and a rotor diameter of 17.5 in. for large pieces of wood.

Box rake

The Harley Modular M-6 Power Box Rake offers an excellent view of the work surface, according to Glenmac Inc., Jamestown, N.D. (Circle 926). The slim profile frame bearing ends allow for deep seedbed cultivation. The pure carbide proprietary teeth are shaped to ensure the best possible seedbed sub-base for superior moisture retention and germination, according to the company.

There are 14 models to choose from for skid steers, tractors, mini skid steers and front deck mowers.

The rakes feature an adjustable Rhino-Hide barrier, dual independently adjustable gauge wheels, quick and easy removable and reversible endplates for windrowing or reverse box raking and an oil bath drive chain.

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