You can’t just pay the neighborhood kid to do it.
Everybody knows the whole task of mowing and trimming around the roadside is a complicated and serious business. This month, ROADS & BRIDGES looks at some of the products used to control the greenery and make it appealing and safe for the motorists.
A buzz cut
The BuzzBar Tree Limb Cutter is the newest product riding the assembly line at Alamo Industrial, Seguin, Tex.
Mounted on a farm-type tractor with a boom, the four-rotary saw blades can cut through tree limbs up to 4 in. in diam. Designed to mount on all Alamo Industrial booms, the BuzzBar has a 7 1/2-in. cutting width and is driven by a 38-hp hydraulic motor.
Four 26-in.-diam. rotary blades each have 60 teeth and turn at 17,000 feet per minute. The rear shield is made of 10 gauge steel and formed for stiffness.
Other cutters for Alamo are the 20IV, the Machete and the Interstater.
The Machete is labeled a Severe-Duty Boom Mower used for trimming trees or cutting grass, weeds and brush in rough terrain and hard-to-reach areas.
By using a closed-loop hydraulic system, rather than open-loop hydraulics, the system is more efficient and produces less heat, according to the company. The piston pump and motor will achieve "96% efficiency" because more energy is transmitted to the mechanical elements within the system and less oil is lost to slippage than with a standard gear system.
The blade bar is reinforced with three 7/8-in.-thick leaves, and the spindle housing is attached to the deck with eight 5/8-in. bolts.
The operator can control all boom movements with a single joystick, including the electo-hydraulic proportional lift, swing and dipper arm.
The Interstater is ideal for mowing large areas such as airports and along highways.
With left and right side mowers, the machine will mow a 20-ft swath, cutting 12 acres per hour at 5 mph. The hydraulically operated, 88-in. wings can mow slopes, ditches or flatlands, and may be raised as necessary to avoid obstacles.
The rear 88-in. flail is powered by the tractor’s PTO and leveled by the three-point hitch control.
The 20IV is a mechanical flex-wing rotary mower that will cut a 20-in. swath through highway grass and weeds. The machine can mow 7 acres per hour at 3 mph, and the flexible wing mower, aided by skid shoes, rear wheels and overlapping blades, follows the contour of the ground.
John Deere, Moline, Ill., offers flail mowers, three-point hitch mowers and rotary cutters.
Flail mowers provide uniform distribution of pulverized material across the full cutting width, according to the manufacturer. The cutting and pulverizing are done by pivoting knives attached to a horizontal rotor. Pivoting knives reduce the risk of damage if an obstruction is hit.
The mowers are rated for cutting speeds up to 7 mph, and cutting widths range from 4 ft, 10 in. to 6 ft, 6 in.
Deere’s medium-duty rotary cutters can cut small brush up to 2 in. in diam. Standard suction blades provide "excellent" lift when cutting heavy material and do an effective job picking up wheel tracks. Cutting widths are 4, 5 and 6 ft.
The 261 three-point hitch mower cuts 60 in. wide, while the 272 mows 72 in. wide. Both models feature three overlapping blades and a cutting height adjustment.
Cheetah in charge
The Cheetah mower, a product of Tiger Corp., Sioux Falls, S.D., has a cutter reach of 14 ft up, 17 ft out and 10 ft, 6 in. down.
The cutter head rotates 180û around the outer boom, and the lift control valve system is electro-hydraulic proportional.
The TRBS-40 Rotary Cutter Head offers a cutting width of 40 in.
The Hustler Model 6400 Hillsider, from Excel Industries Inc., Hesston, Kan., comes with a 72-in. heavy-duty deck that exceeds ANSI B71.4-1990 static stability requirements at 40û.
The six-wheel drive unit has a turning mode that allows true zero-degree turning without scuffing the turf, according to the company.
A self-leveling cab with certified ROPS keeps weight evenly distributed for improved traction and balance.
The Super-SlopeMaster, produced by Kut-Kwik, can cut on slopes of up to 40û. Powered by a 38-hp water-cooled diesel engine, the mower is skid steered, dual wheeled and can cut a 72-in. swath.
A twin, closed-loop hydraulic system, which includes hydraulic pumps and geared hydraulic wheel motors, power the forward and reverse rotation of the wheels. Each hydraulic drive system is independently controlled through hand-activated directional control levers for direct drive wheel steering, and the mower has the ability to traverse and turn on slopes for efficiency and to prevent erosion.
Kut-Kwick’s Roadmaster series includes flail or rotary mowers. The front mowing tractor cuts an 88-in. swath and operates safely on slopes of up to 31û.
A 78-hp water-cooled diesel engine gives the Roadmaster its kick, and a 1/4-in. plate steel mowing deck supports the chassis from the front while pivoting side to side to follow the contour of the ground.
To the Batwing
Woods Equipment Co., Rockford, Ill., has come out with an improved 3180 Batwing, a heavy-duty 15-ft flexible wing rotary cutter.
The company believes several design features have been made to enhance cutting efficiency and the life span of the machine. These include a gearbox shield redesigned into one piece that flips up intact for easy maintenance, the addition of deck protection plates to prevent deck damage from a bent blade and a C.V. input driveline upgraded to Category 6 heavy, the highest in the industry.
Other features of the 3180 include a 180-in. cutting width and a blade tip speed of 16,000 feet per minute.
The model also comes with Woods’ Intra-Drive gearbox, which eliminates the need for a splitter gearbox. This results in shorter wing drivelines and fewer moving parts.
A redesigned self-leveling hitch with four-bar parallel linkage prevents premature drawbar wear, according to Woods, and the 3180 is compatible with tractors rated between 50 to 200 hp with either 540 or 1000 rpm power take-off speeds.
There is chemistry
Novartis has hit the market with three herbicides for highway roadside maintenance: Endurance, Predict and Vanquish.
Endurance controls tough grass and broadleaf weeds, including Foxtails, Crabgrass and Barnyardgrass, for up to a full season with just one application, according to Novartis. Low solubility and volatility helps prevent the chemical from "leaching" into groundwater. Endurance is labeled for over-the-top applications in landscape beds and wildflower plantings, and remains in the top 1/2 in. of soil.
The product can be used with Predict, Premier DF, Vanquish, Oust, Krovar, Arsensal, Karmex, Finale, Gallery and Roundup Pro.
Predict "controls more than 25 broad-leaf weeds, more than 20 grass and sedge weeds and over 30 other weeds."
The chemistry of Predict inhibits the weeds’ ability to retain chlorophyll, causing susceptible weed seedlings that germinate to turn white and die.
The chemical has low water solubility, low volatility and remains in the upper soil layer. The normal length of control is up to 6-9 months, according to the manufacturer. For preemergence vegetation control, Predict is registered at the use rate of 2.5-5 lbs of product per acre.
Vanquish takes advantage of Diglycolamine chemistry, which anchors the herbicide’s active ingredient to the target plant. This reduces the volatilization of the product, allows for more thorough absorption by the target plant and reduces the risk to off-target plants.