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Roll call of soldiers in the war against advancing roadside weeds

Roadside Maintenance Article June 11, 2001
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In the battle to keep the roadsides clear, nature keeps coming back

In the battle to keep the roadsides clear, nature keeps coming back. But there is hope. Whether the job is chopping down tough weeds and brush on a steep bank or just cutting grass on the level, there is a wide range of solutions for managing roadside vegetation. And clearing away the weeds can provide better scenery and safer driving. This month, ROADS & BRIDGES takes a look at some of the products that keep our country’s roads from being overgrown.

Level headed

The Hustler Model 6400 Hillsider has a self-leveling cab that keeps the mower’s weight evenly distributed. 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.

For winter use, the Hillsider can be equipped with a 72-in. dozer blade, a 60-in. V-blade or a 60-in. two-stage snow thrower.

Another Excel mower, the Hustler Z, is a compact machine with a low center of gravity, a good characteristic for slope mowing. The Hustler Z has a 60-in.-wide deck, a 72-in. overall length and a 27-in. seat height. A 23-hp engine powers the machine.

A foot-operated, spring-assisted deck-lift system makes trailering and cutting height changes simple. An optional mulching kit also is available for the Hustler Z.

A beautiful day in the Deere hood

The 1400 Series Front Mowers from the John Deere Worldwide Commercial & Consumer Equipment Division, Raleigh, N.C., have a patented resin hood that resists dents, scratches and rust. The people at the Society of the Plastics Industry’s March 2000 conference liked the hood of the 1400 so much they gave it a "People’s Choice" award. The hood also slides back to reveal all daily service points.

Under the hood, the 1400 Series has either a 28-hp gasoline engine (model 1420), a 24-hp diesel engine (model 1435) or a 31-hp diesel engine (model 1445), each with a 14.5-gal fuel tank. The high-torque engines provide better fuel economy, quieter operation, lower exhaust emission levels and quicker starting, according to the company.

The mowers are available with 60- or 72-in. side-discharge decks stamped from a single piece of 7-gauge steel. These decks feature a deep design with increased airflow so more material can be processed and the operator can mow faster—up to 12 mph.

The 1400s feature a 20-in. turning radius to the trim side, which leaves only a 28-in. circle of uncut grass. Foot-activated differential locks allow operators to lock both drive wheels together for extra traction on hillsides and in slippery conditions. The lower center of gravity and wider tread width, as well as optional four-wheel drive, give increased stability and traction in both forward and reverse.

Also available for the 1400s are a 47-in., two-stage snow blower, a 5-ft broom and a hydraulically angled blade.

On the prowl

The Prowler Front Cut is now available with 52-, 61- and 72-in. cutting decks. The mowers from Encore Manufacturing Co. Inc., Beatrice, Neb., have a dual-path hydrostatic drive to increase overall drive power, control and stability. Diesel and gasoline engines are available.

For trimming efficiency, the Prowler Front Cut features a zero turning radius. The deck flips up for easy cleaning, blade access and compact transport and storage. Also available are single or dual tail wheels.

The Prowler Front Cut has a new blade spindle assembly that gives the bearings longer life and easy field maintenance. The cutting height can be adjusted from 1-5 in. with a single lever.

There is 7-gauge steel in the deck plate and the side skirts around the deck. The top plate adds another piece of 10-gauge steel. A tubular steel bumper adds further collision protection for the front of the deck. This design gives a level, smooth cut even at high speeds and under difficult cutting conditions, according to the company.

Riding a beam

The DynaFocal engine iso-mount system of the Lazer Z XP Series riding mowers dramatically reduces vibration. Mounts are strategically placed on the machine to absorb vibration, making operation smoother for the machine and the operator.

Exmark Manufacturing Co. Inc., Beatrice, Neb., also designed the XP Series with a unitized, tubular frame that minimizes vibration, enhances stability and extends product life.

The XP Series mowers are available with a 27-hp liquid-cooled diesel engine or a 31-hp liquid-cooled gasoline engine and with a 60-in. deck that mows up to six acres per hour or a 72-in. deck that mows up to seven acres per hour. The mowers have ground speeds up to 11 mph in forward and 7 mph in reverse.

The XP Series uses high-capacity hydro pumps and wheel motors, which provide less pressure and cooler operating temperatures on the hydro drive system. The hydro system uses Mobil 1 Tri-Synthetic oil for a quieter, more reliable performance, extended life and lower maintenance cost. The canister air filter traps more contaminants and lasts twice as long as standard air cleaners, increasing engine life and reducing maintenance.

4WD tractors

The Agco ST line of compact, four-wheel-drive tractors can be equipped with a loader, front blade or backhoe in addition to the mid-mount mower for more options on turf care, golf course, landscape, municipal and park system jobs. The Agco STs, from Agco Corp., Duluth, Ga., are equipped with an engine-driven hydraulic pump that generates 5.3-12.6 gal/min for three-point hitch lifting capacity, depending on the tractor model. For loader attachments or implements that require them, auxiliary hydraulic remotes are available.

Indirect-injection, three-cylinder engines with a precombustion chamber and cross-flow head design give the Agco STs better fuel economy, reduced stress on engine components, quieter operation and reduced emissions. The ST45, the most powerful of the STs, has a four-cylinder diesel engine for increased power and torque.

The ST engines provide 24-44 hp and a top speed of 13.4 mph.

Various transmissions are available for the Agco STs, depending on the tractor model. Two models have manual transmissions. One model has a three-range hydrostatic transmission. And three models offer 16F/16R partially synchronized transmission with a choice of a mechanical shuttle for front loader work or a PowerShuttle for clutchless shifts between forward and reverse in front loader applications.

The transmission and three-point hitch controls are positioned to each side of the operator platform for fingertip control. The operator platform also features power steering and a spring-suspension seat.

Brush with greatness

For general purpose mowing of grass and weeds up to 1 in. in diameter, Woods Equipment Co., Rockford, Ill., offers four models of standard-duty BrushBull single-spindle cutters. The BrushBull machines are patterned after the company’s Batwing line of flexible wing rotary cutters.

The standard-duty BrushBulls also feature full-length side skids to reduce the possibility of scalping, blade tip speeds from 13,000 to 16,000 ft/min and cutting widths from 48 to 84 in.

Three other models of the BrushBull are medium-duty machines, designed for mowing grass and weeds, shredding stalks and clearing brush up to 2 in. in diameter. The medium-duty machines feature full-length, replaceable side skids for greater structural integrity and Woods’ Quick-Change blade holders for easier, more convenient maintenance. Blade tip speeds range from 15,525 to 16,000 ft/min, and cutting widths are available from 60 to 84 in.

Heavy-duty BrushBull cutters, in three models, are designed for municipal and highway maintenance, according to the company, and agricultural and contract mowing of brush and weeds up to 4 in. in diameter. The heavy-duty cutters feature rugged Category 5 drivelines and four-plate slip clutch protection. They offer 60- and 72-in. cutting widths and 13,572 and 16,300 ft/min blade tip speeds.

Hog wild

Standing or fallen trees, brush, shrubs and stumps up to 24 in. in diameter can be chewed to mulch by five models of the Bull Hog attachment from Fecon Inc., Cincinnati. The attachments are designed for excavators with 55-500-hp hydraulic systems available. According to the company, the attachments are "ideal for land clearing, right-of-way construction/maintenance, storm water drainage area maintenance, forestry and for reducing the risk of wildfires in urban areas."

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

The Bull Hog quickly coarse grinds large- and small-diameter material or finely mulches it into the soil surface by "pull working," an operating method that recirculates material through counting-cutting rakes to cut it down to size.

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. The smallest model, the BH40EXC, has a 32-in. cutting width. It weighs 1,700 lb, and the company says it is "perfect for smaller excavators or larger long-reach machines working in remote areas."

A wide swath

Kubota Tractor Corp., Torrance, Calif., makes a wide variety of tractors that can be used for mowing. The B7400 and B7500, for instance, feature four-wheel drive, a fully opening hood and a liquid-cooled three-cylinder diesel engine producing 16 and 21 hp, respectively.

Attachments for the B7400 and B7500 include mid- and rear-mount mowers in various sizes. The mid-mount mowers are available with 54-, 60- and 72-in. cutting widths. Each mower attachment has a right-side discharge. Rear-mount mowers are available in 48-, 60- and 72-in. cutting widths. Other available attachments include a rotary tiller, a trencher, a post-hole digger, front and rear blades, snow blowers and backhoes.

The company’s F60 Series front-mount mowers are designed for the commercial turf maintenance market. The series includes 22-, 25- and 30-hp four-wheel-drive mowers and a 25-hp two-wheel-drive mower. The Auto-Assist 4WD with Dual-Acting Over-Running clutch system transfers power to all four wheels when needed.

The F60 Series mowers are available with 60- or 72-in. tilt-up decks with either side or rear discharge. Other available attachments include a flail mower, front blade, rotary sweeper, snow blower and a debris blower.

Relief for aching shoulders

The Harley Power Box Grader will reclaim overgrown shoulders by completely pulverizing and processing encroaching vegetation, removing sod clumps and eliminating root systems. It is available from Glenmac Inc., Jamestown, N.D., in 6- and 8-ft widths for mounting on a tractor or skid steer.

The roller is armed with pure carbide teeth and rotates at 270 rpm. It is hydraulically angled to direct processed material toward the road’s uneven edge. The endplate contains the roadside material to fully process and eliminate all sod clumps and level ruts and erosion. The gauge wheel runs on the blacktop surface creating a level finish, while the endplate traps the pulverized material flush with the asphalt edge and not on the road.

The Harley Power Box Grader fits standard wheel tractors from 27 hp and up, with standard 540 PTO and one hydraulic bank.

Vegetation cover-up

Another solution to controlling roadside vegetation is to lay tile over it. DuroTrim antivegetation tile from Recycled Rubber Resources LLC, Macon, Mo., and Welch Products Inc., Carlisle, Iowa, are designed to prevent grass and weeds from growing up and around guard rails, fencing and signs.

The 2-ft x 2-ft tiles are made from ground-up rubber tires and offer durability, ease of installation and 10 years or more of maintenance-free service, according to the companies. They are said to improve driver sight distance and reduce the need for herbicides and trimming. They also have a low profile, which keeps them out of the way of a mower blade. And each tile has universal guides scribed on the bottom so they can be easily cut to fit around a post.

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