Susan Herrera
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Boom Mower

Rear Mount Boom Mowers

The Case for a New Type of Boom Mower

Known as "boom mowers, articulating arm mowers or reach mowers" have been around in various configurations since 1955.

They developed quite differently in the U.S.A than Europe and we will discuss why this was.

Europe (England and France particularly) had centuries old farms that had hedges for boundaries and for containing animals. They were built in the days before chain link or barbed wire was invented but when those materials were available the hedges were allowed to remain despite the maintenance of them as they were habitat for several species of animal which were an important part of the diet of the farmers’ family.

Even in the early 20th century, cutting costs was an important part of farming and as most every farm had a tractor which was used to plow, disc and all the other routine functions that farmers did, an attachment that could be quickly fitted to trim the hedges was desirable.

So most European mowers are mounted on the back of the tractor.

In the U.S.A. Most mowers were developed for state and local government for the maintenance of the highways so the need to quickly remove the mower and do other work was not an issue. They were dedicated units, a mowing machine.

 

Why are we now considering that there is a need for a "new" mower?

 

The downside of European mowers is the fact that as they are attached to the rear of the tractor the operator has to turn his head to see what he or she is cutting making it uncomfortable or even damaging over time.

 

So why did Europe build mowers that were an ergonomic nightmare?

Early farm tractors were configured with the operators’ seat on, or even behind the rear axle. They did not have cabs so there was a clear view and the mower head was quite close to the operators’ line of sight. Also, as there were many other chores for the tractor hedging would not have been an ongoing operation.

Over the years tractors manufacturers have designed cabs to sit farther and farther forward making the operator turn his head more and more to see what he is mowing causing more discomfort.

Mower manufactures have tried to combat this by providing "cranked forward arms" but the combination of cab doors and the real danger of cab damage make it a less than satisfactory solution.

Many USA users with mid mount mowers like the fact that they can also have an 8ft rear mount 'flat' mower so that they can mow a wide swath when needed or use either one as the need presents itself.

So why not drop the rear mount boom mower and build all mid-mounts.

Mid mount mowers are suffering with the same problem.

Earlier tractors with cabs well back allowed the mower manufacturer to place the mower at any convenient place between the rear and front wheels. There was room to put the hydraulic tank on the left hand side to help with the counterweight of the tractor and still have room for the operator to open the door and get in. With the popularity of four wheel drive and the cab forward style the space between the wheels is seriously reduced and hydraulic tanks are being placed in many different places making the unit both more expensive and requiring more counter weight.

 Of course the right hand door in most cases cannot be opened wide enough for the operator to get out which could be an issue in an emergency.

Mid mount mowers are built either on the right or left of the tractor. If it was mowing a single sided levee the tractor would need to be 'roaded' back to the start to make a second pass.(unless the operator wanted to mow in reverse!)

Depending how the mower is stored when moving from job to job the operator may not be able to have an unobstructed view to the right curb with the potential of injury to joggers or cyclists. 

When using a mid-mount mower the operator sees the rocks after he hits them, a rear mount operator sees the rocks before he hits them.

When it comes to the inevitable breakdown the extra labor to remove the mower to work on the tractor is a considerable factor. Even routine maintenance is more difficult.

Mid mount mowers cannot articulate as well as rear mount mowers. To mow at intermediate heights  it is necessary for the tractor to stand away from the work something that would be impossible in the narrow country lanes of Europe and an inconvenience in the USA where an extra traffic lane would need to be coned off.  

It may be hard to understand but mid-mount tractors require much more counterweight that a rear mount mower. Even to 10 times that of a rear-mount of the same reach.  It may be a safety and legal issue if the tractor is loaded to a weight higher than the federal ROPS cab is certified.

So we need a mower that can:-

Be easily fitted to the tractor.

Regular maintenance or tractor tear down no harder than a tractor with no attachment.

A smaller amount of ballast.

An unobstructed view forward, left and right when driving from job to job.

No neck twisting to see what is being mowed.

Good articulation to be able to mow 'close in'.

Can have an 8ft 'flat mower mounted at the same time and can be used either in conjunction or independently.

Unobstructed access to both doors.

A good view of the terrain in front of the mower head. 

A boom mower that can mow to the left or right hand side of the tractor all functions done hydraulically from the cab.

Does such a mower exist?

Yes    

 

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