Sod cutter thoughts

First off, I'm very satisified with the quick and complete email reply from the current factory reps of the company that now owns the Bouwer Mark 2 sod cutter (originally made in Canada, now HQ'ed in Ohio). Honda GSX144 powered. . . . .After normal maintenance (fuel tank flush) carb cleaning, lub (oil was new and full) tightening loose bolts ect. I was then able to concentrate on a major wear problem. This type sod cutter has two L'shaped cutting arms each about 6" in horizontal lenght. They work opposite of one another while cutting. One arm had its two holes, where it attaches to the ricprocating steel casting, oblonged. These arms are 1/4" material and the casting arms are thicker and tapped to receive the 1/2" bolts. The bolts that attach the arm to the cutter are like old brake lug bolts. They have a hex head, with a countersink immediately under the head, and then the threads, 1/2"x20. These two bolts are tightened through the countersunk cutter arms, against the steel casting arm. Then there is an aviation type stop nut that finishs the job. (A nice touch is that almost all nuts on the machine are lock nuts). To repair the oblong holes I tack welded a 1" circle of 12 ga. metal over the small side of each of the oblong holes. I then center punched witness marks where the center of the holes should be. Then I filled the holes with weld, then ground both sides flush, and bored out to 1/2" . A friend used his 1" countersink on then to give me a countersink 1/8" deep.
. . . .After learning the hard way, I offer some insights into what I have encountered. I only had my sprinkler system on for a few days (every other day watering) so my sod was not saturated. It should have been. In fact I'll rent a 'plug puller' next time, so I can get the water down at least 2" and throughly soak the sod. One my first attempt I had not mown the lawn. That was the pits. The cutter works best when the lawn is really short, as then the cutters can get under the roots. The decal on the machine says "if you have to push the machine, you are taking too big a bite. Reduce the thickness of sod being cut".. . .Well, it seems that my old, dry, thick, dense, hard sod was too much for the machine on the first day. Next day a I mowed it short, and watered it (too late) and it did well (at least better), in some places. But I had done the opposite...I took as big a bite as the machine delivered, as I was attempting to get the cutter down into the soft black dirt, and under the sod roots. It seems that was the right choice. . . .In order to overcome the dry tough sod, I had a friend assist me. I was cutting lenghts 14' long. We used a steel stake in the ground at the head of each 14' lane, and to this we attached a set of double falls. Rope block and tackle with 2 pulleys on each block (4 part falls). It was necessary to use the metal stake as when we tried to pull the cutter with just man power, the machine tended to raise up and not perform. With the block and tackle, the machine fairly ate up the tough sod. Cutting is not a problem, traction is the big problem. Machine cuts like the dickens. It seems that the attitude of the machine is very important while cutting.. if the handle bars are low, it will attempt to take an even bigger bite, and fail. If they are too high, then the cutter gets up in the tough sod roots, and the drive drum then just strips the grass where it is spinning. The drive unit is a drum about 20" x 10" in dia, and it is covered with expanded metal mesh (1/4"). It seems if there were any words of wisdom they would be like "keep it moving". In some places where the sod was not so dense the machine perfomed well with only slight pushing needed. But for most of the conditions I had, the pulley system added the necessary oomp. I also found it worked best when I created a slot for the cutters to start in... I also cut a line with a hand sod cutter where I wanted the lane to end. This was only to make a neat ending..the machine usually was loaded with sod when it was shut down, past the line. But the marked out lanes were neat. It seems they do not like to dig into the sod, and make their own entry point. . . .I can see where the machine were working on new sod, it would be a piece of cake. . . . One need not go to the gym for a workout, after an encounter with a sod cutter.
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theChas. said:

Heh. Yup. Just remember to keep yer shins back, outta the way. =)
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