The Groundsman

June 2015

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AWARD SPONSOR 45 the Groundsman June 2015 Visit for more information and digital editions wo blades are used in the cutting process; a fixed bottom blade and a rotating cutting cylinder with multiple spiral blades. The result is a sideways, scything cut as the knife travels across the face of the bottom blade. The two blades are set very close to each other, and it is essential that the cylinder can turn freely after it is set 'on cut' - anything more than the very lightest contact creates friction between the two surfaces and generates heat and expansion. T A cut above... There's no substitute for a correctly set and adjusted cutting unit to get the best finish on turf, yet many struggle with what is a simple mechanical adjustment By: Ian Mitchell Friction caused by heavy contact heats the components and as they cool the hardness gained during manufacture is lost and they go 'soft'. Soft blades lose their edge quickly and will not stay on cut, regardless of grinding or backlapping. There must be a gap between the blades to avoid friction and heat. The correct gap can be found in the operator's manual, but essentially the following works for all cutting units. Setting strips or photocopier quality paper is the ideal way to set the gap; you can use feeler gauges or shim steel, but you'll very soon cut the ends off if the cylinders are sharp, so paper is best. Use the paper as a feeler gauge and slowly reduce the gap at either end of the unit until the paper will just slide between the two blades. With the gap set, double the paper and spin the cylinder to check the cut. Freshly ground units will cut both pieces cleanly; used units which are still sharp will cut one and crease the other. A unit that will not cut paper cleanly will not cut grass cleanly. The cylinder and bottom blade both have to be sharp and correctly set in order to cut cleanly and efficiently. The health, quality and appearance of your turf depend on this. While not everyone will have access to a heated, well-lit and fully equipped workshop, you do need a clean, level area to work on and sufficient light, as well as having the right tools to hand. The operator's handbook should be available, so you can check actual settings as you go. The unit must be washed off and dry; you should wear gloves; and use a spanner or a suitable length of wood to turn the cylinder - not your fingers. l Ian Mitchell began his career as an apprentice at Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies in 1979 and has worked in the Far East, Europe and the UK. About the Author Use paper as a guide to setting the gap between the blades

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