Sickle mowing speed?

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macmonter
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Sickle mowing speed?

Postby macmonter » Sat Aug 20, 2011 8:51 pm

Since buying my '53 Cub with a #22 mower 25 years ago, I always cut my meadow in 1st gear at the highest throttle notch. A while ago I hurt my back and hired a local farmer to use my Cub to cut the meadow. He was a green tractor guy who admitted to never having cut a field with a sickle bar mower. Since he's the farmer and I'm not, I just let him get to work. While observing from my front yard, I thought the engine sound and forward motion to be a little slow. I flagged him down and saw the throttle in about the 2/3 position. When I stated that I always used top speed, he gave me an incredulous look. This is a guy who makes his living by using farm equipment so I thought maybe he knows something that I don't. Who's right? (BTW, he was being paid by the hour)

My back is OK now, and I'm using the Cub again - at full throttle!

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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby Bigdog » Sat Aug 20, 2011 9:10 pm

I run my sickle bar mower at about 2/3 to 3/4 throttle. Gear choice depends on how heavy the stuff is I am cutting. Either first or second gear.
All you need is enough sickle speed to let the knife cut easily through the grass. I find full throttle speed is un-necessary and tends to cause more vibration than necessary.
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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby Scrivet » Sat Aug 20, 2011 10:18 pm

I don't have a specific setting to always mow. I have used first and second to mow, throttle depends on how heavy (thick) the grass and or weeds are and how sharp the knives are and will change as the conditions change from one part of the field to another. I use whatever combination is fast enough to get the grass to fall over the bar and slow enough to keep from laying it over before cutting it.

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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby v w » Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:28 am

Never mowed with a sickle on a Cub but have cut many acres with an H. We always cut at full throttle with the gear determined by what we were cutting, generally third. Sometimes as slow as low if cutting wind blown and down stuff because you cut each piece several times. Later cuttings of alfalfa most of the time in fourth. IH built things to run at full throttle. For anyone doubting whether a sickle will run at full try running a pto combine at less, lots of luck with the straw walkers. Vern

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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby Denny Clayton » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:47 am

v w wrote:Never mowed with a sickle on a Cub but have cut many acres with an H. We always cut at full throttle with the gear determined by what we were cutting, generally third. Sometimes as slow as low if cutting wind blown and down stuff because you cut each piece several times. Later cuttings of alfalfa most of the time in fourth. IH built things to run at full throttle. For anyone doubting whether a sickle will run at full try running a pto combine at less, lots of luck with the straw walkers. Vern

I agree with running the combine at the proper speed, but it is also sticking out behind being pulled by the drawbar. A sickle bar mower attached to a small Cub trying to beat itself to death is another matter. The mower is difficult to keep balanced and an old one is even worse. Run it at whatever speed gets the job done and feels comfortable. I'm with Bigdog on this since my sickle mower is far from new and runs well at 1/2 to 3/4 throttle.
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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby Jim Becker » Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:27 am

I have to mostly agree with Vern on this one. When I was on the farm, we usually mowed with a C. We not only ran at full throttle, we had an high speed attachent on the mower. It ran the cutter bar about 10% faster than it normally would run at full throttle. A patch of rough ground was about the only reason we would throttle back. Problem grass requires a lower gear and keeping cutter speed up is even more important.

If you are having trouble with hard cutting or excessive vibration, you need to look into cutter bar condition and adjustment. On a Cub mower, you have to pay particular attention to cutter bar lead because the adjustment is lost when the mower is removed from the tractor. Furthermore, adjusting the lead changes the register. So if you just slap the mower on the tractor, both will be messed up. READ THE MANUAL!!!

You need to keep your cutter bar in good shape. The knife needs to be sharp and the hold down clips need to be tight enough to do their job. You need to make sure the mounting bolts are tight. You should check them daily (especially when it is first mounted). If you let them run loose, the bolt heads and the mating surfaces on the mower will wear, making it even harder to keep them tight.

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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby Jim Becker » Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:07 am

Here are a couple pictures of some tough mowing. This stuff was so thick, much of it wouldn't fall over after it was cut until you drove over it. Dried tangle in the bottom made it even worse. You'd never cut it if you didn't keep the knife speed up.

Image

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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby macmonter » Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:11 pm

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE! I've learned much from the short time I've been a member of this forum. Though there have been some differences of opinion, I now understand that sickle mowing speed is not an exact science and is determined by a number of factors. Condition and type of vegetation, equipment feel and proper equipment condition and adjustment play a part in choosing the right combination of gear and throttle. Following Jim Becker's advice of "READ THE MANUAL!!!" led me to the manual's link where I learned that there was a lot about the #22 mower's proper adjustment that I was unaware of. I have never used any other piece of equipment to mow my meadow so I was not knowledgeable of what was right especially about how much vibration is normal. I'm anxious to get my Cub out of the shed and apply the adjustments described in the manual.

Thanks, again!

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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby Russ Leggitt » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:52 pm

Boy what a rememberance!! When I was growing up on the farm my dad cut hay for the public. We would cut and bale around 100,000 square bales a year. I, as Jim, used a "C" and then a "230". I cut every type vegetation that growes in Mississippi and if you did not keep a sharp sickle, have the mower properly adjusted, and run at a high speed you would never cut some of the grasses and forage we have here. Last week I cut about 10 acres with my CUB and #22 with a five (5) foot bar. I ran it one notch from full throttle and cut grasses and forage almost waist high. I was able to run in second the entire time.

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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby Mr E » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:59 pm

This has been a great thread. The sickle bar is still my favorite implement. Just love to hear that clickity clak and watch the grass fall over. :{_}: :{_}:
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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby v w » Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:38 am

May I get in one more? Years ago there was all kinds of power. The Beligan could pull out large trees but the only thing that walked slower were the yaks. The Clydesdales were fast walkers but didn't like heavy loads so were best on milk wagons. Mules pulled quite well and were the fastest walking draft animals. Mowers were ground driven and the sickle speed determined by the speed of the animal, the cuts/foot remained the same. Since sickles were used with many different teams the speed was different also. So I guess the speed is not critical.. And no I was not around to see this. Case closed? Vern

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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby Jim Becker » Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:35 pm

v w wrote:Case closed? Vern

Oh no, that just opened up another aspect.

The comments about horse-drawn mowers got my curiosity. So I went out and did some counting on a Number 6 mower. The wheels are 32 inches in diameter. I couldn't get enough of a view to get an exact count of the teeth on the spur gears, but it looked like about 65 teeth driving about 12 teeth. the bevel gears have a 58 tooth ring driving a 12 tooth pinion. That calculates to 3.126 turns of the crank each foot. As already stated, ground speed will depend on the breed, condition etc. of the draft animals. I picked a ground speed of 2.5 MPH as something near an average number. That calculates to 688 rpm. If the ground speed is pushed up to 3.0 mph, the crank reaches 825 rpm. This is all subject to some adjustment if I missed the gear counts by a few teeth.

The Cub has either a 4 or 4-1/2 inch drive pulley with a driven pulley of about 8-1/2 inches. Apply those ratios to a PTO speed of 1,600, you get a crank speed of 753 or 847. First gear of a Cub is 2 mph and second is 3 mph. With a 4-1/2 drive pulley and the tractor in second gear, you get about 3.208 turns of the crank per foot. That is pretty close to the #6 mower.

So you can run full speed in second for Clydesdale speed or throttle back for Belgian.

Difficult cutting that requires first gear would be very difficult with the horse drawn mower.

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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby macmonter » Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:19 pm

I forgot to mention in my original post that my meadow is sloped with some places as much as 25 degrees. 1st gear provides enough power without stalling while mowing up the shallower hills and 1st gear also holds down the speed when mowing down the steeper hills reducing the amount of brake use. The grass in my Vermont meadow is not very thick , and I usually cut it before it gets a foot high. I probably could use 2nd gear on the flat area but having to stop and shift between the flat and hills would be a hassle - throttling back on the flat makes sense.

Sorry to have omitted the type of terrain I mow. I guess that's one more factor to be considered in choosing throttle/gear when sickle mowing. I've lived in hilly Vermont so long that I forgot that most farming is done on level ground.

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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby Clark Thompson » Mon Aug 22, 2011 8:33 pm

I have to agree with Jim on most of it. It all depends on the condition of the mower. Proper pitman ( hickory wood with proper demonsions ).Slop in the mower connection points/pivit points. Type of pitman crank bearing. Roller type takes a slightley different pitman than the bushing type. I have a new old stock cub 22 mower with a 5 ft cut. I used it one time. :shock: I was amazed at how smooth it ran compared to the old worn out one I usually use. :? Needless to say I rebuilt the old one back to new condition and put the NOS mower back in the shed. :D .. I run my mower at about 1/2 throttle in second gear is light weeds and tall hay. Now when i get into a lot of heavy weeds and underbrush I use 1st gear at the same engine speed. Always keep a eye on the front bolts that hold the mower to the tractor.If even one comes loose it will beat the tractor to death. If two come loose and you dont tighten them up it may bust the housing. These bolts must be kept very tite. Dont ask how i know this! :oops:
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Re: Sickle mowing speed?

Postby RedBess » Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:34 am

My follow up question to looking at the pictures of Jim Becker cutting the thick grass is: does the grass have to be raked off in order to cut field the following year? I cut my field once a year and rake it, because I thought letting the old stuff tangle up the mower next year. Jim, did you have to rake the cut grass?
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