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It's Mowing Season! - Part II

By: Brian Goley

Introduction:

After reading the article title, some of you are asking “Mowing Season!?!  It is the middle of winter!  Is ATV Source crazy?”  No, we are not crazy.  Our mowers have been in hibernation since mid-November, but spring is just around the corner and what better time to start thinking about mowing your lawn.

OK, so mowing your lawn is the last thing on your mind at this time of the year.  We fully understand.  But, what a perfect time for us to tell you about two pull behind mowers that will change the way you think about using an ATV to manage your lawn mowing needs.

kunz Engineering, Inc.We have completed a long term test of two Kunz Engineering Mowers.  We have hitched up the AcrEase mowers for an entire mowing season and have run them through their paces on our proving grounds.  The evaluated units are:  The Finish Cut, Model C60K, which is a 60-in. commercial mower with 3 blades and a 15 HP Kohler engine and the Rough Cut, Model MR55K, which is a 57-in mower with 2 blades and a 20 HP Kohler engine. See article:  “It's Mowing Season! - Part I” for more details and specifications on each mower.

First Impressions:

Finish Cut Model C60K
Finish Cut Model C60K

Our initial impression of the mowers was “Impressive”.  The Finish Cut deck appears similar to any undercarriage riding mower deck, just with an engine sitting on top of it.  The Rough Cut, on the other hand, surprised us.  Even after seeing photos and reading the measurements on paper, the overall size of the mower was more than what we anticipated.

Both mowers are constructed with quality materials and the fit and finish is of high quality.  One can tell the type of workmanship on a product of this type by the look of the weld points.  On these mowers, the weld points were clean and solid.

Mowers with 7 to 10 GA metal decks are considered standard for high quality mower decks.  They are made to withstand hours of use without cracking or showing signs of weakness.  The Kunz mowers have 10 GA decks with additional spindle top plates of 7 GA metal on the Finish Cut and ¼" on the Rough Cut.  Couple that with 25mm and 30mm spindle shafts, respectively, and it is obvious this provides plenty of extra protection to withstand any unseen jarring of the cutting blades or unintentional operator abuse.

Rough Cut Model MR55K
Rough Cut Model MR55K

Both mowers have the key electric start, throttle leakage, choke, and digital tach on the front.  The battery is housed in a protective case that is located on the rear of the mower's deck behind the engine.  The location provides for a well protected battery.  Protection of the battery on the Rough Cut unit is very important as we found the unit would collect brush and debris near or around the gas tank and engine.  If the battery was located any place in front of or beside the engine, there could be the possibility of damage.

The mowers come with a 3 3/4 gallon gas tank.  The oversize of the tank allows for extended mowing times on those large mowing jobs without the need to stop for refueling.

We noticed the rubber grommet mounts on the belt shields of each mower.  These grommets help to eliminate excessive noise and vibrations during operation.  The grommets are a well thought out design.  Hearing the constant chatter of metal against metal is not a pleasant sound and tends to make the operator believe there is something seriously wrong with the unit.

A height adjustment gage and wrench are provided with the Finish Cut mower and can be carried with the mower at all times.  The tools are a nice addition.  They help with accurate height adjustment even while you are out mowing.

Alright, so the mower's appearances are “Impressive”.  Hitch them up and let's see how they cut.

Mower Operation:


Screw Pin Shackle Clevis

The mowers attach to the ATV’s hitch with a universal screw pin shackle clevis style attachment.  The clevis design allows for 45 degrees of rotational motion in both directions, 90 degrees of vertical motion both up and down and 90 degrees of horizontal motion in both directions.  These freedoms of motion are very critical on rough uneven ground and full offset mowing such as road ditches or hilly terrain.  The only drawback to this type of attachment is that it allows the shackle clevis to move around more than a pin or ball & hitch setup.  Over time, we notice hitch damage from backing up the mowers.


Finish Cut Height Adjustment

The Finish Cut mower’s cutting height can be adjusted from 1” to 4”. The height adjustment gage and wrench, provided with the mower, comes in handy.  Height adjustment is accomplished by adjusting the height adjusting bolts on each of the four corners and on the optional floatation kit (if installed).  To ensure the deck height is equally adjusted on both sides, make sure the mower is placed on level ground and slide the gage under the deck, allowing the deck’s edge to slip into the height slot.  Add 5/16”, the distance between the bottom of the deck to the actual cutting blade, to the gage height and this is the actual cutting height.  The cutting height adjustment is a little time consuming if the owner needs to make cutting height adjustments.  A total of 3 bolts per wheel will need to be loosened, adjusted, and retighten.  Add to that, the unlocking and locking of the locking nuts per wheel.  If the floatation kit is installed, this would be a total of 18 bolts and 6 locking nuts.


Rough Cut Height Adjustment Screw

The cutting height adjustment on the Rough Cut is as easy as cranking the two height adjustment screws or hand cranks on both sides of the mower to the desired height.  Height can be adjusted from 2” to 8”.  To ensure the deck height is equally adjusted on both sides, make sure the mower is located on even ground.  6 equal turns on the cranks will equal 1” of vertical movement.  Add 1 5/16” to get the actual final cut height as the distance between the lower edge of the deck is 1 5/16” from the actual cutting height.

Starting the mowers was easy as turning the gas on, setting the choke, adjusting the throttle to start, and turning the key.  Both units fire right up on the first turn of the key with either a cold or hot engine.  We only logged 3 occasions where we had to turn the key 2 or 3 times before the engine started.  This only occurred when we ran the units completely out of gas.

The Finish Cut mower operates on a centrifugal clutch engagement.  As engine RPMs are increased the clutch will grab the belt and engage the mower blades.  The clutch engages at 1850 RPMs.


Manual Clutch Engagement

Engaging the mower blades on the Rough Cut is a manual process.  It is a matter of running the engine at about half throttle and moving the clutch level over to the engage mark. When engaging the blade, the belt would make a sharp ear piercing screech until the blades were fully engaged.  This is normal and doesn’t cause any damage to the belt.

Each unit has a battery powered digital tach located on the front control panel.  The tach displays the engines RPMs when the engine is running and the total hours of operation when the engine is not running.  Having this information is extremely helpful when throttling the engine for blade engagement and tracking hours of use for regular maintenance.

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