Brush cutting is a tough and sometimes unpredictable business. I remember early on, when we first started into the brush cutter market, almost 10 years ago now, a customer told me “if you do any amount of brush cutting…. you will break something”. That being said we have spent years improving our design to be more robust for this heavy commercial use.
There is however a number of proactive things that can help keep you from unnecessary down time and expense:
- Do you have the right brush cutter for the job? Often times we see customer begin with a less expensive unit because, “they are only doing light work”. Then the neighbor sees how good it works and asks for some heavier brush to be cleared, this is when the trouble begins. Be sure you are working within the manufacturers recommendations, and always check the customer reviews. Unfortunately, some less than reputable companies clearly overstate their capacity, but the customer never lies.
- Carefully inspect the area you will be mowing to find hidden objects, especially if it is the first time it has been cleared. One customer I know ran up on a 3-point hitch attachment half buried in the ground. He was moving full speed, without every inspecting the area, and not only did he injure himself but the brush cutter was almost a complete write off. Even the smallest of things can wreak havoc on a cutter. Take fence wire as an example, a major killer for brush cutters and very time consuming to remove.
- Inspect your brush cutter thoroughly before each use. Due to the nature of the industry, every part of the brush cutter will see stress. The blades should be checked every few hours of use, especially if working in a rocky area or cutting larger brush. Inspect the deck and drive assembly for any hairline cracks or stress areas, and be sure all the bolts are tight. If the drive is oil filled, check to ensure that it is full, and if it is a grease drive, ensure that the proper maintenance schedule is being followed.
- Check all bolts and nuts at least weekly for any signs of loosening, and replace anything broken. Due to the constant vibration in heavy brush, things tend to come loose. Simply make it a habit to check every time you enter the machine.
- Be sure hydraulic connections are free of debris before connecting them up. Hooking up the hydraulic couplers is an opportunity to introduce dirt and debris into the hydraulic system on your host machine and your cutter, which could lead to further internal problems.
- Check the hydraulic flow range of the host machine and your cutter, to be certain you are operating within the safe operating range. Now that high flow can be run through the standard flow couplers on a few skid steers, extra precaution must be taken to ensure you are not over pressuring your brush cutter if it is not set up for high flow. Permanent damage will occur and a severe safety hazard can be created due to the blades turning much faster than they should.
- Be consistent while running the cutter, starting and stopping the blades continuously or switching directions without the unit stopping will reduce the life of the motor. The continuous flow function helps with this issue.
- Do not push the brush cutter excessively to the point it is continuously bogged down or on the edge of bogging as this can create unnecessary heat. If the cross port relief valves are constantly opening, then heat is created and problems will follow.
- Keep the deck clear of extensive build up especially around the motor area to allow proper cooling.
The vast majority of damage is preventable. That rush to finish a job may cost you far more in parts and downtime that you were going to make. It is worth the time and effort to inspect your equipment and treat it well.