Thursday 2 October 2014

The reciprocating mower

I had never used a sickle mower with reciprocating blades before, and as they were cutting a small patch of meadow grass my team leader briefly showed me how to use it and let me have a go: an impromptu learning opportunity that I really appreciated.

As most mowers, this one was also a four stroke engine, which means you have your lubricating oil separated from the fuel, which makes the exhaust less polluting and also means you have oil amongst your pre-start checks.

The machine had already been checked, and the engine was warm, so no priming needed. I got an explanation on the handles:

  • to the left, with a safety catch, the red handle to engage the blades
  • to the right, the handle to engage the wheels and the throttle control 
Blades handle
Throttle control
Wheels handle

With the throttle on 3/4 to start, I had the honour to pull the recoil start cord. Because it was not self-propelled, the machine was a little heavier to use, but not too unwieldy.

However, as the grass was wet from a morning shower, I soon found out one of the weak points of reciprocating blades (one of the oldest technology and the one still used in hedge trimmers): they get clogged rather easily. Nothing that cannot be solved with a bit of reversing, though, and I am told they are quite good on dry, long grass.

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