Low cost triple mower based on redundant forager

Self propelled forage harvesters such as this New Holland 1900 can become totally worn out in the chopping department, yet the whole motive part remains in perfectly good condition. Rather than accepting a poor part exchange for the worn out machine, Cardigan contractor Graham Parkes held on to it and used it as the basis of a self propelled mower, fitting a triple Claas unit on the front.

The result is a machine which mows for a fleet of foragers, and has been doing so since 2000. There's a good match of the 280HP engine power and the demand from the mower unit, and the variable drive allows a constant rpm on the cutter heads while ground speed is varied to take account of conditions.

Converting the forager was more than replacing the chopper pick up with the mower deck, and much of the work was carried out by Stephen Lewis who worked on the job over the 1999-2000 winter on the job. A front PTO drive, turning in the right direction, was a major necessity, so shafts and gearboxes were fitted inside the harvester which had the chopping cylinder and ancillary parts removed.

The central frame on which the three mower units are mounted was a complex piece of engineering which needed to provide the floating action for the mowers to follow ground contours, and have the side units lift easily for transport through gateways.

From the initial layout of parts it was clear the forager cab was too far forward, and so was moved back 2 ft and lowered at the same time. The weight of the mowers is far greater than forager reel, so added weights were needed at the back to balance the machine. Working awkward and steep fields requires well balanced machinery.

The quality of the conversion job is proved by the work achieved by the Locust, something appreciated by the Parkes customers. Graham was voted 'Contractor of the Year' in 1997.


A heavy crop in an awkward field is cut with surprising ease, due to the tight rear steer and balance of the machine


Wheels run on cleared part of the field with one swath going under and the others to either side


Used to work for graham parkes for a while when he had the silage kits. Very clever chap, remember siting in that mower unit with him when he went in to mow a 12 acre field, was chatting with him for half an hour and then realised he'd finished the bloody field!!
Amazing piece of engineering!

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Variety ‘watch list’ for wheat yellow rust released

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Written by Charlotte Cunningham

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