John Deere 1600 Turbo WAM

WAM stands for “Wide Area Mower”, and this one is wide. It boasts a massive 3.25m cutting width. In fact, this unit is more of a “compact tractor with pans”. We reckon it would be ideal if you have vast expanses of playing field to cut. But how will it cope nipping in and out of the trees at Westonbirt?
The design of the 1600 WAM is commercial through and through. The construction is sound, the controls are simple and it’s a comfortable drive all day. The driving position is high, giving a commanding view of the operation to the front and sides. It has a monster 64hp engine with high-torque reserve you can feel. This machine is going to cut acre after acre. But it’s a good idea to make sure it is properly warmed up before you try it on the slopes.
Brimming with enthusiasm, our tester takes the mower across the glade and straight down a bank. In the heavy rain the wheels spin. The diff lock and four-wheel drive struggle to make any difference.
With conditions under foot getting softer by the minute, it’s a long trip back from the bottom of the meadow, via the pathways, to the glade. Perhaps we needed tyres with more grip? On the plus side, the decks followed the contours well. The wings on this unit take “floating” to the extreme — we are talking 45? upwards and 20? downwards.
We thoroughly warm up the machine before mowing the top area. “Comfortable pedals and it’s got very positive forward and reverse control,” notes the tester.
He opts to try the slope and finds enough grip to hold the mower steady. He also finds the 1600 is a tough animal. When he accidentally mows over a lump of wood, the 1600 WAM doesn’t even bat an eyelid. And it’s fast and productive — definitely a contract manager’s dream in that respect.
The controls are “low effort” and are grouped on the right-hand side. Four-wheel drive can be permanently engaged or applied on demand. Another feature we like about this latest JD unit is the way all power can be delivered to the centre deck alone. In effect, that makes it an out-front — with all the power needed for extremely tough conditions. When one deck is raised, all the engine’s power is transferred to the remaining two decks for a great cut.
On the downside, when the wings are folded they remain outside the width of the front deck, so you need to be careful when driving through very narrow space. And take extra care with the transport latches; they hold the pans securely for transport but are likely to bite back when you fasten and unfasten them.

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