Run it over the grass and you will be impressed instantly with the quality of cut. We reckon the Major 4200 Roller Mower is worthy of closer inspection whether you need to cut a racecourse, pitches or lawns.
One of a series of four three-point linkage mounting roller mowers from Major Equipment, the 4200 has front and rear heavy-duty rollers fitted with internal bearings and complete with scraper bars as standard. It is 4ft wide and has two rotors, each with four blades. It is gear-driven so there should be less maintenance and no faffing about with belts.
The blades are contra-rotating and synchronised so they constantly overlap by 75mm, regardless of whether one set is working in long grass and the other cutting shorter material. Being enclosed within an aerofoil chamber, the blade recuts the clippings into small pieces. Tip speed is an astonishing 75m/sec. The result is a remarkably fine finish and excellent distribution of the cut grass across the full width of the machine. Gardner is excited: "I want one."
We found the 4200 was comfortable at 5-6mph, giving a quality cut, following the contours well and with no bounce. While it is not the fastest machine in the stable, what it loses on the sprints it more than makes up when turning. There is no need to lift this one. It will carry on cutting on the turn and even when reversing.
"That's a big advantage," says Gardner. "You don't have to lift the unit every time you want to turn or reverse - just get on with mowing rather than constantly manoeuvring."
The finish is a good stripe and well dispersed clippings, which surprises us considering the height and lushness of the grass being cut. Height of cut is adjustable from 150mm down to 12mm so this machine should be happy mowing parkland, pitches or cricket outfields.
It takes a couple of spanners to set and lock the cutting height by raising or lowering the rollers. This is done at each corner of the mower. The lower nut is the lock nut. The domed nut is the adjuster and rotated clockwise or anticlockwise to move the roller up or down. The grooves in between are in 0.25in increments so it is easy to count down the lines and check that all four adjusters are registering the same height.
"That's simple enough," Gardner confirms. "And it's a good range of cutting heights. I like the fact that it is capable of cutting right down for a cricket outfield or able to leave it much longer - it's got versatility."
We quickly discover another advantage of the full-width rollers. They make it possible to run over the edge of a path without worrying about blades digging into the ground and significantly reducing the need for follow-up trimming.
The 4ft model is likely to be deemed too small by many needing to mow pitches commercially, but we see it as ideal for parks and grounds and all those awkward spaces on campuses or around hospitals. The gearboxes, blades, rollers and scrapers are consistent throughout the range of Major roller mowers so the same results should be achieved from wider mowers in the range.
Maintenance is simple. In fact, it is minimal. The spindles and rollers need greasing, along with a quick squirt of grease on the PTO shaft. The 4200 also comes with an auto-reset slip clutch as standard - the modern version sheer-bolt PTO.
Working width 1.35m
Rotors: Two, each with four blades
Cutting height: 12-150mm
Tractor requirement: 20-35hp
List price: £5,170 + VAT
Tel: Major Equipment - 01524 850501
Tested This Week
Wessex ProLine RMX180
Major 4200 Roller Mower
Major 8400GR-T Roller Mower
The Review Panel
Andre Gardner, grounds manager, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College
Mark Tyrrell, gardener, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College
Need to cut grass fast? You could opt for a ride-on mower and, if the area to be cut is large, go for a batwing. You will be spending £20k, £30k, perhaps more.
What if you have a tractor? There are so many mowers for use on the back, front and middle of a tractor that it is hard to know where to start. Perhaps you want the quality cut of a cylinder mower. Gangs "zinging" up and down sports fields were once the norm. Now, with purse-holders looking at every penny, you are just as likely to see a low-maintenance rotary or even flail collector doing the job.
In this review, we look at three rotary mowers - each reputedly leaving a high-quality finish. We also inspect a flail collector to see whether it is worthwhile removing the clippings. In this instance, the flail mower offers more than just grass cutting.
The test took place at the Cannington Land-based Studies Centre of Bridgwater College in Somerset. Conditions on the day were dry and sunny but the grass had been left to grow prior to the test. Long and dense, the grass was also lush when the mowers arrived.