Wet weather? It’s raining so much that it looks as though we might have to postpone the test. But willing testers and a machine that oozes confidence see us trying the National I Trim, first on gentle ground and then on banks.
National Mower is one of the oldest independent turf equipment manufacturers in the US — its first cylinder mower was produced in 1919. Known in the UK for its National 68 and 84 triple mowers, the appearance of the newer I Trim comes with the distribution now in the hands of West Midlands-based supplier IPU Group.
The National I Trim is a rotary triplex with a difference. For starters, it has been specially engineered to cut undulating terrain on slopes and banks. It’s built like a go-kart, behaves like one and is similar to drive. And that’s the secret. The National I Trim has a very low centre of gravity and it is small, so not only does it perform well on the slopes but it is also nippy on the corners. It has a tight turning circle, ideal for trimming around bunkers and with around 25cm of overhang there is no need to worry about landing in the sand. It even copes well with those awkward kidney shapes. It is also excellent on slopes.
Powered by a beefy 34hp Briggs & Stratton turbo diesel engine, the I Trim has a cutting width of just 1.78m — yet it is productive. Productivity comes from the performance and that’s down to manoeuvrability. There is certainly no time wasted driving this one. And being hydrostatic, speed is as variable as you like and it is quick to switch from forward to reverse using the single pedal control.
The rear-mounted engine, combined with the low centre of gravity, gives stability. It also helps increase traction. The three-axis rotation allows the decks to follow uneven ground. At the front of each of the three 66cm decks there are 10cm-diameter steel anti-scalp rollers and at the rear there are solid steel rollers with triple lip seals.
Operating the National I Trim is simplicity. The instruments and indicator warning lights — engine temperature, oil pressure, battery charge, glow plug indicator, fuel filter water trap and digital hour meter — are all on a console to the left. But it is the driving position that steals the hearts of our testers.
Not only is the National I Trim a great drive, it leaves an outstanding finish — even in wet conditions. The rear rollers give a classic striped finish. Height of cut is adjustable from 40mm to 100mm in 6.4mm increments. It is a simple matter of moving spacers. The decks are made of seven-gauge welded steel and can be either rear-discharge or mulch. It is hoped that a five-gang version will be available soon.
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