Progressive Pro-Flex 120B tractor-mounted mower

Progressive Pro-Flex 120B trailed mower - image: HW
Progressive Pro-Flex 120B trailed mower - image: HW

Mowing large areas of undulating terrain can be a challenge, particularly where a quality finish is required. We reckon we have found the solution. This mower can get the job done at speed, without scalping or bridging.

For true contour following, a mower must have independently floating decks. This one has five, giving a total cut of 10ft (3.05m), with each 27in (68.6cm) unit free to conform to undulations, bumps and hollows. Watching this mower’s slinky movement across the course is almost mesmerising. At 6mph it will mow 6.5 acres in an hour.

A wheel on each corner of each deck ensures stability, while two anti-scalp rollers on each deck make doubly sure that cutting performance is first-class. Shock absorbers on each deck eliminate bounce as speed increases. The four-way rotating clevis allows the tractor and mower to cross uneven terrain without affecting one another.

"It goes over the contours really well," notes Braund. "It does a really even job of mowing over the difficult parts. It follows extremely well."

The open rear-discharge of each deck provides non-clogging, free dispersal of clippings. But here is a clever feature — in the event of dry and dusty conditions, the opening can be closed down to reduce the risk of raising a sandstorm.

Each deck has its own hydraulic ram and also hydraulic damper, so the ground can be covered quickly. When we get to narrower areas, the two outer decks are simply lifted. The blades of these two decks stop spinning but cutting continues with the three on the ground providing a 1.7m mowing width.

"It’s a nice-size machine, but it is handy to reduce the width when needed," says Braund. He is also impressed with the dispersal of the clippings. "I thought it would leave the clippings in lines, like a series of rear-discharge rotary mowers. But it doesn’t — it’s very tidy."

Although the Pro-Flex is not a zero-turn — it leaves a 16in (41cm) uncut circle at turns — the Lift-N-Turn facility helps to speed operation. Not found on other contour mowers, this feature allows the decks to be raised slightly off the ground, with the PTO still engaged, and then lowered again to continue work after traversing a path or other obstacle. In case you are wondering, reversing is easy with this mower.

The construction is rugged. For all its freedom of movement, there is something firm and solid about this mower. But, just in case, there is added protection. Drive is from the PTO through to a centre-mount clutch, gearbox and then belt drive across the main machine and single belt to each deck. It means if a deck hits an obstacle, that deck belt will fail first. A deck belt takes about half a minute to change — it is so simple.

Changing all the belts is something you would only do approximately every other season and should take about an hour and a half.

Adjusting the height of cut is also remarkably simply. Height can be varied from 3in (76mm) down to ¾in (0.75cm) using the hole pattern system — pull out the pin, move to the next hole and re-insert pin. It means it would be relatively simple to cut an outer edge of rough at a lower height and then leave the remainder at a longer length.

Maintenance looks straight forward and should help to keep running costs down as well as the amount of time spent in the workshop. For starters, it has rubber-damped automatic belt tensioners and maintenance-free bushings to increase belt durability and lift — so no problem there. We are also told there are 25 per cent fewer greasing points than on previous Pro-Flex models, so routine maintenance should be faster. The PTO shaft-greasing interval is 100 hours.

While it seemingly has it all, the Pro-Flex 120B does not need a powerful tractor. It is perfectly capable of running with a 30hp unit and folds to a neat size for transport.

Specifications

Cutting width 3.05m
Height of cut 19-76mm
Transport dimensions (LxWxH)
3.25x2.4x1.25m
Weight 941kg
Tractor 30-40hp
List price £19,945 + VAT
Tel The Grass Group — 01638 720123

With budgets remaining under pressure, no one can afford to waste time when mowing. Time pressure is also a feature on golf and sports facilities as players expect to find facilities ready for use. Mowing must be done quickly, in the most cost-efficient manner and with little or no downtime and delay. Does that mean compromising on presentation?

In this test we look at three trailed mowers. Two — the Progressive TDR-15 and Trimax’s new Snake — are three-deck roller mower configurations that should appeal to those maintaining facilities as varied as parks and pitches to golf courses and turf farms.

We also look at the latest Progressive Pro-Flex model — a contour mower now benefiting from automatic belt tensioners and fewer greasing points. It also features Pro Lift-N-Turn to get you across pathways and back to mowing as quickly as possible. But what will our testers make of this Canadian-built mower, supplied in the UK by The Grass Group?

Test day was a scorcher. High temperatures and a lack of rain over previous days meant the grass was dry. Not ideal mowing conditions, but in a working environment jobs have to be done when they need doing. Parts of the Cannington golf course, plus the driving range, were left for us to mow.

The Review Panel

Sam Braund, grounds worker, Bridgwater College, Cannington Campus

Andre Gardner, grounds manager, Cannington Centre for Landbased Studies, Bridgwater College


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