The Auto-Rotorake works on the successful counter-rotating principle, developed by Sisis in the 1960s, and has the effect of throwing the removed thatch forwards as well as holding the machine to the ground to give a constant working depth. This is a precision machine.
Power for the Auto-Rotorake comes from a 5.5hp Kubota engine. It’s easy to start and fires up first time for each of the testers. What’s more, the excellent weight distribution of the machine combined with full differential makes this unit a dream to manoeuvre, as our Killerton team finds out.
“It’s got lovely balance and it handles really well. The wide, smooth tyres and the diff mean you can spin it round easily to turn back on yourself,” says our tester.
Controls are easy to use but the clever thing is that the depth-of-cut adjustment is mounted on the handles to provide precision depth control at the fingertips and on the move. All this, plus a good speed, adds up to a work rate in the region of 1,250m2/h – or a bowling green every 45 or 50 minutes.
This machine could be used regularly on fine turf – aggressively before and after the playing season and lightly throughout the growing season. A range of interchangeable reels makes it all the more likely that the Auto-Rotorake will not spend much time in the shed.
It takes just seconds to change the reels. Fitted as standard, the thatch removal reels have 24 heavy-duty, double-edged blades spaced at 19mm. They really rip the moss and thatch out — it’s hard to keep up with emptying the box.
To control thatch build-up, remove unwanted grasses and control the speed of the green, there is the thatch control reel with 24 offset triangular blades spaces at six-millimetre intervals. And for light scarification there is the verticut reel with 35 thin, sharpened, triangular blades spaced at 12mm.
Options include a brush reel with nylon bristles in a spiral for grooming and debris collection, the combined reel with thatch-removal blades interspersed with brush sections for improved collection from longer grass and the Rolaspike surface spiker with 96 tines to penetrate to a depth of 10mm to 15mm. All in all, we reckon this machine represents a sound long-term investment.
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