There are two options for scarifying. The more simplistic is the 1.5m fixed-reel flail scarifier. Intended for flat terrain such as pitches, this is the one we are testing. It sits inside the hood in place of the brush and is capable of mowing, scarifying or both, depending on which knives are fitted. The other option is a flexible scarifier which, with three articulating sections, is suited to following the contours on golf courses. The price difference is over £5,000 but, with the latter fitting in front of the vacuum sweeper, it gives greenkeepers the opportunity to scarify and collect with no scalping on undulating ground. What’s more, for tees and tight spaces, it can also be fitted into a carrying frame for use as a separate unit on the three-point linkage.
“For £1,600 the scarifying reel really extends the use of this machine. These days we all want machinery that is versatile enough to be put to work all year round,” says our tester.
The SG400 arrives pre-fitted with the fixed scarifier reel and is quickly attached to a new Kubota compact tractor. It’s clear to see the attention to detail that has gone into the design of the SG400, which was hand-built in Holland and imported into Britain by Trilo UK. For starters, it has a wide-angle PTO with an 80? knuckle to eliminate the knocking sometimes associated with trailed machines as it tries to turn sharply. It is also fitted with an over-run clutch so the machine winds down of its own accord as soon as it is switched off. The drawbar is extendable, making it easy to alter the height and pitch in order to keep the machine level.
There is only one set of double-acting spools to the tractor and they come complete with clips and covers to keep them out of the dirt. Having just the one set also becomes a safety feature because, by employing a switch-over valve to divert the oil flow, changing from suction to unloading becomes a conscious decision. Running along the side of the unit is an O-ring chain, connecting to a double sprocket that takes the driveline to the hood to power the brush or, in our case, the scarifier reel. There are actually two double sprockets — one delivering 800rpm for sweeping, the other providing the 2,000rpm needed for scarifying. Chain tensioning and V-belt tensioning have been made simple. It is just a case of winding down the tension devices.
The tester makes a few runs up and down the rugby pitch. The length of the SG400 means he has to make quite a big turn in order to line up for the next run and produce a striped finish. “It’s taking time to turn but it has plenty of power to do the job,” he shouts. The hopper capacity means there is no need for repeated trips to empty out the debris.
Assessing the scarified sward, we find the grass blades are sitting up and the removal and pick-up rates of thatch have been excellent. At the heart of the collection system is a high-capacity impeller made of hardened steel and hard-faced. It’s big — 850mm in diameter and five bladed — giving it the strength and might to shift large volumes of debris. And it’s clear to see it is built to last. Trilo claims it will have at least a 10-year life when collecting grass and leaves. Manganese plate is used as the catch point and there is also rubber to absorb the impact of stones or metal objects and eliminate denting. Four V-belts drive the impellor and provide the “give” point in the event of the fan becoming blocked.
There is no doubt that the hopper is of sound construction. It sits nicely balanced on the machine and has a 2m tipping height for emptying into trucks or skips. A four-tonne ram ensures that whatever is collected will be tipped out. Inspecting the debris as it falls from the hopper, the tester is delighted with the volume and type of material collected. The light-green and brown colour indicates that more thatch and moss has been collected than living grass.
Incidentally, a trick we learned on the day: the Trilo with scarifier attachment is a great way to collect storm-fallen twigs — the flail breaks the debris so it is more easily collected by the vacuum.
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