Vermeer SC352

Vermeer says this stump cutter is sufficiently versatile, lightweight and compact to tackle those hard-to-reach stumps hidden in the backyard. It certainly is. What’s more, it is big on power, gives a terrific performance and is remarkably simple to use.
With the SC60TX having ground down more than half the stump, it’s up to the SC352 to finish the job. Like its tracked big brother, this machine has two-speed ground drive. It only takes a couple of minutes to unload it from the trailer, travel 50m across the lawn and enter the work site through the narrow gap between fence and shrubbery. Traction is good and the turf is undamaged.
The mountain of sawdust generated by the first cutter is in the way and moves under the SC352’s wheels. It has to be partly cleared and the machine repositioned for work. This unit steers from the front, hydraulically. With the control lever located in a convenient place, it is easy to position the machine next to the stump. As soon as the lever is released, the brakes come on.
The SC352 is quite a weighty machine at the front end, so Vermeer has fitted dual wheels. They also improve stability during the operation but can be removed to reduce the machine’s width to 89cm for accessing very tight sites.
Each front wheel has a drive motor, giving a hydraulic diff lock at the touch of a button. The latest version of this model has single bolts, making wheel removal and re-fitting even quicker. There is also a four-wheel drive version with an oscillating axle.
The control levers are all on one side of the machine but are divided into two sections. There are two for the two-speed travel — transport and work modes — while the three nearest the front of the unit operate the cutter. The control panel also carries all the instrumentation you need, clearly laid out so everything is instantly recognisable. The whole console is positioned in such a way that the operator can easily walk beside the machine while it is travelling, but it also provides a perfect view of the cutting operation.
Clearly, a lot of thought has gone into making this unit as contractor-friendly as possible. The fuel gauge can be found on the filler cap and there is easy access to the filters and battery. All grease nipples have plastic covers.
There are engine options on the SC352, including a 35hp Briggs & Stratton petrol model. We use one fitted with a 34hp Daihatsu diesel engine. It’s torquey but quiet. Power is transferred to the cutter wheel in two stages. The driveline goes through an electromagnetic clutch — easily engaged at the flick of a switch — and a first-stage belt-drive to a second-stage, 90? upper and lower gearbox drive. With the gearbox positioned within a protective frame on the blind side, the machine is kept compact and the operator’s view of the stump is unimpeded.
Like the SC60TX, this workhorse also comes with the Autosweep engine-monitoring system as standard. Although non-adjustable on this model, Autosweep provides a smooth cut across the stump by slowing the sweep rate when the engine dips and even stopping the sweeping motion if necessary to prevent the engine from stalling while cutting hard wood.
All this should add up to increased life for the machine and drive components and an easier life for the operator. A safety cut-out protects the engine from overheating or low oil pressure.
Fitted with the same teeth as the SC60TX, the 46cm wheel on this machine nibbles relentlessly at the stump, turning the wood into fine sawdust, rather than chips. Although an optional dozer blade is available, we find the sawdust easy to shift with a shovel. It’s a result — and all for £13,750.

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