Gardner seems awestruck as he watches the clippings fly from the full width of the rear roller on the RMX180. And this is only the baby of the range. There are 2.4m, 3m, 3.6m and 4.8m models.
If you want a mower that will outpace many others, this is the one. The secret to its excellent performance is a staggeringly fast tip speed of 86m/sec. This creates a draught that lifts the grass under the deck, preparing it for cutting. It also creates a vacuum to hold clippings while they are recut before being sprayed out at the rear.
"It mows at a good speed without bouncing," says Gardner. "It's distributing grass the full width of the roller - it's impressive." Tyrrell inspects the cut and adds: "It spreads the cuttings evenly. There's no channelling."
The RMX180 is a development of the line. Wessex first introduced the roller mower range about 15 years ago. It was refreshed five years ago, keeping the best bits and fitting it all in a heavily built 5mm steel deck, reinforced to 10mm at the spindles.
Of course, the ProLine gives all the benefits you would expect of a roller mower - a high-quality cut without the maintenance hassle of a cylinder gang, low servicing costs and the ability to cut over the edge of pavements, reducing follow-on trimming-up.
Drive is transmitted through a precision bevel gearbox for smooth operation and two B-section belts take up the drive to each of the rotors. Fixed jockey pulleys maintain correct belt tension, ensuring performance.
You might think that being belt-driven is a downside. But the twin belts are easily accessed - a quarter-turn of a flathead screwdriver is all that is needed to remove the belt covers for replacement or tensioning. When necessary, belts on a new machine can be tweaked, checked occasionally and adjusted at the front. Belt drive also makes the RMX180 energy efficient.
Taking a look under the deck, it has three spindles that need greasing once a week. Height adjustment requires a 13mm spanner, with setting from 10-100mm made quickly by raising or lowering the rollers at each corner.
The blades incorporate a zone-hardened cutting edge to extend service life. When it does come to replacement, simply unbolt the old blade and bolt on the new.
In use, our testers find the RMX180 manoeuvrable. "It turns tightly in the corners and reverses nicely - that's very useful," says Tyrrell. "And notice how it doesn't flick out rubbish". He ran over two golf balls but neither took flight.
For its performance and economies, the RMX series should interest local authorities, colleges and schools needing to cut playing fields and sports pitches. It should also appeal to golf courses. Tractor requirement for the RMX180 is just 30hp.
Working width: 1.8m
Overall width: 1.95m
Cutting height: 10-100mm
Tractor requirement: 30hp
List price: £4,950 + VAT
Tel: Broadwood International - 01420 478111
Tested This Week
Wessex ProLine RMX180
Major 4200 Roller Mower
Major 8400GR-T Roller Mower
The Review Panel
Andre Gardner, grounds manager, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College
Mark Tyrrell, gardener, Cannington Campus, Bridgwater College
Need to cut grass fast? You could opt for a ride-on mower and, if the area to be cut is large, go for a batwing. You will be spending £20k, £30k, perhaps more.
What if you have a tractor? There are so many mowers for use on the back, front and middle of a tractor that it is hard to know where to start. Perhaps you want the quality cut of a cylinder mower. Gangs "zinging" up and down sports fields were once the norm. Now, with purse-holders looking at every penny, you are just as likely to see a low-maintenance rotary or even flail collector doing the job.
In this review, we look at three rotary mowers - each reputedly leaving a high-quality finish. We also inspect a flail collector to see whether it is worthwhile removing the clippings. In this instance, the flail mower offers more than just grass cutting.
The test took place at the Cannington Land-based Studies Centre of Bridgwater College in Somerset. Conditions on the day were dry and sunny but the grass had been left to grow prior to the test. Long and dense, the grass was also lush when the mowers arrived.