Ross Murray - 10 Minutes
I spoke at my last 10mins about myself and my work history and interests, for the benefit of new members here today here is a brief bit on my work history and family etc., married with 2 adult children, a daughter, Bronwyn is in Brissy with her family of 2 children and my son Kyle lives in Feilding where he runs his own concreting business , specialising in custom made concrete benchtops, vanity’s, fire halves and furniture etc; Kyles married with a cute 3yo daughter.
My working life has been mainly in the motor trade. - Finished schooling at Taihape College and worked in automotive parts then had the opportunity of a motor mechanic apprenticeship. A move back into a sole charge role in Parts dept management, training a junior parts assistant. Also had a stint in service dept management and a few years in new and used car sales, all of this with the local Chrysler/ Mitsubishi dealership.
In the early 1980’s the economic downturn saw many business’s close in rural N.Z., including Taihape. The dealership where I had worked for 13 years ceased trading and closed. I then worked in partnership with the head mechanic for 2 years, running our own auto servicing workshop. When that partnership was wound up as my business partner and his family departed from Taihape, I worked at another local garage / service station running the parts and workshop, all the time wanting to get back into some sort of business myself.
This lead me into what was a pretty successful venture as a NOVUS Windscreen Repair franchisee for close to 20 years. Developed the business along the lines of mobile auto glass repair service throughout the central N.I . Had independent contractors working in Taupo, Wanganui and Palm. North, business was growing, sold off Taupo and Wanganui areas then moved down to Feilding and setup workshop in Palmerston North. Employed a qualified auto glazier as well as another contractor in chip repair. Sold NOVUS in 2005 and got a job with Kester as car groomer, doing all sorts of odd jobs and general car yard work.
Then had a change working in OPE selling outdoor power equipment, chainsaws, mowers etc as well as cycle sales and repairs. Did not really like the retail thing, so started looking around for slower pace job for my twilight working years.
This is where the lawn mowing business came up, an existing small lawn mowing business with 32 local lawns and a big WALKER ride on was for sale locally. I had been involved with the WALKER mowers at the OPE shop and had done factory Walker training and sales courses so had a keen appreciation of the benefits of these machines, to cut a long story short, we negotiated a price and purchased the business complete with mowers, trailer and the existing client base. The big appeal to me was the Walker ride-on.
That was almost 2 years ago and I have since taken on more lawns , mainly bigger ones which are prime jobs for the Walker, now have a total of 46 regular lawns with the odd one off job that I get mainly through referrals.
What is so good about a Walker mower??
There are a number of features in the Walker design that make these machines the top choice for commercial lawn mowing.
1stly the WALKER is configured differently to normal tractor type ride where the mowing deck is slung underneath the tractor unity centred between front and rear wheels….. the WALKER design features the “out front mowing” deck- with the mowing deck mounted in front of main drive wheels and directly in front of the operator. This gives the operator an unrestricted view of the immediate area that is being mowed as the operator sits relatively low directly between the 2 drive wheels of the machine, with the mowing deck just in front with your feet resting on the footrest which is on top of the deck. The deck is fully floating, suspended by large expansion springs at the rear of the deck and is supported by swivelling wheels at the front of the deck, meaning the cutting deck glides over ground undulations and bumps, following the lawn contour.
With the excellent visibility along with the nimble zero turn steering of the WALKER, one can get the mowing deck tucked close to edges in tight places and mow close to objects such as trees, clotheslines, edge butments etc; My Walker has a 42” wide cutting deck, but it can run up to 56” deck. The 42” is most popular size for medium to large domestic lawns.
The” zero turn” steering feature means the mower can turn in its own length, very manoeuvrable- steering is done via finger operated levers which control drive individually to each of the two hydro driven wheels.
WALKER mowers are designed and built in USA, feature fully fabricated and welded chassis and deck construction, built tuff. unlike the run of the mill ride on which is somewhat lighter construction, using thinner gauge pressed steel for the chassis and deck construction and are bolted or rivet together.
A WALKER is slightly heavier, but far more robust, lasting years longer than many others.
The biggest difference and feature on the WALKER is that the cutting blades are shaft driven, rather than belt driven. This means the power from the motor is more direct and blade speed is kept constant, as it is not prone to “belt slippage”. On most other ride-on mowers, the blades are driven by huge long Vee belts, some are more than 120” in length. These belts are single V belts and are routed from the motor via a number of pulleys idlers and tensioners to drive the blades. These belts are prone to slippage especially when the mower is cutting heavy wet grass or lush spring growth.
This slippage slows blade speed causing choking effect of the blades meaning one has to stop and let blades speed up, before continuing mowing. This significantly slows the mowing operation. The continual slipping of belt causes overheating pulleys, belts and tensioners, which leads to costly/ pulley bearing failure and belt breakages. The long V belt and numerous pulleys also suck as much as 20% of the power from the motor, so a 16hp ride on can have as little as 13 engine H.P delivered to the cutting blades and that’s before the rotating blades a lowered into the grass to be mowed!!
The WALKER system uses a very short multi ribbed belt- 1 ¾” wide driving a mechanical PTO gearbox. This robust belt around 34” long is super wide and has multi ribbed vees across it. Being so short and runs direct from the engine mounted pulley to the PTO via 1 strong springed tensioner pulley. Belt slippage is virtually eliminated.
A solid driveshaft is attached to the output side of the PTO, which drives directly to the blades via right angle gearboxes which are mounted on top of the mowing deck, with the cutting blades attached to these gearboxs . This mechanical gearbox / driveshaft system helps to maintain constant blade speed in all but the harshest of cutting conditions. The engines power is delivered fully to the blades with very minimal loss of H.P. so my 19h.p.engine is delivering as much as 17.5h.p. to the cutting blades.
The blades are 2 heavy duty steel bars with 4 flail cutting blades per blade bar. ( show sample.)
The blades on my mower are counter rotating, ( demonstrate direction.)
The flail blades are fully floating on the bar, so can fling back if they hit a solid object, ( demonstrate)
With 4 cutting blades per blade bar, makes for very clean cut of grass and combined with the constant high rpm blade speed, makes for the most efficient grass cutting and mulch available, cutting grass up so fine it is virtually clump free, when mulch mowing on dry grass.
the mower is fitted with WALKER’s patented “ multi deck”, which enables cutting and side chute grass, cutting and catching grass, or mulching. When catching the grass, the counter rotating blades efficiently direct the cut grass directly into a chute at the rear of the deck. This chute is attached to the inlet side of a 10” dia. blower. The blower assists in sucking the cut grass from under the deck then blows the cuttings into the catcher mounted directly behind the operator. This system workers really efficiently in picking up autumn leaves off lawns and paved areas as well. The catcher holds a massive 10 bushells, equivalent to 5-6 catchers of normal domestic walk behind rotary mowers.
The multi deck can be setup to mulch by simply fitting a metal plate over the catcher chute under the deck, thereby keeping the cut grass under the deck where its mulched to finest cuttings before being dispatched back into the turf.
There is 1 other cover plate on the right side of the deck which is removed to convert to side chuting the grass ,the cut grass is dispatched out the side of the deck.
Another very handy feature, is the deck can be easily be tilted up for cleaning, sharpening or replacing blades etc; making serviceability a breeze even for the home handyman.
This is very brief review of the main features of the WALKER ride on that make them such a popular choice for the professional lawn mowing contractor like myself.
Thankyou for your attention, you are all invited to follow my business on Facebook, just search for Murray’s Lawn Care Manawatu.