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Cut mowing time by 1/3

The following is for entertainment only. Attempting to build a mowing “side car” could be hazardous.

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“I can keep the riding mower up and out of the ditch and let the side car cut the incline.”

by Tom Chillemi

I’m not among those who think mowing the lawn is important. Mowing grass is a tremendous waste of time. It’s noisy, dirty and dangerous (see above warning).

There is so much else I’d rather do, especially in spring and summer. That’s why I came up with a way to get the task done quicker by attaching a push mower “side car” to my riding mower.

I took one pipe clamp—the kind used to clamp furniture together—and attach it to the riding mower frame. Small squares of rubber inner tube help the clamp grip the frame.

Next, I positioned the push mower “backwards” so the arms contact the pipe clamp (see photo). Notice the discharge chutes are in opposite directions.

I used duct tape to attach only one of the push mower arms to the pipe clamp (you’ll see why later). A couple of vise grips were added support, but turned out not to be necessary. A coat hanger placed from the pipe clamp to the mower body prevented the side car from sliding up.

That was it.

“the mowers overlap and there is no gap—not even in turns.”

I spent more time trying to get the old push mower running than I did hooking up the side car.

I now had a 59 inch cut, and have reduced mowing time by a third. For reference, a mower with a 60-inch cut would cost thousands of dollars.

So, how does it work? Better than I ever expected and there were some unintended good consequences.

“The side car also cuts under bushes with overhanging branches.”

First surprise: I thought there would be a gap of uncut grass between mowers, but the mowers overlap and there is no gap—not even in turns.

Second surprise: I thought I would have to mow slower. Not true. I mow in the same gear as I did without the “side car.” Here’s why. The riding mower had 10 horsepower when it was new 15 years ago. I estimate it has 6-7 horsepower now and must haul me around and spin two blades. The push mower is rated at 3.5 horsepower and cuts fine, even in tall grass.

Third surprise: Have you ever seen a riding mower get stuck trying to mow a ditch? Well, with the side car, I can keep the riding mower up and out of the ditch and let the side car cut the incline. The side car also cuts hills, leaving the riding mower on the flat section. This is possible because it is connected loosely with duct tape and in only one place to the pipe clamp. This “articulating action” also allows for mowing around bushes, which leads to another surprise.

“I mow in the same gear as I did without the ‘side car.’ ”

The side car also cuts under bushes with overhanging branches. The operator does not have to lean away or hold back the branches. Later I removed the top half of the push mower handle to get it out of the way.

Now I feel like I’m on a real piece of farm equipment such as a combine, spewing grass in all directions.

After I first made the side car I was telling the story to someone. Before I got to the good part, they remarked they had seen a riding mower with two push mowers attached to it.

Hmm? I wonder what would happen if …

posted 03.23.2012

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