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Home-Built Lawn Tools Keep 86-Year-Old In Business
When Frank Orr needs a new piece of equipment for his lawn care business, he makes it. A simple modification to a zero turn mower lets him trim with it as well as mow. He turned a 3-pt. hitch aerator into a pull-type for use behind his mower, and he also built a dethatcher to fit the mower.
  Im 86 years old, and these attachments help me keep my business going, says Orr.
  Trimming with a zero-turn mower is easy for Orr. Not wanting to use a push mower or string trimmer, he figured a way to tip just the front left deck corner of his mower.
  I wanted to lower the entire left side of the deck, but I settled for the front corner, says Orr.
  The entire bed raises and lowers as before for typical mowing. Normally the lift mechanism is attached to the deck at four points. However, when Orr wants to trim, an added electric actuator comes into play.
  The actuator attaches to the left front lift bracket on the deck and goes through a sleeve thats bolted to the mower lift arm for that corner of the deck. Retracted, the actuator has no affect on the deck, and it raises and lowers normally. However, as its extended, the weight of the deck allows the left front deck corner to tip toward the ground.
  I can drop that corner as much as 3 in. lower than the rest of the deck, says Orr.
  Converting a used 3-pt. aerator to hydraulics and a trailing hitch meant Orr didnt need a tractor. He also didnt have to wrestle the heavy aerator to hook it up.
  I need attachments that are easy to connect and disconnect, says Orr. I put a cylinder on it and rear wheels so I can raise it off the lawn.
  Orr fabricated a hitch and pinned it to the receivers for the 3-pt. lift arms. Initially he attached an electric actuator between the hitch and the receiver for the top-link arm.
  The actuator was slow, so I replaced it with a hydraulic cylinder, recalls Orr. I mounted a power steering pump to power the cylinder.
  Orr mounted steel wheels with hard rubber surfaces from an old cultivator to the rear of the aerator. To vary the depth of the aerator tubes, he simply extends the cylinder on the ram to tip the entire unit back on the wheels.
  I added a steel rock box, says Orr. It holds 700 to 800 lbs. to push the tubes into the ground.
  Orrs front-mounted dethatcher removes thatch and chops it up at the same time. I mow as I go over it with the dethatcher and then mow again, he says. It chews up dead grass fine so I dont remove any nutrients from the lawn.
  Orr fabricated the dethatcher frame using 1 by 2-in. steel tubing. A rectangular frame supports two swivel wheels at its front. Orr bought the wheels, but made the swivel brackets.
  Two arms extend from the frame to a round steel shaft that fits in a bracket Orr attached to the front of the mower frame. The shaft is held in place by two pins.
  The actual dethatching unit consists of side delivery rake teeth attached to two, 5-ft. long pipes. The pipes are mounted to a subframe that pivots inside the main frame. An electric actuator mounted to the round shaft at the mower frame extends to an L-shaped upright mounted on the pipes. Orr can adjust dethatcher height by extending or retracting the actuator shaft. Attaching or removing the dethatcher is just as simple.
  All I do is pull two pins and unhook the power to the actuator, he says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Frank C. Orr, 255 S. Mentzer Rd., Robins, Iowa 52328 (ph 319 378-0646).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #4