By Dave Saltman
This year's Saltex was special to me for a number of reasons, our second birthday, the FA Awards, Chris Greener (UK's tallest man), distribution of our newspaper, meeting so many friends but the one thing that made it really stand out this year was the release of a genuine time saving innovation.
As a former Head Groundsman, the implications of an inconsistent cut could be overwhelming. Even with the luxury of more than one cutting unit at stadium venues, the loss of a machine with cylinder or bottom blade damage would put us under great strain. Despite all due care and diligence, in checking the ground prior to mowing, inevitably an alien object will find itself passing through the cylinder now and again, wrecking your precision made tool of work.
So it was with absolute pleasure that I met the Canadian inventor, Jeff Buchko (right), of the MagKnife. This magnetic bottom blade will truly save all Groundsmen and Greenkeepers hours, days and weeks of frustration. At the show I was sitting in on a Ransomes-Jacobsen press conference, while the merits of this new labour saving device were explained. Now I'm not one to shout loudly about new products very often, but the trials for this system on fine turf have been completed, and the system will be available for all Jacobsen equipment by the end of this year. On the municipal side, there are on-going trials, but as and when these trials are completed successfully, the Ransomes range of machinery will follow suit.
Personally I spent many hours trying to adjust cylinders and bottom blades to effect a reasonable cut, particularly after a peg, stud, coin or brick had been chopped up. Unfortunately for me this invention has come at least two years too late, but for everyone still out on the tools, there is some very welcome respite heading your way.
Ransomes have released their press release that I have copied and pasted underneath, explaining the innovative system. The winner of this years Saltex show best product and overall best product rightly deserves the merit.
IT's REVOLUTIONArY, IT's NEW
SNAP . Click . DONE
MagKnife is a revolutionary new system for attaching the bottom blade to a greens or fairway cylinder mower and will inevitably change the face of mower maintenance in the future. Exclusively available from Ransomes Jacobsen, this new system uses powerful magnets with a force exceeding 19kgm (140 ft lbs) together with special locating dowels, to position the bottom blade firmly.
Traditionally, the bottom blade is held in position by up to 18 retaining screws which, as any golf greenkeeper or maintenance technician will confirm, are notoriously difficult to remove, particularly on older machines. When a new bottom blade is fitted using the traditional system, tightening the screws distorts the blade, which then has to be ground true.
Using location dowels and a series of extremely powerful natural magnets MagKnife, the screwless bottom blade, is held firmly in position on the backing plate by a uniform pressure along its full length, eliminating the tedious and time consuming need to grind true using the 'old' system.
During extensive laboratory and field tests in the US, a surprising benefit of the new design was discovered. Fairly substantial objects such as broken tees, twigs, small pebbles, discarded spikes and even coins passed between the cutting cylinder blades and the bottom blade without damage to either during the extensive testing period.
The magnets, with their powerful field, provide enough strength to hold the bottom blade securely to the frame, but allow it to 'give' when an object is encountered, allowing it to pass through harmlessly before snapping back into place.
MagKnife was shown to a select group of British and European greenkeepers who were guests of Ransomes Jacobsen at The GCSAA Show in Atlanta last February. Although sceptical at first, when they witnessed the force required to remove the blade, there was genuine amazement. A typical remark was "When can we have it?" and one course manager went as far to say, "I don't care how much it costs, I want it".
David Withers, Sales and Marketing Director at Ransomes Jacobsen, speaking at the Saltex launch said, "We are convinced that MagKnife will revolutionise the maintenance of golf mowers as we know it. We have the exclusive use of this patented technology, which has been extensively tested in the USA.
"Jacobsen has always been known for innovation, launching the first hydraulic greens triple, the first lightweight fairway mower, the first and still the only true turf groomer, FlashAttach reels and now, MagKnife. "We are committed to providing productive, environmentally-friendly products as a continuing company policy and we believe that MagKnife will enhance the productivity of golf courses around the world. "You won't believe it until you try it!"
As an indication of the timesaving that can be achieved using the MagKnife system, a time study was undertaken here in the UK by a Ransomes Jacobsen dealer technician using standard workshop equipment and a unit from a Jacobsen Greens King VI complete with Groomer.
Remove bottom blade
|Remove bottom blade backing||4|
|Replace bottom blade||7|
|Grind bottom blade to backing||7|
|Refit bottom blade complete into unit||7|
|Set bottom blade to cylinder||3|
|Total Changeover Time||31|
Assuming all three units are changed at the same time, the total changeover time would be 1 hour 33 minutes.
Allowing one minute for each Magknife change the total changeover time of the blade is a mere three minutes. A saving of over one hour.
Apart from the ability to change the bottom blade quickly with the resultant saving in man-hours, additional benefits are:
· The use of thinner bottom blade for even lower height of cut
· No bottom blade truing is required
· Magnetic 'give' allows foreign materials to pass between the cylinder blade and bottom blade with minimal damage to either
· Fewer cylinder blades and bottom blade damaged
· Less frequent cylinder blade and bottom blade grinding
frequently asked questions
Will the bottom blade fall off?
The magnets generate in excess of 162Nm of holding force. The bottom blade weighs only 0.68 kgs (1.5lbs) (average weight). During our long term and bench testing, we have not been able to dislodge the bottom blade when introducing loose objects. Should the bottom blade travel less than 2.5 cm (1"), our tests have shown that the magnets will return the bottom blade to its original cutting position. In order to discharge the bottom blade, the entire face must travel more that 2.5 cm (1") away from the bottom block in order to escape the magnetic force. This has been accomplished by striking fixed objects or objects large enough to create this situation.
What happens to the bottom blade if the cylinder hits an object?
Our long-term tests have shown that loose objects are allowed to pass through the cutting process (in most cases) with little or no damage. The nature of the magnetic fastening allows the bottom blade to move upon impact. This allows objects to pass through and the bottom blade to return to a cutting position. When we have hit a fixed object, the magnetic fastening allows the bottom blade to 'travel' creating an energy absorbing movement. (i.e.; if the bottom blade catches the underside of Irrigation head lip) This has also minimised damage to both the cylinder and bottom blade.
Can I backlap with the screwless bottom blade?
Yes. The ability to backlap has not changed. Due to the nature of the magnetic fastening, backlapping is more precise, with even pressure across the face. When backlapping is complete, simply rinse off and set up the reels. Our tests have shown that less backlapping is required and it takes less time to perform this task.
Can I sharpen the bottom blade in the grinder?
Due to the amount of holding pressure, it is possible to sharpen, using a grinder. In fact, by purchasing one additional magnetic backing and installing it on the grinder permanently, all that is required for sharpening is removal of the bottom blade from one backing and installing it on the other. This will allow you to sharpen, using your grinder, and will only take a few minutes. Because magnetic fastenings are more consistent, in most cases you can return the bottom blade to the original cylinder and cut with minimum adjustment.
Does debris get between the bottom blade and bottom block?
In certain conditions it is possible. During our testing we found that if the bottom blade moves due to some impact, an opening is created that may occasionally let debris in. This occurred mainly when topdressing, cutting or when we deliberately introduced objects to the cutting process. When this happens, simply remove the bottom blade, wipe the block clean and reinstall the bottom blade.
How long will the magnets hold?
These are 'Permanent' magnets. By nature, the holding power is indefinite. Unlike a piece of metal that is 'magnetised', permanent magnets will hold as long as they are in existence. The only documented cases of loss of magnetic strength is
1. Heating the magnet in excess of 80 degrees C or 210 degrees F.
2. Breaking or fragmenting the magnet.
Should you wish to replace one or more magnets, simply remove and replace as required.
What are the effects of weather on the magnets?
We have exposed this system to a wide range of weather conditions. From early morning frost, to midday heat 43 C (110 F), and found no effects of weather on the fastening. Testing has been conducted in cold and hot weather conditions. The conditions presented no issues regarding extreme weather conditions. The magnets are coated with nickel allowing them to withstand significant exposure to elements such as fertilizer, salt, humidity, protein and other corrosives.
Will this work on my existing mower?
Retro-fit kits will be available from the Ransomes Jacobsen dealer network for most Jacobsen products. They will be able to provide information with regard to availability for particular machines.
Will the magnets pick up debris from my shop floor?
The amount of 'magnetic bleed' through the bottom block is very minimal. When properly installed there is not enough magnetic energy on the backside of the bottom blade to hold a small washer. Thus picking anything up is very unlikely. Should the magnets be left exposed, the potential to attract debris is greatly increased.
What tools are required to change the bottom blade?
The only tool required is B.I.R.T. (Bottom blade Installation Removal Tool) Installation and removal can be hazardous if the proper procedure is not followed. When the proper procedure is followed, the installation and removal is quick and effortless.
What about "Coning" of the cylinder?
The bottom blade relies on the straight face of the bottom block. A properly machined bottom block will produce a consistent, straight edge, which will minimise "coning of the cylinder". This does not however prevent uneven wear from poor adjustment of the cylinder to bottom blade.
Do I have do learn how to adjust my cylinders over again?
The magnetic fastening provides a flexible and firm fastening. Cylinder set up is the same as with a screwed fastening. However, if the bottom blade is not level, the magnets will allow the bottom blade to display a gap between the backing and bottom blade. This allows for a visual method of finding "Zero Contact Point" and prevents reel or bottom blade damage when the bottom blade is installed prior to resetting the bottom block. Set-up procedures therefore remain the same while allowing a greater margin for error.
Is this system standard on new Jacobsen equipment?
This system is being offered as a replacement kit for Jacobsen cutting units. By offering this technology as a kit, the customers will see following benefits:
1. They can update current Jacobsen cutting units.
2. They have a choice a choice when ordering new Jacobsen machines.
3. They can have their local dealer install this system as new.
4. Customer demand will determine if the technology will be standard equipment.
Ransomes Jacobsen has always been at the forefront of innovation in the turf maintenance sector therefore we want to ensure that this 'Break Through' technology to readily available to past, present and future customers.