Jacobsen, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company and one of the leading manufacturers of golf course maintenance equipment worldwide, introduced two new fairway mowers at the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in Orlando, FL in February. The new light fairway mowers designated the LF550 and LF570 are in production and are available now.
Replacing the popular LF-3400 and LF-3800, these new light fairway mowers retain many of their predecessor's best features but with additional enhancements that improve functionality and reduce maintenance requirements.
Visually the most striking difference is the restyled hood, which mimics the design of the Jacobsen Eclipse 322 greens mower launched at GIS last year. However, it's under the skin where the LF550/570 has been improved significantly, again taking its lead from the electronics that have been tried and tested in the Eclipse.
A smooth uptake of power using the 'drive-by-wire' operation of the electronically controlled traction pedal is a feature that greenkeepers will experience. This helps to prevent wheel spin and the low pedal effort increases operator comfort.
Gone is the parallel series hydraulic drive circuit, which is now replaced with, a cross-parallel system that provides class leading traction on slopes. In the event of a front wheel losing traction, the power (hydraulic fluid) is split and transferred to both rear wheels ensuring that three wheels are operating at all times. This is a feature unique in the turf equipment industry.
A new braking system has been engineered with wet brakes integrated into the front wheel motors. These are maintenance-free and require no adjustment to linkages or cables. A rocker switch on the control arm applies the brakes when the engine is running and the brakes are applied automatically when the engine is turned off. The final feature of the braking system is the electronic hill hold. This applies the brakes automatically after it detects no input from the operator's foot pedal. The brakes are automatically released when the traction pedal is depressed. This is yet more transferable technology from the Jacobsen Eclipse greens mower.
As stated earlier, it's under the skin where some of the major, but unseen changes have occurred. Steel tubing has replaced many of the flexible hoses and common hose lengths across the five reels results in fewer service parts. The front reel valve been relocated away from the proximity of direct water spray and the backlap speed control valve is now more accessible. There is now only one proximity switch on the entire machine. All of these improvements reduce maintenance time and the cost of ownership.
The control panel built into the top of the hydraulic oil tank has been replaced with an Eclipse-style armrest control module that moves with the operator's seat when adjusted. The controls, with factory standard cruise control, are ergonomically placed for operator comfort and an LCD display provides real-time information including engine hours and temperature. If a problem is detected the LCD display provides simple text messages along with a warning alarm to notify the operator of the fault.
For the superintendent and technician there's a pin-protected maintenance mode which allows numerous functions to be adjusted and set. Maximum mow and travel speeds can be input, the cruise control enabled or disabled and there's a status screen that checks the functional operation of all electrical switches.
Retained from the previous models are the legendary XP cutting units with 12.7cm (5") diameter cutting units with 7-blade reels and the 17.8cm (7") diameter units fitted with either 9- or 11-blade reels. A Kubota 35.5hp V1505E diesel engine is the standard power unit with an optional 44.2hp turbocharged unit also available.
Due to the introduction of electronic hydro control, it is now possible to have more precise control of frequency of cut (FOC). With the mow speed controllable in increments of 0.32 km/h (0.2 mph), the FOC can also be controlled accurately; for example, with the 12.7cm (5") diameter, 7-blade reel, the FOC ranges from 11.30mm at 9.66 km/h (6 mph) to 15.06mm at 12.87 km/h (8 mph).
With the 17.8cm (7") diameter 11-blade reel, the FOC decreases to 9.95mm at 9.66 km/h
(6 mph), rising to 13.26mm at the maximum mow speed of 12.87 km/h (8 mph).
A further feature to ensure consistency of cut occurs when the operator engages the PTO switch to run the reels, the mower automatically adopts the set mow speed, thereby maintaining the correct FOC on the fairways. Finally, there's a list of accessories that includes verticutting units, turf groomers, powered rear roller brushes, a cab and MAGsystem.
For more information on Ransomes Jacobsen products visit: www.ransomesjacobsen.com