In 2006 we bought a brand new flail mower from Rears Manufacturing out of Eugene. It was one of the few pieces of equipment that we bought new and it has served us very well. Today I replaced the flails for the first time and found the process pretty fascinating. I’ve known for a few months that I really needed to change the flails but I wanted to get every dime’s worth of cutting out of the originals so I went into the orchard this morning for one last hurrah. In less than a minute I stalled the tractor when I hit a big piece of an apple limb that was pruned this spring and was hiding in the tall grass. I restarted the tractor and brought the flail back up to speed only to find it shaking like crazy. Not wanting to burn up a bearing or two I decided I had gotten my money’s worth from the originals and went to install the replacements. As it happens, I broke one of the flails when I hit that limb, sending the 1200 RPM drum seriously out of balance. Usually I push things too far but today discretion got the better part of valor.
Here’s a pic of new and used flails. Note that they are reversible and can be flipped mid-life. They are also used in pairs, back to back, so they make the shape of an inverted “Y” when attached to the drum with a hardened bolt through the hole. I weighed 10 new and 10 used flails to determine wear. The average flail, not including the one that broke, lost almost 12% of its weight.
(From left: worn flail showing typical wear, new flail, new flail in profile – notice straight shank, bent used flail, broken flail that sent the mower out of balance, new flail.)