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  1. #1
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
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    Default Howse Rotary Cutter

    There's been discussions in the past about getting the blades off rotary cutters to sharpen or replace them, and the fact that the manuals usually call for some ungodly high torque values, so I thought maybe I should post what I just found with my Howse 500 that I bought a year ago last August. It was time to sharpen the blades a bit. First I found that the castle nut that holds the pan onto the spindle was an inch and a half, so I had to buy a new impact socket. It was definitely tight and would undoubtedly have been difficult to remove by hand, but my half inch impact took it off. Then the manual says, after you remove the nut, to use a two legged gear puller to pull the assembly off the spindle. I made one, using two 5" C clamps and a heavy, but short piece of channel iron. Even with that and a 4lb. hammer, it was tough to get off, but did eventually pop loose. And then the bad news; the nuts that hold the blades on the pan are 1 5/8" (as far as I know the inch and a half is the largest socket available for a half inch drive so I didn't have a socket big enough). With the manual calling for torque values in excess of 600 ft./lbs., I figured I was in trouble, but decided to at least give it a try with my 15" Crescent wrench. You can imagine my surprise when I quite easily unscrewed both nuts with one hand.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/shocked.gif[/img] Those big nuts have lock washers under them, but were not much more than finger tight. So if you have one of these mowers, you might want to check it - sure would ruin your day to have one of those blades fly off. After sharpening the blades I had no way to tighten the nuts except with the same 15" wrench, so I don't know what the torque value would be, but at least I know my 200# on the end of that wrench had to get them tighter than they were before.

    Bird

  2. #2

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    TN70D, 4wd, 16x16 trans

    Default Re: Howse Rotary Cutter

    Bird,

    Scary thought.

    How about a cheater bar?
    Say, ~ 2-3' of heavy pipe that would slip over the end of that wrench. The longer the pipe the more torque you can apply.

    Fred


  3. #3
    Epic Contributor jinman's Avatar
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    NHTC45D, NH LB75B, Ford Jubilee

    Default Re: Howse Rotary Cutter

    Bird, in a recent discussion I was commenting on a King Kutter rotary cutter from TSC. After using it a short while, I noticed excessive vibration at times. One day, when I finished mowing and was driving down my road, I heard something go clank and turned around to see a blade and bolt laying in the road with the nut and washer nowhere in sight. I ordered a replacement kit (two bolts for $20 - OUCH!) and I also had to get a socket big enough to fit. I had several 3/4" sockets, but none big enough for that job. I went to Sears and bought a Craftsman socket and 18" wrench handle for about $40.(Now we are up to $60 for a simple bolt replacement. [img]/w3tcompact/icons/mad.gif[/img]) Anyhow, I used a section of pipe as a cheater and guestimated the torque (Every good shadetree mech can guess torque values. Right?) I have had no problem since, but I check the bolts everytime I mow. I don't know why it didn't come off while I was mowing, but perhaps my guardian angel, Dumb Luck, was looking after me that day.

    Oh yes! The first time I mowed after replacing the bolt, I noticed something red in the grass by the road and there was my large nut. About 5 feet away, there lay my washer. If I hadn't spent $20 on the replacement set, I'd probably never found them.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/crazy.gif[/img]

    JimI

  4. #4
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howse Rotary Cutter

    Of course you're right, Fred, but I really wouldn't know how much torque I was getting and I think just my weight jumping on the end of that wrench should be adequate. Or at least I hope so. And the next time I use the cutter, I'll be checking those blade bolts to see whether they stay tight or not.

    Bird

  5. #5
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howse Rotary Cutter

    JimI, I guess it's a good idea to check those bolts occasionally. I don't know what size socket you needed, or whether it's an impact socket, but I checked my catalog and found our 1 5/8" deep impact socket retails for $59.20, and then I'd need a $15.95 adapter to go from my 1/2" impact up to the 3/4" drive, so I decided I could do without it for right now.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    Bird

  6. #6

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    South Florida
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    1975 Ford 3000

    Default Re: Howse Rotary Cutter

    Hey there, Bird!

    I spent 3 hours in front of my Howse 500 this very afternoon. I must admit I enjoyed the sound of those blades tearing up the dog fennel and Johnson Grass in my neighbor's pasture, but I don't think I'd like to hear one whizzing past my ear. [img]/w3tcompact/icons/shocked.gif[/img]

    I like to think I operate my equipment safely, but I don't think my safety glasses, gloves, or boots would even slow down that much steel moving that fast towards my fragile little mortal coil....

    So I guess along with the fluid check I'm a stickler for, I'll check the bolt tension before I fire up the beast. Especially since I am convinced that every brush hog has a little bit of box blade hidden inside. [img]/w3tcompact/icons/blush.gif[/img] Not that I abuse my Howse, but fire ant hills don't seem to warrant changing attachments, and those blades, loose or tight, don't break out like I do when I try to shovel the ant hills out of the way.

    Thanks for the heads up.

    TTYL.

    The Sub Dude


    I'm gonna live forever....So far, so good....

  7. #7
    Epic Contributor jinman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howse Rotary Cutter

    Bird, the socket I bought was not an impact socket. As a matter of fact, because of the diameters here, I wonder if the impact of a 1/2" impact driver is sufficient. I know it would be more than your 15" combo wrench, but when you get to that size bolt, if your wrench can take a "cheater" I think you need to use it. To get my Howse bolts off several years ago, I used a 18" pipe wrench with a 2-1/2' cheater pipe. The wrench didn't leave much of a mark on the nut (again, because of its size). When you start thinking of the forces applied to that bolt, you want it tight as possible. I actually think you could "throw everything you got" at that bolt/nut and not get it too tight. It was very expensive, but I'm glad I bought the socket even if it wasn't an impact socket.


    JimI

  8. #8
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howse Rotary Cutter

    Sub_Dude, I've mowed a few fire ant mounds, too.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/frown.gif[/img] Had lots of them when I bought this place, but have them pretty well under control now. They're even harder on hay mowers in this area than on the brush hogs.

    And JimI, I agree, I think you could put all you have into tightening those bolts without worrying about stripping any threads.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img]

    Bird

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Howse Rotary Cutter

    Hi Bird,

    I’ll try to make a long story short…

    In my part of the woods, we “borrow” a lot from one another… A few years back, my friend’s International 2-pt/conversion rotary cutter was literally falling apart…rust, metal fatigue, etc. When the side and rear side skirts ripped away one day, being the safety fanatic I am…kidding I said “You’re going to have to buy a new cutter, I can’t ‘use/borrow’ this anymore.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img]

    Guess what, Central Tractor had the 5’ Howse on sale for $495 and my buddy bought it!
    This Howse was modern and super compared to this 30-year plus old International Farmall cutter… and the closest competitor was BushHog at three times the price…

    At this same time, I wanted to “cut” a trail through the woods for the kids ATV’s. I decided my little Satoh, 22.5 PTO HP was just the ticket,{Looking back, I should have used the MF135, but it was just a bit too wide} so I borrowed the 5’ Howse… cutting grass and weeds was fine, but the little tractor would just bog down doing any serious brush. I mean I’d have to come to a real crawl to make it work, I started taking a 4’ bite and the tractor livened up. I needed a smaller 4’ Howse for the Satoh!

    Central Tractor here we come again, 4’ Howse @ $489. saved a big $6. over my buddy?
    Between rain, doing other things, didn’t use it much for maybe 2 months…then…

    I went to use it one day, maybe about its 4th or 5th time total, and noticed the gearbox bolts were loose. Sitting outside about 2 months new… it was showing it’s age, Rust?

    Moving to fast forward, my buddy with similar unit time, went to engage his 5’ and bang…bang, and he immediately shuts it down to inspect the situation… there on the ground laid the one blade… never did find the mounting hardware…

    We both went back to the store, explained our stories, were told “Had the units for over two months, can’t take ‘um back, maybe you put something together wrong, you probably hit something solid and didn’t know it, hey they’re only for cutting small stuff like grass… Oh no don’t cut brush with them….

    So that’s my story… sad but true, just a few small reasons for the disdain sour taste I have in my mouth for the Howse cutter’s…[img]/w3tcompact/icons/frown.gif[/img]




  10. #10
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
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    Default Re: Howse Rotary Cutter

    John, I can certainly understand, and as I've said before, I traded up in size and down in quality when I went from a 4' Bush Hog to a 5' Howse, but I figure it's good enough for what I need to do. I knew when I bought it that it was a light duty model, but I was still surprised to see that the manual only mentions "grass" instead of any sized brush. Of course, I've had no problem mowing down 1" or even a little larger saplings. I also have a neighbor who bought a used 7' Howse a long time ago (he had it when I moved here 6 years ago) and he's had good luck with it (and I've seen him mow down 2" stuff with it behind an 85hp tractor). He has told me many times that everytime his son borrows the tractor and mower to mow his pasture, the boy either gets stuck, has a flat, or the tractor breaks down. Well, I saw him today and he told me the boy borrowed the tractor and mower, then called and said he had a problem; seems that this time the tractor didn't break down; the nut came off the spindle on the mower and blades, stump jumper pan and all, fell on the ground this time.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img]

    Bird

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