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  1. #1
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    Default Disc vs Drum mowers

    I have a lot of experience with rotary and sickle bar mowers, but am considering a disc or drum mower. I don't have a sickle bar mower right now and have heard that the disc/drum type work better especially if a lot of gopher mounds or ant hills in the field.

    My problem is that I am not familiar with any differences between disc and drum except price. Is one better than the other or are they comparible in operation and cut about the same.

    Would appreciate all comments and suggestions. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Disc vs Drum mowers

    My understanding (mostly from reading a book on hay farming) is that both of these types of mowers are intended primarily for cutting hay and straw, and that they work similarly but the drum type mower is the newest design with the greatest resistance to clogging. Both of them seem to be special-purpose hay mowers, not general purpose mowers. Is your purpose cutting hay, or just keeping a field from getting too high?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Disc vs Drum mowers

    Actually, I am primarily going to use it for keeping banks, ditches, and waterways cut. But in the next couple of years I will be converting some ground in alfalfa. Was hoping that one of these types would handle all the tasks.

  4. #4
    Elite Member rbargeron's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disc vs Drum mowers

    I had a 7' Vicon disk mower for a few years - disk mowers cut fast if you have plenty of power (about 6 pto hp per foot of cut width). The main drawback is they throw stuff sideways even with the big tent installed. And if you take the tent off so you can see what you are trimming near in the pasture, you will sometimes be sitting in a shower of whatever gifts the animals have deposited. Don't even think about getting into pea stone - operator needs a suit of armor for that. I got rid of the disk when I realized the formed steel gearbox that runs the length of it was rusting and developing pin hole leaks. Also, for my rocky fields the blades needed too much upkeep.

    By drum type I'm assuming you are talking flail type chopper. These vary a lot in drum weight - the heavier ones are expensive and take some power but they hold up very well to the violent world they operate in. IMHO drums are safer to the operator than disks - they do launch stuff backward but that's ok if you plan your moves. My friend has a 9 footer that has hydraulic side-shift for orchard work. Sweet machine. It's heavy enough to grind up prunings - saves a lot of labor. The repair issues on a drum are the hammers (forged on the nicer ones) and the drum bearings - so its good to look out for big rocks and fence wire. If you see posts jumping out of the ground where you just came through, best to stop and unwind the wire before it gets in and wrecks a drum bearing.

    Of the two the disk would be more of a harvester - it severs the crop where the drum is more of a major-league Cuisinart. For general one-pass mowing I'd prefer the drum. As always, prompt cheerful refund if info is bogus. Take care, Dick B
    Last edited by rbargeron; 01-16-2007 at 08:14 PM.

  5. #5
    Veteran Member dgl24087's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disc vs Drum mowers

    Quote Originally Posted by rbargeron
    I had a 7' Vicon disk mower for a few years - disk mowers cut fast if you have plenty of power (about 6 pto hp per foot of cut width). The main drawback is they throw stuff sideways even with the big tent installed. And if you take the tent off so you can see what you are trimming near in the pasture, you will sometimes be sitting in a shower of whatever gifts the animals have deposited. Don't even think about getting into pea stone - operator needs a suit of armor for that. I got rid of the disk when I realized the formed steel gearbox that runs the length of it was rusting and developing pin hole leaks. Also, for my rocky fields the blades needed too much upkeep.

    By drum type I'm assuming you are talking flail type chopper. These vary a lot in drum weight - the heavier ones are expensive and take some power but they hold up very well to the violent world they operate in. IMHO drums are safer to the operator than disks - they do launch stuff backward but that's ok if you plan your moves. My friend has a 9 footer that has hydraulic side-shift for orchard work. Sweet machine. It's heavy enough to grind up prunings - saves a lot of labor. The repair issues on a drum are the hammers (forged on the nicer ones) and the drum bearings - so its good to look out for big rocks and fence wire. If you see posts jumping out of the ground where you just came through, best to stop and unwind the wire before it gets in and wrecks a drum bearing.

    Of the two I'd prefer the drum. As always, prompt cheerful refund if info is bogus. Take care, Dick B
    A drum mower and a flail are not the same. A drum mower has the bar and gears at the top, usually with 2 drums hanging from the bar, cutting blades on the bottom of the drums. I've never seen a drum mower operate, but I believe they are lighter than a disc mower, different execution of the same basic principal. Drum mowers are also considerably less expensive, most I've seen advertised are $2500-3000, disc mowers are easily $4500-6000. One of the TBN advertisers sells both, Carter & Carter Machinery, Hay Equipment Headquarters.

  6. #6
    Elite Member rbargeron's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disc vs Drum mowers

    Sorry - I didn't know about this style. They look like they'd both have the same cutting characteristics. With the gearbox mounted above on the "drum" type, they make the claim it doesn't clog - but the Vicon disk never clogged either. Of these two, the drum looks like a better design with the gearbox up off the ground - should be stiffer, lighter and more rust-resistant. From my disk experience, I probably wouldn't choose either one - I found the machine-gun side scatter to be a pain - literally !! Do you know if the drums counter-rotate? If they all cut going away from the tractor, that would be a big improvement.

    P.S. - My big story about the HORIZONTAL drum mower was off the mark so I owe you a refund. Offered with good cheer and thanks for pointing me straight. (I still think that's a great rig - made in Europe somewhere - sold by Orchard Equipment, Conway, MA)
    Last edited by rbargeron; 01-16-2007 at 08:44 PM.

  7. #7
    Elite Member rbargeron's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disc vs Drum mowers

    The rig I was talking about is a Rears Pak-Flail shredder, made in Eugene Oregon (not Europe )

    Back on the subject, for cutting banks, ditches and waterways the greater the cut width the better. Also, the lighter the weight and the more maneuverable, the better. Seems like either design will weigh 1000lb for a 7' cut - pretty heavy for getting into tight places or where the ground is soft. After my experience with the Vicon disk, I'm back to a New Holland 451 sickle bar - simple, light, and has never thrown a rock at my head.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Disc vs Drum mowers

    Thanks for the comments. After reading and also getting some input from manufacturers, I think I will go back to the old method and just get a sickle bar mower. I am just asking for a mower to do too many things with too little tractor (NH TC33DA). I have a lot of banks (terraces), road ditches, waterways, etc to do and it seems only a sickle bar will be the jack of all trades mower.

  9. #9
    Super Member Robert_in_NY's Avatar
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    Default Re: Disc vs Drum mowers

    If you plan on doing alfalfa you will want a different unit anyway. That or you will want to find a crimper to break the stems on the alfalfa to speed up drying.

    You are right to go with a sickle mower for your general use though, disc mowers are nice and fast but they are very expensive if you tear the heads up and big rocks and stumps are not very friendly to them where as the sickle mower will take more abuse and is easier (and cheaper) to repair.


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