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  1. #1
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    Default Ganging 2 push mowers (walk behind) more mower for low cost

    So this weekend I built a quick project that I wanted to share with anyone who it could potentially help. I expect most people who come to this site will not have this need (since most own tractors) but for those of us who want a tractor but just haven't been able to get in the position to buy one yet, we still potentially have large scale mowing needs, and maybe this will help. So I have between 1-2 acres to mow, and till yesterday my only implement was a 21" push mower. This mower works great, but it just takes a long time to get done. In fact, I've never been able to get the entire portion that I currently mow done in one weekend's time with just the single push mower.

    So the first idea was buying a used walk behind mower. That is a good option, but there is not a consistant supply of equipment, and it is still fairly pricy when you compare how cheep a little push mower is. So having been inspired by people who take multiple small push mowers and mount them in a gang I got to thinking. Maybe I could put together a couple of these mowers and push them by hand. Not completely by hand, assisted by the self-propell mechnism that comes on the mower. (and in case you haven't used one of this in the last 20 years or so, they are much better than they used to be, they have little differentials and actual geared wheels now, and they do a pretty good job moving the mower) I searched and I did not find anything online where someone talked about doing this, so either no one has done it, or they haven't written about it. So I finally just decided to go for it and since I couldn't find anything when I searched, that motivated me to type this up. Mine is now done, and I can testify that for me it worked great. I was able to take 2 22" mowers and gang them together. I can mow with a ground speed just as fast with this 2 mower combo as I can with a single mower.

    I thought about the modifications that would be required for a few hours and kept altering my design to minimze the work. In the end it only took a few hours to put it all together.

    The mowers themselves did not recieve much modification. I removed the rear mud flap to enable it to pull backwards more easily. I removed the discharge shoot mounting hardware to where there is just a plan open hole in the mowing deck. I often mow tall grass. This is the single best thing you can do to enable more time mowing, and less time getting grass clogs out of the mower. I also removed the bag and wired the plastic bag shoot cover open to enable a second discharge area for grass to be thrown out. As far as I can tell the more discharge area the better. I will likely be cutting another discharge hole on these later to make this even better. I may also even paint the underside of the mower deck with graphite paint that we typically paint inside grain wagons. I think this may help to prevent clippings from sticking to the underside which is where clogs start. Overall this mower combo clogs just like a normal mower would, perhaps slightly more if you are always careful to not mow over your discharge. I don't mind breaking up the cut grass, so I don't hesitate to go in both directions, and at times discharge into the grass that will get mowed on the next pass. If you mow like this, getting the model with a slightly bigger motor enables to you power through.

    So I wanted to gang the mowers together such that I could comfortablly walk behind them and mow. This had to be usable or else the entire project was a waste of money, not a money saving venture. I though about directly bolting the two mowers together, perhaps taking off the wheels in the center and attaching them together. But since the drive is a differential, I didn't want to have the additional headache of fixing the driveshaft of the removed wheel. Also when studying marrying these two mowers immediately side by side in a rigid fashion it was clear that this was a dissadvangage on non-level ground, or when going across small bumps. So if the two mowers could pitch up or down they could adjust to better follow the grade of the land. The next design hurdle was the possibility of an unmowed strip of grass that could be left between the mowers. There was a few options for working around this, but none that left the mowers in a position that could be convieniently steered from behind. So at that point the thought process shifted. If I can't get rid of the grass strip, I'll make it big enough that it merrits a second pass with the mower such that it is not a wasted trip.

    To create this I took the easy route and used wood, and bolts. I created a linkage with one degree of freedom between the mowers. This was done by attaching two threaded rods as pivit points and placing 3 treated 2"x4" betwen them (one trimmed). The boards were cut to length and drilled so that the threaded rod would go through them. The treaded rods were attached to the mowing deck with eye-bolts (lock nutted and trimmed off inside the mowing deck).

    Some considerations were factored in when selecting the mower that would be used. The first was the mowing deck, It needs to be relatively flat, and have sufficient room for attachment of the linkage. Most of these mowers have mufflers or air cleaners that are in the way, so be cautious of the mower you pick to do this. Also pick one that has a speed engagement mechnism that can be easily engaged with one hand on the edge of the handle as if you were standing between them. The mower I picked has a spring loaded handle that slides forward when you push on it, and this pulls the cable that engages the drive wheels. In my case this works great. The last consideration is rear drive wheels. If you pick a mower with rear drive wheels you can more easily execute 180 degree turns by popping a wheelie, getting the front wheels 1" off the ground, and then driving one mower forward faster than the other. In use you can even pull one backward while pushing the other forward. Also you will need to have an ability to hold off the engine cut out feature to keep the mowers running since the mowers are started one at a time. I simply wrap a strip of velcro around the bail to hold it depressed to the handle. This enables me to still quickly kill the mowers if ever needed.

    I was shocked by how well it worked. I made a 16" space between the mowers. This probably translates to 17" between the blade tips. This has proven to be a pretty good width for the second pass when you return to mow the strip that was left behind. It also feels comfortable reaching out to steer the mowers at this seperation. Note that when you make your second pass, one mower cuts the strip that was left between the mowers, and the other mower is cutting off a stip of new grass, so this isn't a wasted trip across the yard. There is just a few inches of overhead (16" width instead of the full 22"). I feel this is a good seperation. A 16" wide strip is pretty easy to hold in the path of the 22" mower without a lot of grass escaping.

    With this solution I spent just 1/2 a day and mowed more than I had ever done in an entire weekend (even more than when I had rented a tractor with large finish mower). It hugs the ground great on uneven terrain, and leaves a better cut than a big mower. It handles well, you can turn around quickly on a tight radius. Most importantly it effectively pushes itself, you simply press on the handle, the drive wheels start and the mower goes. You don't have to wrestle it, or exert an inappropriate amount of effort as you might think. To turn simply press the handle such that one mower drives faster than the other, and to help tighten the turning radius push down on the handle so the front wheels are in the air. I am very pleased with the end result, and will probably hold off buying a riding mower for a long time now that I have this.

    Hopefully this will help someone out there with a tight budget and a lot of grass.







    Last edited by brownbr; 04-02-2012 at 01:05 AM. Reason: adding pictures

  2. #2
    Elite Member Baby Grand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ganging 2 push mowers (walk behind) more mower for low cost

    Truly amazing. Looks daft, but on consideration, seems like a great idea.
    Thanks for posting! Do the mowers "float" - by that I mean do they hinge on the bolts thru the boards so they adapt to contours in the surface you are mowning?
    That's the problem with trouble.
    It always starts out as such fun."
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ganging 2 push mowers (walk behind) more mower for low cost

    Thats interesting. I ahve never seen anything like it before! Glad it works for you.
    I enjoy my cars, garden and tractors!

  4. #4
    Elite Member Baby Grand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ganging 2 push mowers (walk behind) more mower for low cost

    If you used longer boards, and pulled it with a lawn tractor with a mower deck so each outboard mower overlaps the deck's cut by an inch or 2 I bet you could cut a 76" swath ... or more! I'd love to hear that tri-motor on a hot, humid summer afternoon.
    That's the problem with trouble.
    It always starts out as such fun."
    - Randall Brown

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Ganging 2 push mowers (walk behind) more mower for low cost

    Quote Originally Posted by Baby Grand View Post
    Truly amazing. Looks daft, but on consideration, seems like a great idea.
    Thanks for posting! Do the mowers "float" - by that I mean do they hinge on the bolts thru the boards so they adapt to contours in the surface you are mowning?
    Yes the mowers float very well. The end result was a much tighter trim than with a 5' finish mower. My yard has plenty of small hils and humps.

    I was also even able to hit the first couple passes at the edge of the street which drops off at a steep slope right by the road. One mower sat atop the hill on the flat portion and anchored the other as it hung down and sat upon the slope. The linkage adjusted and both mower sat flat on it's respective plane and the entire rig mowed forward and mowed in this position. I didn't push my luck getting both mowers onto the slope on the first go round. I was afraid they could away from me on the steepest part that I typically have to use a weed eater on.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ganging 2 push mowers (walk behind) more mower for low cost

    That's really a neat cost effective solution.

    You've now got me thinking how I can adapt an outrigged/trailed push mower on my ride on to mow under low tree/shrubs where the ride on won't reach ( & also increase the mowing width to lessen mowing time).

    Seems your "floating" pivot mechanism has solved most of the problems I'll encounter, and with a little steel fabrication we should be able to build a prototype on a Saturday afternoon.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Ganging 2 push mowers (walk behind) more mower for low cost

    Now all you have to do is find a cheap used riding mower. Put one of those on either side of the riding mower, via a steel bar that keeps them on the same plane with each other, but behind and overlapping the riding mower. You can use a smaller riding mower and cut 3 times the path.

    We did this when I was a kid, before my dad got a good sized rider. Our first one cut about a 36" path and it was a 2 acre front lawn. Took me ALL Day, EVERY Sat to mow. Then I had to clean out the barn stalls for the cows and horses. After enough pleading and griping, he finally broke down and got a nice 48" mower with some real power.

    Before that though, we had as many as 4 push mowers behind the rider. He even hooked them behind the truck on one occasion. There was almost 3 different wrecks on the road with looky loos. I think they thought my dad ahd lost his marbles.

  8. #8
    Gold Member Clumber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ganging 2 push mowers (walk behind) more mower for low cost

    Quote Originally Posted by handirifle View Post
    Now all you have to do is find a cheap used riding mower. Put one of those on either side of the riding mower, via a steel bar that keeps them on the same plane with each other, but behind and overlapping the riding mower. You can use a smaller riding mower and cut 3 times the path.

    We did this when I was a kid, before my dad got a good sized rider. Our first one cut about a 36" path and it was a 2 acre front lawn. Took me ALL Day, EVERY Sat to mow. Then I had to clean out the barn stalls for the cows and horses. After enough pleading and griping, he finally broke down and got a nice 48" mower with some real power.

    Before that though, we had as many as 4 push mowers behind the rider. He even hooked them behind the truck on one occasion. There was almost 3 different wrecks on the road with looky loos. I think they thought my dad ahd lost his marbles.
    I agree, but a used riding mower with a 42"-50" cutting width will address his problem without having to gang mowers together.

    An adequate used sears lawn tractor can be had for $300 - $1000. Those Toro self-propelled mowers might cost $200-$300 a piece new plus adding in the yearly maintenance on two engines (say $100) plus his time and effort (say worth $200) into the project might bring the cost in the range of $700 - $900. Clearly, buying a new or used lawn tractor is a better solution without having to walk behind the gang for several hours. Although I can understand the fun involved in the DIY gang mower project.
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    Now we're both old and happy, fishing on our own Golden Pond. -- Merle Haggard


    PT 425 (Dec 2010), Blade, Snow Blower, Sweeper, Spreader, LMB, 4n1, Small Bucket/Teeth, Utility Grapple, Brush Cutter, Box Blade, Mini Hoe/Thumb, Forks, Power Dumper

  9. #9
    Bronze Member Ozykioti's Avatar
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    Default

    I can't see the pics but I get the idea. I think if I was to do this I would rig up some kind of radio controlled steering for it, sit on the deck with a nice cool beverage and have fun doing the lawn for a change  That would sure grab the attention of any people passing by!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ganging 2 push mowers (walk behind) more mower for low cost

    Much better thought out then some of my own tries. Thank you for the post and pictures.

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