How Much Do You Know about Side Flail Mowers?

Side flail mowers are a type of powered agricultural or garden equipment that comes in handy when dealing with heavier scrub or grass that traditional lawn mowers cannot handle or cope with.  

There are several smaller models that are self-powered although there are a lot of PTO-driven implements that are attached to the three-point hitches that can be found at the back of most tractors. It is a type of mower that is best used for providing a rough cut not only to long grass but also to brambles in which contact with there is a possibility of contact with the loose debris like in roadsides.

How Does a Side Flail Mower Work?

Flail mowers got their name from using flails that are attached to the rotating horizontal drum or also known as axle, rotor, or tube. Most implement companies also call these flails as hammers, blades, or knives.  

These rows of flails are often staggered to offer a continuous cut for lesser wear and tear on the machine. These flails are connected to the drum with the use of chain brackets or links, which depends on the specific manufacturer. 

Flail mowers - demonstration of use
Flail mowers are attached to the rotating horizontal drum (axle, rotor, or tube)

This rotating drum is also parallel to the tractor’s axle. The PTO driveshaft that can be found along the axis of the tractor must form a right angle with the use of the gearbox to have the rotational energy transferred to the drum. While the drum is rotating, the centrifugal force will push the flails outward. 

The standard flails come in share of an extruded Y or T with a chain attached to the lower part. There are some proprietary flails as well with different shapes to help shred bigger brush and many others that can leave a finish and smooth cut.   

Every time a flail hits an immovable object, this will just bounce off. There are also rotary type mowers with the tendency of grabbing and throwing out the object from the mower deck if this is small enough. It is the reason why side flail mowers are more suitable for places where the thrown objects may cause damages. 

A flail mower can also be used in somewhat upright position to trim the sides of the hedges. These are often referred to as hedge cutters or hedge trimmers. There are also rather robust flail mower variants, particularly in forestry being used that are known as flail choppers, flail shredders, or flail mulchers. 

Toppers vs. Flail Mowers 

There are some people who are often confused between toppers and side flail mowers. Flail mowers can cut grass really fine and short and can also handle uneven and rough surfaces. A topper, on the other hand, is used mainly for topping off growth like long grass and weeds.

Video: Flail mowers – Demonstration of operation

The mulch is bigger in sizes and is also not that fine as compared to cutting with side flail mowers. Toppers also use swinging blades rather than rotating blades. A flail mower has a more versatile use but also tend to be more expensive. 

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