Countax have been manufacturing ride-on mowers at their Oxfordshire factory since 1991, and it’s fair to say that the current models are a world away from that first K-Series mower.
In an industry dominated by large production manufacturers, Countax has for fifteen years successfully maintained its position as a leading supplier of ride-on mowers in the UK – despite fierce competition. The secret of Countax’ success, according to managing director, Harry Handkammer is knowing the market, and constant product innovation. “We pride ourselves on maintaining a close relationship with the people who use our products, listen carefully to what they demand from the product, and make every effort to ensure that the customer gets what they want.
“Knowing your customers is absolutely key to being able to provide a product that they want to buy, and one of the major benefits we have at Countax is the ability to react very quickly. We can develop new products to production line in weeks rather than months, and the ability to manufacture the majority of the parts ourselves means that developments can be realised on existing models very easily. We can react very quickly to customer demand, much faster than our competitors, and it ensures we maintain an advantage. “
Countax listen to their dealers, their network of specialist machinery dealers are the closest contact to their customer base. Reaction to dealer and customer feedback are often key influences in the development of new product at Countax, recently demonstrated by the introduction of the new C330 ‘mini’ ride-on mower. Countax dealers were raising the issue of customers with smaller gardens, keen to own a Countax mower, but restricted by access. The smallest Countax mower used to be the C300, but with an overall width of 97cm (38”), it was usually too wide to fit through a standard sized gateway.
With an increasing number of customers with gardens of one acre or less looking to own a Countax, the development team at the Great Haseley factory designed the new C330, operating on a 389cc single cylinder Honda engine, and fitted with a 76cm (30”) wide cutter deck, and an overall width of just 83cm. The new C330 has been designed to fit easily through a standard size gateway.
The cutter deck has been positioned offset for close cutting around trees and other obstacles, and precise cutting around flower beds. The foot controlled hydrostatic transmission and ultra light-weight manual deck height adjustment makes the new C330 easy to operate.
Within a few months of the C330 launch, the development team had produced a further innovation for the new ‘mini’ in the form of a combi deck, capable of both standard cut to collect, and mulching.
The new 76cm (30”) Combi cutter deck uses the same blade for both mulch mowing and standard, rear discharge, cutting, and to convert between the two options is a simple procedure, either fitting or removing the rear section of the cutter deck.
There is no need for any tools, a small black hand-turn wheel located just in front of the rear wheel holds the rear section or the cutter deck in place. For mulch mowing, the rear section of the deck is required, and to enable discharge of cut grass into a grass collector, the section should be removed. To switch between grass cutting options takes less than a minute.
The key advantages of this new combination cutter deck from Countax is that you can cut longer, wet grass and eject, then convert your mower to a mulcher without the cost of purchasing a separate specialist cutter deck.
Being aware of what customers are demanding from their mowers has produced a range of innovative models, including the 4WD range, available as a standard mid-deck mower, or with an out-front cutter deck, in the Countax X-Series range.
Constant product assessment and customer feedback generates further development for existing models, recently exampled by making the cleaning of the X-Series cutter deck after use even easier, with less fixings, and a simpler procedure to move the deck into its “wash” position.
The modified front deck cradle and new quick-release deck belt tension lever means that the cutter deck can be moved from standard operating position to a vertical “wash” position in less than 1 minute, allowing the user full and safe access to the underside of the cutter deck, and cutting blades.
US manufacturers, Ferris & Wright, both offer a wide range of zero turn riders to suit individual user’s requirements and are tailored to a wide range of applications.
Ferris Industries pride themselves on offering their patented independent suspension throughout their range. Thanks to this system, the deck of the mower works in conjunction with the suspension system to provide a consistent cut. Shock to the chassis is virtually eliminated, resulting in superior operator comfort, increased mowing speeds, stability and extended mower life.
Using a standard ride on, many operators may not be aware that they slow down to compensate for uneven terrain – until they test-drive a Ferris with suspension. Insulated from these effects, the operator naturally increases speed, taking full advantage of the power delivered by the range of engines available from Ferris. The result: More acres per hour and more money in your pocket.
In addition to independent suspension, Ferris are one of the few manufacturers to offer machines built with 1/ 4” thick frames, compared with 1/8” for most competitors, this gives extra rigidity and, as a result, a more stable cutting platform and therefore a better finish. These two features, and deck size choices between 44” and 72”, make Ferris the perfect solution for heavy usage or larger areas of grass.
The Ferris range of ride on machines comes in a range of sizes from the 19hp IS1500Z to the flagship IS5100Z model at 33.5hp. Models are available with either petrol or diesel specification, and can be fitted with a range of engines from Caterpillar, Yanmar and Kawasaki.
Wright’s innovative range of mowers combines high ground speed with great agility to give increased productivity. Wright realise that mowing speed is more than just a matter of miles per hour, excellent manoeuvrability and handing in tight spaces are just as important.
The Wright Stander is driven from a standing position so the operator can shift their weight instantly to handle changing terrain and retain traction and control on slopes, and the small footprint means that it will go where other mowers just cannot.
The Stander is available in 2 frame sizes (25hp/19hp – Large and 17hp/15hp – Small) and can be supplied in a range of deck widths from 32” to 42” for small frame units, or 48” to 52” for the larger frame models. Machines can be supplied with rotary or flail head configuration.
The compact design and manoeuvrability of the Stander, makes it the best seller in the Wright range.
Also available from Wright is the ride-on Sentar model. Although driven from a seated position, this mower is built with a low profile and a low centre of gravity, also allowing the user to shift their weight to improve control. Sentar is available with deck widths of 36” to 52”, all supplied with Kawasaki petrol engines – 19/23hp. The Sentar Sport model is also available; with a top speed of 7.5mph this machine is a popular choice for those wanting to cover more flat ground in less time.
All of the machines mentioned in this feature are available from IPU Group.They will again be exhibiting the full range at the IOG Saltex
(New for the 2009 season is the Ferris 1500Z model, the most compact ride on in their range, and the Wright Rapid Height Stander – it does what it says on the tin – deck cutting height change with a single lever.
TEL 0121 511 0400 or visit www.ipu.co.uk
New Holland’s TZ21D sub-compact tractor is proving to be the ideal workhorse on the Berkshire estate of Roger and Jill Gent.
This versatile 21hp tractor punches above its light-footed 662kg weight topping half-acre horse paddocks, mowing rough grass and orchards and keeping driveways tidy at Beedon Common Farm.
The TZ21D is fitted with a purpose-designed mid-mount 1.3m mower deck and Roger finds his tractor invaluable for mowing. “I am very impressed with the quality of the finish when I am cutting, it is a very good cut,” he says. “I have found that the size and manoeuvrability of the tractor and the visibility it affords are also excellent – the area around the stables is very tight so this is an essential quality.”
He also praises the user-friendly design of the TZ21D, explaining: “I can reach all of the controls from the seat and the deck raise and lower is hydraulic.”
Four-wheel drive makes light work of more challenging terrain and a ROPS frame protects the operator on sloping ground, while folding to allow access under low branches.
When not busy mowing, Roger explains that he simply lifts the deck out of work to make even more use of the tractor. Despite its compact size it is robust enough to work with a 2 tonne flat roller and with a linkage box for those odd jobs around the farm.
The TZ21D also makes light work of every horse owner’s least favourite chore, towing a suction ‘poo picker’ around the paddocks to clean up after their inhabitants!
New Holland groundcare dealer Oakes Brothers (Micheldever) supplied the TZ21D, a company with which Roger already has a strong relationship through purchasing agricultural equipment. He says: “I’m a big fan of New Holland tractors – a bit of a blue guy!”
Tel 01268 292183
RECO sell Grasshopper zero-turn mowers- the top-selling equipment of its type in the USA. Grasshoppers have a wide range of mowers which provide operators with exceptional comfort and ease-of-use. Proven to produce higher work rates than steering wheel machines, Grasshopper zero-turns are the perfect choice for contractors who want to mow more grass each hour. Models are available with a choice of sizes, cutting decks (including out-front) and mulching kit options. Hydraulic drive systems with high performance filtration are a particular feature along with cooling fans for transmission motors, interchangeable blade sets and effective lower bearing protection. Models boast long service intervals and minimal daily maintenance requirements. Available in 20hp (petrol), 21hp (Petrol or Diesel), 22hp (Petrol or Diesel), 24hp (petrol) and 28hp (Diesel) engines, the Grasshopper range offers a machine to suit every need. Also available are a range of accessories which increase the versatility of the machine, including the Turbine leaf/debris blower, Collector, Aerovator aerator, Sweepster brush and flail deck.
Simon Tullett Machinery has been successfully supplying machinery to the landscape and groundscare market for over 18 years, and the flagship of this success is the popular SCAG range of mowers.
The SCAG zero turn ride-on range consists of five models, offering a choice of cutting deck widths, engine sizes and fuel types including LPG, enabling the professional buyer to select a machine most suitable to the conditions and environment in which it will operate.
The largest machine is the Turf Tiger, with engine sizes ranging from a 25hp Kubota diesel to a 31hp Kohler petrol unit with electronic fuel injection. Belt wear is significantly eliminated due to the unique PTO drive to the cutting head. Equipped with either a 52” (132cm), 61” (155cm) or 72” (183cm) Tri-Plate ‘Velocity Plus’ deck, the Turf Tiger is an ideal solution for parks and grounds, and well respected within the council and amenity sector, not least for its petrol/diesel and engine/deck combinations.
Operator comfort and convenience is key to maximising productivity and help reduce fatigue, for this reason the “Command-Comfort” operator station was introduced, with a torsion spring suspension seat, adjustable steering control levers and foot adjustment pedal for deck lift.
The Turf Tiger is fully interchangeable with the Humus Safety Mulch system extending the versatility of the machine further.
With speeds of up to 10 mph, low centre of gravity and powerful drive system, the Wildcat is a highly cost-effective machine. Taking on aspects of the Turf Tiger but with a smaller frame and less weight, this machine easily tackles large areas, especially those with restricted or limited access. Available in 48” (122 cm), 52” (132 cm) or 61” (155 cm) cut, with 25 – 27hp Kohler or Kawasaki petrol engines. Other features include “Soft-Ride” seat, large drive tyres and “Quick-fit™” steering control levers.
For those requiring a more compact model, but with many of the features from the previous two machines, the Tiger Cat is available. A range of Kawasaki, Kohler or Briggs ELS petrol engines from 19 – 26hp ensure maximum performance and productivity, with cutting widths of 48” (122 cm), 52” (132 cm) or 61” (155 cm) on offer. All Tiger Cat models include standard style twin stick steering controls, pneumatic front caster tyres and foldable Roll-Over-protection System (ROPS) as standard, and the interlocked parking brake system prevents movement on slopes for essential safety.
The Tiger Cat is genuinely the most versatile of machines, accepting three decks – the SCAG rotary deck for fine cut, the ESM deck for rough cut and the Humus Safety mulching deck.
The Freedom Z is aimed at entry level commercial and estate use, and comes with a host of features and accessories including the unique freedom Z cutter deck and grass collection system (fitted with either a metal or fabric collector).
Cutting decks with anti-scalp rollers are available in 36” (91cm), 48” (122 cm) or 52” (132 cm) widths, and petrol powered Kawasaki or Briggs ELS engines from 17 – 26hp.
Features include a ‘maintenance free’ mower design for operator convenience and the interlocked parking brake system for prevention of movement when parked on slopes.
The three wheel hydro ride-on model (STHM) offers excellent manoeuvrability and versatility, with an out-front deck design that allows the operator to mow close to overhanging trees and shrubs, and other areas with limited access. A 61” (155cm) floating Velocity deck is easily managed with a winch operated deck lift for maintenance or transport, aviator style steering yolk and cutting height adjustments from 45mm to 114mm. The STHM has a 23hp Kohler engine, with single foot pedal drive control for quick and convenient change of direction.
Lastec’s model 3300 light weight Articulator mower will be introduced at Saltex, a fully articulating five-deck rotary with zero turn and a 2.4 metre (100in.) cut. The new model, which can fold its outer decks at the flick of a switch to reduce transport width to a mere 78in, brings the accuracy and flexibility of a nimble trim mower to the grass cutting industry at a price as low as many of the rigid deck, low resolution mowers. It is said to offer the productivity of mowers costing twice as much with a level of accuracy that is unsurpassed by any other unit on the market.
With cutting heights adjustable from 1.25in to 4.5in, and with side discharge and mulching capability, the Articulator 3300 provides superior maneuverability and cut quality to conventional mid-mount and out-front rivals. This mower is ideal for grassland areas with difficult trimming demands and multiple height requirements, providing unmatched results on commercial applications that need productivity coupled with precision cut quality. It has a 600mm side reach allowing close trimming around trees, near pond banks, ditches and other obstacles.
Power is provided by a 33hp Kubota diesel engine.
Adjustable control arms make it easy for the operator to be in the most comfortable position. A quick adjustment facility for the suspension seat enables the operator to customise the ride for his or her weight. Throttle, blade engagement and key switch are all in reach of the operator’s right hand. There are two six-gallon tanks with large caps make it easy to fuel without spillage.
The 3300 has been developed as the ride-on version of Lastec’s popular 521 tractor-mounted unit, which is also on display at Saltex.