A skid steer brush cutter with a closed front is a popular choice for clearing heavy undergrowth, saplings, dense grass, and weeds.
Untouched land can quickly become an eyesore. The weeds start to take over, the grass grows tall, and saplings quickly sprout. In a short amount of time growth can become too thick for a lawn mower to be effective. The simplest way to clear the unwanted mess from unmanaged land is with a closed front skid steer brush cutter attachment.
CLOSED FRONT BRUSH CUTTER APPLICATIONS
Brush cutter attachments with closed fronts are designed to clear grass, weeds, undergrowth, and thick brush. Most skid steer mowers are able to cut trees up to 3” thick in diameter.
A closed front brush cutter does not allow debris to escape the deck easily, which allows extremely efficient mulching. Leaves, limbs, and saplings are shredded into small chips and pieces, resulting in a smooth and managed appearance.
If you need to mainly rough-cut large, dense brush or remove trees that are 4”-6” in diameter then an open front brush cutter may work better.
IMPORTANT FEATURES TO CONSIDER
The model you purchase needs to have the required structural strength and quality components to withstand the stress that comes with this type of work. When purchasing a new or used skid steer mower there are several important things to consider.
1. QUALITY SPINDLE
The spindle is the most expensive and important performance part on a skid steer brush cutter attachment. Choosing a cutter with a thick, high quality spindle is an absolute must when making a brush cutter purchase.
The spindle is important because it is responsible for smoothly transferring power from the hydraulic motor to the flywheel and absorbing impact that could damage the hydraulic motor.
Ask the dealer about the spindle material and diameter. A forged spindle will be the strongest. Also, ask where the spindle was made to ensure you aren’t getting an inferior product.
A spindle shaft that has not been well maintained with proper lubrication will quickly wear out. Be careful and ask plenty of questions before buying a used brush cutter. If buying from a previous owner ask them if they check the motor oil and keep the spindle lubricated. It’s probably a bad sign if they have no idea what you are talking about.
2. REINFORCED MOWER DECK
Take a close look at the steel reinforcements on top of the mower deck. It has to be reinforced since it is the support structure for the entire mower. The deck should be constructed with thick, high-grade steel with cross members running across the entire length of the mower deck.
When looking at the deck’s bracing support, steel grade rating and steel thickness are all equally important. There should also be bracing around the motor to help withstand the tremendous force that is generated by the spinning flywheel and blades underneath the deck.
3. HEAVY-DUTY FLYWHEEL
A heavy-duty flywheel is needed for handling large debris. If it is too light the brush cutter will bog down and hurt performance. A heavier flywheel will create more inertia and provide a cleaner, more precise cut. A circular flywheel will also bounce off stumps rather than catching and damaging expensive motor components.
4. REINFORCED PUSH BAR
If your cutter needs to go through a lot of small trees and thick debris then a push bar is essential. Without a push bar, the steel on the front deck may quickly deform and affect the brush mower’s performance.
5. HYDRAULIC PRESSURE RELIEF VALVES
Pressure relief valves protect the motor and the loader’s hydraulic system from pressure spikes. When the blades hit a large stump or rock the relief valves open and relieve the pressure. This prevents seals or other internal components from damage due to excessive pressure.
6. REPLACEABLE BLADES
Replaceable blades minimize downtime. Rocks, dirt, and other obstructions will dramatically increase the dulling of the blades. They will eventually need to be replaced. It is important to look for a manufacturer who offers replaceable blade kits.
7. REPLACEABLE SKID SHOES
Skid shoes increase the mower deck’s wear life and add protection. Skid shoes help the skid steer mower glide over soft, uneven terrain instead of gouging into ground.
8. SAFETY FEATURES
A skid steer brush cutter motor that features dynamic braking will safely stop the flywheel in about ten seconds. Without a braking system the blades could keep spinning for minutes. Dynamic braking combined with pressure relief valves makes for a very reliable and low maintenance drive system.
The brush cutter attachment should have a safety feature that prevents the cutter’s deck from going above the cab door. This keeps the cutter close to the ground and limit flying debris, which helps protect the operator.
With a solid, reinforced deck, a quality spindle, and a heavy-duty flywheel blade combination you are off to a good start when trying to find a durable skid steer mower.
From here you must decide if any additional features fit into the budget. Some common features are front casters or wheels and rear rollers to help keep the skid steer mower stable. Another option is an auto-floating deck that automatically adjusts the cutter height as it moves across terrain.
CLOSED FRONT CUTTER TYPES AND OPTIONS
The best mower will depend upon the conditions in which it's going to be used. Here are the basic types of closed front brush cutters and common options.
STANDARD, FIXED DECK BRUSH CUTTERS
A brush cutter attachment with a fixed Standard Deck is designed for use on relatively even surfaces. A Standard Deck brush cutter will be less expensive than a Floating Deck brush cutter.
FLOATING DECK BRUSH CUTTERS
For a more consistent cut on uneven terrain a Floating Deck skid steer brush cutter is the ideal choice. A floating design will allow the deck to automatically contour to the ground. It will reduce the chances of scalping or gouging the ground resulting in a cleaner cut.
In situations where the floating deck is not needed, it should have the ability to easily be locked in a fixed position. For example, if the ground is very soft and the deck needs to be suspended above or barely touching the ground.
A Roller consists of a large, tubular weldment with bearings connected to the outside of the deck. A Rear Roller will compact chopped material and produce a better cut by preventing the back of the deck from gouging into the ground.
SWIVEL CASTERS / WHEELS
Caster options provide support with pivoting solid steel wheels placed on both front corners of the brush mower. They help prevent the cutter from scalping and gouging, which results in a clean, consistent cut. 360-degree rotating swivel casters are better than fixed wheels because they make the brush cutter easier to maneuver from side-to-side.
Pairing Swivel Casters and a Rear Roller will help produce a better cut, a smoother ride, and further limit gouging/scalping. These options also provide extra value by minimizing wear on the underside of the brush cutter frame and skid shoes. Add these options to a Floating Deck brush cutter for maximum effectiveness.
MATCHING A CUTTER TO YOUR SKID STEER
Effective mowing always requires a suitable machine. With so many options to choose from, it is important to match the brush cutter to the overall skid steer width, as well as the flow rate capabilities of your skid steer’s hydraulic system.
A common question is what width should I purchase? You should purchase a brush mower with a cut width that is wider than the tires or tracks of your skid steer. If the cut width does not cover the tracks then you increase the risk of running over uncut debris; debris that could damage your skid steer tires.
Bigger is not always better. Selecting a brush cutter attachment that is too wide will:
- Increase weight.
- Increase overall cutting surface area.
- Require more power to run it effectively.
These factors directly impact performance.
SKID STEER FLOW RATE
You must know the flow rate of your skid steer and the minimum and maximum flow rate of the brush cutter motor. The flow rate is typically listed in gallons per minute (GPM).
To achieve optimal performance, the brush cutter’s flow rate should fall within the min/max range of the brush cutter motor, meaning the motor is not designed to go over its maximum flow rate rating and the warranty is likely void if it does.
Flow rate examples:
- If you use a Standard Flow brush mower motor in High Flow the motor will be over stressed. It may not fail immediately, but irreparable damage has likely occurred and eventually the motor will fail.
- If you use a High Flow brush mower on a Standard Flow skid steer, you won’t get the performance you desire.
SKID STEER OPERATING CAPACITY
Another factor to consider is the operating lift capacity of your skid steer loader. Brush cutters generally weigh about 1500 pounds, and when an optional rear roller and casters is included the cutter will weigh 200-300 pounds more. Always check the attachment’s recommended loader capacity to make sure your skid steer has the necessary operating capacity to effectively handle the skid steer brush mower.
SAFELY OPERATING SKID STEER BRUSH CUTTERS
For maximum safety, take the time to read and understand the brush cutter’s manual before operating. The main thing is to keep bystanders at least 200 feet away from the cutter when it is being operated. Here are some general tips to safely operate skid steer brush cutter attachments.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
- When operating never lift the blades above the cab door.
- Never operate a brush cutter without a shatterproof cab door on your skid steer.
- Before cutting, look for rocks, fence wire or other damaging items.
- It is important to never exit the skid steer when the cutter’s blades are in motion. Anytime the blades are off the ground and still moving they can be very dangerous.
- Since debris can easily be thrown through the air, make sure there are no bystanders within 200 feet.
- Tracks are a must on soft ground. Tires can dig deep into the ground and result in slow, poor performance.
MAINTAINING BRUSH CUTTERS
Whether you buy a new or used skid steer mower, it is always important to keep up with regularly scheduled maintenance and replace worn or defective parts as soon as they are detected.
The most important maintenance tip we can give you is to keep the spindle well lubricated at all times. We receive many cases of part failure that could have easily been prevented with proper lubrication.
Also, keep a close eye on wear parts like the blades and skid shoes. The brush mower will have areas that must be greased and the motor oil needs to be checked regularly and filled with the proper oil.
Make sure to take great care of your skid steer brush cutter attachment. Use the cutter’s manual for maintenance information and stick to a schedule. You can count on years of reliable performance if it is well maintained.
RECLAIMING OVERGROWN PROPERTY
A skid steer brush cutter is an excellent choice for clearing and mulching heavy undergrowth and small trees. Don’t let weeds and tall grass take over your land this year. Use a skid steer brush mower to quickly clear brush and reclaim overgrown terrain.
If interested in buying a new brush cutter, check out what we have to offer.