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Can't Scythe or Strim? Read on...

The Evolution of Nemesis by Marc Hayler

We have a small area of wildflower meadow alongside our veg garden. It is species rich with Yellow Rattle, Cat's Ear and occasional Orchids amongst the finer grasses typical of a low fertility meadow.

We have managed it by cutting late in the year and removing the hay crop. Until recently I have done the cutting with an Austrian scythe but, in my 60's and with a full set of repetitive strain injuries from a lifetime of building things, now find that scything exacerbates my existing neck and shoulder problems.

For some time I had been contemplating the idea of building some sort of rotary power scythe but lack the workshop equipment to engineer one from scratch. I did, however, have a surplus self propelled lawn mower with a rusty deck and a fantastic Honda engine ( 25 years of abuse, never changed the spark plug, starts first pull after standing all winter)

As I'm sure you know, the problem with domestic mowers is that they will not cut long grass because it wodges up under the deck and stalls the motor. Strimmers have always struck me as noisy, slow and inefficient not to mention covering the operator in green sludge from head to foot. There had to be a better way !

'I wonder' I thought, angle grinder in hand and took the plunge.

First I cut the front of the deck off as far back as possible. This means that the blades now protrude beyond the front edge so that the grass is cut before it meets the deck. I also cut the side skirts away as much as possible so that the cut grass can be thrown out and away on the right hand side of the machine.

This unfortunately left me with no front wheels so, initially, I remounted them on outriggers made from a bit of old bed frame and added some bracing between the handle bars and the remains of the deck as it was all getting a bit floppy. I should admit to being able to weld (badly) and having lots of 'stuff that might come in useful' so this whole 'proof of concept' was done in a few manic hours work.

It works !

The only real problem was that the cut grass would sometimes get tangled around the

right hand outrigger and wheel so I have modified the outrigger along the lines of a spider's leg. This can be seen in the video clip and has proved effective, if even more alarming to look at than the original version as it now looks like a reject from The War of The Worlds prop department.

Limiting factors : Grass needs to be dry and there needs to be open ground to the right side so that the cut grass can be thrown clear.

In conclusion I am honestly delighted with how well this crude contraption works, it should probably come with a massive health and safety warning but, as long as you don't get in front of it.....................

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