The sporting choice for wide area mowing? PRODUCT TEST Toro Reelmaster 3555-D /3575-D by James de Havilland 01 A tight scuff free turn when cutting a diamond pattern is a tricycle mower's unit strength, the picture d Reelmaster 3555-D takes little room to turn back on itself. 02 Drive to the cutting units is stopped as the units are raised out of work, with enough time for the cylinders to clear clippings before they stop completely. This helps reduce clumps of dropped clippings at the headland. 01 02 04 . news lines . summer 2018 Employing a ‘traditional’ ride-on fairway mower for the care of sports turf can mean a compromise needs to be made between output and machine size against versatility and manoeuvrability. With their 2.5m cut width Reelmaster 3555-D and 3575-D mowers , Toro offers a mowing choice that could be an ideal solution. Benefitting from the compact design and lightweight attributes of its narrower 2.1m cut-width Reelmaster 3550-D and 1.83 or 2.16m Reelmaster 3100-D Sidewinder models, the Reelmaster 3555-D and 3575-D could well be the ideal wide area champ for versatile sports turf mowing. Here James de Havilland has the privilege of putting the machines through their paces at Bristol City Football Club’s Failand training ground. Before taking a closer look at the five-inch reel Reelmaster 3555-D and its seven-inch reel brother, the 3575-D, here’s a top view of the four things that set these lightweight fairway mowers apart. First up is the three-wheel traction unit, a low centre of gravity and wide track promising balance between stability and manoeuvrability. Second is the power unit, the three-cylinder Kubota diesel engine of these models developing a maximum of 24.8hp, while a more traditional wide area mower, such as the 2.54m four-wheel Reelmaster 5410-D, has a nominal 35hp engine. The third point, is weight. These three-wheel mowers have a weight that is 20 per cent lighter than a comparably equipped Toro four-wheel drive fairway machine. And in fourth place is speed. Toro claims the Reelmaster 3555-D and 3575-D can mow at speeds of up to 7mph/11.3 km/h. The combined relevance of these points is that these mowers are nearer the class below in terms of agility, power and weight, but up with the class above in terms of potential performance. For those charged with the maintenance of sports turf, this combination of potential performance and agility could prove a real plus. Add the choice of cutting units to suit the varied needs of winter and summer sports turf, and it is clear these models have a far broader appeal than a more traditional ‘fairway’ model. Equally those who take care of high status park and amenity turf could well benefit from taking a look at these mowers too. For some, however, there will be questions relating to the three-wheel traction unit, or lack of traction unit as some may suggest. This will be further compounded by Toro fitting 22x12-12 4ply ‘no tread’ tyres as standard. Show one of these mowers a slippery slope and it could possibly be ‘game over’, but not necessarily for a qualified operator. Inflated to a modest 12psi, or 0.83bar if you prefer, these slick tyres are soft enough to optimise their respective contact patches to ‘grip’ more than their slick surface may suggest. Another point is that a ‘tricycle’ layout will always have all the wheels in firm contact with the ground. Add all-wheel traction, and one of these mowers could well scale slopes a lot better than some treaded tyre alternatives with four-wheels and 2WD. This is not to suggest a 3555-D is the mower of choice to mow embankments, but more that these mowers should be easily able to cope with UK sports turf environments. The most important element of any mower will clearly be the cutting units, and the DPA cylinders of all Toro Reelmasters have an established reputation for quality of cut. The 3555-D and 3575-D are fitted as standard with the latest EdgeSeries cylinders, which were developed by Toro to stay ‘on-cut’ for longer. In practice, those charged with the care of these mowers should find a well-thought through regime of routine backlapping see a reduced frequency in the need for relief cylinder grinding between existing and EdgeSeries cylinders. What is less obvious is that Toro has also refined the design of its DPA units, with low friction bearings reducing power consumption. When this is combined with a lighter mower and a smaller engine, the net result should be a general reduction in overall fuel consumption. When fuel prices are high, any saving in fuel will have a decent impact upon operating costs. As with any machine appraisal, the key recommendation is that those charged with sports turf maintenance keep an open mind to different mowing options. With increased pressure on resources and skilled labour, any item of equipment that can deliver enhanced performance without compromising cut quality has to be worth a look.