Focus Machines: Buying a Bomford hedge trimmer

The demand for hedge trimmers increases every year as farmers appreciate tidy hedges and councils become more picky about the size of shoulders.

Bomford Turner Ltd., of Worcestershire, is one of the leading manufacturers supplying this market and its road tour recently stopped at Corbetts of Mallow, Co. Cork, which carries the brand for the Munster region.

progressive farmer

Bomford Turner was formed as Bomford and Evershed in 1904 at Pershore. Its roots go even further back to the late 19th century and to Benjamin Bomford who was a progressively working farmer in the area and a pioneer of the steam plow.

The modern hedge trimmer is both an effective and efficient tool

This interest in mechanization has stayed in the family and the business they started has continued to produce tools for farmers to the present day.

Most of the business is now made up of hedge trimmers which they have been making since the 1940s, with today’s range offering choice and sophistication to match any other brand.

Choose a hedge trimmer

Like many tools, hedge trimmers used to be fairly simple affairs, but that’s all changed, and the range and capabilities of what’s now on offer have increased dramatically, even in the last 20 years.

bomford hedge cutter tractor
The modern hedge trimmer is a sophisticated high-end machine in the market

When looking to buy a hedge trimmer there are a couple of basic questions to ask, the first as always is what will it take and how long will it take to do it ?

Machines are categorized in several ways, one of which is engine horsepower. It is not the power of the tractor, but the hydraulic motor on the head that turns the rotor.

Business power

The smaller Bomford trimmer has a 30 hp unit, while the larger one has an 85 hp engine. Most brush cutters sold to farmers, as opposed to trade contractors, are either 60 hp or 74 hp.

The larger the engine, the faster it cuts, and therefore the faster the tractor can move forward, allowing more or less cutting time to be cut if manpower is restricted.

motor size power head weight
The commercial end of farm-oriented hedge trimmers are available in two basic widths with a wide selection of flails available

The next question is which tractor is available to mount it on. The power available is normally not the issue, it is the mass of the tractor and the stability of the platform it will render that are the important factors.

Bomford are able to offer advice on this, recommending machines which can be safely handled by specific tractor models. Tractors can also be ballasted, giving an extra margin of safety.

There is a trade-off in that although larger tractors provide more stability and can therefore handle a faster trimmer, their weight can shorten the window in which they can operate on headlands.

A budget-friendly Bomford

The third item is the budget, a thorny issue when purchasing machinery. However, Bomford insists that the trade-in value of its machines remains high, so customers should consider the lifetime cost rather than just the purchase price.

Smaller, less well-equipped machines will be cheaper, but they may have limitations that go beyond range and capacity limits.

Budget Machine Tractor Hedge
Small machines are easier to use but limited in terms of output and versatility

An example of this is the location of the hydraulic motor, with economy heads it is mounted directly on the end of the rotor shaft. More sophisticated heads are mounted on the head body, driving the motor via three V-belts.

This latter arrangement keeps the motor away from the work, reduces the risk of damage, protects the driveline from sudden shocks, and allows rotor speed to be changed by the simple expedient of swapping pulleys.

A variety of weapons

The connection from the tractor to the head is the arm itself, and this has many permutations, all of which will affect the price and functionality of the mower.

There are four main upgrades to the standard arm and various lesser options.

Hedge trimmer for cutting tractor
At the top of the range, the arm can be swiveled at work and for transport

From the lower end of the ladder comes the parallel linkage, a great boon to keeping the head level, but it adds weight, as does having a second telescoping arm that extends the reach while retaining the ability to work close to the tractor.

The rotation also greatly increases the versatility of the machine, allowing cutting behind the tractor or at any angle other than 90° to the direction of tractor travel.

To further ease the strain on operators, forward reach arms are a popular choice. These, to a large extent, replace the mid-mounted machines which are no longer viable due to the fuel tanks now hanging where they would have traditionally been attached to the tractor.

Pulling Levers vs Pushing Buttons

Another element that will affect the price at the budget end of the range is the control method.

There are three methods available, the original cable activation of the valves; oil-on-oil, in which a low-pressure oil system instead of a cable is used, keeping the high-pressure hoses out of the cab.

The final method is via an electrical signal and a solenoid, using a joystick.

Bomford joystick control
Fingertip control is available with the joystick, which comes standard on higher level machines

The latter not only lightens the operator’s workload, but the valves are proportional, allowing for more precise head control while working.

The cable version is the cheapest, usually with oil-on-oil as an option, and as one progresses up the range it is only joystick control available on more professional machines.

Ride a hedge trimmer

How a hedge trimmer is attached to the tractor can also affect the purchase decision. Larger, stronger units will often have a bracket arrangement securing them to the rear axle of the tractor.

Mounting the A-frame brackets
A-frame type mounting provides rigid attachment and can be reinforced with a fourth brace at the rear hitch

This provides the most secure mounting and relieves the rear tractor casting of any undue stress, but it can be difficult and slow to remove when you want to use the tractor for other tasks.

However, modern tractors often have air tanks or other components bolted to where the bracket would normally fit, making it difficult to attach. The three-point hitch is still an option on models up to the 6m Falcon.

Limit options

Like all types of machines, hedge trimmers have seen an accelerated evolution as modern design and manufacturing processes have made it possible to produce a wider range of machines at an economical level.

On the plus side, this allows for more choice; on the other hand, this choice can sometimes be somewhat confusing.

Hedge trimmer motor frame
Ease of maintenance is an important factor and here the valves and filters are all easily accessible

When it comes to hedge trimmers, the two main priorities, besides budget, are the size of tractor available and the amount of work to be done, which is intrinsically linked to the time available to do it.

Using these two considerations as a guide, Bomford is confident that it offers a machine that will meet the demands of all farmers and contractors looking to purchase a well-built product.

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