A flail mower is a type of PTO driven implement that can attach to the three-point hitches found on the rear of most tractors. This type of mower is best used to provide a rough cut to taller grass where contact with loose debris may be possible which would damage a rotating blade type of mower such as on roadside verges were litter & tyre debris is present.
The flail mower gets its name from the use of "flails" attached to its rotating horizontal drum (also called tube, rotor, or axle). Many implement companies also refer to the flails as knives or blades. The rows of flails are usually staggered to provide a complete cut. The flails are attached to the drum using chain links or brackets, depending on the manufacturer. The rotating drum is perpendicular to the axis of the tractor. The PTO driveshaft along the tractor's axis must make a right angle through the use of a gearbox in order to transfer its rotational energy to the drum. As the drum rotates, centrifugal force pushes the flails outward.
Standard flails are shaped like an extruded "T" or "Y" and the chain attaches to the bottom. There are also proprietary flails with different shapes for shredding larger brush and others that leave a smooth, finish cut. Flails can be made from flat pressed steel or cast chisels from special alloy steels for wear resistance.
If a flail strikes an immovable object, it simply bounces off. Other rotary type mowers have a tendency to grab and throw the object out of the mower deck if its small enough. This fact makes the flail mower best suited for areas where thrown objects would cause damage.
Flail mowers may also be used in a more or less upright position for trimming the sides of hedges. They are often called hedge cutters (or sometimes also hedge trimmers) then. Especially in forestry some very robust variants of flail mowers – called flail mulchers, flail shredders, or flail choppers – are used.
For flat verge mowing they are often fitted straight on a tractor 3-point linkage & driven by the [[P.T.O>]] but fitted with a side shift mechanism.
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