Friday, December 9, 2011

Time to Grind

If you walk past a golf course maintenance facility this time of year, you will most likely hear the sound of grinding wheels, air rachets, and other assorted power tools. Winter maintenance of golf course equipment is essential to keeping them sharp and operational. At Sugar Creek, we use two Neary grinders to spin-grind reels and grind bedknives back into cutting shape. These grinders are considered "classics" but they do their job well if you are careful and treat them nicely.  Throughout the season, we touch-up and adjust these reels twice a week but winter is when we re-grind and re-set all the cutting angles and surfaces.

Here are some pictures of Greens King IV reels being worked on:

Our equipment technician uses very precise gauges and calipers to ensure that the reels are not slightly cone-shaped or the bedknives tilted. He often uses this Interapid indicator to test within a 10,000th of an inch if everything is coming out straight and parallel. Here you can see the indicator being used on the bedknife grinder:

Winter is when golf course equipment technicians shine. In addition to sharpening and grinding reels and blades, they change bearings, grease joints, change oil, rebuild engines, service hydraulics, replace brake pads, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I won't list here. After finishing grinding and preventative maintenance on the machines, we will be replacing the reels on the fairway mower and refurbishing the groomers on our greens mower early next year.

In the above photo, you can see the groomer blades on the greens mower cutting units.  The bearings and adjustment hardware are worn out making it very difficult to set them precisely and have them stay there.  Grooming is tricky as it is without having the cutting depth change on you.  Ideally we like the little vertical blades to go into the "canopy" of the turf just slightly and lift up leaf blades that are getting too long or running sideways (about .030" below height of cut on greens).  Having groomers too deep could damage the green and would eventually break groomers -- for deep cutting we have verti-cutter units.  Going too shallow will have no effect at all.  Since accurate adjustment is so important, the bearings and hardware on these groomers needs to be replaced once in a while to produce a quality results.

Somebody once told me Superintendents swear by groomers; mechanics swear at them.  This will most likely be true in our shop sometime in mid to late January when we take them apart and start fixing them up. 
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