Mercedes' mega mower more than makes the cut
Specialist hedge and verge trimmer is extraordinary bit of kit
Published 07/09/2010 | 05:00
Hedgecutting and verge mowing in Ireland is carried out principally by tractor and hedgecutter combinations. There are many different specifications of hedge cutter but they can roughly be divided into two categories, farmer- specification machines and contractor-specification machines. There are more specialised trimming systems available, though, particularly on the continent.
For maintaining grass margins and hedges they have two or more hedge trimmers mounted up front on a machine. To my surprise, there is one such specialist piece of kit here on our shores, a Mercedes Benz Unimog, which is equipped with two verge mowers up front.
This unusual machine belongs to Motor Distributors Ltd, who is the importer and distributor of Mercedes Benz cars and commercial vehicles here in Ireland. It is the company's demonstrator machine. The Unimog falls under the commercial vehicle wing here in Ireland and used to stand beside the MB Trac, Mercedes Benz's tractor once upon a time.
There are many types and models of Unimog available and many variants and build specifications within these. This Unimog, though, is a U400, which is certainly the most 'different' looking of the Unimog family and perhaps the closest Unimog relation to a conventional tractor. In layman's terms it is part truck, part tractor, but Mick Merrigan, area service manager with MDL, gives the 'Mog' its correct title of implement carrier.
I visited the outfit in Kildare to see it in action trimming the roadside, with MDL demonstrator driver Heinz Eggert at the wheel. Equipped with verge trimmers from German firm Mulag, the Unimog can 'trim' two 1.2m-wide strips in a single pass. Both units operate at the front of the Unimog where visibility is excellent.
A PTO-driven hydraulic pump supplies the oil for the hedgecutter heads. There are front, mid and rear PTO options available on the Unimog.
Before trimming can begin, the front axle of the Unimog has to be 'locked' because, like a truck, it has suspension on all four corners and would be a little unstable with hedgecutters hanging out to one side. In transport, the front mowing unit is folded neatly into the Unimog, while the trimmer arm is slung over the Unimog's cab resting in a cradle in the rear.
Going to work, the front unit folds out automatically while the larger and more conventional trimmer is manually swung out from the rear into work from the in-cab controls.