• Trimmer

Pete Rideout, Chettle

"One of the most annoying things about hedge cutting is that after concentrating hard to create a good level, even cut, you look back and see the odd uncut branch sticking up," says Pete Rideout.

undefinedAnd it’s an opinion you can have some sympathy with – the way a hedge looks after it is cut is usually considered to be a reflection on the ability of the operator, not the machine used to cut it. Which is why, he insists, he purchased his first Shelbourne Reynolds tractor hedge cutter a few years ago and, following the success with that one, why he recently purchased a second machine.
Based at Chettle, Dorset, Mr Rideout’s offers his customers a range of different services but majors on drilling, baling and tractor hedge cutting.

"These three jobs tend to keep me pretty well occupied throughout most of the year," he explains. "I’ve built up a good customer base and aim to do a good job for all of them."  This ‘doing a good job’ is a recurring theme when talking to Mr Rideout. He clearly is at pains to present the best work possible for his customers.

"I first saw the Shelbourne Powerblade tractor hedge cutter last year and, bearing in mind the success we’d achieved with the company’s earlier machine, I thought I would give it a try," he says. He opted for the Powerblade HD70T – a telescopic machine which could extend its reach hydraulically out to 7m. "The beauty of the telescoping arm is that you can always fine-tune just where the head is on the hedge without having to steer the tractor – it’s precision work," he says.

"And it usually also allows you stay on the level road when cutting roadside hedges and avoid those deep unexpected gullies the council tend to dig." Mr Rideout operates the hedge cutter with his Case MXU 135 tractor which, he comments, is a good pairing with the weight distribution being about right to hold the arm steady at full reach.

"It only takes about 15 minutes to attach the hedge cutter and about the same time to take it off," he says. "Which means that if I have to stop and do another urgent job with the tractor I am not wasting half a day getting ready to do it."

At the business end of the hedge cutter is a 1.2m flail head which is fitted with ‘T’ flails – he uses one edge to cut the hedge and, by reversing the direction of the flails, the other edge to cut out the bottom vegetation where there may be foreign objects lurking to take the edge off a blade. "The hydraulically height adjusted roller makes a fantastic contribution to the operation of the head," he says. "Particularly when cutting low down and you want to follow ground contours to leave a good looking finish."
He also praises what he describes as the large open mouth of the flail head which allows the smaller material to flow in almost unimpeded and be cleanly cut – with none of them escaping.

undefined"There’s no doubt that the Shelbourne head does a good job both in heavy growth – two years or older – and also in those hedges that have that wispy, light weight material that can almost be blown out of the way before it is cut," explains Mr Rideout.
Up in the tractor cab, the controls sit snugly on the left hand arm rest – their electronic action providing precise proportional control.

"It’s the first hedge trimmer I’ve operated for which the manufacturer has actually provided a bracket to mount the controls on," he says. "Usually you have to spend £50 getting someone to make one."

This season, Mr Rideout says he expects to clock up about 1000 hours using the machine as he cuts his way along mile after mile of hedgerows.

"Each hedge is different and represents a new challenge but the idea is always to leave a tidy job and a hedge that is going to flourish during the year and look good. It’s really excellent to have a hedge cutter that can help me achieve the high standards I want to present to my customers.

"And the other good thing about my new Shelbourne Powerblade tractor hedge cutter is that it attracts the attention of my customers who invariably stop and have a chat with me," he says. "It’s a chance for them to appreciate the quality of the work – and, as has happened in the past, they offer me extra work in the future."

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