Manufacturer independence appeals to Norfolk hedging contractor

With a big ploughing and combination drilling workload in autumn and spring, Leicestershire contractor Colin Clayton has to fit his third main contract service, hedge trimming, into the four months between November and February, plus a brief fortnight-long window in late summer. In that time he has to meet the demands of as many as 80 customers across the county.


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With 80 customers to serve between tillage and drilling work in autumn and in spring, Colin Clayton values the reliability and ease of use of his VFRT.

That means he puts reliability and ease of use high up his list of hedge trimmer requirements, and since the beginning of the 2014-15 season he has trusted a Shelbourne Reynolds Powerblade HD775 VFRT to give him just that.

With no verge mowing duties, Colin’s work consists solely of hedge trimming, and variable forward reach is valued highly for the ability it gives to trim hedge sides without causing neck ache.

“Previously I ran an HD762 VFR, which was my first experience of a Shelbourne machine, and of variable forward reach,” he explains.

“Before then I’d been a long-time Bomford user, but with that and many of the other hedge trimmer makes now coming from the same stable, I became interested in Shelbourne partly because of their independence, but also because I could deal with one British company in one location producing one range of hedge trimmer products.

“But it was also because of their design ideas, including the way in which they achieve the forward reach on the VFR. The pivot between the boom sections means it loses very little reach when the head is moved forward.

“The local dealer, Sharnford Tractors, was keen to get me to consider changing makes, and offered me a demo to show what the machine could do. When I tried a VFR, the benefits of variable forward reach – chiefly bringing the head alongside the cab – were obvious.”


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Colin specified C-flails when ordering his Powerblade HD775 VFRT

The demo machine he tried impressed Colin sufficiently to order a Powerblade HD762 VFR, which subsequently gave three years’ reliable service. At that point in Colin’s planned replacement cycle, he decided to trade the machine in for a new model. Despite another look at what other makes had to offer, he says he had little hesitation in choosing another Shelbourne. 

“I was keen on another VFR, but when I visited LAMMA back in 2014, Shelbourne showed the VFRT on their stand for the first time.

“The idea of having some telescopic capability to add to the variable forward reach was appealing, as it would give me a lot more flexibility over where to drive the tractor and how close to get to the work, especially when on the field side of hedges."

An HD775 VFRT was duly ordered through Sharnford Tractors in time for the start of the 2014-15 hedge trimming season. Coupled up to his John Deere 6210R, since its arrival the VFRT hasn’t disappointed, says Colin.

“I already knew how handy the variable forward reach was, helping a great deal when I’m siding up hedges and taking a lot of the neck ache out of the job. Having the ability alongside that to reach outwards rather than reposition the tractor is a very handy addition to the machine.”

The head design is probably the best of all those that he has operated over time, believes Colin.

“It does an excellent job of retaining the material and propelling it straight downwards into the hedge. I rarely find that I have to clean the road of clippings. There’s plenty of power at the flail head, and the C-flails I specified leave a nice finish on hedge work.


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Having telescopic reach in addition to variable forward reach makes the VFRT a well-rounded package.

“It’s an easy machine to service and maintain, and it’s simple to mount and dismount. The joystick panel is easy to operate, and Shelbourne have been genuinely interested in the feedback I’ve given them on its design. Although it stays on the 6210R through most of the hedge cutting season, it does have to come off the tractor when it’s needed for drilling work, and that’s a fairly quick job, even with the axle brackets.

“I’m pleased I stuck with Shelbourne again. Neither the machine nor the company and the dealer have let me down, and with a lot of work to get around in a relatively short period before I need to get on with spring ploughing and drilling, that’s important.”



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