Every good Superintendent and golf course Equipment Manager knows keeping cutting reels and blades sharp is an important aspect for proper turfgrass maintenance.

The reason? Dull blades damage leaf tissue, and when you damage leaf tissue the plants respond in a physiological sense and you get more dieback on the leaf, which results in browning-out and it takes longer to recover. Sharper blades give you greener turf.

But even with so much on the line, keeping reels and blades in optimum cutting condition is sometimes overlooked.

“When you consider investing $60,000+ on a fairway mower, you quickly realize you’ve spent a tremendous amount of money to make five cutting heads cut grass” and “When it comes down to it, it’s the cutting head that does all of the work so the maintenance of these cutting units is critical,” says Greg Turner, Foley Company’s Global Director of Sales.

Reel cutting units should be checked regularly for squareness and have a fresh grind, both spin and relief, consistent with OEM specifications. Each cutting unit needs to be set up so the distance between the reel and bed knife is at its maximum distance but still cuts .005-inch paper clean with no jagged edges. You should grind as often as needed after your check with .005-inch paper. If it doesn't cut clean, it’s time to grind.

To ensure cutting units are kept in top cutting condition, before performing any maintenance on a reel or bed knife, cleaning of the cutting unit and removing any debris that has built up over time is necessary. This ensures any damage can be clearly seen and corrected.

Due to the helix nature of reel cutting units, technicians are urged to monitor for coning of the reel. This helix nature means that processed grass spins from one side of the reel to the other and can be processed many more times between the reel and bed knife (right to left), so one end of the reel gets smaller in a shorter time span than the other end. Coning (tapering) is corrected by proper grinding. If coning is not properly corrected, then achieving the scissor effect between the reel and the bed knife becomes increasingly difficult, which leads to poor cut quality.

“The cost associated with improperly maintained cutting heads can run the full gambit from using more fuel due to cutting reels requiring additional horsepower, more wear and tear on the engine and hydraulic systems, and extra money spent on chemicals and water,” Turner says. “It will add up in short order.”

How do you get the highest quality of cut in the industry?

That’s easy with Foley grinders. The Foley 653 ACCU-Master Reel Grinder and the 673 ACCU-Pro Bed Knife Grinder provide the necessary processes to maintain reels and be knives.

The 653 delivers the sharpest and fastest grind in the industry with its rear roller mounting system, ACCU-Positioning Gauge and the easy-to-use touch screen control with a built-in tutorial system which will have you spin grinding in minutes. Combine that with automated infeed and our hands-free relief grinding system giving you reels that are symmetrical and within original OEM specifications, all while being fully enclosed with noise and dust particle abatement making your grinding easy and safe.

For bed knife grinding it doesn’t get any easier than it does with the Foley 673 ACCU-Pro bed knife grinder featuring an innovative electro-magnetic bed knife mounting system making setup and operation faster and easier. The 673 uses a precision hand wheel to infeed the grinding head while it automatically traverses back and forth across the bed knife. The 673 further automates the process by running pre-set programs to automatically start the grinder, traverse the grinding head, infeed the grinding wheel and stop the grinding process. It doesn’t get any sharper or easier than it does with the Foly 673. •