Same from top (seat removed)

Continuing with the build; various well-worn nuts, bolts and pivots were replaced along with two steel bars spliced into the wire rope of the head-angle adjuster, which is controlled by the aforementioned crank- handle and can rotate the head almost 360°.

There appear to be two positions on the extending arm and it’s possible that these bars were removed when using the shorter arm; it’s more likely though that the cable was broken at some point. Were they a bodge rather than replacing the cable? The shorter arm position is no longer available due to a bend in the inner pipe which prevents it from sliding in; I assume that originally it would have gone all the way in for transport as driving down a country lane with a 12’ arm sticking out is, to say the least, interesting. I replaced them with much lighter threaded rod. The arm has a release mechanism which allows it to swing backwards if an obstruction is struck giving the operator a chance to stop before bending anything (obviously doesn’t work every time!) or turning the tractor scroll over end-pin;

it also slackens the belt stopping the blade from cutting. The missing push-rod was fabricated for me by Claydon PrecisionEngineering. I scanned the drawing in the handbook and blew it up on Word which made the detail much clearer and that, combined with the remnants of the two bearings and a measurement of the blade- travel made now that it was back in place, gave sufficient detail to have a new one made; there was also enough detail of the bearings themselves and replacements were sourced for me, along with a new drive belt, by the girl at East Anglian Bearing Service whose demeanour clearly changes to “Oh no, not him again” every time I go in because she knows by now that it’s unlikely to be a straightforward request!

Nearly finished, must remember to cross the belt!

The Fergie, although she is capable of powering the machine, has a couple of disadvantages. Firstly, bottom gear is not low enough and secondly the PTO is not independent. If the cutter encounters a thick bit of hedge she has to be thrown out of gear each time to let the blade clear whereas on the Dexta, for instance one, could merely depress the clutch to stop forward movement only. Here I come back to the question I posed earlier; the first time I hit a thicker branch the pulley on the cutter-head unwound itself.

“Why?” you might ask,

The pulley has a RH thread...need I go on?

The release mechanism closed

Both gearboxes were serviced and installed and a new tension spring fitted to the drive belt. The PTO shaft (not exactly a Hardy-Spicer) was separated (again with the bonfire treatment) and the shaft well greased; the two universal joints were in good condition with both grease nipples still intact but the splined coupling on the tractor end is 1⅜” whereas the Fergie is 1⅛” so I bought an adapter (cheaper than having a new drive-shaft fabricated).

Cutter-head angle

adjuster (threaded rod just visible top L)

With everything back together and lubricated I fired her up and very gingerly let in the clutch; it worked. So, let’s cut some hedge. The height adjust- ment is simple and with Stephen’s “positioner” it stays where it’s put (as long as the engine is running.) As mentioned, the angle adjustment is Ok and possible from the seat (if you’re Popeye or Geoff Capes) but much easier when not sitting on the tractor.

Ok, I will; I didn’t cross the drive belt (Should have gone to Specsavers, Mr Teagle’s manual clearly shows it crossed!) causing it to unscrew itself because the PTO turns anti-clockwise; crossing the belt changes the direction of drive thus the pulley tightens up rather than coming off. With that corrected however, the machine overall works well but the Fergie, though able, is not an ideal partner; a “live” PTO tractor would be preferable.

In action, same Fergie, new paint, crossed belt!

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