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Bewitched KBG (38k sqft)
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My name is Pete, I'm 34 years old from NW Illinois, I am addicted to lawncare and have been for over 10 years. From my first home(Pic of my oldest daughter in our first lawn in 2006),
to my second home(some double wides in 2013),
to my third home(Bewitched KBG reel mowed at 3/4" in 2015).
Every home I have progressively gotten more obsessed, and have learned alot along the way. So my wife and kids already know the drill, we buy a new home and now it's time for Dad to renovate the lawn again!

This chapter in lawn renovations will hopefully be it for a while(at least for my own lawn), as my family and I have settled in to make this our forever home. We purchased it in May of 2016 and sits on a triangle shaped 1.25 acres of which 38k sq ft is turf. (Pics from last year when we closed)


The plan is to renovate with a monostand of Bewitched Kentucky Bluegrass and maintain it at low heights of cut between .75-1"(possibly lower) with a John Deere 2500B triplex reel mower that i picked up last year.


In a few posts later on tonight I'll go thru some of the steps I have done so far, both this year and last year to get to the point I am at today and then do progress updates as I try and transform an old Northern Mix to something remenesent of a cool season sports field.
 

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Bewitched KBG (38k sqft)
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies. I am really excited and anxious. The kill date is 10 days away.
And seed down is about 7.5 weeks away. It has been a plan in the works for about a year and can't wait to see the final product!

Michael303 said:
This should be good! Your post on ATY was one of a couple that set off the epiphany that going short with cool season grass was a real option for me to DIY.
I'm glad it inspired you and others that close mowed cool season turf was not just something you saw on sports fields. I was hesitant to write that post, mostly because it was against the grain of what most are trained to do with kentucky bluegrass. Looking back, I am glad I did and am excited to see others sharing the same interest i have in short KBG!
 

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Bewitched KBG (38k sqft)
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Going from my previous home with 4.3k sq ft of turf to my new home of 38k, it was a no brainer that equipment upgrades were in order. First off, i decided on a John Deere X590 to be my workhorse for the yard. Tasks such as spraying, aerating, hauling, towing a drag mat, and mulching leaves are all handled with ease. It handles all the slopes and hills in the yard great.


Next on the list was a good spray setup. I needed a sprayer that could accurately and efficiently spray 38k as I do alot of spraying. I spray alot of Primo+FAS, Serenade, and soil conditioners. I decided on the JD 25 gallon mounted unit. (Pic with my youngest when he helped me put it together)

This unit had a spray width of 90", but with only 3 nozzles spaced 30" apart it was not going to apply products with the precision I demand, so upgrades were in order. I made a new boom for it made out of 1" square tube, fit the existing "brake away" bars on the ends, and was able to now have a 5 nozzle boom that evenly sprays 120" wide with nozzles spaced closer at 24".

120" wide is an important width because the 2500B mow width is 60" wide (after a 2" overlap). By making it spray 120" I can just drive up and down the stripes created by the 2500B and get 100% overlap coverage (sprays the whole stripe I drive down, plus half of the adjacent stripe on the left and the right). I also added a pressure gauge, pressure regulator, primary strainer, and check valve strainers at the tips. Also the excess coming off the pressure regulator is routed back to the tank to keep a continuous agitation to whatever I am spraying.


I also mounted up a bicycle style speedometer to the x590 so I can keep a consistent speed while spraying. The speedo is mounted on the spray control switch, so I can watch the speed in hand and also start/stop the spray.
the sensor portion of the Speedo is mounted on a home made bracket that is just inside the right rear wheel. The pickup magnet is mounted to the rim.


Other equipment upgrades consisted of changing out my Earthway spreader for a Spyker, a 48" tow aerator, and I already had a tow lawn roller and lawn cart when I had a lawn tractor back in 2006.
 

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Bewitched KBG (38k sqft)
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
In September of last year I ended up picking up a 2011 John Deere 2500B from an auction in Florida. The triplex was part of a list of equipment brought to auction from globalturfequipment and auctioned off by rebel auction company on proxibid. The exact unit I got was listed on globalturf's website, and I was able to attain it from the auction for about 25% of the price they had it listed at. My guess is units that sit on globalturf's lot for a certain amount of time end up getting auctioned off to make room for new units.

It needed alittle TLC, but everything worked on it. It had around 1800hrs on it. QA5 7 blade reel cutting units with a max bench HOC of 1.5", groomers spaced for greens conditioning, and rear roller brushes.

I spent the rest of 2016 mowing with the triplex as much as possible so I get a good feel of what it needed over winter as well as seeing how well it handled the yard. It left amazing stripes on the NoMix and I was able to cut down to 1.125" with no scalping at all.


Over the winter i went thru the machine and did some reconditioning. I was able to get quite a few cuts with it in the fall and gauge what shape it is in, how it performed around the property, and start figuring out what needed to be addressed. The engine, chassis, and hydraulics on the machine were in great shape. No leaks, everything works very smoothly, and the engine cylinder leakage and compression tests were very good (<5% leakage, 180-185 compression). The only things needed on the engine/chassis itself are the PMs (change oil/coolant, tune up, change hydro fluid). And I changed the smooth tires to turfs.


After figuring out that the 2500B was going to be a good fit for the property, and that I was able to cut the NoMix at 1.125" before any renovations, I rebuilt the cutting units with the goal to set them up to maintain KBG between .5"-1" bench HOC.

First off I basically stripped each cutting unit down, spent a lot of time with parts in the solvent tank, made a rust removing bath for the rusted parts, and any rusted painted parts were stripped, primed, and painted. Then every threaded surface had a tap or die run across it before applying some fluid film. Sorry no before pics, but here is what a cutting unit looked like just before reassembly.


Here are some pics of the groomer assembly that I am excited to try out. I converted the greens setup to a fairway setup.
(Old spacers and knives removed.)

(Difference between greens knife and fairway knife.)

(Assembled unit with knives now spaced 1/2" apart opposed to 1/4" apart before.)


I had to do some work inside the conditioner drives. They would intermittently work. There is a tapered brass bushing that works similar to how a synchro works in a manual transmission. It is under the gear the screwdriver is pointing to. When pressure is put on that bushing it locks the gear to the shaft. They were worn and needed attention. I also found a cracked bearing and partially sheared off keyway in one of the units.


I measured the reels and they were all around 4.7"(5" is new). They cut ok, but would have needed a grind before next year. Because they needed a grind, are over half worn, and that I wanted to see how well a new reel cut, I decided to splurge and get new reels.
(Old reels)

(How JD packages the new reels)


I replaced all the reel bearings, and seals. As well as all the seals on the conditioner drives.

Here is a pic of a rusty old bearing compared to new. I think the course that had this machine needs to rethink their greasing interval.

Replaced the bedknives from the low cut greens knife(not sure why they were even paired with a 7 blade reel?) To a high cut fairway knife. Notice the difference in design, and how much thicker the fairway knife is. Also the top face and front faces are wider.


Here is some pics of them fully assembled, adjusted and just awaiting a backlap.

In this pic you can see I ditched the rear power brush and as a result I had to add the appropriate counterweight.


Here you can see the new bedbar pivot cam, bolt, and hardware.

Here you can see I got rid of the smooth hollow rollers on the rear, I moved the solid smooth rollers that were previously on the front to the back, and added some new grooved rollers to the front.


Some additional pics.

 

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Bewitched KBG (38k sqft)
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Ward and J_nick. Finding a good deal on the mower, fixing it up to a like new condition and setting it up just how I wanted it was a blast! It is really a fun machine to mow with!
 

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Bewitched KBG (38k sqft)
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I also ended up changing out the hydro fluid, coolant, plugs, filters, belt, and changed the oil. I then backlapped them to match up the new bedknife to reel.

A few other updates I did to the mower was add a fairway yoke kit and a third wheel assist kit.

When I mowed with it in the fall there was a couple issues that affected the aftercut appearance. One was resolved by changing out the greens style yoke kit with the chains to a yoke kit like you would find on 7500A fairway mower. With the greens yoke kit, the cutting units would bounce around more causing some washboarding and uneven cuts especially since the yard is not perfectly smooth. With the new kit aftercut quality was improved. JD markets the kit as,


I added the third wheel assist because of the slopes and hills on the property. The 2 wheel setup handled the yard fine when it was dry out, but when conditions were not ideal I would break the tires loose and tear up some turf in some places. I didn't want to worry about ruining new seedlings in the first couple mows or waiting a few days after it rained to mow or not mowing in the morning. Now that it is 3wd I can go up the steepest slope in my yard Which is 18° and have zero wheel spin even in a rainstorm (yes I did try it :) )

The end result of these two upgrades is I feel I have a mower that would cut my yard as well as any trim/surround mower but is significantly lighter, has a smaller cutting width of 62" which i needed to get around some obstacles, and 22" cutting heads that provide better contouring of the terrain.

A few pics of how it mowed the yard early April this year
 

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Bewitched KBG (38k sqft)
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
One of the biggest issues needing to get solved was being able to get water supplied to the yard. Luckily the home had an irrigation system that was installed by the first homeowners back in 1993. The bad news is the system had not been used by the second owners at all from 2004-2016. The system has 7 zones, but initially was only able to find 4 valves. So I powered up the system and manually turned on some of the zones I found. Surprisingly, sprinklers started poping up all thru the yard! Some of the heads blew off risers(replaced and fixed the damaged ones), most did not rotate, all were old hunter "G" type heads, but the main lines held pressure and the supply lines seemed to be in working order!

I had to get in touch with the 1st owners (who still lived in town) to try and locate the remaining zones and valve boxes. Luckily they took alot of pictures back in '93 and I was able to turn over a large rock to find one, and dig thru mulch beds to find the others.

One setback in the irrigation was about 5 minutes after I turned on a zone, the water pressure would drop and the sprinklers would fall back down. I went down to the pressure gauge by the well plumbing and could see the pressure slowly fall as a zone ran. It quickly became obvious that the well pump that was installed was not going to supply the volume I needed. I talked over options with my well guy and had him run a few tests.

The well has a static water level if 120ft, the current pump was set at 140ft, the well was drilled 240ft deep, and has a recovery of 30gpm. But there was only a 3/4hp pump installed that only put out about 6gpm. Talking with the well guy, wanting a variable speed pump, and initially wanting to use all of that 30gpm recovery, I quickly realized that due to the price, putting in a 3-5hp pump with a new wiring and supply line was not going to be an option.

We decided on installing a 1.5hp Grundfos constant pressure well pump setup.


The new pump works great, no more 60/40 cycling when using water in the house, and the pump now has an output of just over 16gpm. Also since it is a variable output unit, I would not need to match the sprinkler output with the well to prevent it from cycling. This was important since the sprinkler system is existing and would make rehabbing it alot easier. This spring when I fired up the irrigation after the pump was installed, the sprinklers popped up and stayed up. Ran one zone for 5hrs and had no issues, even with the flow meter showing it putting out about 15gpm. I was excited to now have the supply to begin rehabbing the rest of the irrigation!
 

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Bewitched KBG (38k sqft)
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks EG and Ware. Definitely getting excited, anxious, and nervous now that this "milo" is about to get real! This is the biggest renovation i have done(previously 12k was the biggest), and the size of it is what makes me nervous/anxious. One thing that I am glad I did was get the ball rolling early on, as I wouldn't want to be rushing to seed down on something this large. Still some little things to do such as killing it, tweeking irrigation, hopefully three rounds of seed bed smoothing/prep, but most of the big stuff is done. Glyphosate is planned for June 25th! I'll try and get some more updates up tonight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thanks GrassDaddy and ales_gantar. At the 1.0" height I currently mow about 2x a week on the NoMix. That is trying to follow the 1/3rd rule. When I had bewitched at .75" at my last home, I mowed once every 5 days. You would think at such a low height, you would need to mow every day, but that is not the case for a few reasons. 1) bewitched is a slower growing cultivar, 2) I use generic Primo Maxx which reduces the top growth, and 3) I think shorter mowed grass just grows less in general. For example, if you mow at 3" and you get 1" of growth in 2 days, you won't get 1" of growth when cutting the same grass at 1" in 2 days. It will be less.
 
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