Wel­ter­weight fighter

Emu ESA-150 link­age slasher

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

As­lasher is quite pos­si­bly the most un­der­val­ued piece of equip­ment on a farm, with most be­ing found stored be­hind every­thing else in the shed or rust­ing away un­der a tree.

For the op­er­a­tor who takes pride in go­ing the ex­tra mile to­wards a tip-top-look­ing prop­erty, how­ever, the slasher is a must-have piece of ma­chin­ery.

The Emu ESA-150 is a 1.5m-wide link­age slasher which is man­u­fac­tured in Korea be­fore be­ing im­ported, as­sem­bled and dis­trib­uted through­out Aus­tralia by Mid­way Sales.

Emu spe­cialises in the man­u­fac­ture of small- to medium-size im­ple­ments for the life­style and hobby farmer mar­ket. It has a gal­vanised deck, Cat 1 or 2 link­age and a 40hp cen­tral gear box run­ning a single dual-blade spin­ner. It’s not a heavy-duty ma­chine, but the ESA150 is perfect for fence-line slash­ing, slash­ing grasses in rough ter­rain, knock­ing down small trees and light scrub, clear­ing road­sides and cre­at­ing fire­breaks.

About the only dif­fer­ence be­tween this one and the heav­ier­duty ma­chines on the mar­ket is the size, or horse­power rating, of its gear­box and the gauge of steel used in its struc­ture.

My first im­pres­sion was that it looked up to the task apart from one design fea­ture that I be­lieve will fail and needs to be rec­ti­fied, but I will get to that later.

For this test I hitched it up to a 60hp Bran­son trac­tor and found it used a fair por­tion of its power head­ing up hill and cut­ting thick grass but cruised on the flat, which sug­gested that I could have achieved a good re­sult on a lower-horse­power trac­tor.

STRUC­TURE

It is fair to say that the slasher deck is the key el­e­ment of the cut­ting ma­chine. Con­structed from 4mm-thick steel, it pro­vides a sturdy base to which all the other el­e­ments are at­tached and should be ca­pa­ble of stand­ing up to the rigours of the job.

Be­ing man­u­fac­tured from gal­vanised steel, it will stand up to the ef­fects of weather bet­ter than the painted types, and the gal­vanised surface will not suc­cumb to cor­ro­sion when grass and vege­ta­tion is not prop­erly cleaned off af­ter use.

Its flat-top deck will re­sist trash build up, elim­i­nate the trans­port­ing and spread­ing of weed seeds and clean off eas­ily at the end of each use. SAFETY FIRST

To re­duce the risk of in­jury and as­set dam­age, Emu slash­ers are equipped with a row of safety chains on both the front and rear open­ing of the slasher deck.

The design has been in use for many years and, at the very least, slows down the speed and dis­tance that a pro­jec­tile trav­els if it is flung through the safety chains af­ter im­pact with the blades.

Re­gard­less of the size of your prop­erty, no mat­ter how big or small, the safety of your em­ploy­ees, fam­ily mem­bers and your­self should be at the fore­front of your de­ci­sion mak­ing and equip­ment pur­chases.

Other safety mea­sures in­clude a fully en­closed PTO shaft and a metal plate pro­tect­ing the con­nec­tion point be­tween the PTO shaft and the gear­box on the top of the slasher deck.

In say­ing that, though, no one should ever be within close prox­im­ity to a ro­tat­ing PTO, and PTO drive should al­ways dis­en­gaged if work needs to be car­ried out on the im­ple­ment.

IN THE MID­DLE

If its cut­ting width and to­tal over­all width of 1500mm and 1659mm re­spec­tively don’t pro­vide enough tech­ni­cal de­tail to cat­e­gorise it into the light, medium or heavy­weight di­vi­sion, its 40hp gear­box and 312.6kg weight cer­tainly do.

If you’re fa­mil­iar with box­ing, you might say it fits per­fectly into the wel­ter­weight di­vi­sion, which sits be­tween light­weight and mid­dleweight.

This 40hp gear­box is on the lighter end of the scale for slash­ers but gen­eral grass and light scrub work should be fine. If you are in­tend­ing to knock down larger ar­eas on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and tak­ing on heav­ier scrub and bushes, you re­ally should be look­ing at some­thing with a 75hp gear­box or there­abouts.

A safety break­away clutch is fit­ted to the PTO shaft to pro­tect the gear­box and the blades. It will in­stan­ta­neously cut off drive if an ex­ces­sive load is placed on the driv­e­line from im­pact or just over­work. The sen­si­tiv­ity of the clutch may be ad­justed to suit the en­vi­ron­ment you are work­ing in.

The only main­te­nance re­quired on the gear­box is an oc­ca­sional in­spec­tion of the oil level and, fairly ob­vi­ously, to top it up if it has dropped.

Un­der­neath the deck is a single cut­ter­bar with a non-re­versible blade bolted to each end. Most man­u­fac­tur­ers will tell you the blades do not re­quire any at­ten­tion but I have found, from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, that reg­u­lar sharp­en­ing makes a mas­sive dif­fer­ence to the qual­ity of the cut and re­duces the amount of drag on the mower and the trac­tor.

This 40hp gear­box is on the lighter end of the scale for slash­ers but gen­eral grass and light scrub work should be fine.

Its cut­ting height ranges from a low of 13mm up to a max­i­mum 97mm by way of the bolt-on skid plates that at­tach to each side of the cut­ting deck.

An op­tional, height-ad­justable rear jockey wheel is avail­able to help re­duce the stress on the frame dur­ing tight turns. It comes with a price tag of $495 and, to be hon­est, I’d leave it off and just lift the slasher up on the link­age when turn­ing. ELE­PHANT IN THE ROOM

The Emu ESA-150 slasher is a great lit­tle per­former and, from my time us­ing it, I found that it cut well, ran smoothly and is sturdy enough for the hobby and life­style farmer mar­ket.

There is, how­ever, a part of its design re­lat­ing to the hitch and float­ing sup­port chains that I be­lieve is flawed and, if not ad­dressed, will re­sult in even­tual dam­age to the hitch assem­bly and ren­der the whole ma­chine use­less.

The bot­tom two points of the A-frame hitch bolt se­curely to the slasher deck and a 10cm slot at the top pro­vides a non-rigid con­nec­tion with the top link.

This al­lows the slasher to follow the con­tours of the ground. That alone would work fine on the con­di­tion that rigid struts were used as sup­port beams con­nect­ing the rear of the slasher to the top of the A-frame hitch.

In­stead chains have been used, and the move­ment that they al­low be­tween the hitch and the deck will very quickly cause dam­age to the rigid con­nec­tion point where the hitch bolts to the deck.

Flex­i­ble chain sup­port struts are also a very ef­fec­tive way of al­low­ing slash­ers to follow the con­tours of the ground but the hitch and the deck must be al­lowed to pivot and flex as well.

There are two ways to eas­ily solve the prob­lem: re­place the chains with rigid struts and rely on the top link for move­ment; or leave the chains on but re­place the rigid A-frame con­nec­tion with a piv­ot­ing one. THE BOT­TOM LINE

Con­sid­er­ing that most prop­er­ties – even the smaller ones – have a trac­tor of some size, I think it makes bet­ter fi­nan­cial sense to buy an Emu ESA-150 slasher, which comes with a price tag of only $2690, in­stead of a heavy-duty ride-on mower or mulcher, which will cost you a hell of a lot more to achieve the same re­sult.

1. The Emu ESA-150 is a 1.5m-wide link­age slasher 2. Ad­just­ing the rear wheel to take some of the weight off the skids al­lows for tighter turn­ing and re­duces the stress on both the trac­tor and the slasher

3. The 312kg light- to medium-duty slasher doesn’t need a lot of horse­power for op­er­a­tion

4. The 40hp centre-mounted gear­box only needs an oc­ca­sional oil level check to sat­isfy main­te­nance re­quire­ments

5. The unit is com­pat­i­ble with trac­tors fit­ted with Cat 1 or 2 link­age

6. Chain cur­tains on the front and rear of the deck re­duce the dan­ger of ob­jects be­ing flung from the slasher when oper­at­ing

7. Ad­justable skid plates on each side of the slasher al­low a range of cut­ting heights from 13mm to 97mm

8. The Emu is great for clean­ing up along fence lines and knock­ing down grass, light scrub and bushes on life­style and hobby farms

9. A wa­ter­tight con­tainer bolted to the deck of the slasher keeps the oper­at­ing man­u­als clean and dry

10. The PTO clutch pro­vides ef­fec­tive pro­tec­tion to the gear­box if an ob­sta­cle is hit by the slasher blades

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