When it comes to creating the ultimate Power Arm for hedge-cutting, there are few that can match the machine put together by Northumberland contractor John Frater.
John has a new PA7285 Tele-VFR Power Arm, REVOLUTION controls, and a 1.5m Twincut flailhead – giving him one of the most feature-packed, high performance hedgecutters in the world.
With 7.2m reach, 85hp hydraulics, and the comfort and visibility benefits delivered by Tele-VFR, John’s flagship Power Arm is an ideal tool for tackling the heavy workloads and challenging conditions he faces as a full-time contractor.
Based in Alnwick near the Scottish border, John clocks up around 2,000 working hours a season, and regularly deals with tree maintenance and mature hedgerows - so he needs a machine that is durable, powerful, and most importantly - precise.
John explained: “I do a lot of tree maintenance and when I cut branches I need to be sure they won’t fall on and damage the Power Arm so the extra reach and manoeuvrability of the Tele-VFR machine is perfect for me.
“The Tele-VFR arm is extremely intuitive to control – it’s always exactly where you want it to be - while REVOLUTION really helps because the joystick fits neatly in my hand and gives me total control when I am cutting.”
John works long hours almost every day from the beginning of September to the end of February, so the comfort and safety of the Tele-VFR arm-set is a difference-maker for him – particularly when working on busy roads.
He said: “Because I can positon the cutting head alongside the cab and concentrate on both the job and what’s ahead on the road, it makes it working a lot safer and more comfortable. That means lower fatigue and strain which are big advantages for any contractor.”
One of John’s biggest challenges is maintaining mature hedgerows with between 3-5 years growth – a tough and time-consuming task – harder still to leave behind an attractive finish.
John’s solution is the McConnel TwinCut 1500 – the world’s first dual rotor flailhead.
The first rotor is equipped with a heavy-duty T-flail which cuts in a downward direction, reducing the amount of debris blown forward. The material is finely mulched and the bulk is retained in the hedgerow.
The second rotor is set 50mm lower, cuts in an upward direction and is equipped with a fine-cut McConnel competition flail. This combination is perfect for shaping the hedge and leaving behind a precise and attractive finish.
John said: “I’m really impressed with it. Even though it is a large and heavy flailhead, TwinCut feels perfectly balanced and its cutting power is outstanding. I can cut five years growth in a single pass with it!
“It saves time and the best thing is the finish it produces. I have just cut a customer’s hedge with three years growth and they were delighted saying it was the best finish they’d ever seen.”
John is currently bidding for a major verge maintenance and tree surgery contract and believes the spec of his new machine could help him win new business.
He said: “Road safety is a key requirement so the enhanced visibility of the Tele-VFR will give me an edge. I think I have the only Tele-VFR machine with a 1.5m TwinCut flailhead in the whole region so it certainly sets me apart from rival contractors.”