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Dan's Power Scythe

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Once upon a time we had a sickle mower.

It was a great alternative to the scythe, as it could cover more ground, more quickly. Not that we’re always in a tearing hurry to get things done, but sometimes expediency is helpful. Unfortunately, this Troy Bilt was discontinued years ago, and replacement parts are impossible to find. Eventually, it stopped running and Dan couldn’t fix it. So that was that. 

Since then, Dan’s done all of the hay cutting, wheat harvesting, and tall pasture grass mowing with his scythe. But we’ve discussed options. Such as a new walk-behind sickle mower (selling for something like $6000), a sickle bar for the tractor (large and also expensive). or better yet, a sickle attachment for our old John Deere garden tractor. It will take attachments, except the small bars are now longer manufactured, and we have searched in vain for a used one. 

What about “inventing” something of our own? We discussed that for years. The best idea we could come up with was to somehow rig a hedge trimmer for sickle work. Here’s Dan’s first experiment.

Dan’s power scythe, the prototype

He attached a hedge trimmer to the snath (handle) of his old American scythe (he prefers to use his European scythe) Here’s it’s first test run.

As you can see, it worked well. It even cuts through clump grass easily! (Something the scythe doesn’t do well). Even so, it needed improvements. For one thing the wooden snath made it even heavier than it already is, and the controls couldn’t be accessed except by bending over (not always convenient.)

Here’s version 2. 

Lighter aluminum frame

Hand control for the throttle


Wiring for the throttle.

Here’s version 2′s test run.

That went well, so the next test was to put it to work, cutting a small patch of hay. It worked really well. He’s able to catch the cut grass on the trimmer’s blade guard and then lay it down in nice, neat rows. 

Can you see the rows? (Probably not enough contrast.)

As with most of our tools, we have both a power version and a manual version. We’ll take advantage of the benefits of power tools while we can, but we have a backup in case we need it. 


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