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Transformer Mower | Lane Shark Front Loader Brush Mowers

Neil Messick: Neil for Messick's here this morning to talk to you a little bit about Lane Shark mowers. These are the mowers that will go onto your front loader that are really great for clearing brush or reaching over the side of a pond bank or a trail. You've seen videos on our channel here before about a similar concept from a company called Titan, the TrailBlazer mower. Now, I don't need to know all the details of what happened between these two companies, but suffice to say, there were some lawsuits involved, and Titan's TrailBlazer is no longer available anymore.
Today, we're going to talk about the Lane Shark, some of the differences between these two companies, why we initially chose to go with a Titan product, and review you here a little bit on this concept. If this is a new mower to you, we're just going to take two minutes and crash through real quickly on what this idea is all about.
Speaker 2: Messick's a helping hand with your land.
Neil: Putting a mower out on front of your loader addresses a couple of the challenges that sometimes you'll find with a mower on the back of your machine on the three-point hitch where you traditionally will put it. Rather than having to drive over top of your brush before it gets mowed by the mower, putting it out here on the loader allows you to push that brush down, mow it, and chop it up before it gets back to your machine.
The Lane Shark in particular though, does a couple of cool things. Call it a transformer mower that also allows it to swing itself out into several different positions that might offset it off the side of the loader or allow you to mow, say, brush that's going to be coming into the side of a trail. It's hydraulic motor here gives it the flexibility to rotate into different positions, allowing you to mow brush that might be challenging to reach with a traditional mower on the back of your tractor. It's very cool for those reasons.
Then you can see here with the mower swung out to the side of the tractor, you get a good 3 feet beyond your side tires here on this MX Series machine to reach out beyond the side of the tractor when the mower swung out to this side position. It's this position here where we tend to see the most utilization of these mowers. This is the configuration. It tends to excite most of our customers, because of the ability to reach underneath of a fence row, get over the side of a pond bank. It just allows this mower to reach into all kinds of difficult- to-get-to places.
For the long list of similarities that there were between the TrailBlazer and the Lane Shark, there are actually a handful of differences. We had seen some iterations of that TrailBlazer model, probably trying to avoid the patent issues that were out there, but there have always been a couple of things here on the Lane Shark that were different between those. The blades here on this mower do stick out beyond the front of it, and this is something that you see on really aggressive skid steer brush mowers.
That blade sticking out beyond the end of the mower allows you to pull the mower up against a thick piece of wood, and allow that blade to spin around and slowly work its way through that woody material before the mower has to start pushing it over. This is a little bit different. The TrailBlazer would've used additional guards and stuff up here in the front to provide some added protection, but it did make it more difficult to allow those blades to work through the material.
There are also variations done on these to try to help them float a little bit better. This would be my biggest concern with this style of mower is that it is really-- You have to hold it above the ground. It's not something that you want to sit down on the ground and drive along with. I'd also have concerns about the way that torques your loader. If you hit something hard up here, you're twisting your machine really hard. Conceptually, this thing doesn't have some of the rollers and skid shoes and stuff that TrailBlazer had been experimenting with, but it's really probably best if you think of this as a mower that does not float. It should be operated by holding it above the ground with the loader.
One unique thing that is on the quick attach of the Lane Shark that I do not ever see on most any other attachments are these hooks at the top and the pins down here on the side. They're using a variation here, the skid steer quick coupler that they're trying to make compatible with both the mower industry-standard skid steer coupler and John Deere's proprietary coupler, all on the same assembly.
Now, in many cases, this is going to work, but you need to be cautious because these top hooks here can come back and contact the loader cylinders on some models. On my MX here, it's just fine, it's not a concern, but you're going to see some warning stickers over here to watch Kubota M Series tractors. I'm sure the issue goes beyond that. The first time you pin one of these up, you're going to watch how this thing comes back, and if it contacts your loader cylinder, you're going to have to cut or burn these off with a torch somehow to make sure they don't do damage to your machine.
As a dealership, the single biggest challenge in selling these mowers is getting them properly set up on your tractor, and this was something that really attracted us to the TrailBlazer in the first place because they offered a hydraulic power pack for the back of your tractor, that allowed this whole setup to really not require you to dip into your third function or set up return lines on your machine. Now, that is a concept that we don't have over here on the Lane Shark anymore, so we need to look to the tractor's hydraulic system to power this mower.
As the years have gone by, now, I've been really impressed in how Lane Shark has seen this difficulty and really refined their installation process, to the point that this isn't nearly as big of a deal as it used to be. There's a long list of hydraulic kits and compatibility charts now to be able to fit this mower up to most tractors. You're going to notice here on my MX Series machine, I have three couplers here at the front of the machine on my third function, as opposed to two. When you look at skid steers, you're going to find this is an extremely common setup on them, but it's virtually never seen on a compact tractor. That's because of the third line on here. That's a case drain line or a return line, and not a pressure port.
Your traditional third-function valve on your tractor is going to be able to run pressure or return bidirectionally, one way or the other, through these two couplers. The Lane Shark hydraulic kits are a little bit different, in that they need a return line, so that when you take your button, your finger off of your third-function kit and take the power away from this, it can't just dead-end stop that hydraulic motor or you'll blow the seals out of it because of all of that spinning mass. Lane Shark now has a partnership with W.R. Long that makes these really slick third-function kits that include this return line.
The hydraulic differences here aren't just at the front of the machine, there's several other places here where Lane Shark has refined these third-function kits to make them work a little bit better, seem a little bit more polished. You'll notice the valve assembly back here at the side. This is a traditional W.R. Long third-function kit, except it has a third-return line coming right back here on the side. This is really nice and tidy and clean. If you go to take your loader off of your tractor, you simply uncouple this third line right here to take this off. It makes it easy to remove.
In the past, a lot of times, these things would've been plumbed up, underneath the floorboards of the machine and back into the transmission casing in the back. It was a lot harder installation and not nearly as clean as what this is. Now, you can buy this one of two different ways. If you don't have a third-function kit on your tractor today, you can buy one kit that's got all of these components in it, or if you've already used a W.R. Long third-function kit on your tractor, you can buy just the additional pieces that are needed to add this third line onto the side.
The final hydraulic difference is going to be a control box back here by the side of your seat. When you're operating your third-function valve, you have a momentary toggle switch up here on your loader to run hydraulic fluid one way or the other. If you're going to be out here mowing, you don't want to have to hold your button on this switch the entire time to run that fluid continuously. Lane Shark now has come out with a box that you can sit over here on the side. It has two buttons you push down together to start it and turn on the hydraulic flow and one button to press in order to stop it. This will allow that third-function kit to run continuously and give you hydraulic fluid running out to your mower without having to hold your finger down on the button.
There's a couple things I could say about running this. This is a brush mower for sure, not-- It has no trouble in woody material. Having those blades stick out in the front makes a much bigger difference than what I would've expected. This thing doesn't have gobs of horsepower being run with a lower flow hydraulic motor, but it has no trouble. That was like 1.5, 2 inches around, it whacks its way right through it.
I do have to stop periodically because I get material building up on top of the mower. That could be a bit of an annoyance. It doesn't do the job of say, like an offset flail that will really grind this stuff up as you're going along, but it has the reach. It's not as expensive or hydraulically complicated as an offset flail that needs two rear remotes and is a pricey thing. This is an overall cheaper setup, but it's cool, it's a joy to use.
If you notice here, it throws stuff. [laughs] You can manipulate this in all kinds of dangerous positions with your loader. Even as careful as I am with the nose tipped down a little bit, when those blades are coming around and swinging out in front of that mower, you can see the debris getting flung out here. You've got to be smart as the operator here and not roll it back towards yourself while it's running. A lot of that is like duh moments. You should know better than that, but if you don't think with your head, and we all know some people don't, you can definitely do some pretty sketchy stuff with this thing.
We talked at length about the importance of the hydraulic return line. If you took this mower and you plugged it into a regular tracker third function with just a bidirectional flow, you blow the motor out. I'll show you here why. I have my tractor idled down. If I reach back here and hit the start button, spin that thing up, everybody's safe on that brush here. [chuckles] Rev this up a little bit, you'll see how fast these blades get spinning.
Now I'm going to reach back here and hit the stop button, and watch how long it takes for that to spin down. If that was a traditional third function, I let my finger off the button, it would dead end the the hydraulic line there and blow the seals out of the motor or the solenoids out of the third-function valve. As that thing is spinning there, after I've taken the pressure away from it, it's allowing that fluid to flow back to the sump, to the return line, and let that spin down slowly. There's two things there that you should know, the importance of plumbing the thing properly, but also remember when you shut the thing off and get off your tractor, it may still be spinning. It does not stop right away.
That's a little bit on some of the differences between the Titan TrailBlazer that Messick's has sold for some years now and the Lane Shark. This is an idea here that has come a long way in the last couple of years. When these mowers were first coming to market, the installation was rough. It was hard for dealerships to know how to sell them, and it's been interesting to me, now that we're joined up with the guys at Lane Shark for our distribution now, just how much they have refined this process. Their customer support has been fantastic and they've been a huge aid to us, and we've asked them about how to fit these things up to varying models. It's a lot more plug and play than it ever had been before, which is really what we were looking for when we were going the direction of TrailBlazer in their power pack.
If you're shopping for these, this is a product that Messick's can provide nationwide shipping support for. Glad to sell one to you wherever you are. You can reach out to us at 800-222-3373 or look us up at messicks.com.

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