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Discussion Forum

Sickle Bar pitman ?

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Mike from Houston

07-23-2001 20:27:07

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For you sickle bar mower experienced guys... I've heard about pitman type sickle mowers but these mowers are new to me. Can someone explain what a pitman is or have a picture. I've seen all over the net where everyone says stay away from pitman type mowers but don't know why. Sorry to ask such a simple question but am looking around for a couple of mowers and would like to know the difference.
Thanks in advance.

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07-25-2001 06:05:03

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 Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to Mike from Houston, 07-23-2001 20:27:07  
A pitman rod is like a connecting rod, as someone else said.

They are usually made of of wood. They do cost about 15 or 20 bucks. Dealers have them, as do many farm stores.

I change the rod out on our Deere 9W every couple of years. It helps to take it out of the machine and keep it indoors, if the whole mower is not kept inside, when not being used.

Some pitman rod mowers had a swinging link at the end of the rod near where the sickle bar was driven. This allowed the cutter bar to operate vertically if desired.

The pitman-less jobs usually have drive belts, and these eventually need replacing too.

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07-25-2001 05:52:37

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 Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to Mike from Houston, 07-23-2001 20:27:07  
In over 40 years I have never broke a pitman stick starting with the ground drive horse mowers, the only safty with them was the wheels slipping, if you are breaking the pitmans then it is because the mower is not properly set up or kept in proper operating condition, as for the coutting angle with a pitman it depends on the desine of the mower, some you have to keep straight out while running but some you don't, We had an Oliver rear mounted mower and on that to put the bar up you kept the mower down in operating position and lifted the outer end of the bar and hooked up the fasenter then put the pto in gear and then raised the hydrolics to get in transport position, if the lift saged to the ground overnight you just put the pto in gear and let it raise again. We used to use that mower with the bar in the vertical position to keep the trees along the lane or woods trimmed to keep them from encroation in the lane or field, wish I still had that mower, was traded in for a Oliver 415 trailer type mower with a hay conditioner hitch before we had a haybine.

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07-24-2001 18:40:47

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 Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to Mike from Houston, 07-23-2001 20:27:07  
The only type sickle mower I have ever used is the pitman type. A JD #5 and #8W, both have sip clutches in the pto shaft and both will break away if you hit something too hard.(or if the hay gets too tough) I have broken pitmans over the years but usually not from hitting something too tough to cut. Broke one on a rock, a couple by setting the sickle bar to lift too high where the pitman hit the frame, and a couple from letting the bolts in the ends get loose. I still like the chain drive over a belt. I usually keep an extra pitman on hand for when I break one which is usually on a weekend when the dealer is closed.

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07-24-2001 16:13:11

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 Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to Mike from Houston, 07-23-2001 20:27:07  
Pitman between the pulley and knife is just like a piston rod between the crank and piston, converts rotary to reciprocal motion. Biggest disadvantage is that the knife can only move when its horizontal. A wobble box can cut at any angle, even with the knife straight up in the air; makes it easier to get around obstacles.

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jim H.

07-24-2001 11:11:25

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 Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to Mike from Houston, 07-23-2001 20:27:07  
Well, I guess I have the best of all worlds, sickle mower-wise. My mower on the back of my farmall Super-C has a belt drive, down to the pitman, then the spring-loaded coupler to the sickle itself. I guess that's three modes of protection! So far, my belt slips before anything else (I mean on my mower, not my pants). Same pitman as when I got it four years ago (hope I didn't just jinx myself!).
My super-C has the farmall Fast-Hitch system. Question to all: I think that it's pretty rare to see a Super-C with Fast Hitch. Is this correct? anyone know any history there??

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07-24-2001 18:45:25

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 Re: Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to jim H., 07-24-2001 11:11:25  
I think most of the pitman mowers use a belt to drive the pulley the pitman attaches to. Unfortunately that usually has to be fairly tight and doesn't give too much. My JD has the spring on the end too, but once the pitman gets a hairline fracture or just gets old it can go in an instant, without warning.

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07-24-2001 10:31:21

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 Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to Mike from Houston, 07-23-2001 20:27:07  
I have used a John Deere #37 (9 foot bar) trailer mounted sickle mower for years on my hay ground. This is a pitman style mower. The pitman arms (sticks) are about $15 each and are a pain in the #$% to change, usually because they break when youhave 45 minutes before dark and you are almost done with a field. I usually go a couple years without breaking one since they are pretty durable, and it is usually my stupidity that breaks them. If I had my choice, I would go with the belt-drive mower though since it will be easier to get parts for a newer mower. I like the trailer-type mowers, but the 3 pt. mounted units are more manueverable. A fully mounted unit is fine too but they can be a choice to hook/unhook. That's my 3 cents!

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07-24-2001 10:43:34

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 Re: Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to Brent, 07-24-2001 10:31:21  
I've got a JD 38 sickle bar mower, they call it a semi mount. Bolts to drawbar, and has one trailer wheel. When I hit something uncuttable the pitman jumps off the blade. There is a metal ball on end of blade that pitman rod clamps to, never breaks the wooden pitman arm. Its a good mower but I don't like mounting it.

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07-24-2001 10:54:42

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 Re: Re: Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to Sven, 07-24-2001 10:43:34  
Does it have a fork-type piece with the melon-baller type thing that goes around the ball on the sickle blade? I had that happen too until I replaced the fork and the sickle blade. Either the fork piece or the ball on the blade were worn (or both) so it couldn't clamp tight enough. Now I break pitman arms instead!

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Bill Smith

07-23-2001 21:34:02

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 Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to Mike from Houston, 07-23-2001 20:27:07  
The old pitman mowers had a pitman stick that went between the sickle bar and the pto gear box portion of the mower. The pitman stick was actually a stick of wood with metal ends that were bolted on the wood. It actually moved the sickle back and forth. That was its sole purpose. It fit on the sicle nuckel at one end and I believe a point on a wheel assembly at the other end. The stick of wood was suppose to break before tearing up anything else when the mower got into a tuff bind. Most modern mowers are now belt driven and the belt in turn slips on the pulleys to eliminate damage to the rest of the mower. When you run into wire grass or a little tree stump or something and everything is locked solid on your mower, something is sure to break. That's why the pitman sticks and belt driven assembly's were put on mowers. That is your breaking point for your power take off force. The easiest way to tell the mowers apart is to look at how the sickle is driven. I have run both kinds and the belt driven is a much better set up. You never have to replace those pitman sticks when they break. The belt on my pull type new holland 456 has been on there for years and I have never had any problems with it. Note that when the belt slips you want to shut it down right away or you will smoke it. I guess any idiot would know that but I have broken numerous pitman sticks and there is hardly any time to get things shut down before they break. And then you are done mowing untill you replace it. I have also found that a pull type mower is the best for opperating. About all the pitman type mowers mounted on the tractor itself. Some had a wheel to carry the weight when it was in the down position. When I say pull type I am referring to a mower that hooks up by putting a pin in the draw bar and you hook up pto shaft and hydraulic hoses for the lifting of the bar. These mowers don't mount on the tractor. These mowers will trail the tractor better and in turn will do a better job of mowing however they weren't around much in the antique tractor days as were the pitman mounted mowers. Alot of people I guess like to put authentic implements on there antique tractors and they might preferr the pitman mowers for this reason. It would be hard to find an antique pull type belt driven mower becuase I just don't think they were around in those days. If you are really going to use these mowers you are going to get I would get a newer style than the pitman but if you are going to go for the antique tractor with equipment for show and no using it for mowing you might want the pitman. Well I shouldn't do all this rambling but I hope I cleared it all up for you.

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07-24-2001 03:12:56

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 Re: Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to Bill Smith, 07-23-2001 21:34:02  
With the the trailer type mower you loose the joy of making the perfect square corner when mowing hay.

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07-24-2001 08:13:45

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 Re: Re: Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to latta, 07-24-2001 03:12:56  
The best mower for mowing was a mid-mount on our Oliver 88. You could see it as it was in front of you, you could turn with it fairrly well & it would keep cutting, and you could trim right up to fences & such as you had terrific manuverablity.

What a pain to mount tho....


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07-23-2001 22:35:26

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 Re: Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to Bill Smith, 07-23-2001 21:34:02  
My Ford 501 has a pitman, which is driven by a vbelt. Guess my belt is a little loose, it slips before the pitman breaks, but I guess after reading how yours worked, I'm happy this way! :)

Otherwise, the only problem with a pitman is that it needs to be fairly level while running, you can't angle way down or up on ditch banks. I think the newer belt/wobble drives are better, but I wouldn't be scared of a pitman mower, they work fine. Just know what you are buying, and pay less for the pitman machine if that is what you get! :)


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Joe Evans

07-23-2001 21:08:14

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 Re: Sickle Bar pitman ? in reply to Mike from Houston, 07-23-2001 20:27:07  
Mike: the pitman, or as I've heard it called, pitman arm, converts the rotary motion of the power input to the sickle bar mower (usually the rear PTO shaft of a tractor) to linear reciprocating motion for the sickle bar mower knives. Think of it as the connecting rod in your lawm mower engine only in reverse duty. Pitman arms were usually made of wood and this served as a safety mechanism--if the knives get an uncuttable item lodged in them, instead of the knife bar getting destroyed, the pitman arm breaks saving major headaches. Some of the later pitman arm sickle bar mowers incorporated a slip clutch in the PTO shaft for additional safety. The drawback to pitman arm mowers is that the sickle bar assembly when lifted, had to somewhat parallel the ground. The bar cannot have a hinge point where the pitman connects to the knives otherwise the pitman's linear force would try to shove the sickle bar off its mounting. This restricted lift height is generally OK when doing hay or clipping pasture. How about the highway mowing crews trimming 45 degree banks with a sickle bar? These mowers have the rotary input right at the bar/carriage hinge point. It's a bit hard to explain.

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