Forestry mulchers are extremely versatile, leading to their usage in a wide variety of applications. From residential property cleanup to utility right-of-way maintenance, and more, they have become an indispensable tool for contractors large and small. Wherever they are employed, the work is done by the tools (often called teeth) affixed to the rotor. There are numerous tools/teeth available, each with their own benefits for specific applications. So, selecting the right tool has never been more important, as it can dramatically impact mulching efficiency, speeding operators onto the next project.
02. FGT Rotor & Tools
The FGT style rotor features a variable smooth drum with a lacing pattern of tools. This maximizes energy transfer into the material while optimizing tool wear and service life. Double Carbide tools are supplied as standard on the FGT rotor.
Double carbide tools feature-heavy carbide bodies leading to a pointed tip to help pierce the materials to be processed. They impart blunt force due to the tools are versatile, with a balance of performance and durability, which is why they are standard on Fecon FGT rotors. Double Carbide tools are well suited to attack standing and felled trees of all species, especially in larger diameters, where they excel. Though they are very effective in processing heavy vegetation, limbs, and trees, they are susceptible to rocks and inorganic matter like metal which can cause breakage of the pointed tips.
FGT Drum Style Rotor
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Isiah Thompson, of Thompson Land Management, operates a LineBacker Brush Cutter and T726 Tigercat, each with Fecon Bull Hog™ mulching heads to meet the specific challenges of clearing for wildfire management. Each Bull Hog™ is equipped with an FGT rotor fitted with double carbide tools. The double carbide teeth work make quick work of the thick brush, mountain mahogany, oak trees, and Juniper which, if left untreated, would be perfect forest fire fuel.
“It’s a very well-rounded head: it cuts well and can take the abuse we put it through”
While Thompson does his best to steer clear of rocks and keeps a safe distance from visible ones in the field, he does occasionally hit large rock formations hidden by brush. When that happens, a simple allen wrench allows him to pop out the old tooth and replace with a new one. Thompson estimates he can get between 150 to 400 hours of productive time without breaking a tooth, depending on how rocky the terrain is. “It’s a very well-rounded head: it cuts well and can take the abuse we put it through,” he explained.
For high abrasion environments, including sandy soils and mulching materials into the top layer of the soil, the High Abrasion Tool is a clear choice. The Double Carbide tool is the base here, with extra carbide wear plates added to extend their service life. They impart the same blunt force as the Double Carbides, and excel in the same environments.
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Chad Kemper of Kemper Brush & Skidder is running a Bull Hog BH74SS with an FGT rotor and High Abrasion Tools, powered by a 2018 Bobcat T770. He does a lot of forestry thinning work for private landowners and hunting clubs. He recalled a recent project that called for thinning a dense forest of the invasive hedge, briars, mulberry, and cedar trees.
“The forest was so thick that you couldn’t walk it” recalled Kemper. But his High Abrasion Double Carbides were up for the challenge, taking down the trees and grinding the stumps into the ground. Despite the frequent ground engagement, Kemper is pleased with the life of his tools, figuring they’re good for 300 hours or more.
Stone Tools were designed for use in rocky areas where contact with stone cannot be avoided. Rather than pointed tips like those used on Double Carbide and High Abrasion Tools, Stone Tools feature a blunt edge. They are well suited for severe environments rich in limestone, igneous rock formations, and more.
03. DCR Rotor & Tools
An important evolution in mulching technology was the development of the Depth Control Rotor (DCR) which is ideal for stringy/fibrous materials such as those found in areas with a long growing season like Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Hawaii, and others with similar climates. This rotor limits tool bite which creates consistent chip size with less HP draw from the carrier.
Tool selection is limited to the Viking Axe® which is standard, or the Viking Sword®. Each are double sided and easily flipped to a new cutting surface. In addition, Viking Axe® tools have a thick knife edge optimized for cutting fibrous material. Each cutting surface can be sharpened (a die grinder or flap wheel is recommended every 4-hours of cutting time) to maintain a sharp edge.
Depth Control Rotor
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Randy Mitchem, a contractor in the Florida panhandle where oak trees, palmetto bushes, and scrub brush is plentiful thanks to frequent rain and sunshine. He runs Viking Axe® tools on his BLACKHAWK mulcher which he powers with a Takeuchi TL12 skid steer. Mitchem clears residential lots for building, invasive species removal, and for new driveways, among other tasks, and estimates he can mulch a 50-foot pine tree in 45 seconds to a minute—limbs and all. A 16” oak tree “takes a little longer” he says, but can be downed and mulched in three minutes.
Previously, Mitchem has owned a US mower, an FAE mower, and a Brushcat mower, but the BLACKHAWK® mulches circles around them. He’s getting 220-240 hours out of his knives before he has to switch them over, touching them up every other day with a die grinder before flipping them. After using each side fully, he saves the “spent” teeth for jobs where he’ll undoubtedly see ground engagement – unlevel yards, or thick woods where cinder blocks or other materials might be lurking. After extracting every bit of life from them, Mitchem changes teeth in less than 2-hours.
“Fecon got it right on that machine – I haven’t found anything it can’t handle,” Mitchem said.
The Viking Sword® is similar to the Viking Axe® with a more tapered tool body which is faster at cutting and produces a finer end product. The tapered design also facilitates the efficient flow of chipped material.
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D&S Land Management runs Kubota SVL95 with a Fecon BH74DCR mulcher equipped with Viking Sword® tools. They use the tandem to eradicate invasive species like acacia, and Brazilian pepper, as well as sabal palm and cabbage palm. Local building ordinances call for the complete removal of invasive species from the property, so D&S shreds the offensive materials, them rake them up before loading them into containers to haul off-site.
The DCR rotor is particularly helpful to this process, as it limits the bite that the mulcher can take, thus keeping the RPMs up while keeping the particle size down. The BH74DCR has a 61-inch working width and includes 24 double-sided Viking Sword® knives to slice through the fibrous materials encountered in south Florida’s never-ending growing season. Clarke estimates that D & S gets about 60-100 hours out of each side of the Viking knives, which they touch up with a flap wheel two to three times a day.
04. FMX Rotor & Tools
The FMX rotor is a split ring rotor with knife tools designed to efficiently mulch while maintaining higher rotor RPMs. Two tool options are available, depending upon intended materials.
The Cubit Knife comes standard with the FMX rotor and is double-sided and easily flipped to reveal a new cutting edge. Sharpened edges cut faster and produce a more aesthetic, finer finished product. Its tapered tool body allows chip material to flow efficiently.
The more versatile Cubit carbide features a stout carbide body with blunt edges. It is ideal for shredding material and ground engagement. The robust construction ensures improved durability with no sharpening required.
Having the right mulching tools for the project at hand can make a huge difference in not only the end-product produced but also in the time required to complete it. There are numerous options available, each with their own advantages and drawbacks. When considering which tools to use for which applications, consult your Fecon distributor or regional sales manager, as they are eager to help.