Smith Brothers Agri Contractors is a second-generation business based in Tierworker, Co Meath. Today, the business is headed up by brothers Padraig and Andrew Smith having originally been established by their father Philip Smith in the 1980s. Since taking over the rein in the 2010s, Padraig and Andrew have grown the business substantially. While Philip still gives a helping hand, he tends to focus his attention on the family farm. In addition to milking 70 cows, the Smiths keep a herd of suckler cows and finish a number of cattle annually.
In 2019, the decision was made to increase mowing capacity and go down the route of butterfly mowers. Up until this, most mowing was done using two Claas front- and rear-mounted combinations and three trailed John Deere mowers. Now, the Smiths run two butterfly combinations backed up by a front and rear side-mounted combination.
We caught up with Padraig mowing heavy first-cut grass with his latest Samasz GigaCut KDD 941 S rear mowers and KDF 341 S front mower to find out how the brand is performing four seasons on.
Padraig said: “As the number of acres being cut were increasing, moving to a butterfly combination was a natural progression. Up until this we had been running two front and rear side-mounted combinations and three trailed mowers. Butterflies were going to reduce the number of tractors and drivers required for the same output.
“We spotted the Samasz brand for the first time in 2019 at the FTMTA machinery show. The brand wasn’t as well known at the time but we had heard good reports from existing customers. Let’s just say, there was no comparison when it came down to pricing compared to the better known brands at the time. The difference would have went well to buying a second set of Samasz we’ll say. Granted, some of the other brands may have been sleeker in design, but the price difference was something we couldn’t justify,” Padraig explained.
Reassured by the standard two-year warranty, the Smiths took the chance on a set of KDD 861 ST (8.6m) rear mowers and groupers for the 2019 season. These were paired with an existing Claas front mower.
“In 2021, we bought the second set, this time a set of KDD 861 S (8.6m) rear mowers, the same as what we had but without the groupers. There wasn’t any need for a second set of groupers and the weight saving of 700kg was a benefit. We stuck with the second Claas front mower similar to before.”
Padraig opted for the hydro-pneumatic suspension both times and the optional control terminal on the second set. With warranty coming near an end on the second set ahead of this season and circa 10,000 acres cut, the Smiths decided to trade again and buy their third set from northern dealer Kieran McAteer based in Banbridge, Co Down. This time around the decision was made to go for the larger KDD 941 S (9.4m) rear mower and the KDF 341 S (3.4m) front mower. Another difference was the move to standard spool control and the standard spring-type bed suspension as opposed to the optional hydro-pneumatic setup.
SaMasz build its own PerfectCut mower beds in house. Inside the permanently lubricated 6mm thick welded bed casing are hardened gears which transmit drive. Disc protection is courtesy of the firms SafeGear module. Essentially, this is a machined notch-designed to fail under certain load and prevents major damage to the rest of the bed.
Once the disc bolts are removed, the module bolts follow and the failed module can be quickly replaced. Over the years, the beds have went unchanged according to Padraig. He described module replacement as being a relatively quick and easy process, having now replaced a few modules on his original set of mowers.
Both front and rear mowers feature quick-change blades, hardened discs and wear-resistant retaining pins. With the most recent set being fitted with the larger 11ft beds sees eight discs per bed as opposed to seven on the previous 10ft beds. Padraig claims that the even number of discs and extra 1ft of working width per mower leaves for a far superior swath compared with the 10ft mowers. Aside from a slightly wider cutting width (2ft 8in), the additional 1ft working width on each of the three mowers according to Padraig is the increased overlap which leads to less manes left on the opening rounds – saving time. T
he Smiths drive the mowers with a Valtra T255 which has been used to drive both sets of butterflies. Naturally, Padraig noted that the larger beds are slightly harder driven. Another natural downside being the additional width and height during road transport.
While SaMasz offers steel tine (S) and roller type (W) conditioners, Padraig, like most Irish customers, opted for the steel V-claw tine option which he says does an effective job of conditioning the grass. Like most competitors, tines are mounted in a swing-back configuration to move back if an object is encountered.
Driveline and Protection
The GigaCut and KDF mowers use a simple, direct driveline. The in-house-built integrated gearbox on each rear mower directly drives both the bed and conditioner. The front conditioner is driven via one single-toothed belt fed off the cutterbar’s gearbox.
Rear conditioner rpm is switchable, depending on the crop, between 700rpm and 1,000rpm using the handle provided. Padraig opts to run the conditioners at 700rpm which he feels leaves the mowers easier powered, improving fuel economy. To change the front mower conditioner speed from 1,000rpm to 700rpm, the pulley on the gearbox and conditioner need swapped. Up until Padraig done so, it had been burning the occasional drive belt. However, he is now confident that the issue has been resolved.
The rear combination features hydraulic break-back protection. On the GigaCut series, the hydraulic breakaway system allows the mower to break-back up to 24° and at the same time divert oil pressure to the lift rams which simultaneously lift the bed up to 50cm to overcome the object. The SafeGear module and hydraulic breakback system are two simple yet effective features the Smiths like about the combination.
While this is Padraig’s first set of spring suspended mowers, he is well impressed and given the choice would not revert back to the hydro pneumatic option now having witnessed the performance and simplicity of the springs.
The front mower is pull type and the family’s first front SaMasz mower. Having moved to the pull-type, Padraig pointed out that weight balance on the front axle is much better, allowing the front axle to grip much better compared with the previous push-type Claas; no fault of the brand but instead the push concept.
Instead of raising and lowering the tractor’s front links, they remain at a set height and instead two single-acting rams look after the raising and lowering of the mower bed.
Over the four years, Padraig estimates over 20,000 acres have been mowed since using the Polish brand of mower with few to no issues.
“Over the years, we’ve only had minor breakdowns which were often not the fault of the mowers.Most of the time it was the result of hitting a foreign object. Aside from the two-year factory warranty, the cost of ownership has been low, for the acres cut. The only maintenance our 2019 set has seen to date has been new wear skids, a couple of new modules and one new gearbox.
“The current policy is to keep the main set under warranty which means replacement after two seasons.
“The control box on the set we traded was a little finicky, I found. This prompted me not to go down the route of a control box on the new set, which has worked out a treat with the electric spools. There is no hydro-pneumatic suspension either so controls are simple. Having mowed in excess of 700 acres this season using the new set, I’d rather how the sprung beds follow the ground. Sometimes simplicity can be best. The groupers on the older set are handy for the occasional job.
“This has been our first season with the KDF 341 S front mower. Since the pulleys were swapped it’s performed well. However, I’d prefer to see multiple single v-belts that can be bought in any store used to drive the conditioner instead of one wide-toothed belt that is harder to source. All in all, we continue to be very happy with the SaMasz brand. From a value for money aspect, I don’t think they can be beaten and that’s why I think they’ve become a lot more common in recent years.”
SaMasz is based in the city of Bialstok in the northeast of Poland and employs over 1,000 staff. Probably best known for its mowers – both disc and drum type machines, the manufacturer also offers a growing range of ‘green line machines’ such as tedders, rakes and mergers as of recently.
SaMasz also manufacturesr an orange line of implements which consists of hedge cutters, flail mowers, snow ploughs as well as tractor salt/grit spreaders and sweepers.
SaMasz equipment is distributed in Ireland by Egmount Agri based near Mallow, Co Cork. Founded by Timmy O’Brien, Egmont Agri started out solely as an agricultural contracting business.
In 2014 Timmy bought his first SaMasz mower having spotted the brand at previous Agritechnica shows. Having liked the mower and seen potential for the brand in Ireland, Timmy diversified his business and soon took on the role as sole importer and distributor for SaMasz machinery in Ireland.
Egmount claims that since taking on SaMasz, over 80 sets of butterfly mower combinations have been sold throughout Ireland through its dealer network.
Rear model: GigaCut KDD 941 S.
Front model: KDF 341 S.
Working width: 9.4m (30.10ft).
Transport width: 3m (9.8ft).
Transport height 3.95m (13ft).
Number of discs per mower: 8.
Minimum power requirement: 220hp.
Weight:3,120kg (rear sprung suspension) 1,340kg (front).
Rear list price: €49,000 plus VAT.
Front list price: €25,500 plus VAT.