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Parker Stancil: Learning the mechanic side of things

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Parker Stancil

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This past week I’ve been assigned by Gary Johnstone, Portmarnock Links manager, to work in the greenkeeping shop in the afternoons with our course mechanic, Iacob Spermezan. Yep, that's an I, not a J, as he's from Romania. His name is pronounced like Yock'-obe, and is the Romanian form of Jacob or James.

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Iacob removing the bedknife from a cutting unit.

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Most of the mowers here are Jacobsen.

Gary must’ve gotten tired of me bugging him about working in the shop, because I’ve been very eager to get to turning some wrenches. After 4 to 5 years of greenkeeping, I understand that maintaining a good quality of cut and equipment condition is critical to successful greenkeeping operations. Therefore, Gary gave me the opportunity to work my afternoons in the shop tearing apart cutting units and getting greasy!

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Starting to learn the basics, with a wrench.

Iacob started here at Portmarnock as a greenkeeper, but his extensive knowledge in the mechanical aspects of the industry lead him to be an awesome equipment technician. 

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Iacob takes great care of the machinery here at Portmarnock. He really stays on top of giving all the equipment the attention it needs.

I had some previous experience with checking cut quality and setting the height of cut on Toro Greensmaster walk-behind mowers at Secession Golf Club, but that was a few years ago, so it was good to get a refresher.

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The AccuGauge that we use to measure the height of cut. This one has millimeters rather than the American style with inches.

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Iacob's preferred method of checking the reel-to-bedknife adjustment by inserting a folded slip of paper between the bedknife and reel.

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If you cut through both sides of the paper, the bedknife should be spaced farther from the reel to prevent contact.

The most interesting part of the mower maintenance process was the grinding. We have an Express Dual 4000DX to grind the reels and an Anglemaster 4000DXi for the bed knives. For those of you who aren’t familiar with reel mowers, they’re used to cut shorter heights of grass, typically under an inch, and require more attention and precision than your normal household lawnmower. These grinding machines used to sharpen the reels and bedknives can put a big dent in a golf course budget.

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The Anglemaster control panel.

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Iacob setting it up to grind a bedknife.

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Setting up a reel on the Express Dual.

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Pretty neat little touch screen control for this one.

The devices and equipment we use nowadays are extremely precise and have revolutionized the industry. The grinding machines can sharpen a mower within several minutes and other things come with great time savings for the work.

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A rechargeable electric lift we use to move the cutting units around.

After becoming a pro with the grinding machines, I was blessed to have Iacob show me some other simple routinely procedures that go into equipment maintenance. We changed oil, filters, cleaned and checked fuses, so now I can properly care for my equipment in the future if needed.

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Checking out the guts of a fairway mower.

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Oil change.

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Replacing the oil filter.

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Checking the air filter.

After being mentored for a couple days by Iacob, I was confident enough to grind and set up a mower on my own. After another couple days of shop work, I became confident enough to take apart any mower, do my thing, and send it out for a job shortly after.

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The lack of understanding of cutting units by Supers in our industry astounds me. Makes me happy to see this, Parker!

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