Tough reality - seat suspension on ride-on mowers and lawn tractors
Heating, lumbar support, adjustable side bolsters, massage function and built-in ventilation – the last 20 years have seen a lot of changes in car seat technology. The gain in seating comfort is initially invisible, but becomes noticeable after 300 kilometres of driving. Mobility instead of stiffness, looseness instead of tension, and above all freshness instead of listlessness. The difference is still known especially by the elders among us, thanks to the seats of the VW Golf II and Opel Kadett.
Seating comfort has reached the agricultural sector as well. Today, modern and tow tractors offer high seating comfort as standard off the shelf. Top models impress with fully adjustable 3D air suspension.
Seating comfort is an important, if not key factor to the performance, efficiency and well-being of a machine operator.
But what about the seating comfort of ride-on mowers? What can an employee in municipal green space maintenance expect in terms of seating comfort nowadays?
The minimum standard for years is an upholstered seat with spiral springs underneath. The seat is mounted on a frame, which is rotatable at the front and rests on simple coil springs at the back. Depending on spring strength and travel, the seat compensates for uneven ground by a rocking motion. The springs absorb the force by deforming but also releasing quickly. The disadvantage of this system is that the absorbed energy of the springs is not reduced and the seat swings up and down, similar to a “rubber ball”. For the comfort of the driver, this means that peak loads, especially for the spine, are smoothed or diminished, but the “rocking” can also be unpleasant.
The second most common seat suspension on ride-on mowers – the good old leaf spring – has the same effect. A seat is mounted on curved leaf springs. Due to deforming of the metal, the seat springs up and down, without significant damping. The only advantage using leaf springs is that the spring hardness can be adjusted by changing the point of contact (length of the leaf spring).
A noticeable comfort improvement is provided by seat spring packages that have damping elements in addition to the pure suspension. The spring absorbs the shock and the damper reduces vibration by reducing impact energy. Gas pressure dampers are mainly used nowadays in modern seat suspensions of professional ride-on mowers. The functional principle is simple but effective. A piston rod moves a piston in a space filled with oil. If the piston compresses the oil, it can only escape through small holes in the piston. The resistance to the flow of a displaced fluid provides a damping force to the piston rod. This prevents undesired reverberation and the driver feels more comfortable.
Even today, not all manufacturers of professional ride-on mowers offer high-quality seat suspension as standard off-the-shelf. Often, they have to be bought later as accessories. Talented hobby mechanics also make use of the extensive internet offer of spring packages from the agricultural sector.
Standard seat suspension (AS-Motor)
In comparison to modern tractors, ride-on mowers offer only very spartan seating comfort for the driver. This makes it all the more important when purchasing a commercially used ride-on mower to ensure maximum seating comfort. Modern seat suspensions are available, although unfortunately not always as standard off-the-shelf. Allow yourself or your employees this affordable luxury; they will thank you for that.
Example of a high-quality ride-on mower seat spring package with a gas pressure shock absorber, company AS Motor Germany, AS 940 Sherpa 4WD high grass mower:
- Particularly low overall height for low centre of gravity (suitability of the mower for slopes)
- Adjustable driver weight from 55-120 kg
- Setting display with scale
- Double spiral springs
- Progressive suspension
- Elastomer end stops
- Dirt- and dust-resistant bearing bushes
- Integrated, mechanical blade safety cut-off
- Weight-reduced design
Adjusting lever seat suspension of AS 1040 Yak 4WD
Coil spring of a standard seat suspension (AS-Motor)