Driver’s view: Chris Harris’ Silvercut 900 CFC SIP Mowers

We find out what it’s like to work with triple SIP mowers run by West Sussex wrapper specialist Chris Harris, driven by Will Kitcher.

See also: Tips for buying a used triple mower set

Business Facts – Harris Haylage, West Sussex

  • Mowing 120ha of haylage and 120ha of hay for horses, plus contract silage
  • Baling Approximately 10,000 bales/year: 4,500 haylage, 3,000 large square hay, 600 round silage, 500 round hay, 1,000 large square straw

Chris Harris and Will Kitcherl © MAG/Oliver Mark

What made you choose SIP mowers?

They might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they were so much cheaper than anything offered by mainstream manufacturers.

I paid around £20,000 for the old demo 8.6m rear throttles and £11,000 for the 3m front which was fantastic value. Plus they’re sold by Ernest Doe in Aldbourne, right on my doorstep.

It’s not a completely unknown brand either – it’s been around since the 1950s and, considering the company used to make mower beds for Claas, it has a decent track record.

Before the triples, I used two rear-mounted Silvercut 340 SIPs combined with John Deere 131 and SIP 340F fronts. Ironically, it was the John Deere that tended to have trouble keeping up.

SIP Silvercut 900 CFC Gearbox Mount

Bolts that hold the front mower conditioner gearbox moved into their elongated slots © MAG/Oliver Mark

However, I only did this for a year before deciding to streamline the system and cut more with one tractor. We want to produce good quality forage, so cutting and baling it efficiently is essential.

I stuck with the 3.4m front mower to start with because it meant I would have a decent amount of overlap between the front and rear, but I hated it.

It was like going up the road with a 12ft gate attached to the front and I didn’t feel particularly safe – which is why I ended up with a 3m pull version instead.

What tractor are they used on?

SIP triples are lightweight and require surprisingly little power to operate, so for the first year they were on our John Deere 6930.

It struggled a bit, though, so in 2020 I got a 240hp Massey Ferguson 7726S Dyna-VT – mainly because it was around £30,000 cheaper than the John Deere equivalent.

It’s much heavier than the 6930, more stable on the road, and it’ll happily cruise 8 mph in the field.

How did it work?

I’ve had plenty of mowers in my day and the SIPs are some of the best.

They cut cleanly, take virtually no power to operate, and I’ve had very few issues.

The reversible blades last a long time, so much so that I’m still on the gift boxes that came with the clippers. I turn them a few times a season, but it obviously helps that we mow our own grass and know where the obstacles are.

Also, I like to leave a 3 inch (76mm) stubble as we find the grass regrows faster and it helps to avoid molehills and stones contaminating the crop.

Likewise, we didn’t once break the four shear pins that protect each assembly’s transmission, although the braking system sometimes kicks in in fields with lots of molehills.

And we’re just starting to replace the Hardox wear pads, partly because we’ve had a couple of dry summers and the ground has been pretty abrasive.

The nylon conditioner tines also lasted surprisingly well. Most of the originals are just starting to show a bit of wear, which isn’t surprising considering they rev around 1100 rpm.

It’s a little faster than most other brands, so they pull the grass out the back and dry it out quickly.

Silvercut 900 CFC SIP Conditioner

The nylon fingers are starting to show signs of wear after three seasons © MAG/Oliver Mark

What could be improved?

The biggest issue we had was with the Kevlar cog belt that transmits power to the front mower conditioner.

It is under astronomical strain, which eventually caused the gearbox to move in all four of its mounting locations.

As a result, the pulley turned at a slight angle and it threw the belt off.

Ernest Doe wanted £450 for a new belt, which made me cringe, but I managed to find an identical version for £200 from local motor factors.

I had an installer from Does reassemble it, as I wanted the gearbox fitted perfectly.

I also needed a new pulley and this took a while as SIP previously used a third party logistics company to handle their parts distribution.

It was mid-summer so it was really a pain but things have apparently improved in that department and SIP says they will have more parts in stock which should speed up the process in the future .

One thing I would change is the main front mower gearbox. It doesn’t have a drain plug, so the only way to swap the oil is to suck it up.

The front mower doesn’t lift particularly high either, and there was a leaky gasket on one of the main butterfly rams, but it seemed to work itself out.

Front mower SIP Silvercut 900 CFC

Chris Harris now uses a 3m front unit as the 3.4m version was too wide for the road © MAG/Oliver Mark

Would you have another?

One day, but I have no reason to change by the minute.

They don’t work particularly hard – they did just over 400 ha last year and could probably triple that workload in the blink of an eye. If and when we replace them it would be nice to have the Isobus control option.

I would definitely go with SIP again, though. Last year I bought a new 10m SIP rake, and I also have a 9m trailed tedder, plus a 3m backup mower which comes in handy for smaller jobs.

Disc Silvercut 900 C FPC*

*Twinned with 300 F APF front

  • working width 8.55m
  • Telescope adjustment No
  • Discs Eight on each side (seven in front)
  • Conditioners Nylon fingers
  • Transport height and width 4×2.7m
  • Weight 2,400 kg at the rear; 840kg front
  • Power required 190 hp in the rear; 80hp front
  • Swath width 1.6-3m
  • List of prices £43,888 rear; £17,335 before

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