When farmers and landscapers tend large tracts of land, they may use grass cutters such as the John Deere 503 rotary cutter. These heavy-duty machines can handle grass and weeds that have grown up to 4 inches tall, which often will cause the motors of ordinary lawn mowers to stall. Rotary cutters are not self-powered or self-propelled, and they require the use of a tractor to operate.
The John Deere 503 rotary cutter is a field and grass cutting tool that is attached to the tractor by the 3-point hitches, which are metal attachments that can be hydraulically raised to lift the rotary cutter from the ground. The John Deere 503 rotary cutter has a single wheel that is not powered by the tractor. It holds the cutter off the ground and moves by the tractor's pulling action through the 3-point hitches.
Rotary Cutter Blade
The 503 rotary cutter has a 5-foot width with a single rotating blade underneath. As power is transmitted down into the gear box, the blade begins to spin. This spinning action turns the blade 1,000 revolutions per minute to cut through grass, weeds and small thickets. A small rotating pole is attached to the center of the blade and runs up through the rotary cutter's housing and into the gear box.
The John Deere 503 rotary cutter spins the blade in the cutter housing using the tractor's engine power. This power is transmitted along a rotating shaft attached to a gear box on the cutter that turns the blade underneath. This type of machine operation is referred to as power take-off, or PTO, driven. The PTO drive shaft on the tractor is located between the 3-point hitches at the back of the tractor.
The John Deere 503 cutter does not have the front or rear safety chain that the newer 609 and 709 rotary cutters do. Instead, the 503 rotary cutter has a solid front and rear shield to prevent the blade from sending debris whipping out from under the main cutter housing. This rotary cutter relies on PTO that is unshielded. Never handle the rotating shaft during operation and ensure you turn off the PTO before leaving the tractor. Also, wait until the shaft has stopped rotating before servicing the cutter blade. It can cause serious hand injury.