Lawnmower: buy cheap or feature laden?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by DaveF, Aug 16, 2005.

  1. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    It's always amusing finding my old threads, when I'm revisiting a topic.
    I'm back to mower shopping. My used mower did me good for 3 years, but it's got issues, and I want a mower that mulches well. (It's not just enough to have something with a spinning blade, as some suggested [​IMG]) And now I've got a $500 budget. I'm leaning towards the Toro 20067, based on Consumer Reports latest review, price, and features (and comments around here[​IMG]).
    So, how's your mower working?
     
  2. Mike OConnell

    Mike OConnell Second Unit

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    If you are willing to take care of your mower (or have someone else take care of it) spend the money. Taking care of mower means changing the oil, sharpening the blade, replacing the spark plug, lubricating the wheels, etc., cleaning or replacing the air filter, and generally keeping the unit clean.

    If you don't, then go cheap.

    I have a seven year old Toro Recycler that can either mulch or bag with rear wheel self propelled drive. I take good care of it and it has lasted very well with few problems.

    The "problems" that I have had were a result of not starting with a fresh spark plug in the spring and trying to use some gas that sat around all winter....the darn thing did not want to start. I then replaced the plug and it started after a few pulls. I live where you normally stop mowing in late October or November and start mowing again in late March or early April. I usually mow once to twice a week. I winterize every year before I put the mower away for the winter.

    Good luck.
     
  3. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    The Honda I mentioned 2.5 years ago is still running like a top. Started up on the 2nd pull, after sitting in the garage with a dry carb for the winter. No complaints here- still seems like money well-spent.
     
  4. drobbins

    drobbins Screenwriter

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    I bought a "cheap" ($1,000) MTD riding mower for my 2/3 acre lawn plus my son does 3 others on the street. It is 3 years old this spring and I have replaced 3 deck belts, the cotter pins that hold the front tire on are replaced with nails, and I am replacing the front ball joints for the second time. [​IMG] I would like to get a "good" mower, but I can't see spend as much on a mower as I do my cars. This year I bought a $130 push mower to do around the houses and under the shrubs. The first time I pulled it backwards, the rear safety flap went under the deck and jammed and bent the blade. [​IMG] Brand new mower with a bent blade and a torn up flap with out even finishing up under one bush. How do they expect you to cut the grass with out going backwards?
     
  5. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Thanks for the comments. One of the hard parts is that shopping for a mower is (to my surprise) like shopping for a computer or a car. Toro and Honda have a full range of models, each one slightly better than the previous, running from $100 to $1000. It's easy to feel the compulsion to spend just a little bit more for that one more feature, and so on.
    And then I remind myself that I've done pretty well with a $60 beater for a couple of years, so a $400 new one should be pretty great, even if it doesn't have the built in frappacino maker the $500 model has.
    Dave -- you could replace a car with a good mower to balance the cost [​IMG]
     
  6. LewB

    LewB Screenwriter

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    I bought a similar Toro model at Home Depot also based on a Consumer Reports. It cost around $400 and I was somewhat disappointed.
    - The plastic cover for the battery vibrated off within a month (Duct tape to the rescue)
    - The drive belt for the wheels needed to be replaced within 2 years
    I have heard that manufacturers do special runs of models just for the big box stores with cheaper 'take offs' of their regular stuff.
    I think I would go to a local mower place, or even Sears before I'd go back to one of the big box home stores.
     
  7. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I don't know exactly how large your yard is, but if it's under a half acre I'd recommend electric. (you mention a half acre lot in your OP). Personally, with two cars and a motorcycle the last thing I need is another internal combustion engine to maintain. It seems like a poor use of the technology to me, personally, to have a tiny little IC which needs oil changes, expensive gasoline, air filter changes, keeping track of when I need Sta-Bil in the gas etc. etc. etc. And stinks and pollutes. [​IMG] Plus the gas can in the garage is a potential fire hazard. I used to take great care of my Dad's IC lawn mower when I was a teen, and that thing lasted forever (Craftsman) because of it. Now that I have my own house and cars I understand why I, not he, did all that maintenance work. [​IMG]
    I've got an electric which I've had for two or three years now and I wouldn't consider going back to IC. Dancing around the cord gets a little old, but I worked out a system for that after just a couple times on the lawn.
    Just seems like a poor technology fit, IC engine in a home use lawn mower. Even worse is a weed wacker for just around the house unless of course you need the mobility for larger jobs. With electric all you have to do is change/sharpen the blade and keep the cooling vents clear. No priming, no cord pull cold starting, no choke, no stink in the garage. Just turn it on and instant perfect cut every time. I've never owned an IC lawn mower and never want to.
    More expensive electrics have on-board batteries so they need no cables, sounds like that would be something to consider. Very much like a cordless drill or other cordless power tool.
    When my grass isn't too long I even have a Phil powered reel mower for touch-ups.
     
  8. Jim_F

    Jim_F Screenwriter

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    I went all-out and got a tricked out Honda last year. Works great so far. I'm through with anything with a Tecumseh engine anymore. I'd only consider a Briggs or a Honda.
     
  9. Adam

    Adam Stunt Coordinator

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    I have had some experience with mowers. You need to get at least a self-propelled model for that sized lawn What ever you do, stay away from chain store mowers with Tecumseh engines. I have had nothing but problems with Tecumseh. They use plastic carbuerator parts that warp and cause starting problems. I think a better grade of mower is your best bet. Stick with mowers that have either Honda or Briggs engines. Make sure the mower have a brass carbuerator. Usually lawn care and mower shops have the higher quality models. I am not sure the Honda engines on the Home Depot and Sears models are the same as the real Honda mowers. However, the Honda mowers are way overpriced, usually 600 or 700 dollars.
     
  10. drobbins

    drobbins Screenwriter

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  11. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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  12. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Thanks for the tips. That's pretty bit much what I'm going for.
     
  13. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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    I bought it at an independent dealer. I got my snowthrower at Home Depot because they had a special financing promotion, but since I'd been getting it tuned up annually by this Toro dealer and I was happy with them, I decided to go through them when I needed a new mower a couple years back.
     
  14. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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  15. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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  16. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    I prefer a simple, gas push mower - less stuff to go wrong and easier to fix for non-mechanic types like myself. I ran a Briggs engine for decades on my dad's mower, replacing the deck a few times. I have a Tecumseh on my current mower, which has served me for the past 7 or 8 years, despite less than perfect maintenance and some pretty abusive workouts on thick, wet grass.
     
  17. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Sounds like my attitude about cordless power tools. [​IMG] To hell with convenience and ease-of-use, I want that full 120V torque baby! 18V battery powered wouldn't be effective enough for me. Never mind that I'm not drilling through anything stiffer than a wall stud. [​IMG]
    Anyway... Little perspective... Many of today's hybrid cars can run on battery power alone with the gas engine as the backup (Prius operates this way). You think batteries and electricity can run an automobile but can't run a lawn mower for a 1/2 acre lot? Hmmm.... I ran mine last night on my overgrown jungle of a lawn (went away last weekend and couldn't mow) and it cut everything down to size zero problemo. [​IMG] There's nothing better than light-switch on/off convenience.
     
  18. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Not if the battery isn't sized for a 1/2 acre lot with thick, damp grass. The little bit I've read says they're not. But I've not seriously looked into it. Maybe the new rechargables are as powerful as conventional gas mower?
    With your mower, can you mow a 1/2+ acre on a single charge? Does it do a good job mulching grass?
     
  19. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Mine is corded so it can do as large a yard as I want. It's corded because of the same luddite philosophy I display with my corded drill. [​IMG] Dammit I want the full 120V motor!!! The cord really is a very minor annoyance.
    My grass was very thick and long yesterday, I had to go slow, but any rotary mower would have had the same problem.
    No mower, no matter how it is powered, will ever do a good job with damp grass.
    I don't know how big and powerful the electrics get for a big thick 1/2 acre lot. It's possible even the most sophisticated model may not be appropriate, but I'd look into all the options available if I were in the market. It seems that ICEs are just as ensconced in the lawn mower market as they are in the automobile market.
     
  20. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    That's just no good to me. Dealing with the cord on my trimmer is bother enough. Managing 200'+ feet of cord to mow my back yard would be far more than a "very minor annoyance". Dealing with that in the back berm, which is thick and weedy would be a major hassle. Thanks, as they say, but no thanks. [​IMG]
    I'll probably get the Toro 20066 or 20067 from Home Depot. I'm just looking for a sale or a decent coupon to shave a few more dollars.
     

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