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Lawnmower: buy cheap or feature laden?


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#41 of 81 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted April 21 2008 - 02:37 PM

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 Posted Image) 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 herePosted Image).

So, how's your mower working?

#42 of 81 OFFLINE   Mike O'Connell

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Posted April 21 2008 - 03:32 PM

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.

#43 of 81 OFFLINE   Todd Hochard

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Posted April 21 2008 - 04:17 PM

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.
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#44 of 81 OFFLINE   drobbins

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Posted April 21 2008 - 10:46 PM

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. Posted Image 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. Posted Image 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?

#45 of 81 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted April 21 2008 - 11:44 PM

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 Posted Image

#46 of 81 OFFLINE   LewB

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Posted April 22 2008 - 12:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveF
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 Posted Image) 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 herePosted Image).

So, how's your mower working?
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.

#47 of 81 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted April 22 2008 - 12:48 AM

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. Posted Image 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. Posted Image

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.
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#48 of 81 OFFLINE   Jim_F

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Posted April 22 2008 - 01:00 AM

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.
"Always tell the truth. It's the easiest thing to remember."

#49 of 81 OFFLINE   Adam

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Posted April 22 2008 - 01:44 AM

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.

#50 of 81 OFFLINE   drobbins

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Posted April 22 2008 - 01:49 AM

Quote:
Dave -- you could replace a car with a good mower to balance the cost Posted Image
I wonder what the MPG is and how long it would take me to drive 45 interstate miles to get to work. With gas prices what they are and all. Posted Image

#51 of 81 OFFLINE   Michael_K_Sr

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Posted April 22 2008 - 06:59 AM

Quote:
I'm leaning towards the Toro 20067, based on Consumer Reports latest review, price, and features (and comments around here).

I have the same model, minus the electric starter. Best mower I've ever owned. Always starts on the first or second pull, has plenty of power for tall grass and does a great job mulching. To me, the electric starter would be a waste. As I've said, the engine has always started for me on the first or second pull. I've never had a problem getting my Toro snowthrower to start either. I wish now I'd gotten that without the electric starter either...it's a few pounds lighter when lifting it into the truck for the fall tuneup.

#52 of 81 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted April 22 2008 - 08:47 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael_K_Sr
I have the same model, minus the electric starter. Best mower I've ever owned. Always starts on the first or second pull, has plenty of power for tall grass and does a great job mulching. To me, the electric starter would be a waste. As I've said, the engine has always started for me on the first or second pull. I've never had a problem getting my Toro snowthrower to start either. I wish now I'd gotten that without the electric starter either...it's a few pounds lighter when lifting it into the truck for the fall tuneup.
Good to know. I've been wondering whether it's worth $30 to get the electric starter. Did you buy it at a chain (Home Depot) or a smaller shop? I'm now worried by the aspersions cast upon mowers sold by the chains.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drobbins
I wonder what the MPG is and how long it would take me to drive 45 interstate miles to get to work. With gas prices what they are and all. Posted Image
Yes, but then think of the well-manicured highway berm from your house to work!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Hamm
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).
I like the idea, but I have serious doubts that it's really effective My experience is that just won't work. Corded electric would be craziness. And I have doubts a recharable would have the power and duration to mow my whole lawn.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam
I have had some experience with mowers.
Thanks for the tips. That's pretty bit much what I'm going for.

#53 of 81 OFFLINE   Michael_K_Sr

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Posted April 22 2008 - 09:41 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveF
Good to know. I've been wondering whether it's worth $30 to get the electric starter. Did you buy it at a chain (Home Depot) or a smaller shop? I'm now worried by the aspersions cast upon mowers sold by the chains.

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.

#54 of 81 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted April 22 2008 - 10:31 AM

Quote:
So, how's your mower working?

My Cub Cadet w/ a Kawasaki engine I mentioned at the beginning of this thread is still going strong-- no problems and it's now starting it's 6th year of use. As in previous years, it started on the first or second pull this season.

#55 of 81 OFFLINE   Todd Hochard

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Posted April 22 2008 - 03:03 PM

Quote:
I am not sure the Honda engines on the Home Depot and Sears models are the same as the real Honda mowers.
The lower-end Hondas that Home Depot and Sears sells are special-made for those stores, IIRC. The ones in the $299 and $399 slots.

I paid $599 for mine, and it's the same model you'd get at a Honda dealer. BUT, my wife will use it!!!, which is worth $100s in its own right.Posted Image
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#56 of 81 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted April 23 2008 - 04:22 AM

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.

#57 of 81 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted April 24 2008 - 01:43 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveF
I like the idea, but I have serious doubts that it's really effective My experience is that just won't work. Corded electric would be craziness. And I have doubts a recharable would have the power and duration to mow my whole lawn.
Sounds like my attitude about cordless power tools. Posted Image 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. Posted Image

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. Posted Image There's nothing better than light-switch on/off convenience.
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#58 of 81 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted April 24 2008 - 05:25 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Hamm
You think batteries and electricity can run an automobile but can't run a lawn mower for a 1/2 acre lot?
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?

#59 of 81 OFFLINE   Philip Hamm

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Posted April 24 2008 - 07:47 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveF
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?
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. Posted Image 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.
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#60 of 81 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted April 24 2008 - 12:42 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Hamm
Mine is corded so it can do as large a yard as I want. I... The cord really is a very minor annoyance.
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. Posted Image

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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