Recommendations on reel mower "accessories" (roller, rear wheels, etc.)

I'm considering the purchase of a push reel mower, and I've noticed that some models have a roller at the back. Is this really necessary? I understand the basic idea (that patterns can be made), but is there any purpose other than esthetic?
Also, I've considered and rejected both the Brill and the Gardena mower, as they do not provide enough height. Here in Alberta, where the air is dry, grass apparently needs a bit more height to thrive (some say 3 inches or so, but I'd be OK with a bit less).
I've settled (tell me if I'm making a mistake) on either the Yardworks [apparently made by Scotts] (either 18 or 20 inch wide) or the Scotts Classic (20 inch). Both come with rear wheels (is this a good thing?), but no roller. Also in the running is the Great States 18inch, which comes with a roller, but no rear wheels. It's also my understanding that most North American reel mowers are actually made by the American Lawnmower Company (still, some models have to be better made than others, no?)
And lastly a question that borders on the religious: to bag or not to bag? And are grass catchers for reel mowers really effective?
Choices, choices. Any suggestions or comments greatly appreciated. I've read posts in this NG and others dating back several years, but am still confused.
Thanks (all who answer will receive a free sample of my grass clippings -- no silly, I mean lawn -- if they so desire!)
Patrick
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I finally did get a Scotts 20-2000 Classic. It's not the best thing since sliced bread, but I do prefer it to my powered mower. I don't know what a roller is for (the one I got doesn't have one), unless it is to keep certain types of plants down long enough to cut them (see below ... but why would the roller be in the back then?). The other things is that the wheels can leave a visible stripe (which disappear soon enough), so maybe the roller is to make the non-wheel area look the same.
I don't know if the rear wheels are good for mowing ... never used a 2 wheel model, so I have nothing to compare to. But the extra wheels do keep the mower from flopping over if you leave (so you don't have to bend over to pick up the handle, as you might with a two wheeler). The Scotts 20-2000 is made by American Lawn Mower Co. (www.reelin.com). If your box is missing some nuts (check amazon.com reviews, it's not an isolated incident but may have been sorted out by now), you will need to get six 1/4" nyloc nuts or complain and wait for them to send them to you.
I don't know why you would want to bag your clippings, unless you have some weeds flowering ... in which case you'd want to catch them so you don't reseed yourself.
I will pass on the free sample. :-)
For anyone else interested ... I like the mower a lot ... but like others have said before, you shouldn't let your grass get above a certain height. Even so, cutting that high doesn't seem to be a problem for the mower, except if you have rye going to seed or other plants with thick cylindrical stalks. With the gas mower, you could just park over the offending plant and eventually it would get cut, but with the push reel, you'll knock them down but they get up again (Weeble or Chumbawamba effect depending on your age) so you have to get creative (time consuming) or just hit with a weed whacker (makes having a cordless electric whacker *reel* haha handy). My lawn is fescue with occasional rye, others have mentioned reels are not good with tougher grasses like St. Augustine. I've never seen St. Augustine myself, but don't say I didn't warn you subtropical people. I've been cutting on the lowest setting, which makes me wonder if the Brill's low clearance is really an issue. Still it's nice to have the choice. (Height adjustment only takes a few seconds). Cutting over uneven terrain is dicey, but not much more than a gas mower. Wiping the blades could be easier or safer. On the plus side, no gasoline smell on your hands (or wallet) and no small engine maintenance. Moving the mower is easier, too, you can just pick it up with one hand and port it, unlike an engined mower (of course you could also roll both, but not if your garage is full of junk). Sharpening the blades (which shouldn't be needed for quite some time) isn't monkey-banana simple, but seems doable.
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In regards to sharpening, I assume you do it yourself? How do you do it?
I've also seen a sharpening kit at Lee Valley's:
http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.asp?SID=&ccurrency=&page189&category=2,2160,40710
Is this practical for regular sharpening?
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Pen) wrote in

Most of the models I looked at don't need regular sharpening. The Scotts 2000-20 (got the numbers reversed last time) is designed so you can flip some parts around and sharpen itself. All you need is some lapping compound. It looks like you don't need to disassemble your mower if you use the Lee Valley kit (it is not wide enough for the 2000-20), so that may be a better option for some.
Here are the 2000-20 instructions (did not see a copyright notice for the loiyas). There are also figures and a detailed exploded parts diagram in case you don't know what a pawl looks like or how to reverse one (I sure didn't). Note: I haven't actually done the procedure or even fiddled with it at all yet.
From Scotts 2000-20 Owner's Manual Push Reel Lawn Mower Operations and Assembly Instructions:
Sharpening the cutting blades
When the mower is properly lubricated and adjusted, sharpening should not be necessary for several years. However, the following steps will allow you to do the procedure yourself at relatively little expense.
* Remove the "E" rings, wheels and pinion from both sides of the mower (refer to figure 6).
* Remove both pawls from the rectangular slots in reel shaft and reverse their positions (refer to figure 7).
* Reverse the placement of the pinion gears.
* Place the left pinion on the reel shaft***. Replace the wheels and "E" rings. [*** According to the French and Spanish versions of the instructions, this should say "Place the left pinion on the right side of the reel shaft and the right pinion on the left side."]
* Spread a thin layer of lapping compound on the front edge of the reel blades.
* Adjust the cutter bar blade so it has light but firm contact with the reel blades across the full width of the cutter bar (refer to figure 8). CAUTION: Do not overtighten the adjusting screws, as this could damage the cutter bar. Both screws must be tight on the final adjustment.
* Push the mower backward on a smooth surface (such as a sidewalk or paved driveway). Continue to do this until the reel blades rotate relatively free (sic) and front edge of the cutter bar blades are polished.
* Remove wheels: reverse pinions and pawl is on the right (sic). CAUTION: Clean any grinding compound or debris from the cutter bar blades, reel blades, pinion and pawl. Lubricate axle and pinion with a light film of wheel bearing grease and replace wheels and "E" rings.
NOTE: It is recommended to use an industrial or valve lapping compound between 100-240 grit. This is usually available at an industrial or automobile supply store. If professional sharpening is required, consult your local yellow pages for lawn mower repair services.
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I use a reel mower at my town house, just a postage stamp size lawn, and it does a good job. People keep giving me vintage ones thinking I must love the dam thing, I don't love it or hate, It simply works with very little matinence. I now have three of them!
Will trade you a broken mower for some of those grass clippings
--
peter_may_day

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