Lawnmower buying time

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OK guys, what do you think the best push mower is these days? My John Deere has given up after about 15+ years. The Kawasaki engine was great until today. Bad knock (started that last year) and it stopped. I'm not sure if it is worth rebuilding.
The new JD mowers use B & S engines and, IMO, they are just not all that durable. Any opinions?
I had a Cub Cadet years ago and it was crap after 3 years, a Craftsman after 4 years. Both were a long time ago.
How about self propelled reliability? It was subject to breaking in the past, but may be more durable today.
I'm also thinking Honda. Never had one but they seem to have a good reputation.
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Giganews wrote:

Hi, JD with Kawasaki engine is good one. I still have it and after 14 years it still works like new. Only thing I did was replace spark plug once, oil change couple times, and sharpen the blades when needed.
Honda mower is pretty good as well.
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If they still made them with the Kawasaki, I'd buy another. They show B&S on them now.
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My across-the-street neighbor had a John Deere last year, it was a piece of junk and she returned it after having a lot of things go wrong right at the beginning so the store took it back.
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Honda engine in Toro brand mower works well here since 2008. Its front-wheel SP mechanism jams up with soil/ clippings every second year if uncleaned, but that is easy and it works well.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
  Click to see the full signature.
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They should. The price tag is a little over $400 for cheapest model. OTOH, Consumer Reports rated Honda ahead of all others by a wide margin. Some other brands, like Husqvarna and Toro, are using Honda motors. They ain't cheap, either.
nb
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wrote:

Seems like there are two major categories. The $150 to $200 and the $400 to $600. If I go the cheap route, I'm sure it will be junk in three to four years. The others I have some hope for longer life.
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I've had two JD rear drive rear baggers. I'm not sure what engine. One I bought around late 90's and the other about 3 years later because I'm stupid and didn't learn from the first one. One of them was model JX75 or something similar.
I bent the crank severely on the first one when I hit a small stump hidden in grass. Quotes to rebuild or replace the engine were about the same....75% of cost of whole new mower. The crank was bent and bottom bearings were toast. One shop said they might be able to straighten the crank, but couldn't be sure it would work and wanted 50% of cost of whole new mower to try. Since it was busy season in the shop, any repair was going to take 3-4 weeks during which times I'd have to borrow or rent another mower...so I just bought another one.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. The self propelled transmission crapped out about 1 month out of warranty. I bent the crank on this one too, when it barely scalped a high root. This time it was bent just a little and I've just lived with the vibration since I only use it for trimming as I now have a tractor. I've had much cheaper mowers that would not have even slowed down when hitting that root, let alone bending the crank.
I suspect the issue is the style of blade clutch JD uses. It moves the blade several inches farther away from the engine bearing than it would be without the clutch, and this gives a lot more leverage when the blade tip hits something.
I've concluded the JD's are overpriced , unreliable, and expensive to fix.
I'd try the Honda if I were you. Or go the cheapie route and figure on replacing it every 4 years or so.
Frankly, the cheapies are often a lot lighter and easier to maneuver.....
Paul F.
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On Wed, 11 May 2011 23:31:49 -0400, Paul Franklin

I used to go the cheapie route. They were always a pain in the neck and got worse from there. I bought the Honda when we moved here; what a difference!

I haven't found that to be the case. The Honda is really easy to maneuver around. I always hated mowing the lawn with my last Crapsman. This thing makes mowing a much thicker (Zoyzia vs. Creeping Red Fescue) lawn a piece of cake.
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wrote:

That's the JD I had, or I think so. Had the caster wheels up front, what a POS! Had the self propelled go out on mine also.
Having worked for directly for JD some years ago, I should've known better than to buy their junk even with the discount.
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On Wed, 11 May 2011 23:31:49 -0400, Paul Franklin

That's been my experience too. Bought a SP and it was nothing but trouble and barely worked plus it made the mower heavy. Switched to a cheapie and it was so much lighter and maneuverable. It also lasted me 8 years and I never changed the plug, cleaned the air filter every couple years, and changed the oil maybe once or twice. Replaced it with a fairly cheap Sears/Husquavana but I actually liked the really cheap old one better - it had a bigger bag and better suction.
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My Honda is only beginning its fourth season but it starts first time every time with just a gentle pull of the cord. The only thing I've had to do to it was blow out the air filter and change the oil.
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-snip-

My neighbor [who works on lawnmowers and small engines] sold me a used Honda for $150 7 years ago. It was probably a few years old when I got it. Someone traded it in- he tuned it up.
I change the plug & oil every year and clean the air filter. It doesn't know what the inside of a garage looks like. I throw a piece of tin over it for the winter. It takes 2 pulls to start in the spring. After that- 1 will do it. It has a completely different sound than any other mower I've walked behind. More like a sewing machine than a mower.
Don't know if they're built like this still-- But I'd give $150 for a 10yr old one if I needed a mower.
Jim
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A lot of ppl still haven't experienced a Honda. Actually, an amazing company. I've been involved with them since my high school days, when they were flooding our country (US) with cheaply priced motorcycles. I've owned a couple of their motorcycles and one car. I was also a motorcycle mechanic at one time and have worked on a lot of brands, including Honda.
The car completely turned me around. Till then, I was a died in the wool Mopar man and totally disgusted with the Japanese quality myth. By that time, I'd already amassed a garage full of dead Japanese stereo and photo equipment that had barely made it to the end of warranty before expiring. My '87 Honda Civic Hatchback was different. Best car I ever owned.
I bought it with 120K on the odometer and proceded to commute 70-90 miles per day for the next several yrs. It was the Sport Injected model (Si) and a total joy to drive. Got 36 mpg, would smoked any of the old Brit roadsters I'd once owned on a road coarse, and reliable as a brick. I finally sold it with 255K on an engine that still purred and got 34 mpg. I replaced one starter, one muffler, one set alt brushes, 2 velo joints and one tranny ($160!). It was 19 yrs old.
I've since had a lot of experience with Hondas. A very close friend lived off one of their self starting generators for 6 yrs. It provided all power and ran flawlesly the entire time. In CA, Hondas are worth their weight in gold. Last longer than Mercedes and Beemers, and are worth more at resale.
There are very few things in this world I will trust, hands down, sight unseen. A Honda is one. Buy one and see why.
nb
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Add another vote for Honda. I bought one way back around 1980. I have worn the rubber off the drive wheels twice (and it is getting ready for the third set), replaced a clutch cable once, one new plug and fuel filter. Change oil 1x year. I used it for mowing a very large place, 2 acres some years.
Starting? Same here, 1 pull every time still except for the first start in the spring.
I bought a new Honda about 15 years ago figuring the old one was about worn out. It still sets in the the shed only having been used a few times for trial.
One complaint I have is the gearing on the mechanical gear boxes. 1st is too slow, high is a bit fast. The one in the shed is 3 speed. I don't know what high gear would be used for, I can barely keep up with it walking fast.
I also have the Honda rototiller.
They are 'spendy' but worth it.
Harry K
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The other day I started my 1985 lawnboy again, It been maintenance free but I dont think they make the 2 strokes anymore. HD has Honda, one for 350 non power drive I think, one for 389 online, I think thats the best buy you can get, for another location I bought a Toro a few years ago, its been fine except it clogs way to easy on damp grass and I think ive always heard a bearing knock when I dont use 30w, it says I can use multi grade but I should not hear bad bearings on a new machine, if that is what I am hearing, im not sure. Honda at CR magazine is top rated.
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I agree about the lawnboy 2 strokes. My old one, 19 years, is still out at our lake house. I had to fix the self propel transmission, no parts needed, I just flipped over a bit that was broken on one side. And replace the muffler. It's that version where the muffler/ expansion chamber is under the deck. They just eventually rust out. I think I might have put a carb kit in it once. It still starts right up. The deck is starting to be pretty shabby but hasn't fallen apart yet.
My newer one at our main house is 8 years old now. I have not done anything to it but it is and always has been finicky about starting. Usually takes 4 or 5 pulls. They moved the muffler above the deck.
Long ago I had one of their really old ones. Back when they made them with cast aluminum decks. That one was perfect. Indistructable deck and maintenance free 2 stroke.
I'll miss the two stroke mowers. I mix one 2 1/2 gallon can of oil and gas and use it in everything, mower, trimmer, edger, chainsaw, and blower.
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I found a guy that had a bunch of them as he repaired them and got a new deck about 10 years ago, mine is push so I have little to break. Its a great little motor, it is a commercial grade boat motor. Second pull and it going on maybe 26 years. on 4 strokes i get about 10-12 years.
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On 5/11/2011 9:27 PM, Giganews wrote:

My self propelled Honda is going into it's third season.
Easy to start but needs a couple of pulls.
Mulching cut is perfect and mower does not clog even when grass is wet.
I'm not real crazy about variable drive and having to use thumbs but I'm more used to it after these few seasons but my right thumb is still recovering from a winter sprain caused by a fall on ice.
Oil is easy to change and air filter is easy to clean. There is a fuel shut off valve so you can over winter with gas in the tank but run the carburetor dry. This is Japanese quality where they continue to make things better instead of cheaper as done in the US.
Over the years, the first Japanese stuff into the US after the war was crap but continued to get better and now are the highest quality. I switched to their cars in the late 80's.
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I have a 15 year old self-propelled, walk behind Snapper in the shed that still starts on the first or second pull. I don't remember the last time it was tuned up. I hit a stump with it during about year 5 or 6 and had to have the crank straightened and new seals installed. I figured it was a short-timer then, but it keeps running just fine; and still looks pretty good. We sold my in-law's Snapper rider in the estate sale about five years ago, and that machine was our inspiration to buy the walk behind. My wife and I have been married for 44 years and it seems like it was was used by them or by the family during much of that time.
Obviously, I don't have much of a problem with Briggs. We owned Toro riders and push machines before the Snapper. Pretty good machines until you start replacing parts - then VERY expensive to own. A carburetor for the Toro/Honda costs about 2-3 times a Briggs unit. Ditto other parts.
Like others have mentioned earlier about other upper-end brands - Snapper isn't cheap. That is, unless it outlasts 2-3 of the Sears, Murray or other lower-end machines.
RonB
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