opinions wanted on self propelled mowers

Hello, I'm presently in the market for a self propel and am considering the following models:
CUB CADET SRC621 (Lowes) - Intrigued by the caster wheels, like the Kawasaki engine, 6 speed transmission, larger bag than some. Negative is difficult oil changes.
HUSQVARNA 5521CHV (Lowes) - Like the Honda engine, large rear wheels (have some rough spots in one corner of the yard).
TORO 20031 (Home Depot) - I like the electric start, 22" deck, fast top end propel speed (sometimes I jog with the mower along the straight aways).
HONDA HRX217TDA (Home Depot) - Actually my 1st choice, as It appears to perform well in all areas and I'm intrigued at the idea of mulching and bagging at the same time. There have been a few times I had wished I could do that. Big negative is it's EXPENSIVE!
CRAFTSMAN 37779 - Like the Honda engine, ball bearing wheels, single wheel adjuster.
I'm leaning towards the Toro as it seems to offer the best balance of features for the price. Data I would like to know, but have been unable to find: How quiet is the engine on each of these mowers? How do they compare in mulching and bagging performance? (Consumer reports rates the Honda & the Cub Cadet the best among those I've selected for mulching, and all about equal for bagging). General ease of use. If you own or have used these mowers, how did you like them?
Thanks for the advice! Craig snipped-for-privacy@netzero.net
Added note: Forgot to add the following: My yard is flat, about 0.4 acre, relatively few obstructions (at this time, but my wife has me planting more every year! :-) ).
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"Craig" wrote in message

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Try plugging those models in here. http://www.epinions.com/hmgd-Lawn_and_Garden-Power_Tools-All-Mowers
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Consumer Reports rated allot of them, subscribe online.
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http://www.whatsthebest-lawnmower.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl
Craig wrote:

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time,
I don't have any experience with these particular mowers, but one thing I've found out after owning several self-propelled mowers...I hate the ones with rear wheel drive!
David
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http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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I've had a Honda Harmony 215 for about 5 years now and I highly recommend it. Well built, starts on first pull, and does an excellent job of mulching. Zero problems with it so far.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net (Chet Hayes) wrote:

...
Another statisfied Honda Harmony HM215 owner. I bought the one with the plastic deck about 10 years ago. It still runs great. I usually mulch, but I like to bag and shred leaves in the fall.
I have had to replace the wheels due to worn tread a few times. I LIKE the rear wheel drive! I have a small sloped piece of my 1/3 acre of grass that I have to manuver on, and I it's easy to tip the unit up and power steer it around sharp corners.
I recently replaced a broken clutch cable. I have about 3 sets of blades that I rotate through the cleaning and sharpening task. (some have large rock dings) I drain the gas tank and change the oil every winter.
Dave.
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wrote:

I could not recommend a non-self propelled mower for a .4 acre of lawn. That's just too much. A riding mower is recommended for lots over 1 acre. With a self-propelled, a half acre takes about 2 hours, possibly a little less if the lot is flat. With a self-propelled you can still manually push it or put it into low gear for edging or tight curves. Self-propelled models do have more repair frequency due to the transmission and drive. Make sure the gasoline is either removed or treated with a stabilizer before putting it into winter storage. My father used to winterize the mower with kerosene on a mower that still runs after 30 years! Sadly, today's engines are not built to last that long. Even Honda and John Deere makes "special" engines for Home Depot sales.
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wrote:

The front wheel drive mowers are a royal PITA for hilly lots--don't make this mistake !
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the
--------clipped-----------
Last fall I bought a Craftsman, the one Consumer's rated *best buy*. Got a clearance price under $300. Self propelled, variable speed, one-lever height adj., rear drive, Craftsman 6.5 hpr.engine, no blade clutch.
It's very maneuverable due to the variable speed feature--circle a tree and get pretty close. Bagging is good but I prefer to mulch most of the time--also good.
It's noisy. Aren't they all. I think this is a function of the small muffler they use. I use ear plugs.
Easy start. Prime first time--restart with one pull, no prime.
I use and like the single lever height adjustment. For me this is a prime specification. Those individual wheel adjusters are a real pain on the machines I have used.
My last mower, pretty similar had a 3+ hpr. engine. With 6.5 hpr., the new machine uses twice as much gas but the extra power is worth it.
Some claim the front wheel drive is more maneuverable. I don't understand this--but I never had one. Didn't see a deficiency with either of the two rear wheel drive machines.
SJF
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I use a 3hp (or maybe even less I can't even remember but it's on the low side) and for a long time I wanted to get a newer stronger mower because my old mower would stall on almost any height of grass. Since the mower didn't want to break down and kept running and running and I didn't want to get rid of it while it was running so good (with 1 oil change a year and washing out the air filter) I bought a 10 dollar blade at home depot and installed it. WHOA, this thing mows like you would not believe. A new blade fixed it for sure ! It hasn't stalled once, no matter how thick or high the grass is. so, the engine is still running fine. I think it is a briggs & stratton engine but I am not sure. It's fairly simple, not even self propelled. I consider it a nice workout to push it around. Plus every winter when I dump the old oil out I notice it didn't even use any oil. Such a good little machine it is.

cancel your gym subscription and get a mower you need to push. Saves money on two sides :-)
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I know you didn't list it as an option, but I don't recommend an Ariens self prop. Have mine for 6 years, always perform the recommended routine maintenance and it's been in the shop for 3 major repairs. I have a rather flat non-obtrusive yard and don't go "4 wheeling" with it.
I'll never buy another. I'm curiously watching the responses to this question as I will need a new one if this thing breaks one more time.

time,
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wrote:

Radio Control Aircraft/Paintball Physics/Paintball for 40+ http://home.attbi.com/~dyrgcmn /
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Interesting. As with cars, everyone shares a different experience.

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Just an update for the group and those who may have been following this thread. This past Saturday, we purchased the Toro 20031 (recycler with electric start). It was a close call between the Cub Cadet and the Toro, but ultimately price and the ease with which we can lift the handle (to save space in the garage) won out. Now the bad news. On Sunday, my wife, eager to see how the new mower felt, said she'd mow the front yard. After she finished the front yard, I told her I could take over and mow the rest. Her reply? "No sense in both of us needing a shower...I'll finish." I never did get to mow, except for a couple of short stripes! :-) The self propel handles nicely, although when I tried jogging, I found that I could outrun the self propel mechanism. (Although it is plenty fast for "normal" mow speeds.) Only real negative is that it does burn more gas than our old 3.5HP push mower. (And the engine noise is noticeably less than the old mower. Probably not as quiet as the Cub or the Honda, but an improvement all the same.) On another added note, the self propel allowed us to finish the 0.4 acre in about 1.5 hours as opposed to the 2 hours it used to take. Craig
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