Recommed Walk Behind Self Propelled Mower

I live in central Florida and have to mow our very tuff St. Augustine grass(?). Up North we called it "weeds".
All that aside I'm looking for brand recommendations for a mower that will do the job. I tried a Troy-Bilt from Lowes and it just don't hack it. I had to do more pushing than being self propelled.
Any recommendations are appreciated.
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I like my Sear's Craftsman rear wheel drive mower with a 6.5 horsepower engine. I can't compare it with others but it seems fairly trouble free based on two years use, and the price (bought for less than $300) was the best I could find. I don't mow St. Augustine, mostly patches of hybrid bermuda, zoysia and fescue. Parts of the yard have a moderate slope. If the lawn is still damp after night time watering, the traction weakens a bit on the uphill runs. That seems due entirely to wheel slippage on the grass and I expect this would vary little with another brand. I mulch and in some areas the grass is very dense. In those places, I use the standard technique of slowing the advance so that the cutting blade doesn't need to take such a large bite on each rotation. It is also recommended to cut a narrower swath to reduce the load on the engine. I haven't needed to do that.
Incidentally, if you bag the clippings, Consumer Reports suggests that the rear wheel drive units have better traction when the bag gets loaded. Makes sense.
SJF
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On Mon, 19 Sep 2005 15:10:19 -0400, Bishoop wrote:

Toro "Personal Pace" mower, with the rear-wheel drive, and the 6.5hp engine.
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I've had one for about 5 years, and it's been great. If they had one with a bit more power, I'd probably trade up, as I have some rather tough areas where it sometimes has trouble. Any 6.5 HP mower would have trouble in those spots.
rusty redcloud
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Try one that is not self propelled. They are easier to push than a sp that is not working properly. Try one from a neighbor for a test run.
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I bought a Honda HR214 about 15 years ago and have been extremely happy with it.
I had used a few different self propelled mowers in the past, and they were always stretching belts, or grass build up would throw the chain from the sprockets. They were always more trouble than they were worth.
When I went shopping for a new mower, the Honda was the only one that had rear-wheel shaft drive. No belts or chains to stretch, break, or fall off.
In 15 years, I haven't had a single problem with the Honda's self- propelled mechanism, other than replacing the clutch cable.
Anthony
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That's about the time I bought my hr214, maybe a few years before that! Didn't have a single problem with it until last year. I have done absolutely nothing to it except changed the oil a few years ago. (I know, I should do that much more often than that.)
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I rinse off my Honda HR214 after each use. This keeps it looking like new, but it tends to make the control cables rust up. I've replaced them a few times because of that. Easy job to do. I have found if I shut the controls off so the cables are fully pushed into the housing, they are much likely to rust.
Mine also has an electric start on it. The starter quit working a couple of years back. I already tried a different battery, and checked for voltage at the starter, so I know the starter is just seized up. In any case, the mower always starts on the first pull, and with the price of a starter, I haven't been in any rush to replace it.
The self propelled mechanism has been flawless though. Not a single problem with that.
Oh, and as far as the oil change goes, I'm embarassed to say I STILL haven't changed the oil in mine... :) I did finally install a new blade a few weeks ago. What a huge difference! :)
Anthony
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I was looking for one myself about 2 months ago. You may found this web sites useful for your "research".
http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/lmower /
http://www.epinions.com/hmgd-Lawn_and_Garden-Power_Tools-All-Mowers
Good luck.
Ron

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I have to give Honda a negative recommendation. I bought a HRB216HXA three years ago and have had nothing but problems with it.
1) The handlebar locking knobs come without a lock washer, and the vibration loosens them quickly. OK, so a lock washer fixes that (if you can find the parts that fell off in the lawn), but they stick out so far to the side that they catch whenever you cut against a wall. Really stupid design!
2) Trip for warranty repair. Cable from speed lever lets go at the transmission. I chose not to take the transmission apart under warranty.
3) Three weeks out of warranty in the middle of summer, the engine starts stalling repeatedly.
So I'm using a 30 year old Toro that is held together with spit and bailing wire, but has only been to the shop once in its life.
Oh, and Honda parts and accessories are available mostly only at the dealer's and are expensive. Leaf mulching screen, $50.
When the Honda works, it works ok, but hardly what I had expected when I paid big bucks for it.
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