I have about .4 acres to mow. Originally I was looking
at self-propelled, but have been convinced by a long-
time mower friend (this is my 1st house and I've NEVER
mowed before), that a push-model is good enough. That
the more complex a mower (i.e. Propel vs. push), the
more things can go wrong, and I'm 30 & fit so a push
should not be an issue. Land is mostly flat, backyard
slants up about 30 degrees. Obviously, electric not an
After looking at Consumers Reports and reading a lot of
stuff in general, I'm considering the Craftsman 38886.
It's a push, large-rear wheels, with mulching & rear-
bagging. I wish I could find out if it is ball-bearing
or not (I'll go this weekend to look at it and hopefully
the salepeerson would know....we'll see....is there any
way to tell myself?)
Any opinions on Craftsman push mulching/rear-bagging
mowers, specifially the 38886? Oh yea, it's B&S 6.5hp
Thanks a ton, trying not to make a bad decision
considering I've never owned a mower before, and I
figure a $220 Craftsman is better than spending $700 on
a Honda HRX217HXA now that I have mortgage payments...
FWIW, My beef with Sears (Craftsman) is they only guarantee repair parts
availability for *one years* now. Back when, the said parts would be
available for "life". Sears is nothing but a marketing outfit that
sells what they get from their vendors, and that can change monthly.
On 9/29/2005 9:34 AM US(ET), Stubby took fingers to keyboard, and typed
What Craftsman repair parts would you need for a push mower? After all,
it is just a chassis to hold an engine with a mower blade attached.
Replacement mower blades, wheels, and other non-Craftsman common parts
are available almost everywhere, like engine parts for B&S engines. My
Craftsman self-propelled, B&S powered mower is over 20 years old and I
have only changed the blade once and the pull starter cord once (neither
of which were Sears parts). It looks like s**t with the rust, dents, and
cracked plastic parts, but it cuts grass as well as it did when new.
I've had a craftsman rear-bagger push mower (not sure of the model) with
normal size rear wheels for 3 years now and it hasn't missed a beat. It
starts first pull every time. The only maintenance I do is to brush it off
after each use (mostly to keep rotting grass smell out of the garage) and I
sharpened the blade and replaced the oil at the start of it's third cutting
season. I'll drain the gas and wash it down at the end of each cutting
About 1/4 acre and flat. Takes about 40 minutes to cut the grass. I use the
bag for most of the cuts, but will let it mulch every once in a while if I'm
in a hurry. The mulching blade cuts it pretty small but makes the deck and
wheels harder to clean. If the grass is pretty high and the deck gets a lot
of mulch build-up it can bog down the mower.
I used to have a self-propelled rotary mower and I liked it. Then I
bought the craftsman tractor and mowing deck. I've used it for 17
years but frankly, I believe a zero-radius ride-on mower would have been
better or maybe a fancy self-propelled. I have about 2/3 acre with
lots of gardens to go around. I have worked hard to make the gardens
mowable -- no inside corners, mowing strips next to stone walls, etc.
Sears buys from whoever will make, their close to spec mowers, to meet a
I don't know who is making this year's or last year's models.
It's probably an MTD which are basically throw aways after 5 years.
0.4 acres is pretty small. a push is OK, but I have always liked
self-prop mowers. I have a craftsman 5.5hp that is about 8-10 years old
now. rear bagger, mulcher (chute optional). I think it was $300 back
then. Replaced this year with a JD riding mower, but it still works
What I would do in your case is buy a self prop or a big wheel mower. I
would also suggest a honda engine, but that often puts the price higher
than you want to pay.
If going craftsman, buy a new blade, air filter, belts (if any), and
blade to keep in hand when you need them.
If you get a push mower just about anything will be ok provided you take
good care of it. There is little to go wrong outside the engine. I
would look for a heavier gauge steel (or cast Aluminum or
Aluminum/Magnesium alloy) for the deck. Don't leave a lot of wet grass
clippings impacted on the bottom of the deck after you mow, as this will
encourage rust - especially if you have recently fertilized. Change the
oil at the end of the season and either run the gas out of the tank or
put some gas stabilizer in the tank. Don't leave your mower outside in
the weather uncovered (you'd be surprised how many people do this).
Preferably keep it in a garage or a enclosed outbuilding. If you can't
do that at the least throw a tarp over it and stick it under something
(deck, lean-to, milk crate, whatever).
Personally, for .4 acres I would go with a good quality self-propelled.
If you let the grass get high (and who on occasion doesn't unless they
have nothing to do but cut the lawn) a push mower can be a real chore to
manhandle through higher grass - even on a perfectly flat lawn. A good
brand self-propelled (Honda, Toro, Husqvarna, and maybe a few other
select brands) should give years of reliable service if you take care of
it (same kind of maintenance as mentioned earlier). I've got a Honda
Harmony self propelled that I bought at Home Depot about 5 years ago and
it has never given me a problem. The self-propelled unit is working
fine and it starts with one pull every time just like when it was new.
Your gonna pay around $400 ~ $450 for a good self propelled (yes, you
can pay more). You might squeeze in a little under that $400 figure if
you shop around now at the end of the season. I think I saw Lowes
selling a Husqvarna self propelled (with a Honda motor, same as on my
Harmony which I consider to be a definite plus)for just under $400.
On the motor, I can't overstate how pleased I am with the Honda 5.5hp
engine on my self-propelled. I've owned or known a lot of mowers
growing up and through my adult life. Most were Brigg and Stratton with
a few Tecumsehs thrown in here or there. Some were hard to start right
out of the box. All got harder to start as they got older. The best of
them would start in 3 or 4 pulls after a couple of years of service.
Some were quite a bit harder than that. I generally check and change
plugs often, but no matter what it seems that all my Briggs or Techumseh
motors would at some point give me trouble starting. Sometimes I could
fix it with new plugs, other times I had to rebuild the carb. A few
would just never reliably start over any reasonable period of time.
This Honda has performed flawlessly. You set the throttle to choke, you
pull the cord (and an easy pull at that) and the thing just fires up.
Five years on it starts as readily at the day I brought it home. One
year I didn't bother to run the gas out and forgot to put stabil in the
tank. Put the mower away in November. Come late February or early May
I pull it out of the garage for my first mow of the year, choke the
throttle, and pull the cord and the damn thing fired right up - first
try after sitting for a little over three months (I live in the
Southeast and we have a pretty long mowing season if you have a fescue
Good luck with whatever you get.
Thanks for this great reply!!! I just picked up the
Sears Craftsman 38886 push mower with large rear wheels.
They have a 30-day return policy so if I find it's
really a chore, I'll return it and go w/ a Honda self-
propelled, the majority of folks seem to agree that
Honda engines are really the most reliable over time. I
hear that southeast grass can get thick, I live in the
Northeast so I'm hoping even if it does grow a bit long,
it will never be like those thick blades of the south so
I'll be ok. Hopefully this thing mulches up the leaves
pretty well as well. Thnx again for all the replies,
I'll repost with an update on how the mower feels.
I"m leaving the rest of the post. I thought you said 4 acres. This
is why most people write 0.4 acres, because you don't know what my
monitor or room light is like or how good my vision is, etc. There
are lots of typos on the net, and if there seems to be an extra space
between t and 4, no one will think that is strange.
Most of what I wrote is fully applicable to the smaller lawn you have.
ROTFLOL. I thought the choice would be between self-propelled and
riding. In JHS and HS, we had about 1/3 of an acrre, counting where
the house was. With a self-propelled mower**, it took 90 minutes for
the front lawn and 90 for the back. If we figure you'll go twice as
fast as I did, that will be 18 hours to mow the lawn.
**Admittledly I kept the engine running slowly and that made this
model proceed quite slowly.
They do make self-propelled with one throttle for the engine and a
separate one for the speed the mower travels. I don't think they are
common though, they probably all have big engines (see below) and the
maximum mower speed at any given time is I'm sure limited by where you
set the engine speed.
AFAIK, It is better to have the front wheels driven than the rear. I
had to shift to neutral all the time to pull the mower away from the
trees etc. With front drive, push down on the handle and the rear
wheels move freely while the front is off the ground, ass uming no one
is in front of you to get hit by stones or sticks or pine cones.
Seriously, it's immoral to injure someone this way, and these days
you'll be liable, and you have to make looking the automatic first
step all the time. Otherwise you'll forget to look on the infrequent
occaions someone is there.
We had a Moto-mower. I think the transmission did break once in the 8
years we lived there. They don't use that style of transmission
anymore, but I don't know if the new ones are better or worse.
"Transmission" is an overblown word, maybe the wrong word. It was
just a clutch, a little box 3 by 3 by 3, with a belt, a pulley , and a
couple 45 degree gears and a lever.
LOL. I was 12 to 18 and fit. My land in Indiana was totally flat.
Now that I see you mean point 4 acres, it will be a lot of exercise to
push the mower, but I think you can do it. And riding mowers have
major problems around obstructions, like others have described.
Thirty degrees!!!!! You don't think it will be hard to push on
that! BTW, if it is really 30, you have to go sideways, not up, and
they say not even down. I think, or the mower will fall over ON you.
Even if you go sideways on the hill itself, somewhere you will be
pushing your mower up that hill, over and over..
If I were you, I would absolutely borrow your neighbor's mower before
I bought anything***. I think you have no idea of what this will be
like. If he won't let you mow your lawn (unlikely) offer to mow part
***It's a good way to get to know your neighbor. But don't mow near
the rock garden or any place else you might hurt the blade. Just
leave that stuff for next time. It's a bad way to get to know your
neighbor if the first thing you do is nick his blade, or worse. When
you are mowing one swath, you can keep your eyes on the next swath to
see if there are any rocks that you're going to hit next time. Not
necessary most of the time, but probably is the first time you mow the
lawn. There are kids around here, and I keep finding white stones
that are used in a bush or flower bed. It comes and goes but
sometimes I keep finding them in my yard.
If he has a riding mower (likely) keep going down the street until you
find someone with a push mower. If he thinks he can win an ally in
the push mower brigade, he'll readily lend you his mower, because he
thinks he's smarter and stronger than those with riding mowers. He
may well be, but you should make sure in advance that you want to be
The larger rear wheels mean nothing on really flat land (whether level
or not). They are there to help you go over rough land, curbs, etc.
The same reason a bicycle can handle ridges and bumps
And you're going to bag too! Do you realize how many loads there are
in 4 acres? 50? Just a guess. I predict with a wlaking mower you
will never finish, even the first time. I never bag. it's good
Does it have a throttle? 6.5 make a lot of noise, for no good reason
unless you're trying to mow a baby forest. Even 3 HP make too much
noise to run at full speed. You can run most engines, especially
big ones, at half throtte, even in the spring, and still mow the lawn
fine, including mulching. 1/3 throttle would be enough when the
weather has been dry. IF it has a throttle.
BTW, when I didn't have a "mulching mower" I duct-taped a business
size envelope over the grass opening and voila, a mulching mower. I
only did this in the fall when I wanted to mulch the leaves. It
I would think every engine, especially on lawn mowers, would have a
throttle, and they used to, but lately not all do. I have a mower
with no throttle coontrol but seemingly a place to connect one. I
also have a Craftsman with no trottle and NOWHERE to connect one.
I may keep it for its other features and wear earplugs, but I'm very
unhappy about this lack.
Also 6HP engines weigh more, and that will matter a lot when you are
pushing the mower. A couple years ago I had one push mower that
didn't start, but I borrowed one from a friend, and 've been keeping
my eyes open and I've found 4 mowers in the trash. 3 looked brand
new, although one of those was made in 1978. Some are 6 or 6.5HP and
some 3.5 I have to lift one side to get it up on the cement slab where
I store it during the summer, and with some of them, I can just twist
the handle and the right side goes up. Others are so heavy I can't do
it and I'm afraid I'll bend the handle. I have to go up to the side
of the engine, bend down and lift it up, and push it on the slab at
the same time. No big deal, but it would be if I had to push the
I buy alsmost everything second-hand. Your house was second-hand,
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let
me know if you have posted also.
I have a 20" Craftsman Eagle mulching mower. It's about 15 years old.
Parts are available from any small engine repair shop or home improvement
center. Like the Eveready bunny, it keeps going and going. I've replaced
the wheels, starter cord, filters, plug, and had some carburetor work done
on it last year. Still runs fine. The only problem with Craftsman mowers
are that they're built from several suppliers (MTD, Briggs & Stratton,
Kohler) and the parts they use this year may change in the future.
For 0.4 acres, if you're only going to mulch with it, a push mower would be
suitable. However, if you're going to bag the clippings, consider a
self-propelled, especially for the incline (30 degrees? - steep). Those bag
changes get pretty tiring after awhile.
For some reason, I have had absolutely terrible luck with Sears
Craftsman lawn mowers... and yet I keep going back because they are
the least expensive (when on sale) and I am not rich. This last
time... after my 2 season old Sears Craftsman side discharge with a
4.5 HP B&S engine cracked its block (no, I didn't hit anything) and
started leaking oil everywhere... I bought another Sears Craftsman
like you have described but with the 5.5 HP Honda engine. I really
thought the Honda engine would make a difference, but all I got was an
insane level of vibration (hand blisters every time I use it) and
terrible, terrible performance, especially when mulching. I have
complained and brought it back to Sears twice with no satisfaction.
They would not give me a refund. All they would do is rebalance or
replace the blade, but its obvious that was never the problem. I am
so disgusted with Sears I could scream. If I ever buy another
Craftsman lawn mower, someone... anyone... please shoot me and put me
out of my misery! :-(
I'm not sure who is making mowers sold by Sears under the Craftsman name
Sears cares little about the quality of the Lawn Mowers and other items
itsticks the name Craftsman on these days.
They will milk the Craftsman name until everybody finally realizes it is
no different than the cheap throwaways available at Walmart, Lowes. Home
You have to look at every aspect of the mower you anticipate buying.
Even John Deere Mowers are mostly manufactured by whoever will meet John
Deere's price point of the WalMart marketing philosophy clones. John
Deere still manufactures all of its John deere labeled Commercial
mowers, I believe.
Briggs bought Simplicity, Snapper and a number of others.
The who owns what has changed so much, in the last 3 years, I cannot
remember just who is manufacturing what and for who.
Thanks to Wal Mart there is not much American Made Quality left out there.
I hear you loud and clear. But where does one turn today who is not
filthy rich? Which line(s) of lawn mowers and lawn/garden tractors
are truly designed and built to last without going $$$commercial$$$ ?
Or did I just answer my own question?
I thought that Honda engine was the answer to all my past Sears
Craftsman woes. It was not. While it hasn't failed to start or
started leaking oil or exploded yet... the performance is absolutely
abysmal and the vibration is nothing short of astonishing. I just
shake my head every time I use it. :-(
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