Forgot to add the following to my very recent post on these weed wacker line
Can I also ask, please:
What are the pros and cons of a straight shaft model vs the curved shaft
Straight seems to be easier on my back. It is definately easier to edge
with when flipped on its side or upside down. You should try the fit for
yourself before you buy. I will add that I have never seen a curved shaft
on a lawn service truck or trailer.
Price wise per your first post you are looking at 119-139 for a straight
shaft 31cc edger. My addition last year still use the bump method but now
has a two compartment spool which works moderately better than the old
style. It can be reloaded with no dis-assembly. I am toying with the
notion of using shorter string sections than the standard 10 foot ones to
see if that minimizes the inevitable failure to spool out.
Straight shaft will reach under some things better, like, lawn
furniture, benches, shrubbery, etc. A curved shaft trimmer usually won't
reach under them because the curved area of the shaft is in the way. This is
probably why "the pros" choose straight shaft trimmers. You can usually
reach more grass that is under obstacles.
A curved shaft trimmer can be more comfortable to use for some people.
More comfortable because the curved shaft models effectively shorten the
distance from your body to the cutting string. Makes it effectively shorter
and requires less strength to swing it side to side.
As a general rule of thumb, if you're shorter than 6 feet tall, a
straight shaft model can sometimes be more difficult to use. You have to try
them in your own hands to see how the thing fits you. Some manufacturers
have different lengths of straight shaft models offered. Some manufacturers
offer only one length of straight shaft. The length of the shaft varies with
manufacurers. In other words, a straight shaft Stihl might be wrong for you
while a straight shaft Honda feels just right.
Straight shaft models usually incorporate a gear box at the end of the
shaft and these added components provide extra components to wear out and
fail. Straight shaft models can have two drive line types. One drive line
type is a spring steel cable connecting the engine to the gear box. Another
type is a solid steel shaft connecting the engine to the gear box. Most
trimmers use the cable. A few "top end" models use a steel shaft. The solid
shaft models are a bit heavier.
Curved shaft models usually have no gear box. This eliminates the gear
box as a source for break downs. Curved shaft models usually just have a
spring steel cable running from the engine to the line head.
Some models have a clutch. Some don't. The clutch is supposed to
allow easier starting because you don't have to spin the head when pulling
the rope. The clutch also allows the head to stop spinning when the engine
idles. I guess this is considered to be safer when you're walking or when
you sit the unit down while running.
Some don't have a clutch. My old HomeLite didn't. It was direct
drive. I'd rather not have a clutch. This lets me trim against chain link
fences while the unit is practically at idle. Some cluthed models only fully
engage the clutch when the engine is near top speed. That's a pain.
I recently purchased a new string trimmer. I never did find one that I
really liked. I just settled on the one I liked the most from the several
that I tried.
I had a HomeLite curved shaft model for about 8 years. It finally
needed a carburetor and a new carb is just about the same price as a new
curved shaft HomeLite trimmer. I decided to get a straight shaft for my next
purchase just to try someting different.
I discovered that rotation direction can be a problem. For eight years
I became accustomed to holding the trimmer with my right hand near the engine
and my left had at the control hoop. The trimmer, therefore, was held on the
right side of my body. The head rotated clockwise and, therefore, threw
debris away from me.
A HomeLite straight shaft model spins in the opposite direction of the
HomeLite curved shaft models. The straight shaft model spins
counterclockwise so that when I hold it as I've become accustomed, it now
throws debris at my bare legs when I wear shorts. Yes. I know all advise
long pants. It's too hot for that here.
I returned the HomeLite thinking I could easily find a clockwise
rotating straight shaft trimmer. (Unfortunately, I found that most straight
shaft trimmers turn counterclockwise.)
I took back the HomeLite straight shaft before I realized most straight
shaft trimmers turn clockwise.
Next I tried a Stihl. What a piece of crap that was. It wasn't the
cheapest model, either. It was a middle of the price line model. The clutch
was so weak that I had to run the thing at nearly full throttle to transfer
enough power to the head for most cutting. I don't care what they say, a
trimmer should work within all ranges of throttle. I can cut more grass
along a fence row or wall if I can cut the engine speed back some.
The Stihl would die if I tried to use it in any orientation other than
engine straight up. As soon as I tried to turn it sideways for trimming a
hill or edging a driveway, it would die. This thing cost me $189 U.S., so I
was quite upset. I took it back to the dealer and they told me that because
of E.P.A. guidelines, I had to expect that all 2-cycle engines would perform
this way. Bull !!! What's the purpose of a diaphram pumped carb if you
can't operate the engine at any orientation? I got my money back on the
I almost bought a Honda. I've got Honda mowers. They're great, though
costly. Maybe I should have gone for it. Honda trimmers spin
counterclockwise, by the way.
I landed on a Troy-Bilt because the straight shaft models spin
clockwise. Clockwise rotation of the head is not the norm for straight shaft
trimmers. (Troy-Bilt is nothing more than MTD with the Troy-Bilt name on it.
Troy-Bilt went out of business several years ago and MTD bought the name.
So, I consider Troy-Bilt, Ryobi, MTD, and there are some others, to be all
the same. Parts are interchangeable.)
I went through 3 Troy-Bilt trimmers in about a month. First one
developed line feed problems. Returned it. Second one would stop running
once it reached normal operating temperature. Returned it. Third one that I
now have gave me fits at first but is running better now. At first, it would
not run faster than half throttle when the engine was warmed to normal speed.
I continued to use it and it seems to have "loosened up" so that it now works
fine. Hope that behavior continues.
I'm going to try and stick with this Troy-Bilt because it has that
Briggs 4-cycle engine (which cranks out some impressive low end torque) and
because the clutch seems exceptionally stout and because the head rotates
clockwise (as seen from the operators point of view). It has a centrifugal
clutch that will fully engage when engine speed is just a little faster than
idle. I like that clutch behavior. It allows me to do the low-speed
trimming along fences and walls which means I don't have to advance the line
as often as I would if I was running at full speed all the time. Some
clutches seem to increase their friction plate pressure as speed increases.
This Troy-Bilt (TB475S) clutch seems to hit an "all or none" rotational speed
that fully engages the clutch at rpm just off idle. That means no slipping
once the clutch engages regardless how fast the engine spins until idling
again which disengages the clutch.
Why do I tell you my tales of woe? Because I have been through hell
and back just trying to buy a new trimmer.
I have to say, be sure you buy from a company that allows you to return
the trimmer if you don't want it. Chances are, you won't like many that you
So ... in summation ... I'll say that the five things I consider when
buying a trimmer are:
1. Straight or curved shaft?
2. Clutch are no clutch and if there's a clutch, does it engage at speed
ranges I prefer?
3. Head rotates clockwise or counterclockwise?
4. Can I return it for full credit if I don't like it?
5. Overall, is it a comfortable length that is easy for me to control?
I prefer my Echo straight-shaft and have for 6 years now w/ light to
I had a curved shaft "Green Machine" 'Weedeater' brand or some such
piece of crap before that lasted until I threw it in the trash after a
year or so. No mater what I did to maintain it, starting was an ordeal
and sometimes it just wouldn't start. My fault for buying that cheap shit.
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