purchase of field & brush cutter (mower) under consideration
debating between Snapper and John Deere.... any experiences and/or
I am referring to a self-propelled 2 wheel machine .. not a string
On Tue, 4 Sep 2012 02:50:43 -0700 (PDT), Frank Thompson
I have an older model DR field and brush mower (17.5 hp Kawasaki
engine). It works well. I did get aggravated when they came out with
a new model with some nice attachments the year after I bought mine.
Still the mower works as advertised and will cut through 2 inch
diameter brush (like bush honeysuckle) with the heavy blade. I've had
it for 11 years and no problems except the normal run ins with rocks.
I mostly use it around the house and around a cabin I have. Mowing
an acre or two is quite doable, but for larger jobs I use larger
As to which brands you may want to get, do any of the local big box
stores rent one or more of the models you are interested in? That
would be an economical trial I would think. The DR takes a bit of
muscle, especially when the differential is locked. It is a bit
difficult on inclines. It goes up and down fine, but across inclines
it can tip over. It would be horrible to try to clean up a ditch with
it. OTH, it makes a fairly smooth cut, almost a finish cut.
I feel your aggravation.
I bought an Ariens Sno-Tek snow blower the first year they came out.
It blew (no pun intended) all the other $599 price point machines away
in terms of quality and value.
Ariens vs. Troy Bilt/Craftsman/MTD. Which would you choose?
The following year they upgraded the unit to include a remote crank
for the deflector but didn't change the price. In doing so, they also
changed the discharge shoot design so I couldn't just go out and buy
the deflector control mechanism.
If I could adjust the discharge shoot from behind the machine it
wouldn't be a big deal, but I'm just too short to do it comfortably
while operating the machine, so I have to stop, walk around, adjust
and then go back. Remote deflector adjustment would be sweet!
Yep...I've seen a few of those mods over at http://www.opeonthenet.com /
In fact, it was a member of that forum that suggested the Ariens machine
when I asked about the $599 Troy Bilt/Craftsman/MTD machines.
Those guys are pretty serious about their outdoor power equipment.
No, it still runs fine. I am 76 yo & it is physically too hard to
operate. I understand that some of the others have different type of
drive, transmission or whatever that makes them much less demanding of
the person operating. Also the handle is too low & not
adjustable. I am 6'3' and have to bend
for my hands to hold the handles.... very tiring. I guess it was
designed for shorter folks.
On Sat, 8 Sep 2012 02:58:45 -0700 (PDT), Frank Thompson
I'm shorter (5'8"), but the thing is difficult for me too. I did get
the kit to upgrade the wheel clutch with hand grip extensions, which
looks like it might help. Now if I'd only get around to putting it
on! This is not an endorsement of the machine. I bought it as it was
the least expensive (by far) at the time (11 or so years ago) and I
haven't looked at others available recently.
In my search for a new machine I am using the height of handle as a
major criteria and also the type of transmission. I am a little
confused over the latter. My understanding is that my old DR type of
transmission is a contributing factor to the difficulty in handling
it. I've read that the ones with a different type are easier to
handle. Is the difference one of hydrostatic transmission vs some
I've got a BCS.
I would not recommend BCS to anybody and I would not buy another
Having said that...
Mine has an absolute *killer* feature: the handlebars are part
of a sort of yoke that is:
- Adjustable for height over a very wide range
- Can be canted left or right 45 degrees
- Can be flipped around to point the other
way (as when, for instance, moving between
roto-tiller and sickle-bar attachments).
Like I said, you don't want BCS; but the yoke implementation is
so obvious once seen that I would expect other makers to have it.
I bought mine because of the idea of "One engine, many
implements": smaller footprint in the equipment shed,
That part worked out, although I would say that the tradeoffs
(especially with the mower) are severe enough to warrant a larger
shed instead of a multi-implement machine. In retrospect, now
that I have a larger shed, that alternative would be
cost-effective. The cost of the larger shed was less than the
premium paid for the geared implements vs dedicated devices.
Bear in mind that I'm the customer-from-hell. Very few products
make me happy and most products I can rant about at length. Don't
even get me started on my Chevy Suburban....
But here's my BCS rant:
- The dead-man switch is designed so that if the wire
is parted, the motor keeps running and the only
consequence is that there is no longer a dead-man's
switch. Could be a nasty surprise for somebody out
cutting trail or mowing brush.
Add to that the fact that the wire is routed
in such a way as to be very vulnerable to passing brush
and has a connector in it and the BCS design team
looks pretty bad just based on that.
- The starter rope handle gets trapped by the engine guard.
Moving one of the engine guard tubes a quarter inch would
fix that. I can see it happening on release 1.0... but
surely this has been pointed out to BCS and they have not
"Kaizen" is probably not in the BCS corporate vocabulary.
- The finish quality is abysmal. My snow blower attachment
isn't even primed. It's just a thin coat of paint sprayed
over cheap steel. Can anybody spell R-U-S-T?
- The materials (citing the snow blower again) are cheap.
I caught the bottom of the blower on a chink in the sidewalk
last season and it actually tore the metal.
viz http://tinyurl.com/9zhnmjd The nuts on the chute
are rusting badly, and the stainless steel circle
at the base of the chute has broken twice already.
In fact, I'm on my second snow blower housing - the
first one having failed totally where the PTO connects.
- Build quality is poor. Staying with the snow blower
attachment: the impellers are sleeved on to drive
shafts. So far so good.... But if you look at almost
any snow blower in the world, those impellers are
connected to the shafts within by shear pins - so that
the blower swallows the Sunday newspaper or something
the pins shear and the motor doesn't break a connecting
BCS' assembly pounded rolled steel pins in where
the shear pins should have been. And they did NOT come
- Geared-vs-Belt is problematic to me. There are those who
say geared attachments are "better" than belt-driven.
"Better how?" I would ask.
They are vastly heavier. I don't know what the factor
is, but would guess it's at least 10.
They are *much* noisier. Yeah, one should wear hearing
protection anyhow. But the neighbors and passers-by do not
have the benefit of hearing protection and this thing's
gears are *really* noisy.
Are gears more durable? Depends, I think.... What's the
replacement cost of a belt vs fixing a gearbox?
Think of the hundreds of thousands of commercial mower
decks that are 100% belt-driven.
Finally, gear-driven is muy expensivo compared to belt-driven.
- Form factor tradeoffs for multi-implements are severe.
The killer app for this thing is the 5-foot wide sickle
bar mower (as long as you don't unwittingly snag the
wire for the dead-man's switch...) Buy from there,
it's all down hill.
The 28" rotary mower works... sort of... but suffers
from the same poor finish quality and compares poorly
with a dedicated zero-turning-radius mower.
Ditto the snow blower.
- The steering brake implementation was laughable.
It was vertical levers about a foot forward on
the steering yoke so, to actuate one, the operator
had to take their right hand (the left hand cannot
serve bco the dead-man switch) off of the steering
handle and pull on the lever.
I found some steering-handle-mounted levers and
- The throttle is an ergonomic crime against nature.
BCS wants you to vary the speed via throttle.
But after a half-dozen actuations of their throttle
lever, one's thumb is already sore - gloves or no
- They claim 4 gears, but only two are useful for me.
First gear is too slow. Maybe applicable to a
rototilling application, but useless for anything
Gear 4 is strictly for transport and you'd better be
riding in a sulky or cart bc even at idle the thing
moves at running rather than walking speed.
There's plenty more... but you get the drift.
My overall impression is of a closely-held company
where a bunch of cousins/brothers/sisters are running
Either that or a big corporation where this branch has become
inbred and/or is being run by the accounting department.
OTOH, I *do* see myself as something of a compulsive fault
So _that's_ where that 8&((&! pin came from! I thought it was some
moron homeowner had put it there. I bought a basket case 5hp walk
behind, put it together and used it for years until the impellor fan
pin rusted and sheared. Major job of splitting the case to even be
able to get a drift punch on it. I needed a bigger blower anyhow so
bought a 11hp Poulan (good machine except for that stupid friction
drive that likes to slip on a frosty day (turns out it is just a
rebadged BCS or whtever is the daddy brand). I pawned it off on a
nephew and haven't heard if he ever got it out of there.
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