lawn mower recommendations

I need a new lawn mower. Consumer Reports says Toro is a better option than Troy-Bilt due to its reliability. My current Toro is on its last legs and I've been patching it up over the years to keep it going. My limit is $400.
I usually shop at Lowes because they give me a 10% discount for being prior military but they don't carry Toro. Home Depot has this one I'm considering. It is also front wheel drive. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Toro-22-in-Recycler-SmartStow-High-Wheel-Variable-Speed-Walk-Behind-Gas-Self-Propelled-Mower-20339/205026227
http://tinyurl.com/y7bxao9z
I have never owned a rear wheel drive mower and don't see how they are better than front wheel drive. What happens when you lift the front and turn around to go the other way? Do the rear wheels stop driving? I'm also leery of the no oil change claim.
Any thoughts?
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On 09/23/2017 12:54 PM, badgolferman wrote:

I have a Troy-Bilt with 185cc Honda engine that is reliable. However, it's not self-propelled so it's essentially an engine, a deck, a blade, and 4 wheels.
It's a mulching blade and while you can use it with a bag I leave the mulching plugs in place. That saves any bagging or raking and the lawn seems to thrive on the mulched clippings. It also turns leaves into confetti in the fall so they mulch in place too.
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On Saturday, September 23, 2017 at 3:01:50 PM UTC-5, rbowman wrote:

I've got a Toro 'personal pace' walk behind self-propelled lawn mower. It does have the bag which I use from the back steps to a good size square I mow around and to my clothes line. Saves all that grass tracking in when I hang out sheets early mornings when there's still plenty of dew on the grass.
When I had a maple tree in my front yard I'd use a rake to rake the fallen leaves about a foot away from the trunk. Then I'd use the mower with bagger attached to grind and suck up all those leaves. It certainly made the front yard look like someone had zipped over it with a giant Hoover vacuum cleaner!
My Toro was $400.
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On 9/23/17 2:54 PM, badgolferman wrote:

That no-oil-change thing specifies "for the life of the engine". I'm thinking two, maybe three seasons before seize-up city ;-)
I've never owned a bad Honda lawnmower and always got 9-10 years out of them with nothing but routine maintenance. I live in the South and the grass grows for about eight-nine months a year.
A while back, we converted from a lawn to ivy ground cover. I cleaned up and serviced my ten year old Honda and sold it for a pretty decent price on Craislist too!
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wrote:

I just bought a Honda 3-in-1 RWD for $399. $423 with tax. Free delivery. Home Depot. It has a paddle type control for the drive wheels. That was about a month ago and my wife hasn't used it yet. The grass stopped growing as soon as I bought it.
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Vic Smith wrote:

From what I've read, make sure you drain the fuel from it over the winter. The carburetor's appear to be sensitive. I did a lot of reading about mowers a few months ago, and the Honda rose to the top of my list. I made a note to try to wait until they fix the sensitivity I referred to above before buying one. Just drain the fuel during the off-season and hopefully you'll "mow long and prosper!" : )
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On 9/23/2017 5:05 PM, Bill wrote:

[SNIP]

This is not confined to Honda, Toro, etc. It's general to ALL 4-cycle small engines. It's the damn ethanol in the fuel, not to mention the gum and varnish that tend to build up when fuel sits around.
1. If you can find it locally, purchase Ethanol-free gasoline. Around here, I have to make a trip across the border and into Wisconsin to purchase Ethanol-free PREMIUM gasoline. I don't need the octane but that's the only way to get the Ethanol out of my small engine fuel.
2. If you intend to store fuel for more than a couple of months, always mix Stabil or Sea Foam with the gas that you purchase. This prevents the gum/varnish buildup which occurs.
3. Always shut off the fuel supply and run the engine dry before storage for any extended storage. If you can't get ethanol-free gas, this will mitigate the effect the alcohol has on the rubber parts in the carburetor. Even if you use ethanol-free fuel AND fuel stabilizer (as in #2), if the gas isn't sitting in the float bowl, etc, it can't build up varnish there.
The more of these you're able to do, the less problems you'll have in the long run.
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On 9/23/2017 6:05 PM, Bill wrote:

I have a Honda too and it has been trouble free. Only took it to shop once as there is something that requires lube and I could not find how to do it. Honda has a gas shut off valve so you can burn dry without draining. Late in the season I drain some stabilized gas out of the generator to use it up so I leave it gassed. Oil is simple to change as you just pour it out the fill hole.
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On 9/23/2017 2:54 PM, badgolferman wrote:

Honda.
I have one at home and I bought one for the shop. Mine is only 5 years, but the one at the shop is 12 years old and gets a lot of hard use. I'd not hesitate to buy it again.
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On 9/23/17 2:54 PM, badgolferman wrote:

Several months back I was looking for a new lawnmower as well.
I ended up buying a Honda (HRR216VYA) from a local power equipment place. Their price was only $30 higher than the local Home Depot, they delivered it ready-to-go and even took the old (broken) one off my hands.
Actually, I had bought the old one from them -24 years- ago -- a basic TroyBuilt mulch mower (didn't even have self-propulsion). I guess I got my money's worth out of it.
The reason I settled on that particular Honda model was because it was one of the few modern mowers I'd seen with an actual throttle control, and it also had a "blade-stop" feature to let the user let go of the safety lever without shutting down the engine. Works pretty well.
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On 9/23/2017 11:29 PM, J.Albert wrote:

Many people run to the big box stores thinking they will save money. Often, the best value is the local guy that is very close in price but has superior service.
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On 9/24/2017 8:21 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

That is what I did. I could not even find a clerk at HD to show me the mowers. Cost a little more but even in cost because I traded in an old Lawn Boy. At the local shop the mower had oil and gas and had been tested and they loaded it in the back of my SUV for me.
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On Saturday, September 23, 2017 at 2:54:08 PM UTC-4, badgolferman wrote:

The drive is controlled by a bar at the handle. When the bar is depressed, it goes, when it's released it stops. It's an additional bar to the blade brake bar. Some mowers have or at least had, several fixed speeds that you can select one from at the controls. Others have variable speed drive.
The best mower in terms of how it cut the grass was a Honda Harmony 215 that I had. It used a double blade, one about the other about 1/2" apart. It mulched the grass really fine, left the best, smoothest cut on the lawn I have ever seen. The engine was also the quietest. That was the good news. The bad news was that it had a 3 speed tranny that died after maybe 7 years of use. And that was just cutting my lawn that's maybe 6,000 sq ft. I took it apart, it was the bearing on the pulley on the tranny that had totally failed. Bad news was that a new tranny was $135 at the time. And taking that thing apart was unbelievable. I do a lot of work on my own, but there were more screws, pins, washers, snap rings, bushings and God knows what that had to come off to get the tranny off. So bad that I filled up two egg cartons trying to keep the parts in order. After considering the various options, I found a brand new Craftsman that someone was selling for $160.
The Craftsman is much louder and doesn't cut as nice. But it has more power, can go through taller grass when needed, where the Honda would have trouble. The Honda was 3 fixed speeds, the Craftsman is variable speed, the more you depress the bar, the faster it goes. AFter several years, the Craftsman stopped moving too. It took less than 5 mins to remove a small cover and see the problem. With their variable speed, they use a belt that slips. The end of the tension spring where it hooks had broken off. I used a cable tie to resecure it. That was 5 years ago, it's still working. Honda's version of variable speed used a hydrostatic tranny, God knows how complicated that is or what goes wrong with it. The other issue is that the Honda listed for $600, I got it for considerably less, it was a Fall closeout at HD. The Craftsman listed for less than half.
So, many choices and options.
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trader_4 wrote:

I found myself in that position too, with my Troy-Built mower. If not for the parts diagrams I found online, I would have *never* got it back together properly! : )

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On Sat, 23 Sep 2017 18:54:04 +0000 (UTC), "badgolferman"

My choice in walk-behind mowers is the Snapper commercial line. Most of the grass cutting we do is with a Snapper zero turn riding mower, but in areas that is not appropriate, we use a Snapper commercial self-propelled mower with a Honda engine.
The mowers are built like tanks, I have had the walk-behind for 20 - 25 years and never an issue with it, but we do conduct proper preventative maintenance. For years we have used synthetic oil and the highest octane, lowest ethanol content fuel in the equipment with small 4-cycle engines.
Here is the snapper site:
https://www.snapper.com/na/en_us/product-catalog/push-mowers/commercial-walk-mowers.html
The rear wheel drive is very sweet, there is a differential in the drive train that makes turning the unit completely effortless.
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On Sun, 24 Sep 2017 13:12:50 +0000, Stormin' Norman

From this web page :
http://bc.ctvnews.ca/some-lawn-mower-brands-are-more-reliable-than-others-1.2848607
"For bigger jobs, a gas-powered self-propelled mower will do some of the work for you. Among the least reliable are Husqvarna and Snapper. Honda is a brand you can depend on."
Treat all online reviews - with caution ! I strongly doubt that any commercial mowers were part of this article. John T.
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On Sun, 24 Sep 2017 10:28:01 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@ccanoemail.ca wrote:

I have a PDF of the May 2016 Consumer Reports article on Lawn Mowers. If anyone wants a copy of it, I will upload it to a binary group or a file sharing site.
Many years ago I started buying commercial grade yard equipment whenever possible. I have found most of the consumer grade stuff is just crap. Commercial grade costs more up front, but pays for itself over time.
As I said, my commercial Snapper self-propelled walk behind mower with Honda engine has been going strong for 20-25 years. We pressure wash it once a month, change the oil and spark plug every three years, tighten bolts, sharpen the blade and lubricate cables and other logical mechanism. Where I live, we use the mowers year round and I could not be happier with the ROI. I feel the same way about the Snapper commercial zero turn unit.
We also have a 1970's vintage John Deere 96hp 4020 tractor that I use every couple of days. It is great for getting around the property, pulling stumps, etc. but none of that is germane to the conversation at hand.
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Don't forget the air filter ! I tried to web-search Snapper commercial mowers - to no avail. Would one cost <today> about double <or triple ? > - the amount of an average brand-name homeowner unit ? John T.
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On Sun, 24 Sep 2017 11:55:19 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@ccanoemail.ca wrote:

Foam filter, we also wash and oil that once a month. The machine has been going strong for 20 - 25 years.

I posted a link to their website in my original message in this thread. Look up the dealers and contact them for a price.

As I remember it was about 1.5 times the cost of a comparable consumer grade unit which might have lasted 10 years. I like buying equipment that is engineered and manufactured to last. It really annoys me when I have to spend time repairing equipment before I can use it and I really dislike having to replace equipment that should really last a lifetime with proper care.
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Stormin' Norman wrote:

Do you mean turning it around at the end of a pass. If so, please explain how that could work. To my mind, the "fulcrum"(?) is at the points of contact of the 2 rear wheels. Do the wheels move as you are turning it around?
Bill
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