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.
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
Incidentally, if you bag the clippings, Consumer Reports suggests that the
rear wheel drive units have better traction when the bag gets loaded. Makes
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.
I bought a Honda HR214 about 15 years ago and have been extremely happy
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
In 15 years, I haven't had a single problem with the Honda's self-
propelled mechanism, other than replacing the clutch cable.
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.)
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! :)
I was looking for one myself about 2 months ago. You may found this web
sites useful for your "research".
I have to give Honda a negative recommendation. I bought a
HRB216HXA three years ago and have had nothing but problems with
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
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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