What's so special about Lawnboy push mowers?
Everytime I go to an auction or garage sale, old "beater" mowers sell
for $15 or less. But if they are Lawnboy mowers, they sell for $50 to
$80, and they are just as beat up.
I went to an auction yesterday and there were 2 beater mowers. No one
would bid on them, so I bought both of them for $4. I didn't even pay
attention to the brand, because I only wanted the wheels for my good
mower, which works fine but the plastic wheels are all worn out. When
I got home I realized one is a Lawnboy, and when I checked it out, I
realized it has a 2 cycle engine because it says to mix gas.
Now, I have a very attitude about any 2 cycle engines. Every chain
saw, weed whacker, or anything else with a 2 cycle that I have ever
owned seems to be nothing but a hard starting pain in the butt, and
they need constant repairs. This makes me wonder why anyone would
consider this a superior mower to a mower with a 4 cycle engine. Not
just the repairs, but also the hassle of mixing the gas.
I guess I'll give it a try if I can get it to run. It appears that
it's complete except for a broken pull string, but I'd tend to want to
repair the other one with the standard Briggs 4 cycle engine before
even bothering with a 2 cycle engine. Does Lawnboy also make a 4
cycle engine, or else why do the used mowers normally sell for so
'Real' Lawnboys, those made when they were a division of OMC, before they
got eaten by Toro and became just a model name, were great mowers. Most
modern ones had a lightweight cast magnesium deck that never rusted, even
after the paint fell off. The staggered front wheels made them less prone to
scalping, and easier to maneuver when backing and pulling around bushes and
such. The side discharge bag on the older ones was huge, and easy to empty,
although it was a PITA in tight quarters. When Lawnboy started going broke,
they did sell (not sure who actually made) a cheap series with steel decks
and Briggs engines. I never had trouble with the 2-stroke, at least not more
than with any small engine. I did have trouble with the fiberglass engine
shroud on the homeowner model- the holes for the buttons tended to wallow
out from vibration, and you had to fake it with a metal plate or washer
under the plastic. The commercial-rated ones were basically the same mower,
but with a metal shroud, and an oversize metal gas tank. Those were highly
I miss the Lawnboys that my family/Dad's construction business had, when I
was a kid. I love the 4-stroke Honda engine in the MTD I bought last year to
go with this new-to-me house, but I hate the heavy hard-to-manuver chassis.
(The same Honda engine in a Honda-labeled chassis was 3x the price, and
didn't look that much better designed or made.) I looked for a 'real'
Lawnboy at the used mower places and garage sales, but they wanted within 50
bucks of the new MTD, for ones that looked to be on their last legs. I know
parts for the old 2-strokes are getting hard to find, so I passed.
If I understand correctly, 2-stroke utility engines like this are basically
outlawed for new production, due to smog rules. As to wheels, most Tractor
Supply outlets and generic small engine shops carry several flavors of
'universal' replacement wheels. The pull cord assemblies are sometimes
repairable with a new cord, but if the spring is busted, many people just
added an old-style pulley to the top bolt, and used a manual rope. If they
didn't burn out the bearings and/or the piston ring running it on straight
gas ( a common error), any lawnmower shop with an older mechanic should be
able to get the engine going.
I remember Consumer Reports talking about how bad the two cycle engine was.
They didn't, however, say that they had ever had a problem with a Lawn Boy,
they just marked it down from theory. Upon seeing this, and being a
contrarian with regard to Consumer Reports, and having had long experience
with Evinrude, my dad bought a Lawn Boy. That was about 30 years ago and I
wish I'd grabbed it after he died because somebody stole it shortly after.
The thing is, those 2 cycle engines were made by Outboard Marine
Corporation, makers of Evinrude outboards, which at the time were the best
on the market (may still be--I've been away from the water for far too
long). They were so good that there were even some helicopters flying
around with OMC engines in them. If you've got a choice between an OMC 2
cycle and a Briggs 4 cycle of the same power, go with the OMC.
If the innards of the engine haven't been destroyed by neglect I think
you'll find that it works far better than you expect.
The OMC 2 stroke will out last a Brigs in hours of duty and is easy to
rebuild, no cam or valve train to mess with. It is a commercial duty
motor unlike Brigs lower end or Techumpse small hp models. You can
easily get 1000 hrs on one compared to 350-500 for competing 4 strokes
of same type usage, cutting lawns at full rpm. They dont suffer the same
mixture problems as smaller 2 strokes, weedeters etc, basicly the
smaller an engine the more sensitive it is to flooding on startup. Do a
compression test to see what life the OMC has 80-90lb should be when it
is worn out. A 2 stroke cant suffer from dirty crankcase oil ruining a
That tells me much about you.
What's special about Lawn-boys? Nothing about the newest ones. They're
just green Toros. In 1978 Lawn-boy produced the F series engine. It is
arguably the best Lawn-boy engine ever. I believe the F series was
produced for over 10 years. Consider:
* Yes, you have to go through the "hassle" of mixing the gas with the
oil. Dump one 8oz can of LB oil in your can, fill it with 2 gallons of
gas, and shake. Wow, that was hard.
* In the Lawn-boy engine, the internals are constantly being lubricated
with a supply of CLEAN oil. All the time.
* You never burn a valve or break a valve spring.
* A 4 hp F series will outpower any 6, 6.5 hp briggs or techumseh by
far. I have both and I can attest to that.
* The bottom end of the Lawn-boy is all needle bearings. Compare that
to the Briggs or Tecumseh engine in which the rod big end rides
directly on the crankshaft and the crank rides directly in the side
I have a 1986 Lawn-boy mdl. 7351 that has been used once a week for 20
years. Starts on the second pull every time. Zero repairs. I think that
speaks for itself. I fully expect to get another 10+ years out of it.
If anybody out there is looking for a new 2-cycle model, try calling
all the independent dealers out there. Called 5 in the DFW Texas area
and was able to find one. They are awesome mowers, well worth the
search if you can find one....
2 Cycle engine has some + and some - compared to 4 cycle. Simpler, for
same size it is more powerful, etc. Few 2 cycl based tools I have I
don't seen anything worse than 4 cycle in up keeps. It's a matter of
taking catre of them. As an examplke my Stihl chain saw starts as well
as my John Deere lawn mower. One thing I like on Lawnboy is their front
wheel aligment. I allowst cut closer to edges/corners. In general I like
4 cycle job better than 2 cycle.
I don't know. My dad had one which always worked flawlessly, and so I got
one that always worked flawlessly. Always started easily. I've since
gotten a new mower that uses 4 cycle, and once you've stopped mixing gas
it's hard to go back. Don't know of LawnBoy makes 4 cycles or not.
LawnBoy hasn't existed for a while, but Toro has some 4 cycles that
they'll sell you painted in the strangely familiar shade of green :).
They've actually had them for a few years, but now that's all they sell
since the bigger 2 cycles basically got banned.
I think this debate seems to always be tilted no matter which side it
gets argued from (not that that's unique about this particular holy
war). The 4 cycle guys always make comparisons versus dinky weed-eater
engines and the 2 cycle guys always talk like every 4 cycle is some
cheap Briggs. In small engines you get what you pay for and that is
why the Lawnboys always command a premium because they still can have a
lot of life in them even thought they're mixed in with the cheapies in
the beatter lineup. I'd much rather pay $40 for a garage sale Lawnboy
than $150 for a no-name POS at Wal-Mart like my neighbor. His coughs
and sputters and is already rusty after not even a full season; mine
runs great after 15 with a new ignition pack this year.
I looked on the Lawnboy portion of the Toro website, and they do still have
one model with that lovely cast Lawnboy chassis with the staggered wheels-
the 'commercial' model. It no longer has the OMC engine design- uses a
generic 4-stroke- can't remember if it is a Techumseh or Briggs.
(No idea if they are still making the chassis, or just using up old
All new lawnboys are 4 cycle...
Its too bad. I have a commercial 2 cycle unit
that I bought used. I also got a 4 cycle honda mower
(only 2 years old) from a friend. While I LOVE
honda motors (even the gc160 residental versions)
the design and vacuum power of the lawnboy make it
superior. Any clipping, leaves whatever get sucked right up.
I tried the honda on the same area and it took in about
50% less crap on the lawn. The quadracut design on
this unit (basically two blades) did do a nice job
with cutting the grass though.
I sold the honda and still keep on chugging along with
While at the local small engine parts/replair place the other
day, I noticed that toro/lawnboy is making the commercial
series models with aluminum decks and honda motors.
Nice little combinations, I just wonder how well it'll cut.
This vacuum issue you keep mentioning is mostly a matter of the blade.
I'll shill for Lawnboy any day, but not on this point. The Lawnboy I
have now had TERRIBLE airflow through the deck with the original
blade. It couldn't pick up any clippings off of the sidewalk and
trying to cut grass with even a light dew was impossible.
I decided to replace the blade along with some other parts when I
brought it out of storage three seasons ago. My choice was to get a
Gator blade, which has a very large wing side that is segmented into
three parts. I was astounded at the difference that change made. I
could now easily mow ankle high grass even when wet and I don't need a
broom to clear the sidewalks. In two seasons I have yet to stall the
Gator makes some claims about better mulching but that's mostly BS as
far as I can tell. What they don't mention is that their blade moves
so much more air out the chute that clippings don't clump on the lawn
or bog down inside the deck. They also seem to be made of better steel
as I haven't needed to sharpen it yet.
It's all in the name. I have a 25 year old craftsman mower, Never ever
changed the oil, never drained the fuel. Never cleaned out under. Some
rust repaired with pop rivits / metal - yet every spring when I go to
start it - always goes on the first or second pull. I bet the frame
goes before the motor. So frig the lawboys. Same goes for my
snowblower. Never have I owned 2 peices of machinery, that have been
consistently neglected run so well for so long.
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