OT: Lawnmower advice

The Natural Philosopher wrote:

Nice square plot about 0.9 acre in total - most of it is an easy straight mow apart from one orchard section (probably about 20 x 30m)

Not tried a mulching machine before so had not considered it as an option... It sounds like it may be a sensible alternative.
I can see that having a collection facility would be worthwhile for some passes - especially in the autumn.

Ah, ignore my other post then ;-)

Can't see that being much of an issue, I can always tidy edges with the current mower.
--
Cheers,

John.

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<snip>

Yup.
Considering that you are paying about half the price of a new small car for even a mid-range ride-on, the standards of their design and build are appalling. Budget for a MIG welder and a set of obstruction spanners with any of them.
I have a Hayter ride-on, which is a re-badged Westwood/Countax. The flimsy "toy car" bonnet has to be removed for anything more advanced than checking the oil, and it's a b* to get back on, so I left it off all last year. Fine, but that makes it even noisier, and there is an uncovered rotating fan. The deck is so awkward to remove that you finish up either leaving it to fill up with its clag of mulched grass, frogs, and fox turds, or you scrape your wrists and forearms while you fill your fingernails with the stuff to remove it. The electromagnetic clutch to engage the cutters works fine on mine when the mower is cold, but won't re-engage when it's hot, so I try to do the whole lawn without disengaging it - which means staying on the seat, as there's an interlock.
I thought the hydraulic transmission would be an advantage, but it isn't. The speed control is so coarse that I still find myself using the "clutch" (which just lets the drive belt slip on its pulleys) to manoeuvre. A tractor-style "choose the gear then work in it" approach would be just as good, smoother, and less of a maintenance liability, especially if combined with a real clutch.

Mine has a power brush. I can certainly believe it's better than the wild optimism of those side-discharge machines that expect the grass cuttings to instinctively migrate 5ft up a narrow, sloping tube, or even than those which give it a straighter path, but trouble-free it ain't. The collector looks huge, but it only fills to perhaps 40% before the cuttings start tumbling back out behind the brushes, so I reckon on having to empty it every 100-150 yards of mowing, assuming reasonable growing conditions and once-a-week mowing. You can empty it by reversing up to your chosen area, twisting round in your seat, and heaving on a telescopic handle, but it discharges at a very low level - so no neat heaps of grass cuttings - and a slightly-built person (which no-one could accuse me of being), or one with any back problems, would find it very awkward. Damp grass builds up on a badly-positioned lip at the entrance to the collection bin, and to clean this area you either have to disengage the drive to the cutters and the brushes, get off, and reach into the collector, or carry a suitable stick that you can poke through the once-transparent inspection hatch, which promptly falls off because it has such crude hinges. It cuts long grass fine, but the brushes then clog immediately. You learn to listen for the changed note as their drive belts slip, unless you smell the burning rubber first.
Apart from that, it's great. Well, it's better than using even a self-propelled electric start conventional mower, particularly if you'd sooner spend 3 extra hours repairing the mower than two hours using the damned thing.

As used by local authorities and the like: always worth noting what professionals use, and they don't use garishly-painted plastic toys designed to attract the little boy lurking in most men.
--
Kevin Poole
**Use current month and year to reply (e.g. snipped-for-privacy@mainbeam.co.uk)***
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Autolycus wrote:

We seem to have a common experience.
I picked a John Deere this time because it was the best of a bad lot. Its not bad to access, and it cuts well enough. The power transmission is pretty smooth, its some sort of infinitely variable hydrospastic thing.
The grass collection is a joke. It uses the blades to genearate a draught, and it is not enough. I had a brush machine before and that wasn't bad. Nevertheless for a good result I would always cut twice to get the last of the escaped cuttings off. With the mulcher on it cuts well enough up to about 1.5"..more than that you need to simply spew the cuttings out the side, leave em a week or two and then go over with the mulcher on.
If you want a real LAWN use a pro cylinder mower. Lawn tractors can turn meadows into paddocks, but they cant turn them into bowling greens. Mulching is the answer unless you WANT to collect dead leaves and grass cuttings for composting.
My attitude to the mower is simple: The last one was almost smashed to pieces before it got stolen, and the amortized cost of it over that period was about what it would have cost to get it regularly serviced. I.e. any more than a routine oil change is contra indicated. Every year I pull the deck off after week three, and regrind last years blades and fit them, bend everything straight and reset the cutting deck more or less level, pump up the tyres and thats it. And replace all the broken bits like the popped off headlights and so on.
The main belt lasts a few years only.
I do recommend the smaller John Deeres as fairly well made and easy to access. But the grass collector doesn't work at all. Get a separate something to suck up clippings and leaves. I also swear by Briggs and Strattons. They have always been lucky for me.
If you have any sort of thorns, remove all wheels, and tyre valves and inject with anti-puncture goop. That has reduced puncture issues from one every ten minutes to about one a year, and that's mostly catered for with a Halfords 12v car tyre inflator.Those last about two years too.
Having said that just hammer teh shit out of them, and keep em going till they drop. The JD can just about take it. The Westwood I had could not.
In laws have a Husqvarna..not too bad and a Toro, again, not too bad. All have suffered from smashed decks and deck mountings, worn and broken v belts, and in some case bent suspension and steering stuff. In almost all cases the engines have soldiered on tho the Toro had a weird carb problem last year.
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If ultimate finish isnt too important and you are able to mow pretty regularly- go for a mulching deck, whether it be walk behind or ride on, and plenty of HP!
Tim..
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I have a flail, but a rather high-spec one compared to most of the rubbish sold in the UK. My wife was complaining about the length of grass on the garden and the problem with cutting it using a petrol mower. I ran the flail over the garden after setting it to cut down to the same height as a lawnmower. It did a wonderful job, so much so that there doesn't seem much point using the mower, and yes there's enough garden to make it worthwhile running a 55HP tractor around.
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Tim.. wrote:

Finish is not too important...and reasonably often should be ok if it is not a major job each time.
How would you define "plenty of HP" for a mulching beastie with say a 30" ish cut?
--
Cheers,

John.

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John Rumm wrote:

At least 10 I'd say. I thnk there is an 11 and a 13.5bhp B&S
The model I'd still go for is the John Deere X110. No frills and pretty tough.
http://www.mowwithus.com/john_deere_x110.html
Yes,its a bit bigger at 42", but teh problems I have had have been relatvely minor, and all due to banging into trees and walls HARD. Avoi that and its fine
Apart from punctures, but they ALL get punctures if you have thorns.
The only collector that works is a brushed collector and that means westwood/contax etc.. and instead of 1600 quid its 2 1/2 frand..nah. A grand for nice stripes?
And they are not tough. tho the engines are OK.
Nope I think that in terms of sold mowing and mulch the JD is probably the toughtes in the 1500 quid class. Its a bit bigger than you wated..but its tough.
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The Natural Philosopher wrote:

The tractor format appeals since I can see the ability to tow barrows/carts would be handy from time to time.

I expect I can avoid most of the trees - since they are quite low canopies, and I doubt I would be able to get in that close without coping a face full of branch. Romping round them with the hayter ought not be too onerous.

Not many AFAICS...

I can live without stripes!

Don't mind having bigger - just I could cope with less I expect.
--
Cheers,

John.

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Talking of ride-ons and "overkill";
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article3428410.ece
(He must have shorted out the interlock(s). Mine won't run in gear with the blades engaged unless there's someone sitting on it.)
My ride-on had about 35 stickers on it warning that there were hot, sharp, rotating things within and the manual could be reduced from 40 pages to a single sheet of A4 if all the warnings about hot, sharp, rotating things were removed.
It's a 10hp, 30", side exit Murray, built to engineering standards that would have had Brunel expire from apoplexy. It won't pick the grass up if it's even slightly wet or long. I've rebuilt the steering a couple of times (the comment earlier about needing a welder are too true), made a new grass pickup tube and it needed an engine rebuild last year after 15 years service (the con rod broke - we don't really know why). I've had to fill the tyres with "slime" because it reliably picks up quickthorn thorns from stray hedge trimmings (I got pretty adept at putting the tyres back on the rims, too) and until I bought a battery conditioner for it, it got through a battery a year, too. The brakes are inside the transaxle, effectively irrepairable and packed up within a year or two. Altogether, it's a right PITA. And it was 1500, 15 years ago. But second hand ones, "as seen", without warranty were 8 and 900 pounds!
I'm nothing like as keen on grass as I used to be. I have the best part of an acre.
--
"Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain
and presumptuous desire for a second one."
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I don't think it was a ride-on it sounds like a gang mower from the description, since it refers to "a tractor driven mower" and says "he became caught under the three sets of blades."
My tractor has a hand throttle and it's perfectly possible to set it running at a steady speed and if I were stupid enough to dismount it would simply run on by itself with the PTO powering the mower.
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Huge wrote:

After a sales pitch like that, I can probably discount them then ;-)
--
Cheers,

John.

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I fear they are all much of a muchness in the domestic class. You have to buy a Kubota garden tractor with a flail to get professional standards and then they're 5K and up. I know, I looked. :o(
--
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wrote:

Yes I was going to suggest Kubota but the price is OTT for a small plot. The other alternative is an old second hand beast, ive got a 38 year old Case
http://i29.tinypic.com/2i6nwyc.jpg
old cheap and bombproof
-
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I looked for S/H ride-ons because I was appalled at the price of the new ones, and found them very difficult to find and even more appallingly expensive for what you were getting. Things may have changed in the intervening 18 years. I suspect there's a very small market for ride-ons in the UK, since most people have such small gardens.
--
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and presumptuous desire for a second one."
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Certainly the newer westfield type small ones are in demand and even when completely shagged fetch a ridiculous price second hand, not worth considering imho
But the larger 60s beasts were well built you can still pick a runner needing some TLC for 300/500
A nice small one like a Ford120 would probably be more.
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John Rumm wrote:

Sheep?
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Paul Matthews
snipped-for-privacy@cattytown.me.uk
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Paul Matthews wrote:

Pigs, they will get rid of EVERYTHING.
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Paul Matthews wrote:

Oddly that is one of the recommendations I got from my Aunt who uses a combination of the occasional sheep and a Contax ride on... Still they are a strange lot over in Suffolk ;-) (Come to think of it, she must be quite close to TNP, so that could explain a bit)
SWMBO was quite keep on the sheep idea, but did not rate my suggestion that we could have them for dinner at the end of the season. (or the fact next time there is a foot and mouth outbreak someone would want to cull her pet)
--
Cheers,

John.

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Graze nice and close, but beware that most dangerous of creatures, an ambitious sheep. They also have only two ambitions: to escape, and to die.
Someone's bound to suggest goats: they're hopeless for the task. They browse, rather than graze, so you'll be left with lots of grass, and no roses. Quite astonishing watching such an apparently soft-mouthed creature eating roses, and hawthorn. Entire males stink once they're more than a few months old, and fetch even less at the abattoir than females or castrates.
Pigs, as TNP suggested, will certainly clear your lawn of weeds - and grass. Wonderful creatures to keep, if you can keep them in (a couple of strands of electric fence, till they short it all out with a particularly well-placed excavation). And home-reared, traditional breed pork and bacon is unbeatable.
--
Kevin Poole
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Sheep can give grass a very good finish but there is a downside. Copious quantities of sheep shit to get on the soles of the feet and from thence just about everywhere.
--
Roger Chapman

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