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Old 12-01-2012, 04:15 PM
 
Location: Land of Free Johnson-Weld-2016
6,474 posts, read 13,443,588 times
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I think for the OP it depends on the size of the lawn. For a 1/4 acre or less, I would recommend the rechargeable Black and Decker. Caveat: Unplug it once it has been charged completely, or the battery can be damaged. Pluses: there is no gas or oil to handle, and no cords.

I recommend a John Deere riding mower for a bigger lawn. I am not sure it is the best, but it works great for me in part thanks to the awesome service. The company came and set up and tested the mower, and they'll pick up and drop off the mower for service.

I had initially bought another mower, but I couldn't even get it to start. The JD guys came to my house w/ the mower and showed me how to use it and where everything was located.
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Old 12-06-2012, 01:57 PM
Status: "My eyes are rolled back so far I can see my brain." (set 24 days ago)
 
Location: Here.
13,436 posts, read 11,930,801 times
Reputation: 15757
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdelena View Post
... big wheels on the back.
I always wondered what the purpose of big back wheels are? Can you enlighten me?
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:36 PM
 
2,737 posts, read 4,084,866 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retroit View Post
I always wondered what the purpose of big back wheels are? Can you enlighten me?
Larger wheels are easier to roll over uneven ground.
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:50 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
9,918 posts, read 19,740,916 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big George View Post
Larger wheels are easier to roll over uneven ground.
Yes, I do from time to time wish mine had those. There are some spots where it would make a difference. If your lawn is pretty flat and smooth though it really won't matter.

I have a Toro 10 years old, still works as well as it always did, which is adequately if maybe not superbly. It's certainly been reliable. I have a fairly steep hill in the back yard which I'm sure would be a pain with just about any mower. (Was always a plan to put something other than grass on that. Hasn't happened.) This thing is fairly well put together with a solid Briggs and Stratton engine that still starts on a couple pulls. I change my own oil, plug, air cleaner and blade now, none of which is too difficult once I finally tried it. (The blade is tricky the first time, you need something to block the blade from turning like a 2x4 and an ungodly amount of force to break the bolt loose.)

I do think a cheapo mower would have been beat to shreds by now on this yard (1/3 acre with that hill), but I don't know for certain. I don't like to buy things that are disposable if I can help it even if sometimes it comes out cheaper that way. This mower was about $500 10 years ago, not too awful, and it is self-propelled to help me up that hill. Not sure I would get this type of propulsion control again though, where you just push the handle. It's nice and simple (just push forward, and the propel means you don't have to push that hard on flat) but sometimes annoying to work with on the hill. A key reason I got the Toro is because they were supposed to be solid and even better there was a dealer right up the road. I was able to walk up there and walk it home. If that place weren't there I probably would have gone and got a Honda somewhere instead. Honda makes a solid product. (On a small flat yard though, a cheapo mower might be fine.)
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Old 12-07-2012, 01:07 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,902 posts, read 51,488,051 times
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I no longer buy mowers new. Craigslist prices are about half the cost of new and older mowers can be better constructed than some of the new junk.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:07 PM
Status: "My eyes are rolled back so far I can see my brain." (set 24 days ago)
 
Location: Here.
13,436 posts, read 11,930,801 times
Reputation: 15757
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big George View Post
Larger wheels are easier to roll over uneven ground.
Don't the front wheels hit the rut first?
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:50 PM
 
2,737 posts, read 4,084,866 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retroit View Post
Don't the front wheels hit the rut first?
Yeah, they do. But as you're pushing on the handle the weight & force transfers to the rear wheels and kind of lifts the front wheels.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:57 PM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
26,927 posts, read 58,138,086 times
Reputation: 29429
Quote:
Originally Posted by greg42 View Post
I have a Toro 10 years old, still works as well as it always did, which is adequately
if maybe not superbly. It's certainly been reliable... This mower was about $500 10 years ago,
not too awful, and it is self-propelled ...with a solid Briggs and Stratton engine that still
starts on a couple pulls. I change my own oil, plug, air cleaner and blade...

A key reason I got the Toro is because they were supposed to be solid
(or) I probably would have gone and got a Honda
A couple questions:
Was this the first mower you (or your family) owned?
iow... did you learn how to own and use and maintain before this purchase?
Do you think your 10 year life is typical?
And last, how much longer do you expect to keep it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by greg42
I do think a cheapo mower would have been beat to shreds by now on this yard
(1/3 acre with that hill), but I don't know for certain.
My observation is that with nearly all mowers *something* will happens within X years
that warrants it being replaced. Sometimes it's simply worn out but usually it's because
someone did something dumb or neglectful requiring a repair that is more daunting
or expensive to justify doing.

These daunting and especially expensive outcomes seem to occur more with the more
expensive and generally well regarded name brand mowers. The less expensive (and simpler)
mowers can usually be fixed more simply and less expensively.

Quote:
Originally Posted by harry chickpea View Post
I no longer buy mowers new. Craigslist prices are about half the cost of new
and older mowers can be better constructed than some of the new junk.
And if we know what we're doing, and have the tools and space and a few spare parts...
we can make the smarter buy among the offerings and then get another X years of use out of it.

Which is what it all comes down to: Number of seasons per dollar paid.

Greg's original $500 purchase has averaged out to $50 per year now.
If he gets another few years of use (15?)... it could come down to as little as $33.
That's pretty darn good. But I bet even Greg would call it an anomaly.

otoh... the $150 Lowes basic mower only has to last 5 seasons to equal that $33.
Even the basic cheapo will last 5 years if you don't do something stupid.
But if you do... you're out of pocket a whole lot less to replace it.
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Old 12-08-2012, 10:42 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
9,918 posts, read 19,740,916 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRational View Post
A couple questions:
Was this the first mower you (or your family) owned?
iow... did you learn how to own and use and maintain before this purchase?
Do you think your 10 year life is typical?
And last, how much longer do you expect to keep it?
It is the first mower I personally owned, bought on the weekend after I closed on the first house I ever owned. That was actually in August of 2003 so it's a little over 9 years ago. But since I used it part of that year the mower has been used about 9.5 mowing seasons.

I grew up using a riding and push mower, but for about 12 years in between then and buying the house I lived in rentals where I didn't use a mower at all. I learned a little bit of mechanical maintenance growing up. I don't bother to do my own car maintenance right now, but I could I suppose and maybe should at this point. On my early cars I did my own oil changes and sometimes brakes. I have done a few of my own small car repair items more recently, such as replacing the supports that hold up the hatchback, replacing the power antenna mast, etc. The mower maintenance came about after sticker shock at paying someone to do it once. Only about 30%-35% of the total was parts.

I think a 10 year life should be typical on this unit. I would have been disappointed if it were less. My neighbor had his Honda for 20-odd years before he got another one a few years back. (He's also wishing he had spent the couple hundred to fix the old one because there are things he doesn't like about the newer one.) We had a Bolens mower growing up that lasted a long time, but it was also a beast to start anyway with an old Tecumseh engine. I've been pleasantly surprised at how long the engine has continued to start and run well without doing anything to it except changing plugs and oil and such.

I see no reason why my Toro won't continue to run for a while with occasional new plugs and blades and maybe a drive belt one of these days. I certainly expect to sell the house before I need to replace it at this point. (Will probably sell within the next few years, perhaps as soon as next year.) I'll either give the mower to someone in my family or try to sell it to a neighbor or whoever buys the house. I don't anticipate needing it after selling, would be going back to renting most likely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRational View Post
My observation is that with nearly all mowers *something* will happens within X years that warrants it being replaced. Sometimes it's simply worn out but usually it's because
someone did something dumb or neglectful requiring a repair that is more daunting
or expensive to justify doing.
That's interesting. Botched home repair results in worse problem? I have a little bit of mechanical aptitude, or maybe more than a little. My day job is not in the realm of mechanical or construction or such, but I have done enough of it here and there to get by. I actually did replace one thing on the mower, the spring in the handle for the drive mechanism. This was a couple dollar part though. So there are a couple little repairs in there, not counting the regular maintenance. If I was going to keep it indefinitely, I'm not sure what would have to break before I couldn't fix it. The deck wouldn't rust because it is cast aluminum so it would have to have a complete engine failure of some kind necessitating a new one, something like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRational View Post
These daunting and especially expensive outcomes seem to occur more with the more expensive and generally well regarded name brand mowers. The less expensive (and simpler)
mowers can usually be fixed more simply and less expensively.
Could be. I mean, we did ultimately replace that simple old mower when I was growing up, with a Snapper that wasn't especially great but worked okay and was also a fairly simple unit (though it had a bag whereas the ancient one just mulched). And then mom sold it when she moved out of that house. So I don't know how long it would have lasted. We got rid of the old one when getting the Snapper, but it did still work I believe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrRational View Post
And if we know what we're doing, and have the tools and space and a few spare parts...we can make the smarter buy among the offerings and then get another X years of use out of it.

Which is what it all comes down to: Number of seasons per dollar paid.

Greg's original $500 purchase has averaged out to $50 per year now.
If he gets another few years of use (15?)... it could come down to as little as $33.
That's pretty darn good. But I bet even Greg would call it an anomaly.

otoh... the $150 Lowes basic mower only has to last 5 seasons to equal that $33.
Even the basic cheapo will last 5 years if you don't do something stupid.
But if you do... you're out of pocket a whole lot less to replace it.
This makes sense, although again I hate to treat something like this as disposable after so few years. But anyway, $500 to $150 is an apples to oranges comparison in mower features. You'd have to step down a little, to maybe $400 or $350 or whatever it would be without the self-propelled feature, to make it more even. In my case I don't believe I would ever have considered getting a non-propelled unit with the hill I have. I think comparing a cheapo self-propelled would go against the point you are trying to make about keeping it simpler.

I really don't think 15 years should be an anomaly for this unit if it is maintained well. If, on the other hand, one is completely clueless in how to treat power equipment (and perhaps this is, in fact, the majority of people), that may be a better argument for the disposable route.
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Old 12-08-2012, 12:01 PM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
26,927 posts, read 58,138,086 times
Reputation: 29429
Quote:
Originally Posted by greg42 View Post
If, on the other hand, one is completely clueless in how to treat power equipment (and perhaps t
his is, in fact, the majority of people), that may be a better argument for the disposable route.
Well, that is the context of the thread.
A newbie homeowner with no personal experience using (let alone maintaining) a mower.

fwiw... I'd suggest the cheap/basic option to a newbie for just about anything they buy;
at least until they have some real personal experience to base a choice on.

But even an experienced user (or their helpful nephew) will do something dumb.
(never see a mower run over a stump or sewer line clean out?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by greg42
...we did ultimately replace that simple old mower when I was growing up,
with a Snapper that wasn't especially great but worked okay...

...I hate to treat something like this as disposable after so few years.
I get that and it bugs me too. But I just don't see any of the homeowner grade mowers of today
having the odds of being a survivor that even the hardware store cheapo from decades back had.

Quote:
But anyway, $500 to $150 is an apples to oranges comparison in mower features. You'd have
to step down a little, to maybe $400 or $350 or whatever it would be without the self-propelled
feature, to make it more even.
Thanks for adding the comments and you're right about the self propelled add on.

For those of us with more experience though the next questions are whether the newer
name brand (and/or feature laden) whatever is as good as what the older models offered.
And perhaps how dear the upfront cash required to get them is to the buyer.

Put me in the "nope, it ain't worth it" column.
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