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Tales of Wonder & Woe:
Readers Report on Their Tractors and Mowers

Mower Mixup 

Thanks for the great article on walk-behind tractors (“Miracle Multitaskers,” December/January 2007). As the owner of Earth Tools, the BCS dealer mentioned in the article, I must point out a mixup between the features of two attachments we offer, the brush mower and the flail mower. The BCS brush mower is actually designed much like the DR brush mower, with a vertical-axis rotating blade. The big difference between them is that the BCS has “swing blades” (just like a full-sized tractor bush-hog). These fold back upon impact with rocks, stumps, etc., to protect the drivetrain.

However, the description of the BCS brush mower in the article — “many individual blades spinning vertically from a horizontal axis” — actually applies to our flail mower. This type of mower is incredibly durable, and it’s coveted by gardeners who want to grind up a cover crop for quick incorporation into the soil. Like a chipper/shredder on wheels, it can reduce a cover crop up to 6 feet tall to 2- to 3-inch pieces in a single pass. It leaves the cut material evenly distributed across its width, not windrowed to one side as a typical brush mower would. The flail mowers also accept four different blades designed for lawns, weeds/brush, wood and light scarification (for overseeding).

Thanks again for an informative article and for all the great work you do. As the occupant of an owner-built, earth-bermed, part-straw bale, part-cordwood, passive-solar-assist, wood-from-old-barns, off-the-grid home, I appreciate all of it.

Joel DuFour
Frankfort, Kentucky


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6/14/2009 11:53:45 PM
Four years ago we bought a house on 1/2 acre. The first year I shoveld snow by hand (we are in a west suburb of Chicago) and mowed with a 20" 3.5 hp walk-behind mower. I researched for months and set my heart on a John Deere LT130. The following year, I was able to purchase it as a model closeout, saving $600, the approximate cost of buying a bagger unit ana a snowplow. I would prefer the thrower to the plow, but, at about $1000 difference, the plow works OK. The driveway is about 120 feet long by 18 feet wide (remember, I shoveled it by hand the first year}. I selected a larger garden tractor than recommended figuring that the hardest wear would be during the winter pushing tons of snow off of the driveway. The plow saves me only a little bit of time, but a lot of labor. I enjoy using it so much that I also plow my retired next door neighbor's driveway. Carefully assess your load and work needs and size your tractor right. The one I purchased is for property up to 3 acres. I think that if I had gotten a smaller one based strictly on the size of my property, it would not handle the amount of snow I plow during the winter and I would have had to do much more than the basic maintenance I've done so far. Unfortunately, it saves me alot of time with the mowing. (I REALLY enjoy mowing). It has a 48" deck. I compost the grass clippings and fall leaves and each year my small vegetable garden gets better. To think that my dad paid good money for us kids 40 plus years ago to ride a tractor at the local Kiddieland and Playland and now I can ride my own tractor whenever I want. I occasionally read up on the newer models and they have a couple of improvements that I would really appreciate. They now have red tail lights. Mine doesn't even have reflectors and I do take it in the street in the dark when I plow during the winter. Another great improvement is the fuel fill has been moved from underneath the center of the seat to the fender. Tipping a full

11/20/2007 1:52:28 PM
Eight years ago we moved into a new house with far more lawn and garden chores than we had had in our last home. We decided to get a really good mower and that meant, in our agrarian location, nothing but a John Deere. So we bought a LT 155, with a Kohler engine and a 42" deck. The honeymoon was great, but the marriage has recently ended in an un timely death. After three batteries,. all of which were properly maintained and stored off season, a new tire, several service calls for ignition problems, etc. We have just learned that the transmission is kaput and, since the model is no longer being made (gee, I wonder why) it can't be fixed. Was this a lemon? Or are the Consumer-grade machines just that cheesy? Very dissappointing.

4/19/2007 7:06:07 PM
When we moved to our new dream home & 7.7 acres of land I decided I needed a riding mower since we would mow 1.5 acres as a yard. Having heard how great Husqvarna chain saws were I decided to buy a Husqvarna YTH180 riding mower. That purchase has been a very EXPENSIVE and a very POOR decision. This mower is the worst mower I have ever seen. It mows uneven, drops big clumps of grass from under the deck and produces a very ugly yard. The VERY POOR performance is olny a small part of the story. HIGH maintenance, poor design and lack of support from the manufacturer is the big story. Because of poor deck design it not only drops big clumps of grass but build up of grass under the deck causes it to break blades and throw them out from under the deck, when I tried to talk to the company about the safety problem of breaking blades and throwing them they were totally not interested in talking to me. The next problems have cost lots of money and time. I am on my forth set of belts(at approx $25.00 per belt. belt not set). I have also had to replace the entire steering system. Also had to replace the front wheel bearings. This is a small sample of the problems I have had with my Husqvarna mower.

4/13/2007 2:05:20 PM
I have a lawn mower tale of woe that I would like to share. Shortly after my husband and I were married 27 years ago we found ourselves in need of a push lawn mower. Rather than buy one in a conventional manner we instead went to a farm auction where, according to my husband, “was the perfect mower for us.” It was a red push mower with a Briggs and Stratton motor which my husband assured me would run “forever”. Later that day our $2.00 bid bought us our “new” lawn mower. “ What a terrific buy” my husband exclaimed several times on the way home. Once we got home he filled it with gas, checked the oil and then proceeded to teach me how to mow lawn, something I never had done before. There turned out to be a few little quirks with this perfect lawn mower. The pull cord had been broken off and the previous owner had wrapped the cord around the pull handle and put a screw in the handle to hold it in place. Therefore, the cord was no longer of adequate length to turn the engine over. To start this wonderful engine you had to pull steadily until you felt slight resistance, allow the cord to go back into the mower slowly and then pull for all you were worth at the same time making sure that you did not impale yourself on the screw in the handle. Now when my husband demonstrated this procedure it looked easy but whenever I would try I would fail miserably. I could not get the beast to start. Once I got my anger up I found it easier to start. Impaling my palm on the screw in the handle usually worked well to get my anger up. Once the mower started I found that it had great power, you could mow over small bushes ( or piles of our St. Bernards poop) and it would not stall. This was a very good thing because one of the other charming items with this mower was the fact that it simply would not start hot. Another little annoyance with the mower was the way the wheels would loosen as you mowed and did I happen to mention that it used just a “tiny” litt

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