Which mower from Home Depot?

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  #1  
Old 04-26-06, 07:14 PM
killerk70
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Which mower from Home Depot?

Hello, newbie here.

I live in Bergen County, NJ and my yard is about 5,000 sq ft and mostly filled with weed. I been hiring someone to just mow it during the summer, but now I want to do it myself.

My local HD carries 3 brands (these seem to be the top models):
>LawnBoy-$379 Model 544782 6.5HP SelfPropelled Sense-a-Speed
>Poulan---$269 Model 498102 6.75HP Briggs&Stratton XNP start
>Toro-----$369 Model 445086 6.5HP Personal Pace Mower

Aside from the price differences, which model is "best?"
(My yard is flat so I don't think I really need self-propelled model. So Poulan's price is very attractive. Am I wrong about thinking that "self-propelled" model isn't really needed?)

I would think they must perform similarly.
But my biggest concern is reliability. (Does self-propel portion of the mower fail easily?)

I've never owned a gas mower before. So any feedback would be very welcomed. TIA.

-jus
 
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  #2  
Old 04-26-06, 07:45 PM
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The poulan should do you well... I'm not familiar with what type of propelled system they use.... some use a trans, some just a belt off the engine. The belt would be the more reliable one. Since you have never owned a gas powered mower, be sure to use a fuel stabilizer when storing the fuel for more then a month, change the oil every 25 hours (change the oil it comes with the first 5, then 10 hours to remove the break in metals) and try not to cut wet grass, when you do cut wet grass, be sure to pull off all the wet grass from underneath the mower, and run it for a couple minutes to dry it out some. Replace the air filter once a year, don't clean it if it is paper, if foam then clean it with soap and water, wrench it out good and leave it to dry for a day or two, then oil it and wrench it out. Replace it or clean it in more in dusty conditions. The oil to use is a good name brand HD-30 above 40 degrees, 5w-30 conventional below 40. OR a synthetic 10w-30 or 5w-30 all year round (like pennzoil platinum or mobil one) I replace the spark plug when they get hard to start... just clean it and gap it (.30) once a year.
 
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Old 04-27-06, 07:22 AM
gsr
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Self Propelled...

You probably don't need self propelled on a flat lawn, just depends on how much of a workout you want. I kind of like the self propelled but my yard isn't smooth.

I've never tried a Poulan, but I've tried different versions of the other two plus snapper, Ariens, Craftsman, and Murry. The Lawn Boy always gave the nicest cut and I know of several 20+ year old Lawn Boys that are still running with normal maintenance.
 
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Old 04-27-06, 09:25 AM
killerk70
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Thank you, v8driver and gsr for your replies.

v8driver, thanks for detailed heads up. Much appreciated.
I guess I have to time how may hours I've been running the mower, huh? Maybe they should have odometers on them.

I have some follow up Qs on your recommendations:
1. So I suppose I use "regular" car engine oil?
2. If foam filter, what kind of oil do I use on it?
3. Do you recommend any specific fuel stabilizer?
4. What do you mean by gapping the spark plug by .30? And I do this at the end of the season? Thx.
 
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Old 04-27-06, 11:15 AM
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If its a foam filter (not a foam prefilter for a paper air filter) use regular engine oil, wrench it out good, but those hp engines should use paper air filters.

You can use regular car oil.... beware using conventional multi weight may result in added oil consumption, this is where multi weights are recommended.... they can stand the heat. Straight HD-30 isn't what you'd call regular car oil, since straight weights are no longer used in modern cars, but they do fine in mowers, and other high heat situations. (you'll have easier starting from synthetic multiweight though, and the oil gets around the engine alot faster)

For fuel stabilizer..... theres briggs brand which is very good, or sta-bil...., these are the most widely used and can be found easy.

By gapping the spark plug (go buy you a relatively cheap spark plug gapper) and use that to keep a .30 gap (will be marked on the gapper) on the plug to give the best performance.

btw, they do make hour meters for them if you want one. I usually change the oil in mine once a year or 25 hours (whichever comes first)... I have 7 to deal with (3 riding mowers, 3 pushmowers and a gen) not including the 2 weeders.
 
  #6  
Old 04-28-06, 01:00 PM
killerk70
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Thx, I decided to get a Toro 6.5HP Personal Pace Mower for $369 from a local guy. There is also a $30 rebate until the end of the month.

I figured I'll give the local guy the business. He only carried Toro and Lawnboy. He said a non-self-propelled model goes for $299, so he recommended this model which would be $339 w/ the rebate.

He said he charges $89 for general service - oil change, blade sharpening and tuneup.

He said I'd need this service every 2 years (since I have a small lot). I told him my yard is about 5,000 sq ft. But I think I'll do the maintenance myself following your recommendations. Thx again.
 
  #7  
Old 04-28-06, 07:25 PM
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$89 sounds a bit too much for a tuneup.... a quart of a good synthetic (5 bucks) or good hd-30 (2 bucks give or take a few cents) a air filter (5 bucks) and a spark plug (2 bucks give or take a few cents) and a blade sharpening can be done for a couple bucks, give or take a few cents, new blade maybe 10. I'd still change the oil once a year, even if you havn't made 25 hours. Btw, auto parts stores like advance take used oil free. Just check with them first on taking used oil.
 
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Old 04-29-06, 08:47 AM
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I agree $89 is high but perhaps the area that killer is in (I don't know where Bergen County is) then this is average. I have a bro-in-law that lives in northern Jersey and other than fuel prices, the cost of living is in the Doctor/Lawyer range. We charge $34 plus parts at my shop but we're in a small city (pop. 200,000+-) area and we have a very heavy volume of work. We could charge more but we like our customers and want to keep them coming back. Killer is in an area where he needs to be a DIY'er it seems.
 
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Old 05-01-06, 06:28 PM
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Wow, small city of 200,000? There's not even 20,000 where I live and I'm in the country to get away from the congestion.

One item I picked up here that I am curious with though. The use of multi-weight oil in a small engine. A few of my friends are small engine mechanics and they have pointed out that when they (oil companies) make the oil they have to put some sort of plastic substance in it to make it separate with the viscosity between hot and cold. The substance breaks down eventually but does not harm large engines in cars but has adverse effects on small engines eventually. Therefore they recommend straight weight oil for small engines like 30 instead of 10w30. The folks my friends use to work for put one of their sons through a small engine school and this is one of the items they always lived by. Not sure if there's anything to this but it always sounded pretty logical to me.
 
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Old 05-01-06, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Skipslot
Wow, small city of 200,000? There's not even 20,000 where I live and I'm in the country to get away from the congestion.

One item I picked up here that I am curious with though. The use of multi-weight oil in a small engine. A few of my friends are small engine mechanics and they have pointed out that when they (oil companies) make the oil they have to put some sort of plastic substance in it to make it separate with the viscosity between hot and cold. The substance breaks down eventually but does not harm large engines in cars but has adverse effects on small engines eventually. Therefore they recommend straight weight oil for small engines like 30 instead of 10w30. The folks my friends use to work for put one of their sons through a small engine school and this is one of the items they always lived by. Not sure if there's anything to this but it always sounded pretty logical to me.
They don't use plastic... they use pour point depressants and improvers.. 5w-30 conventional (petroleum) will contain alot of these and shear down a grade (into a 20 wieght) straight 30 doesn't have anything in it to shear. Synthetic 5w-30 on the other hand contain these naturally (amsoils and mobils synthetics are double duty, the 10w-30 is also called straight 30) remember the 10w means its cold cranking weight. "W" for winter. Synthetics are very hard to shear... actually get thicker most of the time.
 
  #11  
Old 05-02-06, 01:19 AM
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It gets kind of technical when getting into oil properties and pros and cons, but I generally reccomend straight 30 (SAE30, not 10w-30) in most small engines.

Multi-weight oil contains viscosity index improvers. They are similar to small springs. When cold, they are small and tightly coiled to thin the oil, and when warm they expand and are more loosely coiled, thickening the oil. These break down with shearing action in the engine, contamination particles, and heat. Small engines run at higher temperatures than automotive engines do, which contributes to the degrade of these index improvers. When these are completely degraded, the oil reverts to it's lowest viscosity rating (5w-30 would revert to 5w oil). Usually the oil is thicker than that by now, though, because of the suspended contaminates that have made their way into the oil by the time the oil has degraded that far. Synthetic oil is much more resistant to the effects of heat, and straight weight oil doesn't have the index improvers to degrade.

This is the way it was explained to me by a lab scientist from a major oil company.
 
  #12  
Old 05-02-06, 06:34 AM
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So there is something to that story then.
Thanks alot for your detailed explanations.
 
  #13  
Old 05-03-06, 12:33 AM
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Anytime!
 
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