Push mower -- How important are these options?

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  #1  
Old 08-06-09, 05:22 AM
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Push mower -- How important are these options?

Residential user, looking for a new push mower. I currently have 3 yards to mow. 1 is 1 acre, and the other 2 are 1/4 acre each. Soon, I will be dropping one of the 1/4 acre yards. Also, I have access to a borrowed ZTR that could handle 1/2 of the 1 acre yard, in case push mowing was too tough or I needed a quicker cut.

I am interested in getting a good mower that will last, but don't want to waste money on features I don't need.

How important are these features...

Aluminum vs. Steel deck?

Briggs & Stratton vs. Tecumseh vs. Honda motor?

Push powered vs. manual speed controls vs. automatic speed controls (like sens-a-speed or personal pace)?

The only push mowing experience I have is a Craftsman Eager 1, with a single speed transmission. The speed of the transmission was way too slow for my taste, and I was either having to mow the yard slowly behind the transmission or turn the drive off and push hard against the gears.

Thanks for your opinions,
 
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Old 08-06-09, 06:51 AM
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Push mower, you say, for acreage. Real glutton for punishment arenít we.

Engine - I would recommend a Briggs & Stratton or Honda. I would not even consider a Tecumseh because of support and parts problems. The Honda is a quality engine but parts are expensive. Briggs & Stratton gets a lot of bad publicity, which I feel, is because they produce more engines than anyone else does, A million + each year. Many of these engines are bottom line inexpensive engines not designed for heavy use and abuse. Briggs & Strattonís Vanguard and other higher quality engines are as good as any other manufacturer. Best yet parts are inexpensive and widely available. Service is more widely available for a Briggs & Stratton than any other engine.

Deck - For heavy use, I would pick a heavy-duty steel deck. Steel decks are easy to repair and if kept reasonably clean are slow to corrode. Downside to aluminum is when they crack welds donít always hold.

Speed Control - I think this is more of a personal preference.

I have customers who mow for a living. Mostly they use Zero Turns and for push mowers they opt for push mowers, not self-propelled, with large rear wheels. The large wheels make pushing easier. When it comes to cutting, the self-propelled mowers are too slow for them. I recommend to homeowners who want self-propelled to get one with rear wheel drive. Front wheel drive slips too much.
 
  #3  
Old 08-06-09, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Airman View Post
Push mower, you say, for acreage. Real glutton for punishment arenít we.
Haha, yeah. We just bought the house and have a lot of work to do on it. Trying to pinch as many pennies as I can, even if it means I have to suffer physically to do so. Plus, like I said, I have a ZTR that I can borrow if I get overrun.

Thanks for the advice. Good stuff.

If I didn't have to worry about money, I'd buy a ZTR and then just a good quality basic mower. However, since I am trying to pinch my pennies, I am going to push mow as long as I can. I thought that getting a self propelled, even though it would cost a little more, would allow me to get further down the road in making the bigger purchase of a riding.

I have been looking at the Lawn Boy mowers, and trying to decide between just their basic push mowers or something with a few more bells and whistles like a Honda motor, sens-a-speed transmission, etc.

The basic mower is going to be about $250. To get a sens-a-speed mower, but a Tecumseh engine, is about $100 more. The upgrade to a Honda engine is another $30 over the Tecumseh. All these options have steel decks. Going with aluminum adds another $200 or more.
 
  #4  
Old 08-06-09, 08:17 AM
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Lawn Boy was acquired by Toro a few years ago,why not look at Toro instead?Quality build and reputation,considered a best buy in Consumer Reports.In fact this is true for years and has been top rated in other publications.

I suspect much of the technology in a Lawn Boy is Toro now.

Also in your case I'd go for personal pace.You are not a professional landscaper.You aren't used to pushing mowers all day and you don't want a mower that is stripped down to eliminate maintenance issues.

toro also has a solid parts and repair set up behind it and is only sold in independent non big box stores so there are no lower quality versions out there at big blue or big orange.
 
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Old 08-06-09, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by spdavid View Post
Lawn Boy was acquired by Toro a few years ago,why not look at Toro instead?
Thanks for the comments.

Yeah, I have been looking at Toros too, but it seems like Toros are more expensive for the same kind of features. I figured that the LB's were the same thing, only without the Toro name.

For instance, the CR best buy (20333)is $404, where I can get the exact same thing in a LB (10687) for $350. The only difference I can tell is a washout port. Well, and the LB has a Tecumseh and the Toro has B&S. Maybe that is the difference. However, if I am going to pay $400, I might as well get the LB with a Honda engine (10697) for $375.
 
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Old 08-06-09, 09:16 AM
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Just a note...Toro's are sold at HD..normally just a few pricer models in the store..the rest are online. They have the CR model for $399 and probably less if they happen to have some sort of sale going.

One thing hasn't been asked...did you plan to bag (ouch lots of bending!), mulch (have to cut more often normally), or just blow it (may need to buy a chute)?

And this was just a personal thing...but I personally like the FWD with large rear wheels. Very easy to turn and pivot without stopping the drive. They did lose a little grip if the bag was full of damp heavy grass though.

Seems like I saw quite a few problems posted here with one brand of "personal pace" mower...can't really remember which one. I do remember there was no fixing them though..it was a new gear assy required if it broke. Maybe one of the repair Pro's will have some insight to that.

Just some thoughts...no mower required here...I'd just be shooting rocks and sand all around the neighborhood...lol.
 
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Old 08-06-09, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
One thing hasn't been asked...did you plan to bag (ouch lots of bending!), mulch (have to cut more often normally), or just blow it (may need to buy a chute)?
For the grass, I plan to mulch. However, there are a ton of mature trees, so there would be a lot of bagging in the fall. However, I have access to a borrowed lawn tractor with a leaf vac, so if I get over run, I can always call for backup. I would prefer to do as much as I can on my own, though.

And this was just a personal thing...but I personally like the FWD with large rear wheels. Very easy to turn and pivot without stopping the drive. They did lose a little grip if the bag was full of damp heavy grass though.
Yeah, my craftsman was FWD with big rear wheels and I didn't mind that setup. It was nice to push down on the handle and not have the mower keep on going. But, I've never had anything else so I don't know if RWD is better or not. HOwever, this sens-a-speed or personal pace concept would not have that issue, since all I would have to do is pull back on the handle and the wheels would stop turning.
 
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Old 08-06-09, 11:21 AM
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I suppose Toro had to go to big box to survive.It's been a few years since I worked for a Toro retailer.

As for personal pace issues,we never had any but again that was a few years back.

Lawn Boys are now all 4 stroke but the original models were 2 stroke engines.When Toro took over that was phased out so the track record there is a little short.

Good luck.
 
  #9  
Old 08-06-09, 04:42 PM
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Go to the local pawn shops or craigs list and get a small 28-36 in used commercial grade walk behind, it will be the same money but you will get a lot more mower. Have a good one. Geo
 
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Old 08-06-09, 05:08 PM
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If you find a good condition commercial grade walk behind for that kind of price..let me know. Most of those run $1600-2200 new that I used to see.
 
  #11  
Old 08-06-09, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
If you find a good condition commercial grade walk behind for that kind of price..let me know. Most of those run $1600-2200 new that I used to see.
Must be tough to find a good used commercial walk behind in AZ. They are everywhere in SE PA.

I will add my .02 on the subject. Last year I picked up a older J.Deere push mower on craigslist - a 14PZ. It's a mid-90's aluminum deck mower. It was a pain to use with the bagger, and it would get quite heavy with the grass in the bag. Two weekends back I bought a side discharge chute for the mower. It's now lighter and easy to push.

Good Luck on your search.

Steve
 
  #12  
Old 08-06-09, 06:23 PM
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I see that there are some inexpensive Husqvarna models with Honda engines. What are your thoughts? It doesn't look like Consumer Reports only tested one Husq model and it didn't do very well.
 
  #13  
Old 08-06-09, 07:55 PM
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I second the motion to buy a used commercial walk behind, or even a used tractor. Putting a consumer grade walk-behind to the task of cutting 1 1/2 acres of grass on a regular basis will probably spell the death of it in fairly short order. Then you're back in the same situation, looking at spending another small chunk for another mower. The money spent could be put on a used lawn tractor that is made for that kind of service. Even if it's just an old rear-engine snapper. I'd rather spend $500 once than $350 twice, and be able to do the job much faster and easier at the same time. I find riding mowers in good shape for deals a lot. I bought a newer John deere lt150 riding mower for $200 bucks a couple weeks ago. A guy came by today wanting to sell me his 2004? Poulan riding mower for $200. Either of these would probably outlast and out perform a new consumer grade push mower on 1 1/2 acres, and do it much faster and easier.

Just my suggestion.

As for a cheap walk behind, I don't really prefer any of them. It's hard to find a good one. For a higher budget, I'd prefer a Toro, Honda, or Snapper with a honda engine at the least for your situation. I guess out of the cheap mowers, I'd prefer an AYP product over the others. That would be poulan, craftsman, and husqvarna. High wheels in back, steel or composite deck, and if I had to have self-prop, it would be in the front.
 

Last edited by cheese; 08-07-09 at 10:56 PM.
  #14  
Old 08-07-09, 12:19 PM
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I don't know how tall you are, or how good your back is, but when shopping make sure the mower "fits" you. You really don't want to be hunched over a too short mower handle for 1 1/2 acres of grass every week. Me personally? I'd do as Cheese suggests, get a decent used riding mower for around $500-750 and cut your mowing time by 2/3rds. If you lay out your landscaping right, you won't need a trimming mower, can be trimmed with a weedwhacker.
 
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