Monday, December 9, 2013

Fiskars Reel Mower Real Deal

When we moved into this house, as part of the Closing agreement, the sellers agreed to "keep on" the pool service and the lawn service guys.  The sellers were original owners, and had been renting to 'questionable quality' renters for 2 years who had not been maintaining the pool and yard so well.  After the renter's lease ended this summer, the sellers re-instated their pool and yard guys and told them they'd stay one with whoever bought the house, at least for the first month - as the sellers were paying.

 Dr Desert Flower and I figured we'd "test drive" the lawn and pool guys, and see how well they do, what their prices were, and maybe keep them around.  When the lawn guy would come after the pool guy, I'd spend a good 20 or 30 minutes manually skimming out grass and weed clippings out of the pool, every Tuesday in October.  When the lawn guy would come before the pool guy, I let the hired pool guy do the skimming, but regardless, the lawn guy could not keep his weed whacker and mower from jettisoning copious amounts of biomass into the pool.  On top of that, he never weeded, the lawn was increasingly filling up with crab grass and dandelions, and he trimmed none of the many bushes and hedges.  I could not justify keeping around a lawn guy for $80 a month who did 5 minutes of mowing, 10 minutes of weed whacking, and 5 minutes of leaf blowing, to be gone in less than 1/2 an hour and who caused me 30 minutes of needless pool skimming (the pool guy began coming earlier and earlier on Tuesdays; but we let him go too, since as a educated scientist and engineer power couple, if we can't regulate chlorine ion concentration, pH, and water hardness / stabilizer, even after taking a combined 4 years of chemistry classes, then we needed to remove ourselves from the gene pool).  I bid the lawn guy adios, gave him a huge bag of guava, and told him I'd give him a call in 2014 if the lawn was too much for me to handle.

The day before I'd spoken to him, my new Fiskars Stay Sharp Max 18 inch push reel mower (6201) model # 62016935J Home Depot SKU # 605931, internet SKU 202563265 had arrived.  I put it together in my garage with a simple allen head screw driver in less than 5 minutes.  Very straightforward and logical.  No adjustments were needed, and it was ready to cut.  $199 was my investment (free shipping) and I was ready to try out my new human powered reel mower.

5 days later I was briskly pushing my mower through my small lawn when one of the front wheels Sheared Off a sprinkler head, and then 10 seconds later, I bent a 2nd head.  "Be more careful Joe!" I reprimanded myself and added "Don't mow the lawn near dusk when it is hard to see!"  I turned off my sprinkler system so it wouldn't erupt the following morning, and broke out my shovel and mini-pick-axe.  Took 20 minutes to repair the damaged heads the next day, and I reinstalled shorter heads with pop-ups that won't get caught by the mower.   A month later, I KNOW where all the heads are now, and I avoid them completely.

Originally I thought I'd get the grass clipping bag attachment, but it was an additional $50 and it looked cumbersome.  In retrospect, I am Very Glad I DID NOT get it, since it would have made turning and maneuvering the mower very difficult and occluded visibility tremendously, virtually guaranteeing more sprinkler head and other injuries.  Plus, my lawn is so small, I don't need to "catch" the clippings - remember, the lawn guy did it in less than 5 minutes with a gas powered mower.  I take 15 minutes, and do a double 'cross hatch' in that time, walking briskly to keep the blades spinning rapidly.

The Stay Sharp has a built in fly wheel that works really nicely.  In accordance with the multiple online reviews I read before buying, it Does Not cut weeds or mulch leaves.  Those need to be removed by hand, or chemically.  It cuts grass very nicely.  It is easily dried by 20 or 30 seconds of brisk walking along the side walk to get the blades spinning up to wind turbine airfoil speeds.  The handle "folds" or rather "leans vertically for storage" conveniently so that it takes up a very small footprint in my garage.  The mower is the most expensive and most mechanically intense Fiskars product I've purchased or used, but it does not disappoint.  Like all my previous Fiskars cutting tools, it is durable, intuitive, high quality, straight forward, easy-to-use.  I am looking forward to getting a lifetime of use out of it.

And yes, it IS possible to cut grass and weed whack and NOT jettison the clippings into the pool.  It takes some practice, and the first time I put a handful in by accident, but the 2nd and third grass cuttings and weed trimmings (via Ryobi, more on that later) left no more than 2 or 3 blades of grass each time to be fished out of the pool.  It just takes an understanding of physics, momentum, and the time and care necessary to intentionally not send bits of lawn and plant matter into the pool.

Now if just a few of my neighbors could embrace reel mower technology...  Saturday mornings at 7am would be so much quieter all around the neighborhood!

1 comment:

  1. Reel mowers were common in Chicago back when I lived there and had a small yard that needed mowing. I found it quite gratifying. There were plenty of electric mowers as well. Your new mower looks much nicer than the one we used to have.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.