thinking ahead - which reel mower?

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ktgrok
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thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by ktgrok » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:49 pm

So, currently I'm perfectly happy with my earth wise 7 blade manual reel mower. However....given the ridiculous amount of love I now how for my lawn (seriously...it's bordering on pathological, lol) I can anticipate wanting to someday wanting to upgrade. Thinking I may start keeping an eye on craigslist, etc sooner rather than later as not many people reel mow around here, so it will no doubt take a while to spot a deal. But, don't know what I should be looking for.
-Lawn is only 3K right now, will be adding sod to the backyard but less than 1K. So total will be less than 4K.
-no serious slopes, not very level at this point, but I imagine I'll sand in the spring
-cutting at about 1.5 inches in the front, on Maya bermuda. Would like to go down to 1.25 or even 1" but lots of exposed tree roots so not sure that will work until some leveling. Planning celebration bermuda for the back, and would ideally keep that about 1 inch I think.
-I'm not particularly mechanically inclined. I mean, I can google, and I've fixed a refrigerator leak, wired in the sprinkler valves and timer, did my irrigation almost entirely myself, etc. But I don't enjoy mechanical stuff, so something less complicated for basic maintenance is better.
-also in that vein, I'm not a bigger the better girl...I get that more power, louder, bigger can be fun for a lot of people and I'm not knocking that at all, but not my thing. I went to the manual mower partly because I hate the loudness and vibration of the gas powered rotary we have, so quieter and simpler and easier are more my style, all things being equal.
-harder to break/ruin is important. I break things. I'm both clumsy and impulsive, with a lack of respect for possible problems. I have a little too much "it will probably be fine" in me for my own good, according to my husband.
-I'm a 5'1" tall woman, so something too big/heavy might be hard for me to manuver/manage?I'm strong for my size, but it is a factor.
So, thoughts? From the bit of reading I've done on here I'm thinking maybe California Trimmer is my best bet? But not wedded to that idea at all.
Last edited by ktgrok on Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

richardn
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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by richardn » Mon Aug 12, 2019 6:28 pm

Have you considered the benefits of a good, reliable goat? Based on your height of cut, I would recommend looking for a John Deere 200E off of auction. The 7 blade reel would be best for your needs. Sure it’s heavy and there may be a little maintenance to refurbish, but you are already down this rabbit hole and your height is a perfect fit for a 220E. Go for it!

TNTurf
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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by TNTurf » Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:12 pm

I’m going to recommend a 20” Tru Cut for your size lawn and description. Maybe a John Deere 180.

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Oceanus
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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by Oceanus » Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:24 pm

I fear that most of the powered reel mowers are going to be disappointment because they can be a little heavy/difficult and they do require some regular mechanical love compared to that push you're perfectly happy with.

POWER doesn't improve the quality of cut. It only makes the act of mowing less physically demanding.

There is nothing wrong with a good push reel mower. My GM1600 broke a bedbar and I mowed 7k at 1/2" with a push 7 blade and it looked as good except for the missing stripes. There was just a lot more sweating.

Push Reel Mowers
better = Mascot Silent Cut ($75 used)
best = Hudson Star Classic Cut Mower ($700 used, hard to find)

Electric Reel Mowers
Sun Joe, corded ~$160 new
Gardena, battery ~$500 new

'Golf course' mowers only needed to mower below 1"; There are a few 18" mowers if you must but they will not tolerate roots and sticks.
Toro Flex 18
Toro Greensmaster 800
John Deere 180*
etc
Last edited by Oceanus on Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ktgrok
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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by ktgrok » Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:06 pm

Getting a BETTER manual reel is actually a really tempting idea. Still get the quiet effect, and the workout, but better piece of equipment. Also, I have a 16 inch and an 18 inch would be nice I think. The 21 seems awkward and is harder to push from what I'm reading.

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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by Qstorm » Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:34 am

Oceanus wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:24 pm
I fear that most of the powered reel mowers are going to be disappointment because they can be a little heavy/difficult and they do require some regular mechanical love compared to that push you're perfectly happy with.

POWER doesn't improve the quality of cut. It only makes the act of mowing less physically demanding.

There is nothing wrong with a good push reel mower. My GM1600 broke a bedbar and I mowed 7k at 1/2" with a push 7 blade and it looked as good except for the missing stripes. There was just a lot more sweating.

Push Reel Mowers
better = Mascot Silent Cut ($75 used)
best = Hudson Star Classic Cut Mower ($700 used, hard to find)

Electric Reel Mowers
Sun Joe, corded ~$160 new
Gardena, battery ~$500 new

'Golf course' mowers only needed to mower below 1"; There are a few 18" mowers if you must but they will not tolerate roots and sticks.
Toro Flex 18
Toro Greensmaster 800
John Deere 180*
etc
That Hudson star looks awesome. I was always curious about the Gardena. If Gardena or sun joe could redesign with a rear roller they could kill it.

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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by TinyLawn » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:55 am

here is a mascot silent cut i found in Merritt island look in good shape with grass catcher, if they take less could be worth the drive https://spacecoast.craigslist.org/for/d ... 98300.html

ktgrok
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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by ktgrok » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:02 am

TinyLawn wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:55 am
here is a mascot silent cut i found in Merritt island look in good shape with grass catcher, if they take less could be worth the drive https://spacecoast.craigslist.org/for/d ... 98300.html
Man that is tempting.....my parents actually live on Merritt Island, so the trip could be to visit them or they could pick it up and my Dad drives into Orlando every weekday and he could bring it to me.

I just hate to spend another $100 or so when I just bought this one less than 2 months ago. Not sure the difference would be worth it yet...would be a hard sell to the husband I think. I mean, he wouldn't get upset, he sort of lets me do whatever I want with the lawn stuff, but I'd feel a need to justify it, you know?

Is something like that significantly better that what I'm using, quality wise? It does have an easier way to adjust the height quickly which is nice, but would the big wheels instead of a roller bar like mine has mean more scalping I wonder? (not having issues with scalping yet anyway, but I do have those exposed roots, etc)

TinyLawn
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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by TinyLawn » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:18 am

ktgrok wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:02 am
TinyLawn wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:55 am
here is a mascot silent cut i found in Merritt island look in good shape with grass catcher, if they take less could be worth the drive https://spacecoast.craigslist.org/for/d ... 98300.html
Man that is tempting.....my parents actually live on Merritt Island, so the trip could be to visit them or they could pick it up and my Dad drives into Orlando every weekday and he could bring it to me.

I just hate to spend another $100 or so when I just bought this one less than 2 months ago. Not sure the difference would be worth it yet...would be a hard sell to the husband I think. I mean, he wouldn't get upset, he sort of lets me do whatever I want with the lawn stuff, but I'd feel a need to justify it, you know?

Is something like that significantly better that what I'm using, quality wise? It does have an easier way to adjust the height quickly which is nice, but would the big wheels instead of a roller bar like mine has mean more scalping I wonder? (not having issues with scalping yet anyway, but I do have those exposed roots, etc)
I have no idea on cut quality was just going on Oceanus recommendation a few posts up, I doubt it will be a huge step up and wouldn't go out of my way, since you have family close throw them a $50 offer, you can compare it and sell the one you don't like.


Only link i can find selling it $369 don't know it comes with grass catcher looks to have a rear roller also https://www.lehmans.com/product/mascot- ... el-mowers/
Last edited by TinyLawn on Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:24 am, edited 2 times in total.

ktgrok
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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by ktgrok » Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:22 pm

You know, I think I will just use what I have to finish out the season. It cut really well today after my husband adjusted the reel/bed knife distance last night. And the lighter weight makes it easy for me to pick up and move, etc. Doubling the weight is not appealing, although the ease of height adjustment certainly is. But I pick it up more than I adjust the height, so I'll wait and see how things go. That seems saner, right?

ktgrok
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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by ktgrok » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:17 pm

Besides, I want to save up for rotary scissors/landscape blade, lol. But for next season, that heavier duty manual reel might be the answer.

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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by Bermuda_Newbie » Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:34 pm

I don't know what your budget is, but as a 5'3" 105 lb woman, I can relate to a lot of what you said about what you want in a mower. I was the same way. I started out with a manual because I was a bit intimidated with the noise and power of a gas mower. I really liked the quietness of the manual. Unfortunately, it just wasn't sustainable to mow that often in the heat and also the grass was washboarding like crazy. I got a used CalTrimmer with some encouragement from the guys on here. My husband showed me how to use it and it was manageable. There were things I didn't care for about it like how it sometimes dug into the grass if it was too wet and the grass catcher was fairly heavy for me. Overall though, good mower. My issue with the CalTrimmer came with the fact that it felt unsafe to me with the spinning blades everywhere on the slope in my front yard. I also have young kids and I can't have them out there while I mow because to me it feels unsafe. I know plenty of people mow around their kids but I don't like the noise, I can't hear them, and I have to constantly watch that they don't run in front of the mower especially if I mow without the grass catcher.

I just bought a Swardman Electra. It was a crazy amount of money which if you would have asked me two years ago if I ever would have spent that kind of money on a yard tool, I would have laughed. To me, it's the best of both worlds. It has the power of the gas engine but it's quiet and I feel it's pretty safe given that if I let go of the handle the blade stops immediately. It's much lighter weight but gives a cut similar to a greensmower (from what I've heard, I don't have a greensmower). It's not perfect. I mowed my front yard with the slopes last night and found that it has a tendency to drift on a slope because of the drum in the back. Because it's not my old beater mower, I realized how rough I am manhandling the mower around and now I'm trying to be more careful. Example: I let the trimmer kind of skid along the crevice next to the sidewalk because who cares, it's 30 years old and scratched up. I care now that my new mower is so pretty. Some of this is just getting adjusted to a new mower which is why I haven't done a full review and posted it. But, you said you have a flat yard. With a flat yard (like i have in the back) it's like just walking around your yard pushing a stroller or shopping cart or something. It's a lot more like manual mowing than gas mowing.

The Electra weighs 130lbs (I think) which is much easier for me to handle. The trimmer with the reel roller was close to 180 lbs (I have the old iron block engine which my husband assures me makes it heavier than the newer ones but I can't say for sure). The mower felt too big for me which I didn't like but the trimmer was a huge step up from a manual and if there had not been an electric reel option, I would have kept mowing with it. If you want to step it up to the next level, I would get a used one of those. If your yard is fairly flat, you won't feel like it's too much for you as long as you aren't mowing on slopes. I never minded mowing the back yard. I would suggest getting a higher blade count than the 5 they often have so you can mow lower and avoid the washboarding.

I was in the same spot you are now wondering if I should spend $300 and get a mascot or a nicer manual but I'm glad I went with the gas. Of course, my husband does all the maintenance on it because I have no idea what I'm doing. It's been good though. The lawn has kinda become our thing. We each have our part that we do despite the fact that he at one point told me he would never take care of a yard. I knew it would suck him in eventually just like it did me.

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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by ktgrok » Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:33 pm

You got me, my dream is the Swardman Electra. For all the reasons you mentioned, including being able to hear the kids if they yell for me. But, not happening right now. However, maybe next year's bonus when my husband gets it...and if I wait another year or two maybe there will be some used ones on the market :)

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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by ktgrok » Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:34 pm

Wanted to clarify that I still want recommendations, even though I'm not ready to grab something today. Want to think more before making an impulse buy, if that make sense.

I also saw in another thread that someone called the local country clubs/golf courses to ask about used mowers for sale. That never occurred to me! Not many home owners reel mow here, but Florida has a metric crap ton of golf courses!

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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by Greendoc » Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:39 pm

The easiest mower for me to deal with has been a Toro GM 1000. Yes, a greensmower. To put it in perspective, I am 5'6" and 135 lbs on a good day. A guy but the size of a woman. The GM moves under its own power no pushing or pulling. It is also rather maneuverable even in the small lawns I normally deal with. Turning it is not a problem. Put it in neutral, push down slightly on the handlebar and pivot it on the split rear roller.

ktgrok
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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by ktgrok » Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:39 pm

Greendoc wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 6:39 pm
The easiest mower for me to deal with has been a Toro GM 1000. Yes, a greensmower. To put it in perspective, I am 5'6" and 135 lbs on a good day. A guy but the size of a woman. The GM moves under its own power no pushing or pulling. It is also rather maneuverable even in the small lawns I normally deal with. Turning it is not a problem. Put it in neutral, push down slightly on the handlebar and pivot it on the split rear roller.
Good info, thank you!

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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by Oceanus » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:58 pm

FYI, there are multiple versions of the Mascot, that one is for 'Upright Grasses' (noted by larger wheels). I found a 'bentgrass' version on Facebook for $50, but it's sold now. link

Best info for Mascot is normally here currently down, so try the wayback link

I wouldn't kick the Swardman Electra out of my yard, but I've personally just purchased a GM1000 (21"). I like how simple and common the GM1000s are, which should make it easier to service as a home owner. My GM1600 (26") seemed a little too big for the yard but it was easy to handle after a little practice. However, I didn't recommend these because of your "harder to break/ruin" requirement. I bent the bedknife on the grass-curb transition (that I've mowed a dozen times before) and that stopped the mower cold. So, they are easy to break, hard/expensive to fix.

I didn't notice you're in Orlando. I generally don't see many decent mowers nearby. More towards Tampa, Fort Myers, and Vero. Best listing locally is a JD link.

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Oceanus
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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by Oceanus » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:05 pm

Qstorm wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:34 am
That Hudson star looks awesome. I was always curious about the Gardena. If Gardena or sun joe could redesign with a rear roller they could kill it.
There's one South of San Antonio now

If I ever find one like that in Florida or willing to ship... I'm gonna have to try it.

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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by bbbdkc79 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:08 pm

I'm another central Floridian, only on the east coast. I used, and still have a McLane 20" 7 blade reel mower that was my primary machine, but I took the plunge last November, during the Black Friday sales, and purchased the Swardman Edwin 55, with the 10 blade reel and all the other cartridges. I figured it would probably outlast me, so why not. I'm very happy with the Swardman as far as how it cuts, the striping, and ease of maneuvering. My only issue with it, is along my palms in the front, where the lawn is raised up around the trunks, the mower wants to slide a little. I've figured out a trick, so it's not a big deal.

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Re: thinking ahead - which reel mower?

Post by Chocolate Lab » Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:38 pm

No love for the Fiskars Staysharp? (For a manual, of course -- it can't hang with the powered ones.) The Scotts and other brands of lightweight manual push mowers feel cheap and junky compared to it, yet it's still not that expensive. I see them on Craigslist all the time for under $100, and often they're barely used as people find they don't want to put forth the effort. But mine is super easy to push. I've mowed my approx 8k sq ft with one many times.

Also, since I'm here, has anyone compared these to the Mascot/Agrifab type mowers? I know where I can get a Mascot pretty cheap (if the guy still has it) but I thought the Fiskars mechanics of a chain-driven reel would probably be superior to having the reel attached to the wheels axle.
Last edited by Chocolate Lab on Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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