A tale of two reel mowers

Yes, that’s reel not real!

Having only a small area of lawn I didn’t want to buy a power mower of any kind – petrol or electric. A reel mower is the kind that gets its energy from me pushing it. It is a great feeling to be able to get it out of the shed with one hand, push it quietly around and feel it slicing the grass (rather than bludgeoning it!). But I am getting ahead of myself here …

I went off to the hardware store and the only reel mower they had was a Talon brand. After I used it a few times, the gear inside the wheel broke – crappy casting. The store happily exchanged it. I wasnt so happy since all that metal and plastic probably ended up in landfill. Maybe they recycled it but I doubt it.

Other things that I didn’t like:

  1. It is really hard to adjust the cutters. A reel mower acts like a shear to slice the grass and for it to work properly you need to be able to adjust it so that the stationary bar and the rotating “knives” come very close together as it rotates.
  2. Small people (eg 12 year old’s) can’t use it because the handles are at their chest height so when they push it the handles just go up into the air instead of the energy going into moving the mower along.
  3. It is slow to adjust the cutting height. Normally you would have it at a set height so that wouldn’t be important. However, when I took it to cut someone else’s grass (which was very long and tough) I needed to do it in two passes. It was annoying to have to unscrew bits simply to make it cut higher.

Then, a miracle occurred!

While out for an early morning walk someone had left a Flymo brand reel mower (model H33) on the footpath with a one word sign on it – FREE! So, why not me, I thought? It looked like it was working and sure enough it did! And it is a dream after the other one!

Good points (I haven’t found any bad ones so far):

  1. Cutter adjustment is by a spring-loaded “wing nut” – done accurately in seconds.
  2. The handles go very low so small people can use it.
  3. Height adjustment is also done in seconds.
  4. The gearing is better than the Talon so the reel spins faster and easier.

Brilliant! I have just come in after a peaceful, quiet, CO2-free easy mowing session where all I could hear was the gentle whirr of the grass being sliced to size. I just love things that are designed properly!

I hope this encourages someone to try a reel mower and not to buy the Talon brand – it’s rubbish!

Time for a beer to celebrate!