Choosing a Lawn Mower
Take a stroll through any home center or equipment dealer and you'll see lots of lawn mowers that look almost exactly alike. Sure, they might be different colors and have some cool decals on them, but they'll all be powered by identical engines and offer similar features.
Let’s take a look at some of these lawn mower features and determine why they might be important to you:
* Mulch capability - Most lawn mowers can mulch, but the more expensive mowers can recycle the clippings back into the turf more efficiently and leave less evidence, such as clumps of grass or an uneven cut. Look for lawn mowers that come with advanced cutting decks with special blades and mulch fans.
* Self-propelled - You probably don’t want to have to push a lawn mower around if you don’t have to. Self-propelled mowers come in two varieties: front and rear drive.
Front-drive is easy to maneuver. Simply lift the front end of the mower slightly and turn. Rear-drive is useful if you use a rear-bagger and want to ensure good traction on hills. Rear-drive is also less likely to damage your lawn. Whether front or rear drive, choose a mower that will allow you to set your own comfortable walking pace.
* Rear bagging - Rear bags come in handy in the spring and fall when you need to collect leaves, twigs, and yard debris. Rear bags are much easier to attach and remove than side mounted bags, and they usually hold a lot more.
* Easily adjustable cutting height - Many people fail to vary their mower’s cutting height according to the season. For most parts of the US, it’s best to begin low in the spring and then gradually raise the height of the lawn mower as the weather warms up.
The easier it is to adjust the cutting height, the more likely you will be to do it. Choose a mower with clearly marked settings so you won't have to guess what cutting height you're using.
Most quality lawn mowers come with these features. One brand that I’ve had good experience with has all these features and more: Lawn-Boy.
These excellent lawn mowers have a unique trim edge and wheel design that allows closer access to landscaping obstacles, such as trees and fences. The advantage is that you'll get neat trimming and precise edging without ever having to use your string trimmer.
What really makes a Lawn-Boy a cut above other mowers is its commercial grade, 6.5 horsepower two-cycle engine. Two-cycle engines are unique because they use a mixture of oil and gas and have fewer moving parts than a standard four-cycle engine.
And two-cycle engines are constantly being lubricated by a steady stream of fresh oil, which makes it more powerful and durable than a comparable four-cycle engine.
Most four-cycle engine need regular oil changes and tune-ups, and will end up on the scrap heap without regular maintenance. But my five year old GoldPRo Series Lawn-Boy is still taking care of my lawn the same as it did when it was new. In five years, I haven't had to do anything to it except sharpen the blade and clean and inspect the air filter and spark plug.
Setting Up the Mower
Lawn mowers are dangerous and can readily separate fingers from their owners. You must always disable a lawn mowers before working on it. For an electric mower it must be unplugged. For a petrol mower you must take extra precautions. I would advise the following: remove the spark plug lead from the spark plug, turn off and remove the key and turn off the petrol. Engines with magnetos can possibly start if the engine is turned over, e.g. by rotating the cutting cylinder!
There are two basic settings on a cylinder mower;
1. The Cutting height
2. The Pressure between the cylinder and the cutting blade.
Cutting Height . The cutting height is set by the height of the cutting blade above the ground. Normally there are screws at the front of the mower which lift or lower the front wheels or roller of the mower. From the notes above you do not want to remove too much height of grass in a single cut. It is wise to do an initial cut off the lawn to check that the height is reasonable.
Shaver Blades . A problem with many cylinder mowers is that the bottom cutting blade is thick and sets the minimum height that the mower can reach. You can order a specially thinned or tapered cutting blade called a shaver blade which allows a lower cutting height to be achieved.
Setting the Blades . The blades on the cylinder bears against the lower cutting blade and a properly set up lawn mower should be able to cut paper. If there is a gap then the mower will not cut, if the pressure is too high the blades will wear quickly and generate heat and, finally, if the cutting blade doesn't lie parallel to the axis of the cylinder then an uneven cut results. There are normally pressure adjustment screws at each end of the cutting blade allowing it to be lowered or raised at each end. The blade should be raised until it just binds with the cylinder blades along its length. The normal test is ... cutting a sheet of paper. With the mower disabled the cylinder is turned and paper fed onto the top of the cutting blade. The cylinder should cut paper anywhere along the length of the cutting blade.
Backlapping . If the cylinder becomes worn or has small nicks in it, it will produce a poor cut. The cylinder can be sharpened a few times by a process caused backlapping. You should be aware that the edges of the blades on the cylinder and the cutting blade are likely to be only case-hardened. This technique produces only a shallow hardened layer in the metal and once that is eroded a sharp edge cannot be maintained. The only remedy in that case is to replace the clylinder and cutting blade.
To backlap a cylinder mower the cylinder is rotated in the reverse direction to normal with grinding paste (e.g. carborundum) on the blades and cutting blade. This removes burrs and makes the blades fit together again. Some of the more sophisticated mowers have a setting which reverses the cylinder drive for this very purpose. Lawn mower repair shops can do this process for you and they are able to put external drives on the cylinder to mechanise the process.Now , you know how to choose and setup a lawn mower .