Self Propelled Lawn Mower

Before we moved to the mountain we were living in a townhouse with a postage stamp back yard of 22 x 20 feet.....and half of that was garden or storage shed. The front yard is maintained by the HOA and not my area to worry about so I was cutting my rear 'lawn' with an electric string trimmer in 13 minutes flat including raking.

The new homestead, however, has around an acre (more or less) to mow, and up here mother nature is very prolific. The grass grows so fast you can hear it if you're real quiet. Obviously we were ill prepared to manage a 'yard' that big. Since we closed in mid March and the grass was scheduled to begin growing a month or so later the first order of business was to get ourselves a lawn mower.

Normally I would mosey on down to the local shop and find myself some new cutting wheels. But in this case we were not planning on moving in until mid June and the weekend trips to the new place inevitably involved filling the car or truck to the brim with 'stuff' and driving 7 hours to get here, doing things such as cleaning or repairing, then turning around and driving back 7 hours.

We needed to get a lawn mower fast and have it delivered when we arrived or soon after, no small feat since the new place is out in the sticks a long ways away from anywhere. I wound up pulling a fast one and ordering the machine from Amazon. Since I have Prime shipping I get two day delivery for free and next day delivery for a small additional charge.

I found a lawn mower that would be shipped overnight to me for an additional $3.99. This meant that I could order it Thursday, leave for the new homestead early Friday morning and be there when the UPS truck showed up Friday afternoon. It turned into a game of 'beat the truck' and we timed it near perfectly, arriving with two hours to spare.

The UPS driver could not believe it when I told him the story. It was only when he looked at the delivery ticket and saw that it really was sent via one day shipping that he quickly calculated the shipping to have cost Amazon several hundred dollars, or just about as much as the lawn mower itself. There goes the profit margin and one of the reason Amazon still doesn't make much money.

The machine is a Husqvarna HU600L 22 inch rear wheel drive self propelled lawn mower. It has the 149cc Kohler engine, the first time I have owned any gas fired engine by Kohler. So far so good.

Wet Mower

Let's start with the things I like.

1) The "single point height adjustment" which means I push one lever and all four wheels are adjusted up or down. There are at least six height adjustments that can be selected, which is real nice. I can always find the one that works in the area I'm cutting because some areas are much heavier than others.

2) The engine is real strong and I'm very pleased with it overall. As long as the blade is reasonably sharp there is plenty of power both to cut very high grass and to propel the mower forward. It has an automatic throttle that responds very quickly to different loads on the engine. If the mower stalled it was because I hit something or ran over a huge clump of grass and overloaded the engine, something that would happen to any mower this size. Truly a great little engine.

3) The mower is pretty fuel efficient. Not sure how much the tank holds, but it fills up fast and I'm always surprised how little gas it holds and how long it runs on so little gas. The gas cap is large and has a built in filter that can be removed quickly to be cleaned out. The engine air filter is easily accessible from the side and comes off with one large easy-to-turn-with-your-fingers 'bolt'. The oil fill and check stick is right there at the top and easy to use. Only problem is the need to tip the mower on its side to pour the old oil out of the filler tube. No big deal.

4) Dead man switch up at the handle, the automatic kill switch lever you must hold down in order for the machine to run, is placed within easy and comfortable reach when you hands are on the handle. It becomes second nature to grab it and pull the starter cord. Speaking of which, the starter cord is within easy reach and the mower always starts on the first and second pull. No fuss, no muss.

5) The handle can be re-folded down into the shipping/stowed position for easier storage when not in use. This is a real nice feature because many lawnmowers need something removed in order to do this. Not with this mower.

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Now for the list of things that I don't like.

1) The mower was listed as a side discharge, but Amazon screwed up because this one is a rear discharge. It comes with a rear bagger or you can leave the bagger off and it becomes a mulcher. No need to change blades to mulch, but in heavy grass this can be problematic. What pissed me off is that they show a rear discharge chute....but it is an extra option you must purchase separately. It took me a month to find a dealer that would order one for me for $25 plus another $9 for shipping to their store. Rip off for a piece of plastic. Even though the rear discharge tries to throw the cuttings to the left they still hit your boots. In the spring resign yourself to wearing green boots.

2) The machine comes with a washout plug, a place where you can attached a garden hose with the supplied adapter to run the mower while water is sprayed on underside of the cutting deck below. For this mower it was worse than useless and after a few times I just gave up and never used it again.

The underside of the cutting deck is cluttered with the self propelled drive belts, gears and protective pan and grass builds up quickly. When you are done for the day unplug the spark plug and clean it out yourself with a long stick and the garden hose. If you don't do so the mower is useless the next time you want to cut the grass and by then the old grass has hardened into concrete.

3) The wheels are too small for my less than perfect lawn. Make that bumpy lawn. I should have purchased a mower with much larger rear wheels to make the going/mowing smoother and easier on the operator. Live and learn the hard way.

4) There is a plastic/rubber shelf at the rear of the mower at the bottom upon which the bagger is supposed to sit while hanging from above. I guess this assures a better seal to prevent grass from blowing out from the bottom. By the third weekend it was hanging half off just from normal use and never using the bagger itself. I removed it by the fourth time I used it. What happens is that each time I pulled the machine backwards the rubber shelf was dragged under the machine. Piss poor design by some egg head who never cuts his or her own lawn.

5) Speaking of pulling the machine backwards.......if the mower is driving itself forward under its own power and you come to a complete stop immediately after disengaging the lever that controls the drive clutch, for example you come to a wall or fence, the drive clutch doesn't fully disengage and you wind up dragging the mower backwards with locked rear wheels. Major pain in the ass, which requires you to let go of the drive clutch about a foot or more before you actually stop the machine. This is not always possible so that even when you are aware of this problem at times you still have to screw with locked wheels. Grrrrrrr

6) After one cutting season the rear wheels, the driven wheels, are squeaking and moaning when I push the mower with the engine off. Which means they are always making those noises and I just can't hear them when the engine is running. I suspect I will have to disassemble them this winter and find out what needs to be replaced.

7) A minor issue, but the grip tape on the handles started to come apart by the second mowing and were in shreds by the third. I wound up using electricians tape to hold it all together for the rest of the mowing season. They must be using real cheap stuff if my real cheap tape is better than their real cheap grip tape.

Considering my selection criteria for this purchase was skewed by the fact that I needed a mower Amazon would deliver overnight for $3.99 it doesn't suck too bad. In all Amazon had four mowers I could have bought and still had it shipped overnight, so I did select one that was self propelled and had a decent engine. The other three were no name mowers.

Half way thru the cutting season I purchased a riding mower so this mower didn't see nearing as tough duty in the second half of the season as it would if I had used it exclusively. I suspect if I had it would have died by September.

Lesson learned and archived.

Cognitive Dissonance

Mower Left Side

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