Tuesday, August 10, 2010

lawn mower adventures

I have been using a Scotts reel-type mower since we moved into this house.

  • Quiet! Can mow late or early without bothering anyone. Can listen to music on headphones at low levels
  • retro fun, simple, "good enough"
  • relatively cheap to buy and maintain
  • clean scissor-like snip, rather than blade whacking
  • similar to exercise!
  • the "green" angle is a welcome side effect.


  1. twigs will stop forward progress right now
  2. too-tall stalks (like 8" weeds) will usually bend under the reel rather than be snipped by it. Gotta bend over and pull them or break them off short.
  3. blade alignment takes some practice to learn

It's still my go-to mower. But I inherited a "needs help" electric lawnmower off Freecycle. The donor thought there was a problem with the motor as batts had been recently replaced.

I put it on a 24V BatteryMINDer smart charger I already owned to charge other 24v devices. The mower ran for about 2 mins. Hmmm.

I suspect a bad batt or at least uneven charging so I put each battery individually on a 12v BatteryTender which I got a garage sale in Heights for $5. Each battery charged seperately. The mower ran about 3 mins.

When I put the mower back on the BatteryMINDer this time it charged then indicated sulfation and began the desulfation cycle. This cyle ran about 2 days, reported ok again. While the batts got massaged I pulled the brushes and filed them a bit. Then the mower ran for the entire time required to mow the front yard. (I had already done the back yard with the reel). I don't know if it was due to desulfation, brushes, both, or neither. I'm betting on desulfation.

Put it back on the BatteryMINDer and it's been desulfating for 3 days. Hopefully the desulfation will help the batts limp along enough to do at least the front or back yard. I'd be ok with that.


  1. Update: the charger has been in desulfation mode since the above post 5 days ago. Hopefully it's doing some good.

  2. Other than being relatively quiet compared to a combustion-driven mower, what advantages would an electric have?

  3. This particular one had been the benefit of being free.

    I wouldn't buy one (I bought the reel) but I think it shares the advantages of the reel: much less maintenance, quieter, and "green" in the "doesn't run on gasoline" sense at least.

  4. I would think the inefficiencies inherent in battery technology would mean it could potentially pollute more (upstream, depending on how local electricity is provided)

    I may be waaay off mark though

  5. Agreed, which is why I qualified the "green" part.

    I do think electric is probably greener in the long term, but the batts are lead-acid, which is inefficient and toxic.