View Full Version : Getting new trimmer, but which one?

07-06-2002, 08:26 AM
Hi guys, I'm going to get a new trimmer (yea!) but not sure which one. It needs to be either Echo or Stihl. I think that the Stihl may be a better dealer in my case, but I'd get the Echo if it had what I wanted with it. It needs to be these two brands because of my budget. I can't go get a $500 Redmax or Shindaiwa (Stihl dealer sells Shinny's and I would get one if the price was right). Well anyhow, Here's what I would require:
Straight shaft
Small loop handle
Bump feed dual line head that works correctly ever time you bump it; doesn't jam up like cheap ones do
Around 16" - 18" trimming swath
Enough power to turn that head with some more left to spare

And here's the optional attachments I might be interested in (not necesarily all of them would i get, this is just what I've been thinking about):
Blower head (don't think they sell them for these two brands, but I could use one)
Hedge pruner head
Pole saw head
Edger head

Those are just the ones I could use, if I had them, not necesarily what I'm getting, but the blower head is fairly important. The edger, well I wouldn't need it really, but might be nice for establishing new edges. Hedge pruner, not really something I need, but might use if I had. Pole saw, again not something necesary but might use it if I had it.
So what I want is a straight shaft 25cc approx. motor with a loop handle, bump feed dual line head, and a blower attachment (fat chance huh) The other attachments I probably won't get.
So since Echo and Stihl don't sell blower heads for the trimmers, got any other ideas? Any other brand that's comparable in quality, value and price that has a blower head?

07-06-2002, 08:53 AM
Sounds like you need the split shaft stihl. Not really sure why you would be looking for a blower head??

Anyway, I don't run the split shafts due to theft. Even on the trimmer trap, all someone would have to do is flip the lever and pull the trimmer out each side of the rack.

I run the FS85's and the only attachment I have for it is the hedge trimmers. Now that is a really nice thing to have. Sure makes bushes easy.

The Stihl fs85 has plenty of power. I can probably count on 1 hand the number of times I've ran it at wide open throttle. I never need it. I run it at 1/3 to 1/2 most of the time.

The 1st FS85 I bought it still my favorite. It is mine. Everyone else uses the newer ones. The one on the top of the rack is mine. It has tons of hours on it and still runs and works like new.

07-06-2002, 09:07 AM
ditto on what 65 hoss said the stjhl 85 has been great for us .
We got 2 fs 80's and 2 85's they both the same trimmer the 85's just have the solid shaft.
We use pretty much use all stihl two cycle stuff it has served us well.

07-06-2002, 09:14 AM
I need a blower head because I don't have a blower (well I have two Homelites that don't run and I'm trying to stay away from Homelite after my last run-in with one :mad: )
You said you run FS85's, what are the letter extensions? such as:
FS85 R
The RX looks like a good trimmer but says it will only take trimmer heads, no hedge clippers. The FS85 R must be what you have; attachments w/o the split shaft. The FS85 RT looks like a split shaft like you mentioned. I guess I'll go to the dealer and see what he has. How much are the FS85 R or RT trimmers? How much are the hedge pruners? I would call my dealer but it's only 7:15 am. trying to get opinions before I call him LOL.

07-06-2002, 09:21 AM

Here at my dealer i just bought a fs85 for 330 tax and all about a month ago didnt get no attachments for it so i dont know what the attachments cost.

07-06-2002, 09:29 AM
I was thinking (or maybe hoping) that it would be about a hundred less than that. I remember this spring I called my dealer to see about a Stihl and he told me a FS55 I think was around $200. Maybe a FS85 would be too much for me anyhow. I only need it to trim grass and maybe hedges (possibly get the power pruner head). I don't have alot of propertys but they are usually larger so I want a somewhat light trimmer. Maybe a FS55 RT would fit the bill. That is the split shaft one. Ya, a FS55 RT would probably be best for budget and attachments and weight, value, etc. Will check into it.

07-06-2002, 09:37 AM

It was 309 tax and all we paid, i went and looked at the sales slip

Doc Pete
07-06-2002, 09:38 AM
Originally posted by 65hoss
Sounds like you need the split shaft stihl. Not really sure why you would be looking for a blower head??

Anyway, I don't run the split shafts due to theft. Even on the trimmer trap, all someone would have to do is flip the lever and pull the trimmer out each side of the rack.

I sure would rethink my approach to things if I was afraid to buy something because of theft. If things are that bad, I'd have an enclosed trailer, which I assume any good business should already have. Next, if I really was worrying about theft, I keep the splitboom stuff in the truck , locked, while at the job.

07-06-2002, 10:09 AM
Anyone used the FS55 RT? I think it would be better for me than the 85 series. I just need light commercial duty, and want a lightweight one that can take few attachments. It's 8:10 now so I will call the dealer and see what he says. Then I'll go look at them after I call around alittle. Thanks,

07-06-2002, 12:32 PM

Just be aware that the FS 55 is a homeowner quality unit. If that is all the budget will bear, then it is better than a Homelite or Ryobi. You may want to look at the Echo SRM 2100, about the same money as the FS55, but has a pretty decent commercial following and does have a commercial warranty, as well.

07-06-2002, 12:55 PM
I would get the SRM 2400 over the SRM 2100. We run 2 SRM 2400's and they have been problem free for 4 years. Next trimmer I buy will again be an Echo SRM 2400.

Doc Pete
07-06-2002, 01:19 PM
Originally posted by Martino

Just be aware that the FS 55 is a homeowner quality unit. If that is all the budget will bear, then it is better than a Homelite or Ryobi. You may want to look at the Echo SRM 2100, about the same money as the FS55, but has a pretty decent commercial following and does have a commercial warranty, as well.

Yes...... I have the PAS2100, which is the splitboom version of the SRM2100 weedwhacker. I have the hedge trimmer attachment, the chainsaw pole prunner attachment, and the "neat" little cultivator attachment, which is dynamite for turning over beds. The whole setup was way less than $1,000 and has paid for itself a long time ago. Also, I've had no problem with any of the units.

07-06-2002, 01:21 PM

On your Homelite blowers:

Have you checked the spark arrestor screens (inside the muffler) and exhaust ports? If they become clogged they will not run.

Also, check to see if the allen screws that hold the cylinder head on are tight. I had a Homelite one time that quit running in the middle of using it and the head had vibrated loose. While checking the spark arrestor and port I noticed it, tightened it up (added a little loc-tite to screws) and now have it in the 'spare/backup' arsenal. Starts and runs like a new one.

Good luck finding the right trimmer for you. :)

07-06-2002, 02:05 PM
I would check out the Echo SRM-2400's too cause they are just the perfect trimmer. My boss uses 2 of them and they have plenty of power and are only $269 at my local dealer. A SRM-2100 is like $200 at my dealer but you'll like the SRM-2400 a lot better I think.
I don't know too much about Stihl's but I know they have well built trimmers but arte a bit out of my range. I picked up a Tanaka trimmer in February of this season and didn't like it at all so I sold it and am still running my Straight shaft Homelite. Hoping to buy a trimmer in the fall.

07-06-2002, 02:31 PM
I too have the FS 85r. Best trimmer I have ever used! It was $270 + tax at two dealers I went to. My grandpa tried it out and decided it was time for his 17 year old stihl to retire. I went to the dealer with him and looked at the same one I have, and also the FS 55 (homeowner). He bought the 55 since it was $100 cheaper ($170). He uses it to cut grass along the hot wire on his farm a couple times a year, so commercial is not really necessary.

The fs 55 has plentiful power IMO, but the 85 has more. Other than the engine/trigger, I think it is probably about the same. I love stihl's string heads.

Now, if you want attatchments, I would say get the split boom...but I don't know how well that blower is gonna work. The commercial split boom is $300 where I live.

Here's a pic of mine:

07-06-2002, 03:28 PM
I don't think a blower attachment coould do as much as even a homelite... The only blower attachment I've ever seen is for Craftsman split booms, and well those are for people who have all day to blow there grass off the driveway...

About splitbooms get'n stolen... A diamond plate tongue box could solve this... In fact I had planned to build a diamond plate box to keep my 2-cycles inside, but still on my trailer, but then I figured material costs, not cheap. Just cheaper to buy an already made tongue box and modify it how it needs to be.

07-06-2002, 05:22 PM
Went and looked at the FS55 and the FS80, got the FS80. What an awesome trimmer! Got it for like $269. It's awesome!

07-06-2002, 05:38 PM

The fs 80 and 85 are the same trimmer only difference is the 85 has a solid drive shaft .
We have a couple fs 80's and i think you will be very happy with your new trimmer it should give you years of service.

07-06-2002, 06:33 PM
Yea, I didn't really need the solid shaft. I went out and it chopped some very thick stuff with the string, at about 3/4 throttle it does everything I want. It's awesome... I love it. It was hard to decide on this or a split shaft, but the extra money for a split plus the money for an attachment, well I might as well go get a specialized tool, know what I mean... didn't really need anything else anyhow, I would've just gotten the split shaft and had it if I wanted to add something later. This is super! This is the first time I've used a straight shaft really (tried a friend's before but it had bike handles, hated them). I took off the shoulder strap cause I can't move things around with bike handles or straps etc. Its not as heavy as I thought it would be really. Now I feel like Tim the Toolman Taylor (Home Improvement show) Arr Arr Arr!!! More Power! You can't imagine the difference between a curved shaft emissions controlled Homelite and this baby, probably about 3-4k rpms difference and a ton of power, straight shaft easy to reach with, cool!

07-06-2002, 07:05 PM
Stihl fs80 here. Very pleased with it.

07-06-2002, 08:41 PM
Switchless, I've never had 1 thing stolen. But anyone with an open trailer should be aware that it could happen with a split shaft. I'm a nut over controlling costs, and an enclosed isn't a way for me to control it.

07-06-2002, 09:06 PM
Congrats! That's a big step up from a curved homelite!

07-06-2002, 10:17 PM
Love My Echo's :D :angel: :cool: :p :cool: :D :D

07-07-2002, 10:17 AM
Last night I went out and whacked down by our creek. All I can say is WOW! I did it in about half the time and 1/3 the gas as the Homelite. The homelite uses .065 string and this has .095, so I never had to advance it and it never wore down, if it got tangled in fence wire, it didn't stall itself, just let off the gas and the clutch takes care of the rest. Really sweet machine, thanks for the help guys!
The Echo was not really in the question too much as the price and machine seemed pretty comparable but the dealer's not.
Thanks again!
One happy customer!

Doc Pete
07-07-2002, 10:28 AM
Originally posted by 65hoss
Switchless, I've never had 1 thing stolen. But anyone with an open trailer should be aware that it could happen with a split shaft. I'm a nut over controlling costs, and an enclosed isn't a way for me to control it.

I can understand that. However, unless you have a place to put the open trailer that's safe and dry, you have to spend all that time (money) loading and unloading every day. Also, I just won't (anymore) drive the equipment home in the rain, and then unload it while it's still raining. That, including the damage to the equipment is "big dollars" in my book.

07-07-2002, 11:41 AM
I agree if someone doesn't have a place to park the open trailer it is a problem. I have 3/4 acre to park in and lock it up. I don't unload anything, if it looks like rain I will cover it.

Some rain doesn't hurt, heck we use them in the "elements" all day long. ;)

07-07-2002, 12:36 PM
we keep our two open trailers in a big shed just pull em out and back em back in at the end off the day

07-07-2002, 09:02 PM
BushHogBoy...I am very proud of you. As I read the post from the begining I thought you were going to let me and worse yet yourself down. You did the right thing in spending a little more money. My first heavy brush trimming job 4 years ago I bought a Craftsman trimmer and took it to the job site. I stuck it in the bushes and it died. I immediatly took it back and bought a Stihl FS80 which has never let me down. Here is the Stihl equipment I now have.

1 FS80R (4 years old- approx. 700 hours of abusive use)runs great.
1 FS85RT Spilt shaft (1 year old)
1 FS200R (1.5 years old)
1 Hedge Trimmer attachment (For FS85RT)
1 Power sythe attachent (For FS85RT)
1 Circular saw blade (fits all)
2 different grass blades (fits all)
1 poly-cut blade, and numerous line heads

BR420 Backpack blower
HS75 Hedge Trimmers
360 Pro Chain saw

If you have any questions in the future about these products let me know. Good Luck, Jim

07-07-2002, 11:17 PM
Little tip...Some may not agree but I have found square line or any other rough edged trimmer line to work better than the round stuff. I switched out the round .095 that came with my trimmer to square .105 and noticed a big difference.

07-07-2002, 11:23 PM
Just bought a New Echo 260s Trimmer. Works Great and starts very easy. Only Bad part is it scares people sounds like a Chainsaw.

07-07-2002, 11:23 PM
I agree completely about the trimmer line. Th stuff I currently use is an octagonal or star shaped pattern. This funny thing is that its Craftsman and seems to work better than the Stihl line.
The round lines also seem to "weld" together more frequently in the trimmer head than the shaped lines. I think that there is more surface area touching on the round lines.

Whatever your choice...good luck.

07-08-2002, 11:04 AM
My FS80 came prespooled with round line, I bought a 1/2lb spool of the same. Works great, but the head doesn't seem to hold near as much as my old trimmers (but doesn't wear as fast). It's kinda hard to get used to edging with this as i'm used to a right hand rotation curved shaft and it's longer than the old one by a foot or so LOL. I used Weedeater brand 5 sided line in the old trimmer and it worked fine, never really put round vs multi sided line side by side. I guess after I burn through this pack I'll get some multi sided string, maybe it will edge better. I couldn't ask for better grass trimming line though.
This stuff doesn't seem to stick on at all, and the bump 'n feed head has never jammed up once (woohoo!). Just wish it held alittle more than it does. Well it is a sweet machine. Next time I'm in town near the dealer I'm going to get one of those small tree blades, put it on and have a pole saw thing.

07-08-2002, 02:21 PM

When you go to buy that brush blade the dealer may tell you that you cannot install it on your model (if it has the cable type drive shaft).
My FS80R has the cable shaft (instead of the steel drive shaft), and I was told not to use the metal blades. I believe the theory is that the cable will break. All I do is let the blade get up to speed before I start cutting, and it has worked fine. I have found that the cable gives less vibration when you get the blade stuck.

When I purchased the unit they told me two things.

1. Dont install the blades when using a cable drive shaft.
and 2. The cable drive shaft has a lifetime warranty.

So I bought the cheaper cable drive shaft model, and installed the Steel brush blades....After all the cable has a lifetime warranty.:)


07-08-2002, 03:23 PM
keep in mind that they can deny you warranty service on the shaft if you violated the terms of the warranty...ie., using a brush blade on a product specfically stating that it is not for that sort of work.

I have an FS200 and I love it...a bit heavy after awhile, but nothing stands in its way.

07-08-2002, 05:32 PM

Your right about the warranty. I would not try to get warranty (I was trying to be funny). My FS80 is over 4 years old and no problems). It's not even under warranty anymore. But if you had a new one I am sure you could get away with it as long as you removed the blade before taking it back.
Really I wanted BushHogBoy to know that my experience shows that it should not be a problem to run the Steel blade if he so chooses. Or I could be very lucky that mine has not broke (but I dont think thats the case).
I have the FS200R as well, and your right about it's awsome power. It's heavy at first but after the 2nd hour I dont notice it anymore.

07-08-2002, 08:42 PM
Well mine has the cable I guess. Which is probably lighter than a driveshaft, no? If the blade gets stuck, i'll just let off the throttle and let the clutch disengage then work it loose. I was thinking I could get a steel tree blade and use it like a polesaw? I realize this isnt' the safest thing to be doing but it's a heck of alot cheaper than getting a split shaft and then a polesaw attachment (i won't be using it much like this). It is a very nice unit. I made a trimmer rack for my trailer, to keep this thing out of the way of the mowers (don't wanna mash it :eek: ). Very simple rack. I just used two peices of 26" long x 1"x1" square tubing, bolted to the sides of the trailer and welded gun racks to that. Works perfect. Then I bent the gun racks alittle and put a lock on it. They are too hard to drill through. The locks are more of a latch than a lock, it may look difficult but just twist it just right and it slips right off. I'll get a pic of it sometime (with the new trimmer in it).

07-08-2002, 11:25 PM
FS 80 is only 0.2 lbs. lighter than the 85. Also only $10 less (at my dealer). I don't really know why they don't just put solid shafts in all of them?

About the tree blade as a pole saw...it isn't going to have the reach you get with the pole, and it will be at the wrong angle.

07-08-2002, 11:33 PM
0ryan0 -
I don't think my dealer had a plain 85, just the split boom one and it was alot more money.
Pole saw idea - they had a 85rt with a pole saw on it, it was not very much longer than my trimmer if any. The angle, well I don't know how much that's gonna affect anything. I'll let you know how it works. I'm mainly only using it on my property, i'm not an arborist by any means.

07-08-2002, 11:34 PM
John Deere XT 140 split boom. the Best i have ever used. Ask for a demo a a dealer you will be amazed.:D

07-09-2002, 12:13 AM

Now that you have the straight shaft trimmer try an Edgit.

Go to www.edgit.com and check it out. I'll never have another trimmer without one.

07-09-2002, 03:23 AM

Stihl makes an actual pole saw attachement for the trimmers (head unit only). Once again I bet you are only supposed to use it on the solid shaft, but it would work on your FS80.
I have priced the FS85RT pole saw attachment at $85.00 (Includes short shaft, and cable), so I would hope that buying the head only is alot cheaper.
The only down side is that you need to remove your current gearbox. Not too difficult except when you put it back on it takes awhile to get the shaft lined up correctly.


07-09-2002, 06:28 PM
Edgit - maybe a good product, but at $70 for a straight shaft one for a Stihl, it's also a good joke. For about that much money I could get a bladed edger attachment. Besides none of my customers have me edge, I mainly do it at my house only. The pole saw, I'm not gonna use it much at all, so I'm just gonna try the blade idea and if it doesn't work for a pole saw it will still get used cutting down saplings and small trees.

07-10-2002, 01:22 AM
One of the nice things about the Edgit is it's always with you.
It also makes a better gaurd than anything the factories put on.
Your trimming , just turn the thing on edge your edging, then back to trimming no changing heads, no getting another machine.

You say you don't edge, what do you do along sidewalks? when I say edge I mean trimming along hard suffaces with a vertical edge, (a nice square straight proffecional edge) and maintaining that "clean" look.
That's just the way I do it. the custumer does'n't get a choice unless I don't trim at all.

True Edgit Is a little pricey for how simple it is, but I have trimmed without it and I don't want to ever again.

I will admit a blade is needed to define overgrown edges, but from what I've seen and read hear, a stick edger isn't the best for that either. I'm thinking about buying a walkbehind edger instead of renting one to define edges , then maitain them with my Edgit.

07-10-2002, 02:13 AM
BushHogBoy-Paul would be right here, the Edgit is always there. The edger attachment for the FS 85T is $100.00. I bought one and that's what they wanted for it. I said fine and paid it. I bought the FS 85T for $475 with edger out the door. The attachments are expensive! The pole pruner is $175! I was going to buy that so that my dad could prune our trees at our vacation cabin but for that much money and I'm getting no profit out of it, forget that! Do those Edgits add alot of weight? They look kinda heavy. It would be nice to have one, but for $70, thats steep. And I don't really need one anyway, my edges are already great as it is! :D

07-10-2002, 09:50 AM
HONDA GX22 , 4 cyclinder , plenty of power , low vibration. Really the best , most comfortable string trimmer ive ever run. Weve got 3 of em , and have had no problems with them at all.

Good luck
Eric Goodwin

07-10-2002, 10:32 AM
Who needs a edgit when you can do edging and trimming without it on your trimmer, that is my .02 cents save the hundred dollars and learn how to edge without it.