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Lawnboy Duraforce 2 stroke Info please

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by TheBigGW, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. TheBigGW

    TheBigGW LawnSite Member
    from MA
    Posts: 150

    I have heard mixed reviews about the Lawnboy 2 stroke duraforce. I have a chance to pick one up very reasonably priced ok its a steal. Just want to know if i am wasting my money. ANY info from people who have used or still own this kind of mower. Thanks to all for your input.
  2. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,712

    2 flaws- one is a very trouble prone carb(but easy to repair/service) no2 is ing coil failure rate is high. these mowers will cut what no other mower will! -there is simply no = in this catigory. once you learn to work on them -you will love them
  3. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,921

    I can offer a "mixed review," as you call it. Over many years, I've used LB staggered wheeled mowers, a DuraForce the last five years. Our mower gets used heavily, probably about 35 working hours per week. Some days it runs well over eight hours. Specifically, with regard to the DuraForce models:

    Great cut -- best of any mower I use, or others used in this area. Comparing side-by-side, the quality of cut is the best.
    Good bagger -- most of the use of our mower is with a side bagger. It works very well, even in difficult conditions. We use three or four cloth bags and can made good use of them working together, and they don't take up much space for transport (unlike bags that are built around a frame).
    Light weight -- no other commercial mower is 85-90#, and cuts like this one. All mowers in this area are self-propelled because of terrain.

    Terrible piece of machinery -- the quality of some parts is poor. This includes ground drive cables (break after 300-400 lawns), height adjuster levers (light duty, with a peened peg for engaging in aluminum holes in the deck casting), ground drive wheels don't last very long (we go through two sets of drive wheels every season).
    Unreliable engine -- the DuraForce has been nothing but a headache from the first day I brought it home. It went through surges, and then failures. I just put on my third short-block, so it is now running on the fourth engine. The initial one lasted four months. I've tried various fuel-oil mixes, but the result is always the same. On the second short-block, I returned to 32:1 LawnBoy oil. After a few weeks of running, the muffler was so badly clogged with oily goo, I had to replace. I returned to 75:1 fuel mix, but the last engine failed within about six months. I've also had carbs wear out. The plastic carb body has a blind hole in the bottom of the throttle plate that wears into an oval shape.

    The only thing constant about the engine is change. One day is runs well, starts well. The next day, it starts very poorly, but runs well. The next day it starts poorly, and runs poorly (constant surging). All the changes are without anything different on my part -- e.g. working out of the same five gallons of mixed fuel.

    I did carb work to bore out the main jet slightly to eliminate the surging. The refitted jet did eliminate the surging, but also made the engine run too rich -- carbon buildup on the plug, smoking, and excessive discharge from the exhaust.

    Bottom line -- the machine is a paradox. It does such a great job of mowing, great job of bagging, and is easy to operate and use because of the design and weight. As a piece of equipment to be run hard, day after day, it is junk.

    We had so many troubles last Fall, I vowed not to start the 2008 season with this machine. However, the only choice in a 90# mower was the new LB 4X4 design. I had some reservations, so delayed. When I started having so many troubles this Spring, I went to replace with the new 4X4 design, and learned LB was out of stock. I understand they now should be available, and most likely will buy one soon. Just Saturday, I ran the mower for a couple of hours. On the one of the jobs, I ran it hard for about 1:30, mowing significant parts of two large lawns. The second property has an pool, requiring the mower to be take up a few steps. I shut it down to change from discharge mode to bagging. I could not get it restarted. I had other mowing with my ZTR to do, so I did that. After about an hour of sitting, it started. I got it up the steps, and cut the area inside the pool fence. I powered down, took it back out, and then it would not restart again. This is the kind of frustration this mower has offered me over the years. Today it may start on first/second pull on every job. Or, sometime during the day, it will not restart, unless I do 20-30 pulls, or it may not restart until it cools down. Yes, I changed the ignition module one time already this Spring (after about four other replacements over its lifetime).

    Perhaps the biggest mystery is why I still have patience with this mower. I guess the good cut, and lightweight, just keeps me putting it back on the trailer.

    Here is one link of last Fall of a rebuild:


    See the pics a few posts down from the top. I just repeated this exercise two weeks ago again, but did not post pictures. I do have a picture-documentary of that task if you need to see it.

    I have had many other posts, including questions about the carb problems. Do a search with my name, and LawnBoy as a keyword and you will need a day to read of all the problems.
  4. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,712

    good review rodger-pretty much sums it all up. i have lawnboys mostly as a hobby but dont depend on them for every day comm mowing-they just dont hold up to it. but nothing cuts better.
  5. carriedrewdog

    carriedrewdog LawnSite Member
    Posts: 68

    Buy it. Roger is right on. The only thing I can add is "to know them is to love them".
  6. davidcalhoun

    davidcalhoun LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,022

    I have gotten very good at repairing my neighbors and my Lawnboys. I just cleaned/rebuilt/adjusted 3 Lawnboys within the last 10 days. 6 already this year. I wish my neighbors would quit sharing my name.

    I actually Like the 2 cycle Lawnboys the best. The carbs are easy to clean and rebuild. The speed adjustment is usually the vane that is linked to the govenor.

    I also like how durable the engines usually are. As long as you run the proper oil mixed gas, they will lug and mow inclines like nothing else. Oh, and they cut good too.

    The problems with the Lawnboy are:

    1) Usually no fuel shutoff valve. You can add one for $4.99

    2) The float valve needle and seat can need replace so that fuel does not leak out when the mower is not running. A fuel shutoff valve can solve this too.

    3) There can be a surging problem with some of these carburators (they tried to be EPA compliant). This is usually solved with a larger pilot jet. You can drill it out 1 size bigger or you can replace the jet for about $4.00 The standard pilot jet is 37.5 and you want to drill it to 42.5 If you decide to buy a replacement jet, you want to ask for Briggs and Stratton part # 801308. A whole nother story as to why it is a Briggs part.

    4) Lawnboy has had some issues with their batches of coils. Their coil is somewhat advanced because it has two modes to it. The first mode is for starting at a certain degree TDC. The other mode is for while it's running and it is set at a different degree TDC. If the first (start) mode goes bad, it will be difficult (but not impossible) to get it started. Based on Roger's experience above, It sounds like a coil going bad. Keep in mind that as I mentioned before, Lawnboy(Toro) is still having problems with bad batches of coils. I just ordered one today and they called me back to say that there is still a backorder for it based on the problems. It's kind of hit or miss if you get one.

    What model number Lawnboy are you looking at?
  7. huskres

    huskres LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 283

    If your coil fails bake it for 2 or 3 hours at 200 degrees. It worked for me. Its a moisture thing i suppose
  8. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,921

    davidcalhoun -- I envy your mechanics skills with the LB products. As much as I enjoy the repair work, that is not what my business is about. Rather, I need to keep the machine running, running, and running yet more. Over the course of time, my mechanics skills have improved, but that is NOT the good news -- just too much experience with the repairs.

    Thanks for the Briggs tip. I have just ordered the pilot jet. My efforts to modify carb jets was focused on the main jet, not the pilot jet. I never made any changes to the pilot jet. I will definitely try the Briggs part you suggested. To me, there is no question the engine is running lean. I see that jet is common to the R-Tek version of the engine used in the snowblowers. Apparently, Toro/LB has no EPA emission credits they need to hold for the snowblower engines. Rather than a reed based intake, that engine uses a piston type intake, ...?

    Every day is a new experience with the DuraForce. Just getting it started is an accomplishment. Our procedure minimizes the times needed to start it each day -- don't need the headaches of the trauma of it more than necessary.
  9. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,712

    rodger-one thing that helps is to shut the fuel off after every use-this helps to keep it from flooding and makes hot restarts eaiser. at the end of the day-run the carb dry by closing the fuel valve and let the engine die this way.you can also use a suzuki pilot jet from a toro too but the briggs jet has a slightly bigger jet size. i fixed mine from surging this way and didnt enlarge the main jet -just the pilot
  10. IA_James

    IA_James LawnSite Silver Member
    from Iowa
    Posts: 2,593

    I finally took mine to the dump, I got tired of screwing with it near weekly. My Toro cuts as good as the LB ever did, and it always starts.

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