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Time To Replace My Suped Up Trimmer

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by powerpuller1966, Dec 30, 2007.

  1. powerpuller1966

    powerpuller1966 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 24

    Hello all and Happy New Year.

    Here is my situation.

    I am a single person operation and most of the time trimming is normal string trimming. I use one trimmer for normal trimming and just open up the throttle for brush cutting a handful times a year. Average time spent trimming per site is around 7 minutes while using my special trimmer mentioned here below.

    I have been using now for two years an older Sears 31cc 2cycle 18 inch width direct drive curved shaft as my primary machine. I have been using it because it is no longer stock. It has been heavily modified and now a low rpm torque monster. It uses 94 octane pump gas with a 32:1 mix of Klotz castor oil because of the high compression and piston side loads. It now has a 23 inch width of cut and max rpm of 6500 while at a very light stock weight. I operate it all the time at 2000 rpm and it idles at 1500. I don't need to rev it much cause of the torque. It is making so much torque it twists the drive shaft apart. The tube is not worn out and making the shaft break, just brute torque. Before I modified it, it was a great, reliable machine, but underpowered. It is still a great machine but unreliable because I don't know when it is going to break the shaft.

    Now here is my problem.

    I want a new trimmer/brushcutter with the diesel like low rpm grunt that I am use to. It must be blade compatable to do brushcutting and not be too bulky to do delicate trimming with the string head. Most commercial duty string trimmers I have looked at are 25cc 10,000+ rpm screamers with little 15-17 inch cuts and wouldn't handle brushcutting. Yes they are light weight for string trimming, but I don't want to rev a little 2 cycle to 5000 rpm or more to start making power or engage the clutch. Do the brushcutters like the Stihl FS 250 and Shindaiwa B530 have the low end torque that I like? Do the clutches start to engage at a very low rpm? Maybe 500-1000 rpm above idle? Would they be too big for normal string trimming of driveways and rain downspouts? The 13 pound weight won't be a problem since it would only be used for about 7 minutes at a time. What are my options? Cost will not be a problem if it buys quality.

    I am not loyal to any one brand, but am extra interested in the Shindaiwa lineup. I bought the EB8510RT blower this year and love it. It is a quality built machine and decently affordable in comparison to the competitors. Are the trimmers they offer able to withstand commercial use like my blower goes through?

    Most other pro cutters around here use midsized trimmers like the Stihl FS 90 and Echo SRM 310, but don't offer brushcutting services like I do. I would like one machine that does all.

    The way I see it is that I can get one heavy duty built brushcutter and use it for the rest of my life string trimming because it will not wear out quicker if it is used for light duty string trimming and occasional brushcutting, than get a smaller machine because it is used more for string trimming and hope it will hold together when I need to do brushcutting.

    The suped up Sears did everything I could throw at it from decorative trimming to 2 foot high grass brushcutting. It will become my backup trimmer. Not too bad for a trimmer that cost $99 13 years ago.
  2. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,085

    I'd consider the Red Max if you are looking for low grunt. They are heavier than the others, but built pretty tough. Make sure your dealer is easy to work with before any purchase you make though.
  3. powerpuller1966

    powerpuller1966 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 24

    The problem with Red Max is that the closest dealer that is easy to work with is an hour and a half drive away. The other local dealer I go to for anything I need is a very reliable and trustworthy friend and I know that he will not try to sell me something he doesn't fully believe that I can use efficiently. He carries Echo products and told me that the SRM-260 or SRM-311 is what I should be getting. Are these machines able to spin a cutting blade with enough power? Both have the options of solid steel or flex shafts. Should I get a solid steel shaft or a flex shaft being it will have a blade attached every once in a while? I am getting the 5 year warranty so it is more economical in the long run should it wear out.
  4. tamadrummer

    tamadrummer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,102

    Are you sure you are getting a 5 year warranty? It sounds like you mow for a living. If you are using this for something other than your house it does not get the 5 year but the 2 year commercial from the way the brochures read.

    If I am wrong, this may sway my decision on handheld all together.
  5. powerpuller1966

    powerpuller1966 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 24

    Yeah, I got the 2 year commercial on a SRM-210. I chose this one cause it has enough power to do decent trimming and light weight so it isn't a pain on the hills. I will be getting the SRM-311 or 340 if he can match the price of the equivalent Stihl models at another dealer. Or I will try to make a deal on the FS-250 Stihl that has been sitting on the shelf for 3 years. He is asking $519 but will try for $425.

    I do tell you, for any homeowner to not buy an Echo is Crazy. 5 year warranty for a trimmer, you cant beat it. SRM-210 retails for $199 here. Weedeater Featherlite here is $79. $199/15 years expected useful life = $13.33 a year to own the Echo. $79/3 years expected useful life = $26.66 a year to own a Weedeater. The math isn't hard and the headaches and frustration is a whole lot less with a quality unit.

    To bad there's still snow here in PA, I want to use my Echo to cut down the saplings on the hillside my one client wants me to do. I hope it has the power to cut 1 inch saplings. If not, I will be buying something bigger alot sooner than I wish I had to.

  6. TomberLawn

    TomberLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,299

    I guess you have a brush blade on that Echo, right? I have a SRM-210 and really love it. You're right, $200 for a trimmer that will last a homeowner more than a decade is a great deal. I'll probably be able to use mine in part-time commercial service for 3-5 years, then retire it as a backup. I don't really see a need for bigger, more powerful trimmers. I haven't used anything much bigger than my 210, but I don't see the need. I barely have to rev mine up to do normal trimming, and rarely have to pull it wide open for heavy weeds. I really love the light weight--only about 11 pounds! My dad's Honda 4-stroke weighs over 13 pounds, and that is a considerable difference. I think my Echo has as much or more power than the Honda also.
  7. zanedog22

    zanedog22 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 10

    Please describe the modifications you have done to your Sears engine.
  8. powerpuller1966

    powerpuller1966 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 24

    1. Port matched the 45cc chainsaw carb to the plastic mount and the mount to the crankcase.
    2. Decked the cylinder jug about .040 to increase compression
    3. Larger elongated cylinder ports for airflow
    4. Advanced the timing 3 degrees
    5. Muffler baffle has been removed and the input side was port matched to the cylinder. Output holes in the muffler were drilled .030 bigger and a few more holes added for increased flow.
    6. Klotz oil for the superior lubrication castor provides compared to standard weedeater oils. It does run about 500 rpm faster on the Klotz because of less friction.

    The trimmer doesn't idle worth a darn because the carb is soooooo big and the timing is advanced, but when you squeeze the throttle, it will snap the drive cable like a pretzel.

    Yes it does idle around 1500 rpm and i use it at 2000 rpm just to help smooth out the vibration it makes.

    When I dig it out of storage this spring i'll get some pictures of it. You won't be impressed with its looks because I haven't done anything to make it look good.

    TomberLawn, yes I do have the brush blade kit and LOVE IT!! I never thought it would cut as fast it does. The blade is the 80 tooth saw. I can cut through 1.5 inch saplings like a hot knife through butter.

    I did try the string head on it in some 8 in grass and wasn't to pleased with the power. If it had just a little more grunt, I would be happy. I feel that if I got the 30 some cc unit Echo makes( I can't recall the model number) I would be happy with the string use performance. I can't even imagine how fast it would cut saplings or field grass.
  9. derekarbeiter

    derekarbeiter LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233

    I have a Stihl FS 90R and love it. If you are doing a LOT of brushcutting, I would go with a bigger model such as the 250 you mentioned. Otherwise, the FS 90 is flawless. Very fuel efficient for the power you get by the way.
  10. powerpuller1966

    powerpuller1966 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 24

    I got fed up over how poor the performance was on the Echo trimmer I have.

    Here is a list of the negitives.
    1. It eats up spark plugs, its the right plug for it, but the plug is changed every 3 weeks to a month.
    2. The air filter becomes saturated with fuel spray coming out of the carb and leaving the engine starving for air.
    3. The trimmer head is worthless. The line tangles on itself because the dual lines are not seperated into two holders in the head. If you have a Shindaiwa Speedfeed head, you know the lines do not hang up.
    4. The engine is gutless with the trimmer head on. It screams like a chainsaw when wide open, but has no mid-range torque when the revs drop to around 5000.
    5. The cutting diameter of the trimmer is too small to do any quick small area mowing like on hillsides.
    6. There are bound to be more disappointments in the future.

    Now for the positives.
    1. It is good on fuel because it never gets use.

    After having bought the Shindaiwa EB8510 backpack blower last year for fall cleanups and chainsaws and trimmers this year at the dealer who is an hour away from me, I decided to become a dealer for Shindaiwa since the dealer that was only 10 minutes away shut down 1.5 years ago and so the spot was open for another dealer.

    I now have a T242 for the trim work, T350 for heavy trimming, and a T350 dedicated with a brushblade for brush cutting.

    I gave the Sears curved shaft away to a machinist friend that is making a hardened connecting rod since the stock one bent. There must have been too much cylinder pressure for the stock rod. Thankfully for him, the only damage is the rod, the cylinder and case is not damaged.

    Brett Zambotti

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