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California Trimmer Reel Mowers

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by GetReel, Sep 21, 2012.

  1. GetReel

    GetReel LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Greetings everyone! New member here so I cordially welcome any hazing or ritualistic initiation new members deserve. Also wanted to thank everyone for all the great info I've already gained from reading previous posts. That said...

    ...this is my first one.

    I'm really interested in picking up a power reel mower. My dad used a McLane back in the '70s and I was relegated to a wood handled prison pusher when it was my turn to mow. I've used a Honda Harmony II since 2000 and it's served me well but it's time to graduate.

    I looked at new Tru-Cut and McLane mowers, both R/H and C/P versions and have also come across some older, but venerable Trimmers. IMHO, of the three brands, based purely on "feel," I'd love to get a Trimmer. Unfortunately, I haven't located any new or relatively recently built used units here in SoCal so I'm planning on calling Evergreen Turf in WA today to check the status of the new generation that's apparently being built per this thread:


    I mean, look at this thing! It's gorgeous!


    However, part of me longs for the nostalgia of picking up an old, venerable Trimmer and restoring it. I found a couple 25" Commercial models locally and wanted to get your opinions on them.

    Candidate #1: Honda Motor
    Asking Price $600






    Candidate #2: Kohler Motor
    Asking Price: $450






    I have no idea what I'm getting into here other than I've got St. Augustine and a jonesing to cut it with the proper equipment. Assuming $$$ was no object, which way would you go: new or vintage?
  2. gusbuster

    gusbuster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,926

    Part of the reason you don't see these machines here in CA is the fact that it takes a lot of maintenance to keep them in perfect cutting conditions and this is a machine for cutting the grass short which means you're using a ton of water to keep your grass green.

    With this kind of machine you can't take the bed knife and sharpen it anytime you feel like it unless you have a lapping machine and or take to shop and have bed knife sharpen.

    Even my friends in Bakersfield have stopped using this machine except for their Bermuda clients (by the way, a good possibility for part source since still actively used) except for winter rye over seeding.

    When buy a used product, check the sprockets\seals at either side of reel, the bed knife and reel itself. Motor is a easy replacement.

    I don't like the rear roller type because you have to push the mower in order to prevent pulled\rolled grass when first starting plus you can't run mower at full throttle and control pace like you can with the tru-cut reel mowers.

    Just my 2 cents of thought.
  3. GetReel

    GetReel LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Yeah, definitely read as many threads as I could find comparing Trimmer vs. Tru-Cut (Locke, Toro, or Jacobsen are overkill for my size lawn). I think I'd be happy with either but the Trimmer felt like the more balanced of the two.

    I'm pretty good about not abusing my gear and keeping it tuned so I think I'll be fine there. My main question still stands however: new or vintage? Since the design and dimensions haven't changed and with resto/parts services available...


    ...has anyone been able to restore one at less cost than buying new? If so, would love to see some photos and hear what level of effort it took. Oh, also, thoughts on that old Kohler vs. the Honda G150? Thx again!
  4. Wow, getting a reel to cut st Augustine is a waste. Only needs to be used on Bermuda and zoysia. A rotary with a sharp blade is plenty on st aug and that is our primary turf here. Save your money and hassle. These are expensive machines to maintain. Unless your cutting sports turf at 1.5" or less, don't buy.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. RTR Landscaping

    RTR Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 390

    Those old Kohlers were good engines, but if you need any replacment parts they are extremely expensive. I would opt for a new one.
  6. agrostis

    agrostis LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,523

    A reel mower is the wrong tool for cutting St. Augustine. You will kill the grass mowing it that short. You need a rotary mower.
  7. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,777

    Listen to this guy...

    And I would not buy any of those 3 used machines...those engines are as old as dirt....I thought one of them was a steam engine.

    A trucut will be easier to operate on a smaller tighter lawn anyway...this is coming from a person who uses a 30" Peachtree mower (trimmer clone) on a 5 k lawn...the drum drive sucks. It does leave a nice cut and stripes, but like someone said, if you want to move it the reel is engaged.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. That isn't exactly true. There are dwarf cultivars that can be kept around 2 inches. A Tru-cut will cut at 2". Still, there is absolutely no need to go through all the hassle of cutting with a reel on that.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. clydebusa

    clydebusa Inactive
    Messages: 1,660

    Had a Mclain for years and used it on a couple of yards. About the time I would think I made some money it would need repair or blades sharpen.
  10. You probably didn't charge enough. Need to factor in maintenance costs....I double the price of the yard if I use my reel.
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