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The First Electric String Trimmer

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by OldLawnMowerMan81, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. OldLawnMowerMan81

    OldLawnMowerMan81 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 66

    Although most of us lawn & garden power tool historians can credit the Houston, TX entrepreneur George C. Ballas, Sr. for the invention of the Weed Eater string trimmer, which he'd invented in 1971, something contradicts this claim: Black & Decker made its first electric grass trimmer in 1970 (model #8200).

    http://books.google.com/books?id=ng...onepage&q=Black & Decker 8200 trimmer&f=false
    (link to Popular Science, May 1971)

    http://books.google.com/books?id=9w...onepage&q=Black & Decker 8200 trimmer&f=false
    (Link to Popular Science, August 1971)

    But unlike Ballas's invention, which he'd devised using a tin can, fish line and a blade from an edger, B&D's earliest portable grass trimmer still relied on steel blades that its edgers had used. It was around 1976 that B&D had produced and sold its first nylon-line grass trimmer, model #8205. The following year, B&D introduced two bigger sized string trimmers with 10" and 12" cutting swaths (models 8207 and 8209 respectively; both have automatic-feed devices so you don't have to stop to take out more line).

    Ballas's idea for his Weed Eater was inspired by his visit to a car wash. Those nylon brushes spun against his car window with no damage. He decided to grab an empty popcorn can, punched holes in it, threaded the fishing line through them, and replaced the steel blade of his gas edger with the popcorn can. The first model was powered by a 2-cycle gas engine, but one customer, an old lady, didn't like its size, so Ballas then made an electric version of his invention. He sold his Weed Eater company to Emerson Electric in 1977, which in turn merged with Beaird/Poulan in 1986.


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