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Trimmer/Combination unit recommendations

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by drumz2129, Apr 4, 2011.

  1. drumz2129

    drumz2129 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 55

    I am looking to replace my junk troy bilt combination unit because I am tired of working on it every time I need to use it. For attachments I need a straight shaft trimmer and a pole saw. In the future I may add a edger attachment. I have 19 acres and maintain 6 as yard. It will be used weekly for around the house, shop, trees, pool, and pool house. Every other week I will use it to trim around the pond (1.5 acre) and along the front and side fence lines(900') and front ditch (300'). of the yard. The trimmer will be used twice a year for taking care of low branches.
    I was originally planning on getting a stihl since I have two stihl saws and have not had any problems with them. I was going to get the KM90 for the power head, the straight shaft brush cutter and add the spool head to it for trimming, and the pole saw for limb trimming. I am starting to lean away from the stihl because I have heard mixed reviews of the 4mix technology along with the added weight. I think I may go with a true 2 cycle. I am going to check out my local redmax dealer today to see what they offer. I know tanaka offers a combination unit and I have a tanaka dealer about 30 minutes away but they are a pretty much unknown brand around here.

    Am I over thinking the 4mix or are my concerns valid? Are there any other brands I should look at? I am planning on making a purchase in the next couple of days since my other one is out.
  2. mrlandscaper

    mrlandscaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    I have an Echo PAS - 230 power head with the strait shaft trimmer head and curved shaft edger. I like it a lot. They do have a pole saw and brush cutter attachment. If I were you i would look into that.

    Hope this helps.
  3. dboyd351

    dboyd351 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,124

    I think the Stihls are powerful and reliable, but they are heavy. Some places are still selling the old 80s - the 2 strokes that are being discontinued. I have the stihl FS90, but don't have many hours on it yet.

    As for Tanakas, I bought the TCG22EASSLP (what a mouthful!) trimmer last year when they had a $40 rebate going. They are definitely an unknown here, too, but they get excellent reviews on Amazon from users, and a number of pros in this site say they are very, very dependable. I haven't had mine long enough to test longevity, but it is a joy to use. It is extremely light, well balenced, starts easily and has plenty of power. I'd definitely check them out. You do know they have a 7 year homeowner warrenty, don't you? If I lived in an area with a decent Tanaka dealer I'd be very tempted to just go that route. By the way, Tanaka is owned by Hitachi and there is a virtually identical line bearing the Hitachi label.

    No matter what brand you get, I'd look into getting an articulating hedge trimmer head. Shaft length should be long enugh to use it like a trimmer, with the shaft running down the ground and the hedge trimmer head set parallel to the ground. You can use it to cut a 20 inch swath just above the ground, or you can swing it at any level you like to cut through tangled vines and brush, like blackberries, greenbriar and other brambles. It is FAR and away better than a brushcutter head for clearing tangled brush.

    Good luck.
  4. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,747

    They make a "power scythe" attachment to do that, with a slightly shorter bar, which may be easier to handle for some.

    I've got a Stihl KM110R and LOVE it. I also have an FS85 edger, and the difference between the 2 cycle and 4mix is big to me.

    The 2 cycle 85 engine needed a few minutes to warm up before I could do anything with it, and would stall out if you gas it just after starting. It always needed full choke to start cold, and after half an hour of work, you ended up smelling like fuel mix. I had the same warmup issue with my BG85 blower.

    Just last week, I started the 4mix 110 engine for the first time since the winter (to use the pole pruner). The gas in the tank was from October, and after putting on HALF choke and a few primer bulb pumps, it started in 3 pulls. With this engine, I MUST open the choke right after it turns over, or it will actually stall. But, after that, I can go to full throttle immediately, even while still cold.
    MUCH better acceleration than the 2 cycle. The comparison in power is a little unfair, because the 85 engine is closer in HP to the KM90, but when I used the 85 for edging, I had to have it wide open ALL the time, and it was "just enough" most times, to maybe slightly lacking in the worst of cases. The 110 doesn't need full throttle all the time for edging, and handles that "first edge of the season" without having to go over a single spot twice (just have to go a little slow that first time).
    Best part is, even after running through several consecutive tanks of fuel, I just smell like sweat, and not gas mix, and the noise is considerably less loud and whiny. 4mix all the way for me. I'm going out on a limb to guess that the people who had issues with the 4mix didn't use quality synthetic oil, or had too oil rich a fuel mixture.

    I too had a troy bilt at first. Fortunately, it blew up on me within the return period, so I didn't lose anything on it. There's NO comparison between that and a Stihl. Neither in the engine quality, nor in the attachments.

    The few times I used the troy bilt, I was able to trim around my house, and my arms were only just a bit tired. The first time I used the Stihl KM110R, I was sore for DAYS from the weight. Then I threw the loop over my neck, and got it adjusted. After that, my arms don't even notice it's there. You don't want to manhandle the machine around. It'll make you hurt. With the sling adjusted, I can let go, and just push it around with one finger, and it'll be right where I want it to trim.

    I see you mentioned the KM90. That's a bicycle handle, good for brush cutting with a blade, but not good for the pole pruner or power scythe.
    I'm guessing you're looking at the KM90R with the loop handle, if you're considering the pole pruner?
  5. benjammin

    benjammin LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 251

    I have the pole saw attachment and love it too. I'll likely get a brush cutter attachment this summer to reclaim some overgrown trails.

    Years ago Home Depot was carrying the Echo power heads and attachments, then they weren't and now recently they are back. I got the pole saw attachment at the Echo Dealer but recently noticed Home Depot had it too (same price).
  6. drumz2129

    drumz2129 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 55

    Thanks for all the advice. I have checked with my local Stihl and redmax dealer, and will try to get by my tanaka dealer next week. Right now I am leaning towards the Redmax. They are both the within $30 of each other, so price is not a factor. Redmax has the advantage of being a 2cycle (much less moving parts and no valve adjustment), better balanced IMO, and lighter.
  7. rider997

    rider997 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    I've got to say that the fuel efficiency and torque of the 4-mix engines make them really pleasant to work with. The exhaust smells more like that of a race motorcycle than a stinking piece of 2-stroke outdoor power equipment. I don't find the weight to be a problem at all with the FS110. I started mine today in 45 degree weather, and, like always, it starts in exactly one pull after priming the carb with the primer bulb. Best trimmer I've ever had.
  8. jkason

    jkason LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 546

    For a yard that big, any of the brand names mentioned above would be good, but you need something with a bigger engine.

    Think $400.00-$500.00 range. that should take care of you.
    Anything smaller and you will be fixing whatever you buy as much as your old one (and calling it crap to boot!)

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