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on July 1, 2008
Apr 2010 Update: Still works great. Used it for the first time this season last weekend. Didn't have to tune anything or even sharpen anything. Just pulled it out and started walking. YAY! Everything (wheels, blades, handle - is there anything else?) does their job just fine. My ten year old still doesn't have enough height to do an easy cut with this mower. The angle of the handle when he pushes causes the wheels to slide sometimes when the grass gets tall. To him the mower is really tough so the angle of the handle is important. I wonder if I shortened the handle if it would be easier for him? I can on the other hand mow without much effort. The handle is as near to flat as the mower allows when he tries to push it. For me the handle is at a 45 degree angle to the ground.

Last weekend being one of the first warm weeeknds greeted us with a cacophony of gas trimmers, lawnmower engines, gas powered pressure washers, gas chippers, a two-stroke chainsaw, a four wheeler, and a go cart. Ahhh the sounds of spring!!!! GRIN! Apparently the real peace comes during the week when retirees are at home alone - while the rest of us are working or schooling... GRIN!

Original review from 2008:

I recently borrowed a friend's Great States Mower to try on my yard. He bragged on it and told me I should give it a try.

What a joy it was to use. Lightweight, no real noise, no vibrations, no debris being flung out from under the mower at -900 mph- towards my children, and no fumes. I could stop and start without stopping and starting an engine. I could walk and listen to music on my Nokia N810 without ear muffs or ear plugs. The kids could get close or ask questions. I declared that day I would buy one.

If only the whole neighborhood would use these mowers. Some weekends are a filled with the roar of a half-dozen gasoline powered lawnmowers chomping away at the grass followed by gas leaf blowers and gas weed-wackers. No relaxing outside with a cold glass of sweet tea on those days. Are all of these gas powered tools really progress? If it is, I'll take a few steps backwards thanks...

I spent $40 this spring on my 10 year old gas mower to get it back on it's feet. I bought a new blade b/c the old one was bent, new gaskets and seals for the carburetor, an oil change, and a new fuel line. Would have been much more but I am able to to do all my own work. It's been a good machine and has alot of life left in it but I'm tired of it though. Such complexity and roaring noise to do something simple like cut grass. Every year it has cost me $20 or so to get the gas mower ready. I can only imagine what it would cost to use a repair service.

I looked at electric mowers - the type with a motor and battery on board. Nice machines but still more than I need week to week. Still a certain amount of noise. Still a complex device. Then I used this Great States Mower. What a perfect tool for the job. This isn't your grandfather's reel mower. I remember using one of those when I was a kid. It weighed about as much as I did at the time and a real bear to push. Maybe it was weight or maybe it was out of adjustment. Maybe it was that I was eight years old. Tough to say.

I, like most folks these days, could use a little more exercise. This manual mower helps there. It's not hard to push and it weighs less than my gasoline mower. I feel really good when I get done mowing! I think it is because I was exercising without inhaling all of those exhaust fumes for 45 minutes.

These mowers have limitations as you may read in other reviews. Without a blade spinning at 3,000 rpm+ it does not suck the grass and debris upward to be chopped by the blades. That means grass blades that don't stand straight enough to get cut won't get cut. It also means that debris like leaves won't get mulched. Surprisingly having mowed my yard with a reel mower a few times now - it just looks better to me. It's not a perfect cut. I can find a few stray blades that got pushed over instead of being cut and stand back up between mows. I'll get them next time. No sweat. The blades get scissored by the reel mower rather than torn or chopped by the gas mower blade. Looks greener to me.

You'll need to mow a little more often. If you let the grass get out of control you'll hate mowing with this mower. Get an electric mower from Great States Mower. With this reel mower and a little extra mowing the finished yard looks great and the effort is minimal. Your body will be better for it too. Save your old gasoline mower for leaf control or mulching. I'm likely going to ditch mine in favor of a leaf rake.

The mower needs little TLC to keep it in top form. Its easy with just a little practice.

The cutter bar has to be adjusted so that the reel blades slide against it evenly. There are two screws on each side of the cutter bar that adjust this. Basically they tilt the cutter bar against or away from the blades. Too close and the mower is hard to push, and too far away and the mower won't scissor the blades of grass. It takes about 10 mins to get it just right the first time and that adjustment should be good for a long, long time.

There is this perfect cutting sound that the mower makes when it is just right. Learn to hear this sound and you'll know all is right with your mower. To sharpen your mower you simply tighten this cutter bar against the blades a little closer than normal and smear valve grinding paste on the reel blades and cutter bar. Push it around the driveway to spin the blades. When the blade edges are uniformly shiny across their length then you are ready to clean the paste off and readjust the cutter bar. You can buy this valve lapping paste from any FLAPS (friendly local auto parts store) and mechanics use this paste when replacing cylinder head valves in a car or truck engine.

The reel mower sharpening kits provide a handle so you can spin the blades while the mower is on your workbench and the grinding compound is the same as the FLAPS paste. My 1/2" Milwaukee drill spins the blades very well too...

The last time I mowed I did it without earplugs. I did not smell like exhaust. I did not feel run down after 45 mins of carbon monoxide laden exhaust and who knows what else in my lungs. I could listen to my Nokia N810 music player streaming radio to me via Wi-Fi (GO LINUX!) My kids could walk over to me and I could stop or start with no cranky mower engines to start or stop. No flying debris being flung at my children or our animals.

I bought a 10 year old American Mower last night locally. I wanted a Great States Mower from Amazon (still the best new retail price I've found) but this deal was too good to pass up at $45. Owner bought it and used it a couple of times before putting it away for a decade. Was one of the 'Made in the USA' versions. Tires for example are basically new so I know it did not get used too many times. The interesting thing is that mine is an American Lawn Mower Company 18-Inch Reel Mower #1815-18 and it is exactly like my buddy's Great States #815-18 18" Deluxe Reel Mower. I am wondering if the companies are the one and the same...
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on July 6, 2008
This is my first reel mower and I must say I've been converted.

The grass flew off the rear of the mower as if it were a cartoon- literally a waterfall of grass shooting into the air. You can go back over a section easily enough to hit any blades you might have missed (I missed only because I couldn't see the 'walk lines' since the mower is so light).

I'm able to navigate around tightly planted edging with no trouble, but you will need a weed whacker to finish up since these don't cut the width of the tire + 1 inch.

My front lawn took about 5 more minutes to cut than with the gas powered 'push' mower- and that was mostly due to me learning how to cut with this beautiful piece of equipment.

My back lawn is a nightmare of twigs, leaves, holes and hills. A twig can and will stop the blades if it's too large but that only happened once.

The only gripe I have with the great states 18" reel mower is that the handles aren't long enough- I'm 6'2" tall and my arms had to hold them at an awkward angle. I'll see if that improves and update as time goes on. Until then, this is a great investment.

While not as wide as the Scotts 20" mower this is significantly cheaper on the per - inch basis.
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on June 7, 2009
So first for the reasons why this Great States mower is a great push reel mower, and is probably the best $100 I've spent in a long time:

1) It's the perfect weight - it's not so heavy that you tire easily using it, and it's not so light that it bounces around and doesn't cut the grass.

2) It's a solid piece of equipment. From what I've read of the Scott's reel mower, the handle is flimsy.

3) It was easy to assemble. Took about twenty minutes altogether, and I'm not especially mechanically inclined.

Now for the reasons why I love having a push reel mower in general:

1) The kids can be outside while I'm mowing. No worries about rocks, etc. being thrown around.

2) Extremely quiet compared to mowers with engines (pretty obvious I suppose).

3) No need to deal with slopping gas around or to smell exhaust from the mower. I really enjoy being able to mow the lawn without feeling like I immediately need to take a shower after doing it.

4) I had some trepidations about how effective a tool this would be, but it cuts right through the grass with ease. I haven't had to mow when the grass is extremely long, but because this mower is so much fun (yes, fun) to use, I don't anticipate the grass getting too long, because I'll be using it so frequently.

We have a yard that is a little over 1/3 of an acre - for anyone who has a lawn that size or up to 1/2 an acre, I would definitely recommend this mower. Anything bigger than that, and personally I'd want a riding lawn mower. Five stars, only because I can't rate it higher than that.
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on July 15, 2007
This product works really well for my small lawn. I used to use a competitor's 16" and this is a major improvement. Lighter weight, more accurate cutting. Adjusts from 1/2" to 2 3/4" with two hand tightened wingnuts. I switched to manual when I heard that a power lawnmower had the same exhaust as eleven cars. (Even if the stats are exaggerated - and they're pretty hard to fathom - it's still substantial.) Manual is no big deal really. And they're a lot quieter! Um, I guess that's obvious. Assembly is about ten minutes and not too challenging for those who can eat cereal with a spoon. I added the grass catcher which is kind of a POS, but works passably. There is a sharpener which you may want to get, too. Mow your lawn while saving the world - how can you lose?
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on June 7, 2011
I was initially disappointed when I opened the box because parts were rusted and in assembly, 2 holes were askew. After a little fabrication on my part I was able to complete the put together process, but it took extra half hour to make it all work. As soon as I used the mower though, I was delightfully surprised and impressed with it's workability and cutting prowess. I soon got over the hassle of having to drill proper holes and cleaning away most of the rust. This would have gotten a better than ok rating if it had arrived in a better condition.Great States 815-18 18-Inch Deluxe Push Reel Lawn Mower
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on June 12, 2012
The mower arrived on time, in good packaging. One of the mower arms had a light dusting of surface rust on its surface. Not a big deal, it would take 15 years to rust all the way through and I cleaned it up fine. The problem with the mower is that it doesn't cut any thin little weed chutes which for whatever reason I always have sprouting. It cut the standard grass great. Functioned great, spun smoothly, and cut evenly. The only problem is that it won't cut my weed sprouts so if I used this I would have to go back over my yard with a weed eater, or snips and recut the thin weeds. This mower would be excellent if you have a yard that is weed treated, or you never get a weed in your yard. But if you get weeds randomly (like my yard) this won't work the best for you. I hope this made sense.
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on April 8, 2015
I purchased this mower for two reasons. The main reason was for my 5 year old son as he's always wanting to help mow the grass. Since the blades stop when the wheels stop, there's less chance for injury than with a gas powered mower. So far, while he doesn't quit have enough backside to get it going in thick grass, he loves using it. I'll stand beside him and help push the mower.

The other reason I got it was for the exercise. Our lot is about 1/2 acre and it's uneven, yet this mower has worked fine. The only areas that give me any trouble are the thicker patches of crab grass and sometimes the wild onions that grow in our area. Otherwise, the mower has worked great and I love the smell of the fresh cut crass without the smell of a running motor.
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on April 7, 2010
***Update June 2013***

My original review is still below, but I thought I would update it a bit:

I still haven't had to sharpen the reel, though each year I have to slightly adjust the cutting bar. It still cuts grass beautifully!

My only two qualms with the mower are with the height adjudtment and the handle.

To adjust the height, you can move the roller on the back of the mower by moving a screw on each side of it up and down some guide posts. It's easy to do by hand but there is no indicator on the machine to tell you what the height is set at. It's a guessing game and requires some trial and error to get the cutting height where you want it. The Scott's Classic and my 20" Yardworks have a simple, easy to use dial and lever that let you know if the setting is high or low. They are more user friendly in that respect.

Concerning the handlebar, while it is comfortable enough for what it is, it is quite a rattler. The posts on the frame that the handles attach to leave a lot of play, so you get a lot of metal on metal clanking as you mow. I opted for the MacGyver technique to alleviate this: narrow strips of duct tape wrapped around the posts allow for full motion but provide some sound dampning. Not pretty, but effective.

I still standby this mower as winner!

I found this mower locally on sale, and decided to pick it up. I've always been interested in simpler appliances, as well as going a bit green. I was concerned because I have an average sized lawn, but it doesn't take me any longer to mow with this then the old gas-powered John Deere.

Thoughts:

- Very minimal maintenance required. There are ways to adjust the cutting bed and the angle of the cut, but it's ready to go right out of the box.

- Easy to push! I mow every week normally, so I tend to not let the lawn get too huge. I can see how letting it get too long would make life tough, though.

- Spend a few minutes picking up the twigs first. I've got several mature deciduous trees that shed little twigs all the time. Anything approx. the size of a #2 pencil will jam the reels.

- Pretty quiet, though not silent. This model has a 'scissoring' sound which is kind of odd to get used to, but its so much quieter than a gas powered (or even battery powered) mower, I'm fine with it. A little WD-40 on the knife bed quiets things down even more (make it a point to use some regularly on the moving parts; it'll keep the noise down and make it easier to mow with).

- Building it takes 20 minutes; you just put the handle together, set your desired height and its off to the races.

Those are the pertinent details I thought I would mention. There are plenty of resources on the internet on the finer aspects of using a reel mower. Frankly, outside of cleaning my lawn of small twigs, I see no real (reel?) downside to this mower. It's well-built, suitably heavy, cuts nicely, and is virtually maintenance and noise free. Save the gas hog for mulching the leaves in the fall and use this the rest of the year.

Hope this helps!
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on June 7, 2009
An OK Chinese-made push reel mower. Upon assembling, however, the instructions aren't entirely accurate, but this only had to do with assembling one portion of the handle. It functions much as you would expect a push reel mower to function....it will miss some high, thinner grasses, and you may have to go over some sections a number of times from different angles to get the job done, but no fuel required and VERY low maintenance.
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on June 26, 2009
If you have a small enough lawn, consider this mower. I have had mine for about 10 years and have it sharpened every 2. Very low or no other maintenance required. This mower actually cuts the grass (as opposed to most power mowers that "beat" the grass) so it is ok to leave the clippings to mulch. I also purchased a catch bag that attaches behind the blade if I let the grass get too long. Your lawn will love this mower, mine is better than golf course quality...., very even cuts. Blade height is also adjustable. Highly recommended.
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