Top positive review
121 people found this helpful
Great machine. Depends on your expectations
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...