Friday, June 4, 2010

Top 10 Hand Push Reel Lawn Mowers Made In The USA

Best Hand Push Reel Mowers Part 9

 After discussing what  makes for a good hand push reel lawn mower, and reviewing all mowers that e considered interesting, we ranked the best mowers for small, mid-size and large yards. All of our selections are recommended by for their conditions of application. Yet it would be nice to see what the best US-made mowers are, because they often are of better quality than many imported models, and because, every thing being equal, many of us would rather buy gear made in the USA.

It turns out that US-made mowers are all good quality, but they also share other characteristics, for the better or for the worse. Most of them are all metal. Many of them have carried an older design for a long time. All of them are contact mowers, and on the heavy side, often very heavy. This is what, in part, gives them their quality, but it also keeps them from the newest, fastest development part of the market: lightweight, easy to handle, easy to maintain, silent, no-contact mowers. Another characteristic that is shared by many of the US manufacturers is that they focus on traditional brick and mortar distribution, often without even supporting online sales - this cannot be seen as a positive.

#4 American 1705-16 contact mower.  The 1705-16  (/705-16) 16" mower has 7 blades (better cut, better suited to southern grasses, but harder push) to be able to cut Bermuda grasses, Zoysia grasses, bent grasses (which are really cool season grasses) and St Augustine grasses. The model has a reel on ball bearings, 10" polymer wheels and plastic gears, a roller, powder-coated Tee handle with foam grips,  a cutting height of 0.5" to 2.25" adjustable by moving bolts on both sides (some retailers mention a single adjustment knob - it is an error), a 27 lb weight, and a $100 price. A front metal bar protects shrubs and flowers from the reel. The 1705-16 is an Amazon reviews star, and is manufactured in the USA.The only recurring issues that we have found is that the handle can break when pushed with great vigor against dense southern grass, which it is built for.  Reviews mention the handy nature of the mower, its ability to cut southern grasses, its relative pushing ease and quiet. The 1705-16 is a no-fuss, no-muss, go everywhere mower, very well suited to small yards, even or bumpy, with difficult Southern grasses, for which its range of height adjustment is well suited. Adjusting the height of cut is a painful process requiring a wrench or socket set. Because of its plastic gears, a large lawn could be a challenge to its reliability. Because the 1705-16 is a contact mower, is requires yearly back-lapping by the user, and professional sharpening every 5 years. A back-lapping kit is available.

#3 McLane 17-PH-5, 17-PH-7, and 17-PH-10 contact mowers. McLane makes a family of heavy, but well-built, all metal reel mowers, all with a 17" cut path, with a varying number of blades. The 5-blade reel is for Northern grasses, the 7 blade reel is for Southern grasses, and the 10-blade reel is for putting greens. The mowers have a with a very large carriage, front-throw (i.e. it tosses the grass clipping forward), chain-driven (rather than pinion gear driven like most reel mowers). They are mounted on 4 small wheels. They use a wing nut to adjust cut height from a broad 0.44" to 2.5". They carry a Tee shape handle with foam grips. They are powder-coated. They weigh from 44 to 53 lbs, and cost from $$175 to $210. A grass catcher is available for another $60. The McLane has very few reviews on the web, but it shows as a good quality mower in the threads that involve it. There is almost no product information on the manufacturer's site. Being  contact mowers, these mowers are harder to push, and noisier, than no-contact mowers. They are heavy, and should not be considered for use by frail or sick users. They are well suited to even mid size lawns with few irregularities or obstructions, where their heavy weight is not an issue to maneuverability, and where there small wheels will not stop it in the middle of a long push when hitting a small low spot. Height of cut adjustment uses wing nuts, and is therefore tool-less, but is not as convenient as spring loaded levers of adjustment knobs. These mowers is practically impossible to find online expect when directly purchased from the manufacturer. The manufacturer, who carries a solid reputation, counts on local dealers to provide first line customer support, and phone support is not easy to come. In general, the distribution model for these mower is practically exclusively through brick and mortal deals: a good local dealer is important, and online purchases should be considered with great care.

#2 TruCut H16-7, H18-5, H20-5. TruCut has a very good reputation online for its golfing green mowers. It manufactures a line of three mowers, ranging from  7-blade 16" cut path, through 5-blade 18" cut path, to 5-blade 20" cut path. All mowers are all metal, with a roller behind the reel. The wheels, of unknown diameter, are cast iron on ball bearings with steel pinion gears, and have replaceable tires. The height adjustment ranges from 0.5" to 2.25" and uses thumb screws. They can be found with difficulty on the web. An optional grass catcher goes for another $60. Weights range from 34 to 37 lbs. These mowers are very robust, soundly engineered and carry no excessive weight. They are well adapted to mid to large size yards of any shape, even or bumpy, and for all Northern grasses including bent grasses, or for mid-size yards with Southern grasses. Their weight is an excellent compromise, very low for an all metal mower. Their height of cut remains a bit low, and could be a problem for lawns with special conditions, such as thin strips or inset stones, where you would want higher lawn, and requires religious weekly mowing, as missing a week will make the lawn to high to cut. Height of cut is tool-less, but could be more convenient. Being contact mower, they are a bit harder to push, and noisier, than no-contact mowers.This mowers have excellent design and production, but carry distribution and support weaknesses: (1) no support from the manufacturer for online sales, and very little phone support; (2) no back-lapping kit; (3) no online reviews (we spent many hours online interviewing retailers); and (4) very little online product information. Like McLane, the manufacturer has a distribution system exclusively based on brick-and-mortar dealers, making online purchases risky as they will depend upon the retailer for support (there are very few online retailers for this mower). Getting a hold of the manufacturer was like pulling teeth, and took us more than 2 weeks and 20 phone calls - although once we established contact getting information was easy. Because these are contact mowers, they require yearly back-lapping by the user, and professional sharpening every 5 years. We strongly recommend that you identify a suitable back-lapping kit prior to purchasing these mowers, since neither the manufacturer nor its retailers were able to point us at one. We truly hope that the manufacturer will look into these weaknesses, as we feel that these mowers could be stars.

#1 American 1414-16. The  1414-16 (414-16 in the Great Lakes line) is, to us, the best model of the American family. It is an all-metal 16" cut path model, with a 5 blade reel, 10" cast iron wheels and metal gears, a ball bearing reel, a roller, powder-coated Tee handle with foam grips, and  a cutting height of 0.5" to 2.25" adjustable to 3 positions by moving bolts on both sides. The price to pay for the all-metal construction is weight - 32 lbs. Online price is around $90. The 1414-16 is made in the USA, and has great Amazon reviews, the only problem listed being a DOA mower.  Other reviews mention ease of assembly, the weight being a positive when dealing with tough grasses to mow, good cut, good quality overall. Being a contact mower, the 1414-16 is a bit harder to push, and noisier, than no-contact mowers. This is a mower than can go everywhere, and which can deal with mid size yards of all kinds, even or bumpy, with Northern grasses (although dense bent grasses could be better served by the 1705-16, also reviewed, and our #1 choice for small yards with Southern grasses). Its height of cut is not as high as it could be, and will hamper the user who misses a weekly mow, making it hard to catch up (or requiring a powered mower). The height of cut adjustment requires a wrench or socket set: not cool. Because the H18-5 is a contact mower, is requires yearly back-lapping by the user, and professional sharpening every 5 years. A back-lapping kit is available..

Special Prize

We found a very special product line, which we felt we could not made in the USA, but which had a lot of value-add provided in the US. This is the case of Macot SilentCut, the old Agri-Fab line, picked up by an Amish manufacturer, who has the parts fabricated in China, but sharpens, adjusts and tunes each mower prior to shipping them to the distributor. The quality of these mowers is exceptional, their support is also top notch, and, as a whole, they deserve a special USA value-add prize:-)

The Mascot SilentCut 18 and 21 contact mowers. The SilentCut models include two 18" cut path mowers and two 21" cut path mowers, where each cut path size comes with a low-cut and a high-cut version. The mowers are all metal, powder-coated, with a 6-bladed reel mounted on ball bearings. it has 10" wheels (9" for the low-cut version), a rear roller, a Tee shape handle with foam grips, and a height of cut varying, depending on the models from 0.5" to 1" on one end, and 2.25" to 2.75" on the other end, adjustable by moving bolts on both sides. They are  "light contact" mowers where the reel barely makes contact with the knife bed. They weigh from 38 to  44 lbs, and cost between $260 and $290. There is no protection from the reel for flowers and shrubs. Customer support through the distributor ReelMowersEtc is excellent. Their height of cut is good in most cases, and may forgive the user a few days' lateness in mowing the lawn - but don't wait too long. The height of cut adjustment is painful, requiring a wrench or socket set. They are exceedingly sturdy mowers, heavy and powerful, well suited to larger yards, even or bumpy, with any type of tall grasses (bent and Southern grasses would be better served by the low cut versions, while the other versions are better fro other Northern Grasses).  Their light contact does not create significant noise or make them hard to push, beyond the weight. While the can be pushed by older children in most conditions, these mower are not appropriate to frail or sick users: they needs good momentum to be used. These robust mowers are likely to last 50 years or more, with few replacement parts needed. Because they are contacts mower, they require yearly back-lapping by the user, and professional sharpening every 5 years. A back-lapping kit is available.

Next we select the best budget manual putting green mower... So come back soon!

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Mary Smith said...

Hey, There are top 10 Hand Push Reel Lawn Mowers which is very useful and helpful for us. It has many advantages which you want. Thanks..

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