Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lawn Mower Man

A couple years ago, there was a set of tips for saving gas. It started with giving your lawn mower a tune up. I don't know about you, but last year my lawn mower used a gallon of gas - for the entire season. So, even if a tune up resulted in increasing fuel efficiency by 100%, at most, a gallon of gas per year could be saved. This is totally negligible, even if every lawn mower in the nation received such a tune up. Now, there's nothing wrong with maintenance. I'm all about that.

Or am i? This season, my six year old lawn mower has given up the ghost. It's some sort of carburetor problem. I can squirt gas directly into the carburetor, and it will start, and run for may fifteen seconds. And, it will mow grass that whole time. Who knows what the problem is. It could be a fuel pump, or fuel filter, or any of a dozen other things. While, i could have looked at the problem over the winter (there were signs of this coming last fall), the fact is, the lawn needed mowing today, and there just isn't time to do anything about it.

I went to the store. For $100, one can get a 3.5 hp mower like the one that died. For $100, one can get a non-motorized push reel mower. So, what are the pros and cons of each?

Well, the gas powered mower is easier to use. Pull the chord, push it around, and it will do most of the work actually cutting the grass. For the most part, it cuts everything. And who cares if there are branches or rocks or whatever - the mower will chop it up and continue on.

The push reel mower provides more exercise. When the grass is very high (as it was this morning), it takes multiple passes to get the job done. Further, aren't very good when there is more than one species of grass, and in particular, it isn't very good with dandelions. I'm cool with that - i'd rather have dandelions than grass anyway. The push reel mower is also quieter. One can wear an iPod and listen to music or podcasts while mowing the lawn. One can mow early in the morning without irritating the neighbors. Maybe even late a night. Though it should be cleaned and oiled, it doesn't have to be fueled - ever. So, that once a summer trip to the gas station with the gas can is a thing of the past. Oh, yes, it saves that one gallon a year. The entire gallon. The push reel mower is also slightly smaller. It takes up a little less room in the garage for storage. There are more corners it will fit into than a gas mower. It is a simpler device. So there is a better chance
that if it breaks, it will be obvious what is wrong with it, and it will be more likely to be fixable.

And this last bit is the main reason i bought it. Six years isn't enough. It isn't the money. $17 a year rent on a mower is cheap. But if we're going to do this throw away economy concept, we've got to have some sort of reasonable recycling system. Where are the lawn mower refurbishment organizations? Can the thing just be melted down and made into cars? Or does the whole thing get tossed into the land fill, gas, oil, caked on grass and everything? No one told me what to do with the old beast.

So, maybe i'll find the original instructions. Maybe i'll call them up and order a few parts. Maybe i'll get her operational again. Maybe the new push reel mower will be the backup - patiently waiting until some kid offers to cut my lawn for $10. Or maybe, due to laziness (some call it prioritization), the gas mower will collect dust for a bit until the garage space is needed for something else.

4 comments:

fuel saver said...
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Anonymous said...

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Stephen said...

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