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3:58pm on Saturday, 4th April, 2009:

One Man Went to Mow


Yesterday, we bought a new lawnmower.

Our old mower, which we've had 10 years or more, was starting to play up in various ways. Bits were coming off, holes were appearing where they shouldn't be, and it was getting harder to start. None of the things wrong with it were fatal, but it was clear to me that it was going to break down sometime this year, it was just a question of when.

In fact, it happened 2 weeks ago, on only its second outing of the year. Of all the things that could have gone wrong, I didn't expect what actually went wrong: the dead man's handle sheared off through metal fatigue:

Yes, those are blue spots of paint on it.

To replace it, I was hoping to get a sit-on mower, because then, well, I could have sat on it. We have a problem, though, in that our back garden is accessible only through a narrow side passage or through the house. We did find a good mower that we could have got into our back garden by a process of partial dismantlement, which would have served as a theft deterrent. However, I couldn't have cut underneath our apple trees with it.

So, instead we went with a different kind of theft deterrent:

The colour.

This is a Viking MB655VM. It's pretty damned good. It has several features that I really like which were absent in the ol' Harrier 56: it starts very easily; the 70L capacity grass box does actually fill up (instead of bunging up the rotors when half full); you can empty the grass box by taking off the lid instead of shaking it (although the joints seem flimsy to me); the engine disengages but keeps running when the rotors are stressed (instead of stalling).

Things I don't like about it are: the dead man's handle and rotor clutch are the wrong way round, so instead of pushing a rear lever to get it to move I have to pull a forward lever; the handle is made of a rubber-like material that seems designed to promote blisters; it has rear wheels instead of a rear roller. This last point is more of an annoyance than I was expecting it to be: I knew it would mean I couldn't give the lawn a nice stripy look; I knew that if I were to go too close to the edge such that a wheel slipped into the flowerbeds, it would turn from mower to rotovator and churn up the soil; I didn't know that this would be quite as annoying as it is.

On the whole, though , I'm reasonably happy with it.

Hmm, I'm sure they should have given me a manual for it in the shop.

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).