Looking at reel mowers

earthworm73(WA z8)May 27, 2008

I am seriously considering a manual reel mower for several reasons. My only concern is I have adopted the highest setting when mowing idea. On my gas powered mower my highest setting is about 2.5"-3". Are most manual reel mowers able to accomandate this?

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Nope. Most reel mowers are not able to mow very high at all. Scott's mower has the highest setting that I've seen on a reel, either just at or just under 3".

Just FYI. I'd suggest you not throw the gas mower out. Reel mowers are great but will not cut well when it gets high and at the upper settings the cut can look a tad ragged with only one pass. I trot my reel mower out every so often and I have more success with it when I mow more frequently, a couple of times a week at least. When I can give it that kind of time it looks great but do consider the effort.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 8:46PM
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I have never owned a reel mower of any type. However I did work on them as a golf course mechanic for a couple years. I can assure you they do not perform well at the higher settings and do not perform well at cutting off more than 1/4 at a time regardless of hight setting. This is a large factor in golf courses cutting grass on fairways every 2-3 days and daily on the greens. Also reel mowers are high maintenance for a clean cut. If the blade is dull it will pull and tear the grass rather than cut it which will stress the grass. This is simply my opinion not a fact! As I said I never owned one. I doubt a home reel mower differs much from the pro type other than the power source driving the reel and moving the asymbly.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 2:49PM
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The Scotts reel mower ( my favorite) differs from others in that it can actually cut at a much higher setting. Its rare to see a reel mower of any kind that even goes to 2". And sharpening the Scotts couldn't be easier, though it hardly ever gets dull. They sell a brush-on sharpening compound that's worked great for me. If you can sharpen your gas mower blade you can do this. Reel mowers in general do have some drawbacks but I haven't struggled to maintain mine.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 1:02PM
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I had one and it worked great when it was very sharp. However, I don't have a closed garage or store room, just an open air carport, and before long the elements got to the blades, rusting them. It doesn't cut now and I will have to find someone in town to regrind the reel. I agree that for a reel mower to work well it must be in tip-top shape.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2008 at 3:34PM
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Personally I love the idea of a reel mower. However the "drawbacks" are rather discouraging untill some new design overcomes them. Though I think they are still good for the more fine blade grasses provided you properly maintain them.

hipgardener - try to find a golf course mechanic or a repair shop that caters to that industry. You may even get it sharpened for free if you are patient and want to volunteer it as a demo job for a company trying to sell a new reel grinder to a nearby golf course. You should also ask if they need the reel on or off the mower. Most old systems require the reel off depending on the reels mounting design. I recommend a golf course mechanic simply due to this is someone who grinds reels on a regular basis. Unlike a standard machine shop or mower repair shop that may only do a few per year or couple years. There is an art to getting a long lasting edge and they do need regrinding as the blade wears down. The sharpening compound is for keeping the cutting edge sharp. As the blade wears down you get a larger surface of the blades face which increases heat build up causing the blade to dull faster and faster. For a manual reel I would guess you only face regrinding every 4-5 years if properly maintained. A power reel about every 60 hours of operation. Both will be drastically reduced if rust is allowed to set in. I would guess you could find an organic spray to protect the reel or at the very least cover it with a tarp.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 12:58AM
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Thanks for that advice. I was wondering just where I was gonna find someone to barrel grind the reel, but that suggestion is awesome.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 8:54AM
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earthworm73(WA z8)

thanks for your input. i think i am gonna stay with old dusty. i like to mow my 'grass' kinda on the long side to shade out the weeds.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 10:33AM
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