Now that we're a one-income family, we're tightening the belt around here these days, and one of the expenses we figured we should cut is the $20 per week we've been paying the gardeners to mow, edge, and blow the lawns. Around here, we have to mow the lawns every week, all year round. In the dead of winter we can maybe do it every other week, but the leaves and pine needles build up, even if the grass isn't growing much. When we moved to this house, LOML and I each had our own mowers. I ended up giving mine (the newer of the two) away to the lady who bought my old house, and we kept LOML's old Sears mower, figuring we'd never use it, because it was worth $20 a week to me to NOT have to mow the lawn.
Times and priorities change, so Tuesday I got out our old Sears mower. It's one that LOML's dad bought back in 1987, and LOML used after her mom and dad were divorced soon afterward. It hasn't been run since we moved here four and a half years ago. (Barely ran last time it was used.)
I filled it with gas, blew out the air filter, and checked the oil. I pushed the carburetor primer bulb in once, and it was like pushing on a wet Gummi worm. It disintegrated in one push. Quick check on the web, and that part is available from Sears...attached to the entire engine assembly, for $175. I looked the engine over to see if I could figure out if it was a Briggs & Stratton or Tecumseh, figuring I'd just replace the primer bulb or at worst, the carb assembly. No obvious sign of the manufacturer, but I could still probably hunt down a replacement, or take it to a local shop for repairs. But in going over the engine I remembered the first time I'd worked on it, back in probably about 1998. At the time, LOML didn't realize lawnmowers were supposed to have oil in them. She had never changed the oil (or added to it), and had never cleaned or changed the air filter. When I changed the oil that summer, it looked like Ellie Mae's coffee. Black molasses. (What little was still in the crankcase, after 10+ years.)
I figured I didn't really want to invest a lot of money or time in the old mower, since I'd probably be wasting my money in the long run. Plus, we have quite a bit of lawn, at least for a guy with a bad back trying to push a lawn mower, so it didn't make sense to invest in a mower I would have trouble using. I figured if I was going to start mowing the lawns, I needed a self-propelled mower. A bit of web reading also told me rear wheel drive was better than front wheel drive. I did some web surfing and ended up with this one:
Consumer Reports rated this model's predecessor a Best Buy, and all the reviews and ratings I saw of it seemed to be quite a bit better than average. It's not a commercial duty Honda or Toro, but it's the upper end of Toro's homeowner line, so it should last me a good long time. It's got a very standard Briggs & Stratton engine, so parts should be available down the road. The way I see it, after five months of mowing my own lawn, it'll pay for itself. And being self propelled, it probably won't beat up my back like my previous lawnmowers have.
It was after dark before I got it home, so I won't get to test drive it until Wednesday. I think I'll put a coat of wax on the mower first. I'm actually looking forward to mowing the lawn.