A Tale of Two Mowers



Gas mowers and I don't get along.

Partly it's a noise pollution thing. Nothing more irritating than settling into a comfy chair on the deck, with a nice cold glass of wine, a few snacks and a good book, than to have the serene scene destroyed by the raucous sound of a lawn mower crashing through the neighborhood.

Partly it's an environmental thing. Gas engines pollute, pure and simple, and a poorly tuned mower spews smoke and oil at an alarming rate.

Partly it's an economics thing. Gas is expensive, and if you want to keep your lawn mower up an running expect to pay about 80 bucks for an annual tune-up. Since I don't drive much or have a pick-up or SUV to do the hauling, the logistics of getting my mower to the shop is a major pain.

About 15 years back, I owned one of the first electric cordless lawn mowers. I loved it. No yanking on a cord trying to coax it to life. Just push a button and it started up, the electric motor purring softly enough to allow conversation. It did a great job of cutting the grass, mulching better than most gas powered alternatives. The charge lasted long enough for me to finish the job. Unfortunately it had a major drawback. If the grass was just a little moist (and mine almost always was) things turned ugly. During its second season, it shorted out. The manufacturer admitted there was something of a design flaw and refunded my money. With in a year they were out of business and I was back to firing up the piston-powered monster.

Well, things change. This spring, I went out to mow the lawn, dreading every moment of it. I applied the choke and pulled the starter cord. Nothing. Tried it again. Nothing. Several more pulls and still nothing but a teasingly short start. I took off the air cleaner, which looked pretty bad, cleaned it up and tried again. The beast finally started but it was just toying with me. I got half way across the yard and it died.

Time for a change. More on that next time: In Praise of Tesla.