Blades and bed knife

handmowr.jpgAll is sharp on my reel mower, perhaps even keener than the day it was new, decades ago. Thanks to Austin Outdoor Power Equipment, the blades on the reel and the knife itself are better than ever. It’s become so that “push mower” now seems to mean “non-self-propelled power mower” instead of “non-power mower.” My faithful lawnmower has left dullness behind. I found Austin Outdoor Power Equipment via the Jane Greig Q&A column in our local daily (June 18, 2006; sign-in required). The price printed in the column was obviously way, way too good to be true and there had obviously been other misunderstandings, but Austin Outdoor Power Equipment does indeed do the necessary sharpening, with real (or reel) care, including the bed knife, and for a worth-it $30 and in less than a week. Although some of their many customers with heavy-duty professional equipment appeared to be suppressing a smile or two when they saw my trusty old mower, to their credit the fine folks at Austin Outdoor Power didn’t laugh at me. I know that more and more people are discovering the pleasures and ease of using an old-fashioned hand mower but are flummoxed when the time comes for sharpening. This is why I’m extolling the excellent work at Austin Outdoor Power. Thanks for the crisp-cut, not torn, St. Augustine blades, and thanks for extending the useful life of my mower!

6 Comments so far

  1. M Sinclair Stevens (unregistered) on June 28th, 2006 @ 3:47 pm

    After last week’s rain, I had my reel mower out for a couple of whirrs around the lawn before it dried out again and started lying too flat to mow.

    One misconception I hear over and over about reel mowers is how it builds up the muscles to have to push it around. I had to push my old gas-powered mulching mower, too. The engine doesn’t revolve the wheels after all. And the gas-powered mower was more than twice as heavy as the reel mower. So I think it was much harder to push.

    I guess the reel mower might be more difficult to push if you let your grass get too high. But with regular mowings, taking off less than 1/3 of the grass as one ought, it’s easier to push than the gas guzzler.

    I love it’s whirrrrrr sound–definitely a sound of summer.

  2. Rantor (unregistered) on June 28th, 2006 @ 4:13 pm

    It’s certainly not at all difficult to push. I have one bad shoulder and two bad wrists and it causes no trouble at all. It can be twirled one-handed around the shrubbery and irregular obstacles that abound. And now that it’s so incredibly sharp, it took down the hitherto uncut St. Augustine where the delphiniums and bachelor buttons have finished up, and in just one very easy pass. Amazing!

  3. Annie in Austin (unregistered) on June 28th, 2006 @ 8:02 pm

    Hello Rantor & Hi M,

    After seeing Al Gore’s movie the idea of a reel mower has been growing in my mind, and my reel-owning sons sent me links to manufacturers. The idea of hearing pastoral whirring and clippety sounds instead of the engine’s roar is tempting me to buy one. I’m hesitant because we have so many trees, and live under a constant shower of twigs. My mulching mower has an engine, not self-propelled, and I run it back and forth to crunch up the small sticks which decompose eventually.

    Will I still be able to do this with a reel?


  4. Rantor (unregistered) on June 28th, 2006 @ 8:46 pm

    Well, you’ll probably have to take up what we call “twig chi,” that ancient martial yard art. Sometimes an unseen twig becomes caught up between the reel and the bed knife and it’s necessary to give the reel a kick to release what’s caught in there. My entire yard, front, back, and side, is under trees of various sorts, including the odious loquat, each leaf of which is as big as a tobacco leaf. Less effort is expended in the occasional bending down to pick up something to go into the lawn-and-leaf bag than is necessary to run a gargantuan article of heavy equipment back and forth multiple times. Scientific research reveals that users of non-power equipment retain their hearing and their toes into their tenth decade of life. Remember, too, when selecting a mower, that, no matter what the label, all are made in this country by one of two companies in Ohio.

  5. Annie in Austin (unregistered) on June 30th, 2006 @ 8:40 pm

    Thanks a lot for the advice – it helps to hear from someone with an Austin lawn made of St Augustine, and I have a loquat, too!

    One son sent me a link to a company whose site says they’ve been making them in Shelbyville,IN since 1936. That’s about 80 miles NW of Cincinnatti, so might be one of the ones you are talking about?

    Another son has a Brill, which is supposedly made in Germany. I need to find out what’s sold around town, and Austin Outdoor Power Equipment has already been bookmarked.

    Thanks from Annie

  6. Rantor (unregistered) on July 1st, 2006 @ 9:03 am

    Mine is just like that in the picture, a Sears Craftsman, T-handle and of a width not offered in that configuration these days. Sears does still offer them; Home Depot sells them; Vermont Country Store and others sell through the mail; among local businesses selling them are Breed & Co., Eco-Wise, and Austin Outdoor Power. An X-handle has less torque, but I like a T-handle for getting around odd-shaped obstacles of various sorts. Had Austin Outdoor Power not been willing or able to sharpen, I was considering buying the mower on the sales floor there, which is my favorite type in every way. I’ve always been able to buy replacement rollers from Sears.

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