Reel Lawn Mower for home use?

Sandhills_NC(7b)April 26, 2014

So.. I keep reading that reel mowers are better for my bermuda grass, as well as the zoysia grass I'm putting in this year. I looked into reel mowers, and all I could find were either extremely expensive professional type mowers (Tru Cut) and extremely cheap non-power reel mowers. I have just shy of 1/2 acre of grass, so I'm not sure I'd be up to the task of cutting without a power mower, but a Tru Cut is out of my price range. Is anyone aware of any more reasonably priced power reel mowers for home use? All I could find on ebay were antiques. I live in NC, but I'd be willing to travel a bit to find a good mower if necessary. Thanks in advance!

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I'm afraid that with a half acre (20,000sf) of lawn, you would kill yourself with hand lawnmower. Even a smaller (20" or 21") self propelled might not be adequate.

You really have three choices: Tru-Cut, Trimmer, or McLane.

In my book, Trimmer and Tru-Cut are the best. Personally, I preferred Trimmer because of their roller drive. I used a succession of 20" and 25" Trimmers while I lived in Southern California. I had a large (14,000 ft - 6,000 ft lawn) lot by Los Angeles standards and found a 20" to be sufficient).Tru-Cut is wheel drive through a differential and many people prefer them. Although I lean toward Trimmer, I have a lot of respect for the Tru-Cut product.

McLane is more of a homeowner product, and is less expensive. It is a roller drive and copied many of the features of the Trimmer in the 1950's and then "dumbed it down" to be able to sell at a cheaper price point. Where Trimmer and Tru-Cut are all chain drive, McLane is belt drive off the engine. McLane also uses self-threading fasteners and the others use nut-and-bolt construction. Not a big deal until you strip a screw.

Both Trimmer and Tru-Cut will cost about $1400-$1500 for a 20" commercial model, and $1800 to $2000 for the 25" version. McLane lists for about $900 for the 20" and $1300 to $1500 for the 25". Also, McLane can be found discounted for less at Sears, Amazon, and others. Tru-Cut is rarely discounted.

All three mowers were originally from the Los Angeles area. Tru-Cut is still in Gardena, and McLane is in Paramount. Trimmer has had a more checkered history in the past 20 years. Originally in Gardena, they were acquired and moved to Fresno, then to Maine, and now are in Washington state. The Washington group seems to have their act together, but for 15 years you didn't know whether they were going out of business, and parts and service were spotty. Much improved in the past 5 years.

There is a Tru-Cut dealer in Wilmington, NC if you can justify the price. There are several Tru-Cut and Trimmer dealers in Goergia and Florida. Otherwise, I'd consider McLane as a lower cost alternative. In all cases, you can save a couple hundred with either the Honda GC engine or the Briggs OHV engine. Both are good motors, and more than adequate for home use. The Honda GX is a premium engine and is offered by all three manufacturers, but is more than you need, unless you are doing commercial work.

Lastly, if you have sandy soil, McLane might not be such a good choice. The sand will be abrasive to any reel and cutting bar, but I feel McLane uses a lesser grade of steel, and is prone to faster wear in such circumstances.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 2:20PM
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Thanks ggoyeneche, I really appreciate the input. The Tru-Cuts look great, but I'm afraid $1500 is out of my price range right now. Maybe I can convince the wife I need it down the road. I did find a dicounted McClane from Sears ( - but the reviews on that model are a bit sketchy, and I do have a fairly sandy lot. I could swing the $600 price tag, but I don't want to buy a mower that's going to quickly wear out. Have you or anyone you know used this McClane?

What ever happened to all the home use power-reel mowers you see in pictures of suburbia in the 60's I wonder? If reel mowers really are better for your grass, I don't understand the mass conversion to rotary mowers.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 3:34PM
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