String Trimmer 101

dolemite_baJune 24, 2009

Last fall, I bought a cheap model ($75) and it didn't seem to work. Starting/idling was a pain and the single line kept breaking and would not feed. I "used" it for about 2 hours and cut about 10 sq yards of grass. So I took it back.

This spring I get a Stihl (top of line residential) for about $250. The dealer starts it up, shows me everything, etc. I take it home and start it up. It wasn't cutting! I stop it and look at the head and only one of the two lines is visible and it is only about an inch long. Bump feed? Didn't work. I try to take off the head and I can't do it.

TI take it back to the dealer and he has a problem taking off the head and when he gets it off says, "Well, now this isn't right." I get my money back and leave.

Were these incidents atypical or just "par for the course" when dealing with a string trimmer? Will I be constantly facing aggravation? Am I doing something wrong? Is this like owning a European sports car where one has to spend half his time as a mechanic?

I need to trim some stuff and I don't mind paying $250 (or a even bit more). But I can't justify spending money on something that is going to be a constant source of aggravation. Advice?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Steven Laurin & Company

After many years of frustration trimming and edging my yard with bargain brands costing under $100 - including Ryan, Craftsman and Ryobi, I finally had enough this season and bought the new Echo SRM-225 for $210. What an incredible machine!

You'll hear various recommendations from other users; but with my experience, this unit starts cold on the second or third pull - first pull when warm, cuts with authority, the precise U-Turn trimmer head is light-years ahead of my other POS units, and the line easily advances with just a gentle bump. No regrets here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Echo SRM-225

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 12:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
stinkytiger(z5 - z6)


My vote is for a Honda. I have a Honda HST 31. I think the engine size on the newer models is now 35 cc instead of 31. Cost is now $US 379. May be a bit cheaper if you shop around. Mine is now almost 4 years old. Reliable no trouble at all. I have a bump head and use stabil in the gasoline.

The trick with the bump heads is to take your time in winding that cord in. Make sure it does not cross over. Then when you bump it works good.

Best, Mike.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 1:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Foe real cheap trimmer, the head is not as good. I am surprised Stihl head had problem. Again, you have to learn the routine to start the engine.

No, I don't have problem with my trimmer head. At the begining, I broke a lot of string and one side broke off. As I have more experience, I hardly use up strings and never broke one side anymore. Pratice. Consider as paying tuition!!!

Get the Echo SRM225( SRM210) or Husqvarna 125. Both are about $200 and they should work well for you and not costing that much. They sell it in HD and Lowes. Make sure you get the bump feed head, not the rapid loader one.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 1:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for all of the replies (so far).

My issue is with the string end. When the dealer sold it (Stihl) to me, I didn't even get a box. I was given the impression that they were trying really cater to me by assmbling it for me. So maybe when the string was initially wound, it was done wrong/overlapping? Also, could starting the trimmer while laying on a concrete driveway be breaking the strings?

Can you give me any technique tips that lessen the string getting broken? I have a wrought iron type fence that has 1/2'' posts that go to the ground every four inches that I have to "go between." I'm not worried about scuffing up the bottom of the posts, but is the string going to break all of time if I hit them? What about brick walls?

Once again, I appreciate the responses.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 2:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You have the worst case of trimming. Going between bars in tight space. You might want to consider RoundUp weed killer together also!!!

The most important to keep in mind is you use the tip of the string to cut, keep that in mind not to stick the head close to the bars, that will break the string everytime. Under sunlight, you can see where the tip of the string and keep pratice. Took me a while to get the hand of this too. I broke so many on one side it's not funny. Just remember, it's the tip of the string.

You want to get as light a trimmer as possible. Don't get a large cc engine. Echo SRM225 or Husqvarna 125 are very light a good. Echo is a true commercial trimmer too.

I have the Honda 31cc. Way toooooo heavy. In your case, you might have to turn the trimmer sideway to get in between the bars. Weight is everything, power is of no importance. Lowes sell the Husqvarna round titanium string that might be a little more durable. Buy the largest diameter recommended by the trimmer you buy.

Remember, tip of the string. Pratice, pratice.....All else fail, RoundUp.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 4:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am actually thinking. In your case, the Echo Rapid Loader head might be better. Can someone that use Rapid Loader head commend on this because I never use one. The advantage of rapid loader is if you break the string, it is very easy to load a new piece. It is always a pain in the bud to take the head apart and re-strung the head.

It his case of trimming between the bars, I am not sure it's that easy even for the pros. Maybe a Rapid Loader head is what the doctor's order.

I bet the Shindaiwa Speed Feed head is the last one he need!! It is not design to be open that easy.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 4:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I may be the only one with this opinion. I purchased a refurb Ryobi SS30 from Home Depot for $50. When it came it looked absolutely new. Although it takes 5 pulls to start it, it runs like a beast. I love it and recommend it. Like I said, I am probably the only one on this group (or anywhere else for that matter) with this positive opinion on Ryobi. Home Depot has a huge Ryobi listing.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 7:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Steven Laurin & Company

You're right about the typical Ryobi engine - never had a problem with mine and it was (still is) a powerhouse - started easily and stayed running. I would have settled with it if not for that awful trimmer head - which was very erratic when new, a complete bear after a couple of seasons. The line advance design on that unit is very archaic and clumsy - compared to the Echo's U-Turn head.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 8:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have the TroyBilt 4 cycle which I believe is the same as the Ryobi. I believe some of the trimmers are made by MTD like TroyBilt. I have no problem with the engine. The head is something else. Particularly in this application where you have to go between bars. You are going to break off lines no matter how good you are( of cause, it is different if you are SUPER good!!) I alway have to stop, use a pair of plyers to loosen the bump knob to take out the spool. It does not advance very well either.

In this thread, I suspect the Echo Rapid loader head might be the best since you can easily put a new piece of line on if the old one breaks. No need to dis-assemble the head.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 9:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
stinkytiger(z5 - z6)


If your cord keeps breaking you can use a heavier cord. Read your manual to see what cord thickness you can use. I use a heavier 0.105 inch plastic cord in my honda HST 31 cc. It does wear down on rocks etc, but will seldom break. Note the down side is that you cannot get such a long length or cord into your bump head, a thinner cord means fewer times you have to reload the bump head.

My other tips are:
1) Wear goggles to protect your eyes
2) I use ear mufflers
3) An old baseball hat keeps the stuff out of your hair
4) Gloves to keep your hand from being hit by fly away stuff.
5) Long trousers, although sometimes I wear shorts when it is way too hot. Down side is your legs get wacked sometimes by the debris.

Best, Mike.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 8:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When you're trimming against a wall or (especially) posts, keep the speed low. This will make the line bend against the wall/post/whatever rather than hitting it while the line is held out with centripetal force. If the line can't cut what it runs into, then the force applied to the line will be much higher, often causing it to break if the rpm is too high. If the line is allowed to "wrap around" (that's how it's described in my trimmer's manual) solid objects, it will almost never break. I don't lose any noticeable amount of line when going along fences, foundations, trees, etc. by following this advice. You really shouldn't need anywhere close to the maximum power your engine can put out to cut grass or normal weeds. Using only as much power as is necessary to cut means debris doesn't fly as far or as hard (nothing gets stuck in clothes or skin), you use less fuel, make less noise, and break less line.

I use the Rapid Loader head and find it very convenient. Just carry some extra pieces of line in your pocket. Leave the trimmer running, put it on the ground, and swap the lines out. Very quick. Since there are no moving parts (besides the clamps inside the head), nothing can screw up.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 4:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'll add this tip:
Wind the string tight on the spool. This helps prevent the line welding to itself inside the head.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 10:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Stihl dealers usually sell their products assembled, so that is pretty standard practice. Seems like the person who assembled your trimmer did not string it correctly. Your dealer should have fixed it or given you a new one. Stihl is a great brand and you shouldn't have any major issues with it. Like any 2 stroke engine regardless of who makes it, use fresh gas and don't let it sit for months without running the engine out of gas.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 9:22AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Stihl Chainsaw - starts but won't run
My trusty (10 yr) old Stihl 16" chainsaw is starting...
What locked my Neighbor’s 6.5 Briggs Quantum Edge Engine?
I wanted to see what locked my Neighbor’s 6.5 Briggs...
MTD 8HP SnowBlower
I have an MTD 8hp SnowBlower Mod # 317E640F352. The...
Jeffery Smith
Who Makes This 'New' Craftsman 50cc Chain Saw?
Doing a little research on possible replacement saws......
New Ryobi S430 engine dies on full throttle
Just bought a new Ryobi straight shaft 4 Cycle S430...
Sponsored Products
Authentic Models Gee-Bee Squadron Mobile
Classic Hostess
Personalized Name Art Prints
Grandin Road
Dolce Tall Suspension by Corbett Lighting
$5,318.00 | Lumens
Holiday Wool Garland in Red, White, & Green
$19.99 | Dot & Bo
LSMCC series Constant Current SMD LED Sign Module
Super Bright LEDs
Drum Linen Shade With Clear Crystal Drips Pendant Lighting
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™