multiple failures with bump advance string trimmers

daver_gJuly 5, 2008

First time user. Hello all. I work in landscaping on a minimal scale for several families. I find that each string trimmer I use has a different personality (2 ryobi 1 weedeater and 1 stihl)all gas and all have the same basic problem. I believe it is user error.

No matter how much time I invest in winding and installing the string they just will not advance properly. Usually I have to stop the motor and manually advance the string culminating in lost time and excessive frustration. I have indeed hurled my own ryobi across the yard in a fit. This is not conducive to proper function. My clients and I would really appreciate help with this.

I always tap pavement or another solid object with the motor revving high, usually to no avail. The plastic will just not come out. One family had previous to me gotten tired of the same annoyance with their stihl and opted for the blade attachment which works great for big stuff but tends to fan the weeds away from itself. Counterproductive.

I need a reliable string supply and am at my wits end.

I feel there is something fundamental that I am missing.

I defer to the expertice of this forum.

Happy fourth to one and all.

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There are alternatives to the wound string heads, such as plastic blades and Stihl has a Fixcut head which uses an 8" piece of line. If your Stihl and Ryobi string winding is the same as Echo's, you will find a string winding tutorial on Echo's site. I have only owned 3 trimmers and one, the Weedeater was a failure when it came to feeding string. I tap my Echo with a reasonable thump on soil, not a solid surface like pavement, and not at high speed. I reve the trimmer and back off and quickly hit the head on the ground - it is not spinning enough to make a "hole" in the grass surface. Usually on the first or second tap, it does the job. You might also try to pull the short string out with your hand after pressing on the head.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 9:33AM
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zoomie46(6a NE TN)

I suggest you consider a fixed line trimmer head. A fixed head uses line precut to a specific length. There are several brands of these on the market. Most small engine shops sell aftermarket parts such as Rotary or Stens and both these companies have them in their catalog. Some are made of metal and some plastic. Buy a roll and cut our own to save money.

Some heads are not designed for curved shaft trimmers or on engines under a certain number of cc. Using it on these trimmers will damage the engine. Cut the line too long and it will place too much drag on the engine and cause engine damage.

The trimmer head in the first link IS NOT for use on curved shaft trimmers or trimmers with engines under 31cc. I do not know anything about the second link. The third link is most likely for any trimmer application. There is a phone number in the third link for assistance.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 10:10AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

You do wrap too lines together around spool. Another that gets me sometimes is small grass are dirty build up between 2 halfs of head its just thin film. When line worn to short is another time have problems. I use the redline that on spool and square very heavy and duty high

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 10:50AM
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I'm using a Weedeater I got used. The string loaded by the previous owner always advanced fine for me, but when I bought & loaded string, it keeps crossing over inside the head and jamming. So, it won't advance exactly like you're describing. I think it's user error. Maybe I'm not loading it tight enough or spooling it exactly right. Any suggestions from the forum?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 5:16PM
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I wind the top slot first on the duel spoon models using the string lock provided. leaving long enough string to feed through the outer spool holes on each side. you want to spool it on so its not twisted or lapping over so the string will unwind wsith out knotting. if it laps over good chance it will knot tight enough you have to manually pull it out or remove the spool and unlap the knot.

Tapping to advance the string is an art (some of us are natural artist and some have to be taught) "not too hard and not too soft", You don't want to do it in deep grass or on concrete. deep grass will slow down the centrical force and cause slow un-winding or none at all. concrete will peal off the plastic lock buttom and after awhile will expose the square headed bolt that holes the spool on. Tap too hard and you could colaspe the spring.

When the line gets twisted and knotted up it will not advance forcing you to manually unwind the string or remove the spool and unknot it. Just like spool fishing reels. lay the string spool on the ground and wrap it and untwist and unlap it as you go on the spool.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 8:32PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

I have a John Deere labeled, straight shaft trimmer. I have a couple extra spools, that I keep wound ahead of time. It takes the largest string, .095, which is what I use.

From previous experience with a Ryobi, I now only use the round string. I tried the edged, twisted, super-cutter strings for keeping my fence line clean. I am talking mileage, cleaning farm fencing in the fields so the electric works properly.

All the special strings seemed to heat up while working, weld or melt to the other layers. It made the feeding string a MISERABLE task!! I was pulling that spool off all the time. I had some left over orange string, round, on a spare spool for some reason and put it on because it was ready to go. That round stuff fed well, cut well, and NEVER got melted together thru the whole spool. After fighting with the other "sharp" stuff and little progress, I really whipped down the fence, got a huge amount done on the little length of that round string spool.

I went right out, got another roll of .080 round string for the Ryobi, rewound all the spools, and cut a bunch more fence, WITHOUT problems. Didn't even have to put on a new spool that day! I later ran into starting trouble with the Ryobi, and got the JD model. It is a heavy duty, landscaper model, for long running times. JD came with some round green string that worked well. However when it ran out, I purchased a large coil of .095 orange round string, at the Meijer store. Cheaper price than labeled JD products. I am getting very good wear from this string, it cuts BIG weeds, small shrubby wood brush quite easily.

So I would go read my machine manual, see what large string is going to fit. Ryobi said only up to .080, while the JD takes the bigger size. Then go buy a package of round string in that diameter. Rewind my spools, give that a shot in trimming. My machines both fed well with the round stuff. I do wind carefully, keeping strings side-by-side so they feed out evenly. I use about 24ft, then wind it on the spool. I tend to trim with a longer string, because it has to reach under the wire of fencing.

With my fences kept pretty clean with regular trimming, I can get a lot of mileage from a spool now. At least a mile or more. We have over 5 miles of fence that needs trimming all summer. I get a big coil of the round orange string first thing in summer, seems to be the favorite of trimmer folks, always sold out by fall. Meijers only gets one shipment each summer. When it is gone, it is gone for the year. I keep that new spare spool for "just in case", though I have some left over from last year's spool.

I have a 5gallon bucket with all the sharp edged strings that I will never use now. Not worth the aggravation in your working day, though I regret spending the money for it. One of those "sounds like a great idea" things, that don't work. Probably will dump it at a garage sale my friend has. Let some other "lucky" person use...

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 6:30PM
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I just tap my ryobi speed spool on the lawn at low throttle and rev it a bit to cut off the excess. I know ryobi's don't have the best rep, but the speed spool on my trimmer is awesome. It is so easy to refill. Cut two lenghts of line about 10ft. Line up the arrows, insert one end into the outer hole and loop up into the center section. Do the same for the other side and than twist the knob to wind the line. It take longer to cut the line than to install it to the speed spool.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 2:27PM
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I have good luck when doing chain link fence to run the trimmer at a low rpm. This alows the string to whip in and out of fence cutting the grass. Course you have to be just the right distance away from the fence so the string won't wrap around the fence instead of whipping in and out. I have about 700 feet of chain link and I rarely have to advance any string out of the spoon unless I rev it too fast and cut the string.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 8:35PM
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I've used this replacement head on my Echo SRM-230 for two years now and really like it. We have about 100' of chain link fence and several concrete and rock bordered flower beds and can usually trim everything with one set of strings. I buy .095 string by the spool and cut to length. Bought mine at Wal Mart. It looks like one of those gimmicks you see on TV, but it has worked well for me and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pivotrim

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 11:24AM
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I have a John Deere commercial trimmer and found the string advances well if you remove the string from the keepers on the spool after you get it into the holes on the trimmer head.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 9:00AM
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As was said, you need to wind smooth and staight, and in the right direction, so the line feeds smoothly. If line welding, from bouncing off concrete or fences, etc is a problem, reducing the rpm a bit is the best solution, but if you spray the line on the spool with silicone or teflon spray when you wind it the welding will be reduced a bunch. I like to blip the throttle just as I tap, and release it right away so it cuts smooth. I have no trouble with a Stihl, an Echo, and couple old Homelites (which welded the line terribly before I started lubing them).

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 10:58PM
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daver_g -- you have received suggestions for almost two weeks, but have not responded. Any of these helpful?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 8:12AM
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I have an Echo GT2000 and have finally found that the hexagonal shaped line produces the best result because it resists "welding". Also I have to take line cutter blade off the guard shield and sharpen it at least once per season so it cuts the line instead of just snagging it and yanking a bunch of line off the spool. I realize this doesn't solve your problem, just a couple of tips I have discovered over the years.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 7:42AM
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jarnkm(cent. AL)

Troy Bilt TB575SS with SpeedSpool is regurgitating line in under 10 hrs. Replaced spool w/line as suggested and it started again in 10-15min. I religiously clean it so it wasn't dirt or trash. No lubricants. Both spools indicate that the 4 trianglar driven "dogs" are only mating with the drive "tooth" about 50%, just under 1/4". Section replacement is out of the question!! Stupid design, should be easily servicable/replacable with head unit only or similiar exchange unit. No specs/measurements on head unit found, no repair info on this head. I'm old school, if it can be repaired, I want access to the parts!! No more MTD made Troy-Bilt Stuff for me!!!! Any Suggestions??

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 3:06AM
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Thanks to everyone. The outpouring of usefull information is heartwarming. Regrettably I am still having the same problem with all trimmers. One client actually replaced thier nigh useless weedeater with a brand new echo and the string that it came wound with will not advance. I am starting to feel weedtarded. Its because I'm left handed isnt it?
Thanks again. I'm sure I just need more trial and error armed with a can of silicone spray (would wd40 work?) and the rest of these generously offered brain pickings. I will post progress reports, especially if I have any.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 2:22PM
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I have a Stihl. Does it matter which direction the two strings are threaded -- top clockwise, bottom counter clockwise, for example? I also heard the string gets brittle, which may account for getting jammed.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 5:03PM
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Absolutely!!! Dosen't it have an arrow on the spool to tell you? You better call your dealer if you can't find the arrow.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 7:50PM
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dontknow(z6 - Upstate NY)

I can tell you my opinion after buying a new Stihl and using the head that came with it...

Go get yourself a Pivotrim!

All you pros can laugh at me but I can tell you firsthand results, what I can do with the Pivotrim head, I could never do with the Bump & Feed on the Sihl.

With 200+ feet of chain link and many other barriers, I can do without snapping a single piece of line.

No frustrations and done in a fraction of the time. I've matched a great machine with an unbelievable head.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 8:35AM
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I have had the same problems with my homelite. no matter how many times i try to feed it, and respool it, it doesnt work. maybe I will be brave and try again this afternoon. It is very aggravating when it wont work.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 3:04PM
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dontknow(z6 - Upstate NY)

paulflyboy - go to Home Depot, spend 20.00 on a Pivotrim and never have the issue again.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 5:51PM
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canguy(British Columbia)

I have an Echo GT2000 with the tap and go head and have no complaints. I use Echo's Rapidfire line and find it works the best of any I have tried.
Some things to consider. A lot of the inexpensive curve shaft trimmer heads run very hot due to the poor lower end bushing. The heat is transmitted to the head and results in line 'welding'.The surface actually melts. Cheap aftermarket line is particularly bad.
The line needs to be wound properly. Both lines are wound in the same direction. Pinch both between thumb and forefinger and rotate the spool with the other hand pulling the line to prevent twisting, don't wrap the line on the spool.
The machine will work best at full throttle. The line is rigid and will cut most effectively. A lot of clutches have failed due to heat from slipping because the machine was run at part throttle.The clutch works on centrifugal force, the faster it turns the more force it exerts on the drum.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 10:09PM
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I have read the other posts because I am having similar problems and am going to try the following with my HOMELITE ST-200: New, quality line, lube (IS WD40 OK?) and try again! If you have any other advice, that would be nice.

Thank You.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 11:21AM
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It is not recommended to use any kind of lubricant in the spool and string assembly.
It needs to be bone dry and clean.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 2:25PM
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once i went with a fixed line spool, i never went back. its way too easy and if anything goes wrong, you just cut two new pieces of string about 18" long and loop it in there.

the string i use is really thick nylon stuff too. it comes on a giant 25ft spool, so i just cut off what i need. i do have to redo the string about every w or 3 tanks of gas, but it only takes a minute. the simplicity is what i like. no moving parts to break, and the thick line holds up when hitting metal and stuff.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 10:35PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

I've had good luck with the Rino Tuff Pivotrim String Trimmer Head. Been using it a couple yrs now.

It has 4 strings folded over so that is 8 strings up to .90 I think it is spinning & cutting. I cut my own strings to length but if you cut them too long it will slow the motor soo much it may NOT start.

Works on my ST-275 Homelite

NO More tangles in the string. I bought mine at HD but they are sold elsewhere.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rino Tuff Pivotrim String Trimmer Head for Gas Trimmers

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 9:19PM
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As an experiment, I have taken an approx. 18" length of rigid line too heavy to feed and added two knots in the center the dia if the spool apart. I have to install the line coming out the two eyes to where the knots stop them. This has worked well as a combination with the hard blade (my favorite) where the hard blade is not friendly. From watching the Pros and recent experiences, IMO the hard blade and pre cut line is a good combo.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 11:47AM
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