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Joe_the_Gardener


Latest posts by Joe_the_Gardener

Re-design

Posted: 02/02/2013 at 11:09

Luke,

The questionnaire doesn't really suit my circumstances, because the only lawns that I mow are other people's, and I use their mowers. It's likely that there are other professional gardeners on this board who might wish to answer, with the benefit of their wider experiences with different machines in different circumstances and with different priorities. Interested?

Re-design

Posted: 31/01/2013 at 15:16

Hypercharleyfarley,

I've only ever used one Hayter and it was a bit of a pig. The 'skirt' round the blade was too low and the grass box was very low-slung, so these two things meant it scraped or jammed on any ground that was even slightly uneven. And it was a bit difficult to get the grass box in and out compared with other mowers. (By the way, I wouldn't recommend your elastic loop round the dead man's handle to keep the engine running. I see people doing it and pray that they never have an accident.) There's obviously a need there for a better design of electric starter.

I've never had any trouble fuelling a mower; surely, provided you use the nozzle pipe that is supplied with the petrol container, there's no problem?

I don't know how keen manufacturers would be to put a side blade on a mower - I can see there might be some nasty accidents. I use edging shears, which seems perfectly easy.

Rollers are probably a personal preference. Unless they actually drive the machine, there will always be conflict between the setting height of the roller and that of the driving wheel. Driving off the edge of the lawn occasionally is an occupational hazard and I find I just have to take extra care. A wider front wheel would have to be so wide that it would flatten a lot of grass in front of the blade and it would become less effective going round a curved lawn edge.

Was your Atco a cylinder or a rotary? I'll bet it had an engine with really good torque and weighed a fair bit. The other problem with rollers, which can weigh a heck of a lot, is that they can compress the ground over time, depending on the soil type.

Clogging is quite a problem and it would need a lot wind tunnel experiments to design the optimum profile for the chute. I suspect that most of the better mowers have already come to somewhere near to the optimum by an iterative process. Cleaning after every mow obviously helps a lot, but I'm not sure that using, say, Teflon for the surfaces would help, because it would be easily damaged. Otherwise, if I'm mowing wet grass and the mower keeps clogging, I just resort to inaudible swearing.

 

 

 

Re-design

Posted: 31/01/2013 at 10:03

bunnysgarden,

I have to mow in the wet or I wouldn't get round all the jobs, and two of my lawns are almost permanently wet, so if I left the cut material the lawn would be impossible to deal with after a month.

Re-design

Posted: 31/01/2013 at 09:58

Carly,

I make a living out of doing people's gardens; I don't think they'd be very happy to see me on my hands and knees with a pair of nail scissors! And those women in India were probably being paid about one rupee a day. Same principle applies to shears and push mowers. (My granddad used to cut lawns with a scythe back in 1910, but that was because (a) the landowner was filthy rich and could afford an army of serfs and (b) lawn-mowers weren't that good.)

I agree that noise from machines is bad - it's even worse when you spend quite a lot of the week causing it! Unfortunately, we have got to the position where people demand neatness and tidiness and there is no alternative to doing that by machine. Your plane to India was much quieter than 50 years ago, but it's still very noisy, polluting and irritating to people near airports.

Two-stroke engines, essential for hedge-cutters, strimmers and blowers, are naturally noisy and silencing them would make them heavier (try waving a 7kg hedgecutter around all day) and more unwieldy.

Mowers could be made quieter, but again at a price that people may not be willing to pay, because they only use it for 30 or 40 hours a year. Most people buy the cheapest mower they can get away with, which is a good approach if you've only got 20 sq m of lawn.

I've no problem with Luke wanting to look for innovative ideas, but he did invite comments, so don't shoot the messenger.

Re-design

Posted: 29/01/2013 at 09:59

As I said, bunnysg, you can get mowers that do all sorts of things, including mulching, but not everyone wants to do that - for instance in wet conditions.

Re-design

Posted: 28/01/2013 at 17:53
luke browning wrote (see)

Hi,

I'm a keen gardener but also a mature student in my final year of a product design degree.


I am going to re-design the lawnmower because I feel it has some fundamental flaws in the way it was designed and has never been changed or adjusted, just modernised.


The main problem I see with the current design is its manoeuvrability and its inability to move in any direction that isn't forwards or backwards in a straight line.

Does every one have straight edges of their garden or flower beds, doing that silly dance at the end of your garden to turn it round. This dance consists of a 20 point turn or struggling to drag the mower round to head back down your garden. Would it be a good idea to have a lawn mower than can go in any direction, maybe turn on the spot or move like a car or one of the large expensive lawn mowers?

Other flaws i believe the lawn mower possess:
Electric mowers wire trailing behind
Cleaning and maintenance
weight of the mower
Turning the grass into a useful source for gardening such as mulching and cutting down on the amount of garden waste we create as a nation (this option would reduce the weight of the mower because you wouldn't be carrying any grass cuttings around in a box on the mower)
cutting close to trees, ponds, flower beds or any garden ornaments

Could you please list any problems or issues you have with lawn mowers as they are now, in appearance, the use of and maintenance and cleaning and power source?

Please could you contribute any ideas or features you feel a re-designed lawn mower should posses.

Any ideas or comments you have on this would be greatly appreciated

Luke,

When I read your post I was reminded of the classic Dragons' Den line: "I think you're trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist"

Among other things:

1.There's a lot to be said for a potentially dangerous machine like a mower to have a certain stability/inertia based on sitting squarely on the ground like a car. You don't want a mower that is easily overturned. If you use a Dyson-type ball roller, it's got to be stable on slopes and turns. Not everyone has a flat lawn (particularly round here!)

2. There comes a point where, if you can't handle a mower that's built to get through a lot of hard work, maybe it's time to get someone to do the job for you, rather than blame the machine for the fact that you are struggling.

3. Ditto in relation to cleaning.

4. Cordless mowers are bit like electric cars - the new technology doesn't do the whole job.

5. I don't really get your point about mulching: you've either got to leave the cut material on the lawn or take it somewhere as it won't just conveniently disappear. Not everyone wants their lawn mulched.

I can't really think of any reasonable feature that you can't buy, at a price, on a mower. There are good mowers and not-so-good ones, but having seen people buy cheap mowers and expect them to work like a tractor, I think there are more problems with the user than the mower.

Look forward to your reply,

Joe

squirrel shot for coming to the table.

Posted: 28/01/2013 at 15:53
Busy-Lizzie wrote (see)

"In France it's 150 metres from a dwelling but our local mayor told the local hunt not less than 300 metres from our house as we had children and animals when we moved here. Also he wouldn't let someone build a hide for shooting pigeons down our track because it was too close to the track and it's a public bridleway. So I would think it's 150 metres in the UK because of European law." 

Wherever I've stayed in France you've got to be a bit brave to go out into the countryside on Sundays and one other day of the week, because what with the armaments and the unruly dogs it's not at all pleasant. I'm amused that your mayor allows adults to be shot from 150 metres, but makes it just a bit harder to get the kids.

I think the control of the hunts is a bit variable across the France; in one place that I know, they seem to shoot anything that moves, and most of the locals despise them. I get the impression that the younger generations are not so keen on the hunt.

I don't have the information about UK law, but I doubt if it's the same as in France just because we're in the EU. We do all sorts of things differently.

 

small bird watch

Posted: 27/01/2013 at 21:00

That's not a bad list, nutty!

Tackling erosion

Posted: 27/01/2013 at 16:16

Which direction does the cliff-face face, CC?

fieldfare behaviour

Posted: 27/01/2013 at 16:11

I was watching a Mistle Thrush doing this to a flock of waxwings just after Christmas, and another one chasing away Long-tailed Tits from a hawthorn that still had some berries left. (Although of course the L-t Ts wouldn't have been interested in the berries!)

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