Posted: 31/01/2013 at 15:16
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.