Brill Classic 30 Lawn Mower
Introduction: ********* Over the years, my back garden has been changed many times. At one time most of it was lawn, but now that medium sized lawn has shrunk, by design, to a patch that takes about two minutes to mow. The original mower I had was very efficient, but far too big for the job in hand and so I ... looked for a smaller machine. I tried a cheap hover mower, which, because my lawn resembled a miniature mountain range, rather than a bowling green, hopped rather than hovered and the grass box hindered my ability to mow to the edges without having to turn the mower before it reached the edge.
Then I saw this lovely little push-pull mower in a local garden centre. It was lightweight and when demonstrated took me back to those halcyon days when noisy, domestic, electric or petrol driven monsters were just an inventor's dream.
Oh how I love the sound of those lawn mowers, the two-toned purr and rattle, as its blades rotate back and forth with every push-n-pull action; the stripes left as the roller at the rear flattens the remaining grass and the smell of newly cut grass, often overpowered by fumes from petrol driven machines. It was a long time since I had used one of these beauties, so was in seventh heaven when I tried it out for the first time and took a leisurely stroll down memory lane.
Availability and cost:
I cannot remember how much I paid for it, a few years ago, but it was in the region of about £48. They are still available from various garden centres Mowerwarehouse and Garden Machinery Select websites. Priced at around £60. Non are available at this moment on Amazon.
The Brill 30 Classic Lawn Mower.
Cylinder, rotating blades with a cutting width of 12-inches (30cm)
Six cutting heights from 17mm to 43mm
Weight: 5.4Kg (9lb 11oz)
I believe it is named the Brill 30 model because its cutting width is 30cm. The model I have has the green, ladder handle with two removable sections, held in place with orange wing nuts, all of which can, if required, be easily dismantled for over winter storage.
It features five, 12-inch rotating, toughened-metal, blades on a spindle. On each side of the frame are two large, 8cm wheels . The bearings, which give it that well oiled purr sound, are maintenance free.
The stationary blade at the bottom, which completes the cutting action as the grass is caught between it and the rotating blades, is also made of hardened steel.
Above the blades, at the front is a narrow hood to protect any overhanging shrubs or flowers from accidental lopping.
At the rear is a small roller, made up of seven plastic pieces equally spaced along a rod, which rotate and flatten the cut grass remaining, this will give a stripe effect if the mower is pushed continuously in one direction along one length of lawn and continuously in one direction on the return. I however, I tend to push-n-pull the machine, in short bursts rather push continuously so do not get the striped effect.
The blades are adjustable to six settings and are guaranteed to remain sharp for many years, providing, of course no twigs or stones are caught up in the blades. Apart from cleaning any remaining grass from the blades and wheels, it is virtually maintenance free.
A grass collection box was not supplied with this machine, but could be bought separately. The grass catcher is not the conventional metal/plastic box, but a bag which clips onto the mower and when not in use folds away, taking up very little space. I never did purchase one for I rarely, if ever, let the grass grow so long that when cut lies on the surface in great clumps. I was informed that by allowing short shavings of grass to remain on the lawn it would help nourish the soil.
I can truthfully say, that in the time it takes to extract a big electrical mower out from its corner, extend the cord and plug it in, I can whip out the light-weight Brill 30 and have cut the grass.
This is an ideal little mower for small lawns, recommended by the manufacturers for areas up to 100 square meters.
I have been using it for three years now and it still cuts the grass evenly and cleanly, no tearing or yanking out young grass shoots. The blades do seem as sharp as when I first bought it. It is very easy to clean. There is no sign of rusting and it still purrs beautifully..... Lovely
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Qualcast Panther 30
We only have a small lawn in our back garden, and an even tinier front lawn, so when our electric mower shuffled off it's mortal coil a few years ago, we decided to get a push along mower instead, is this would be a lot more practical in our circumstances. We always used to hate having to plug the old one in, trailing the wire through ... the gap in the door, letting all manner of creepy crawlies in the house, just to mow a small scrap of lawn!
A push mower is a lot more practical for us, as we can just grab it out of the shed, whizz over the lawn, put it back and the job is done! Or even better, con one of the kids into thinking it is a toy, and get them to mow the grass for us!
When you buy the mower, you have to set the blades to the correct cutting length. You can vary this between 12 and 40mm. This was a bit fiddly for me, as I am completely useless with things like this, but my hubby managed to do it OK. It is really important to set the blades right, otherwise you will catch every pebble and bump as you mow, or on the opposite extreme, not cut the grass very well at all due to the blades being too high.
The mower is incredibly easy to use, and as I have said, easy enough for older kids to push around without too much effort. It makes a nice "cutting noise", as you mow, which you don't get with noisy electric mowers. It definitely makes cutting the grass more therapeutic.
Another advantage of the mower is that it doesn't take up much space. It will fit easily into even a small shed, and the fact it doesn't have loads of cable to consider is a huge bonus. The mower comes with a grassbox to collect the cuttings, but our lawn is so small that we removed the grass box and just rake up the few clippings later on and compost them.
The mower is cheap to run and easier to maintain than an electric mower, as it has very simple components. The only problems you get are the blades clogging up or stones getting caught in the blades, and these problems are easy to remedy and don't put you at risk of being electrocuted! It is definitely enviromentally friendly. As I have mentioned, we have had ours for a couple of years, and it is in really good working order.
My mother in law wanted a new mower recently and we recommended this model without hesitation. She has been using hers for a couple of months and loves it because it is easy to store away and light to push over the lawn, even for elderly people. The mower also has a rear roller to enable you to create a striped effect on your lawn.
The mower comes with a 2 year parts and labour guarantee, but we never had to use this as the mower has served us well. I would heartily recommend push along mowers to anyone with a small garden, or people who currently use unreliable strimmers, as these mowers are really practical and low maintainance. Once you have set the blades to your requirements you won't need to adjust it again, and it cuts the grass to a really high standard.
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Qualcast Panther 30
The grass is always greener. I spent a couple of years living in a fabulous city apartment and wasted many a summer afternoon bemoaning my lack of garden. Now living in quasi-suburbia (3 miles up the road), and having acquired a house with gardens, plural, and lawns, plural, all I can think is that I didn't appreciate the good old days ... when lawn mowing never featured on my weekend To Do list. I bought this lawn mower the week after I moved into my house in 2007, based on a complex calculation of which one to get whereby I picked the cheapest one in Argos, at about £35, and I'm pleased to say it has lasted reasonably well.
This is a push-mower, which, in a fit of green-minded madness, I decided was the kind I needed so as not to waste electricity when simple, chocolate-fuelled brute force would do the trick. It is a decision I am still living with, but despite the hassle involved, I'm not really regretting my purchase. That's not to say I don't covet those ride-on tractor style mowers, and wouldn't ditch all my green principles for a go on one of those, but really, in south Manchester it would just look rather silly for the few hours that would pass before someone came along and nicked it. They've already taken my wheelie bin, and that's nowhere near as cool to ride on.
The lawn mower comes ready to be assembled. You have to fix the two parts of the handle together, and attach the bucket to catch the grass. None of this is too tricky, nor do you need special tools unless you yourself are a bit special. As for me, I once assembled an entire living room's full of furniture single handedly despite the Ikea instructions that the work required 2 men (I'd make a women vs. men joke if it weren't so obvious). I wasn't going to let a measly little lawn mower phase me.
Once it was all put together, I went out to mow the month's worth of growth on my lawns, the former owners clearly having stopped taking any care of how things looked the second we exchanged contracts. Here's a little fact for you: push mowers like short grass, and the longer the grass, the more you have to, well, push. By the time I was done with my 3 (count 'em) lawns, I had some idea of what childbirth must be like. It was based on this initial trial of the mower that I vowed to stay on top of things and make some attempt to mow the lawns every week, since I really didn't want to have to go through all that again. While there have been times when circumstances (like being abroad, or it raining too much) have meant it's been a fortnight or more since I last cut the grass, every time this happens I go through the same grunt and grate routine, and it spurs me back into my weekly maintenance routine . You'd think it might, but it never gets easier.
And yet, for standard day-to-day (or week-to-week) lawn mowing, this is not a bad mower. It is incredibly easy to use because you just get it out of the shed, drop it down on the nearest bit of grass and push until you get to the end, turn round and repeat. You don't have to worry about keeping the wire out of the way, or being too far from a plug or extension cord, nor is the price of electricity an issue. The curved handle is comfortable, and you can choose how to hold it, either at the sides, or on top with your hands over or under the thin bar. Some may find it a bit thin - even my freakishly tiny hands wrap all the way round - but it's fine for me, and if your fingers do overlap too much, you can just push it with flat palms instead.
The mower has two length settings, a feature beyond what I would have expected for a budget buy. I tend to keep it on the one that cuts the grass very short which is both a good thing and a bad one. Good, because it means if it is 10 days or so between cuttings, the regrowth is still easily attacked, bad because it tends to leave a pattern on your lawn if you're not careful. If you wanted to, you could use this to your advantage and mow in some fancy-ass Wimbledon style stripes. I really have no desire to do this. But, because I also have no desire to spend longer huffing and puffing than I need to, and because my weekend attention to detail ends the second I put down my Blackberry (after sending the essential 'look at me, working at 7am on a Saturday morning' email), I often inadvertently end up with stripes. Not nice, even, attractive stripes, but 'a mad man got loose and attacked the lawn with his teeth' style stripes. Sorry, dooyoo team, but I will not be 'making my neighbours envious this season by having the best lawn on the block'. Though I may be making them furious because...
Another issue is the noise this thing makes. I often hear other mowers on the street, but none ever seem quite as bad as this one, though it may simply be my proximity to it. I am always mindful of this early on a weekend morning, when I'm convinced the racket will awaken said neighbours. It is a proper 'clatter clatter' noise as the blade chops, and gets worse when it hits the patio bit at one end of my garden. I have been known to 'mow' the patio, in an attempt to skip the weeding my tiles require, so it is entirely my fault, but still. When I'm moving from the front to the back garden or vice versa, I tend to lift the machine up rather than drag it along, as the noise is quite unbearable. Luckily it is an extremely lightweight mower, and I can carry it fairly easily with one hand, while unlocking the back gate etc. It is a tiny bit too tall, but then I am a tiny bit too short, and I still manage. Normal sized people should have no trouble.
As mentioned earlier, the mower takes a little more effort when the grass is longer, but also if the grass is wet. Sometimes you have to mow slightly-damp grass in Manchester, as the alternative is waiting a week and it being that extra bit too long, so it's a catch 22 situation. When it does require more umpf, you can just lean into it to get it going again. I may not weigh enough to be able to give blood (my random fact of the week last week) but I'm still heavy enough to kick this back into gear. My only niggle in this area is that sometimes to get it going you have to get right behind it and tilt the handle at an angle, and my garden has grass right up to various walls and sheds. The result is that I end up with the middle bit mowed shorter than the sides as I always have to start it a little way in, which is added to by the fact that although the mower cuts 30cm strips at a time, the blade stops a little inside the wheels, so you can't go up to the edges anyway. Of course I could use a strimmer to finish off the edges but, please, I have better things to do with my weekends.
The blade deals with most things ok (leaves, berries, the odd kamikaze snail), but I have one tree in my garden whose long, reedy bits upset it, and then it will just stop and not go any further until you stick your fingers in and pull out the offending item in one swift motion, like in those clever adverts for detergent where they whip the table cloth out from under a table laid with a whole lot of breakable porcelain filled with potentially messy treats. This weekend it got upset by a manky, soggy tissue which I hadn't removed from the lawn precisely because it was too gross for me to want to touch it. Of course, it got stuck and I had to, but I would still run the risk in future of leaving stuff like this there and hoping the blade would just slice through it. The mower has been used over 50 times now, and the blade shows no sign of becoming blunt or less effective, but is also not so nastily sharp you lose the tips of your fingers any time you have to prise something out of its jaws.
The mower came with a plastic bucket, which I dutifully attached, and for the first lawn mowing season, this worked well. The grass flew out at just the right angle to be caught, it held a decent amount, and when I needed to empty it into my green bin, I could detach it easily and then re-attach it to carry on. However, one day, the bucket came a bit loose on one side. I noticed one of the screws was missing, but couldn't find it anywhere, and had no suitable replacement in my snazzy tool box so I just balanced the bucket back on carefully and continued. This worked for a few more weeks, until one day the bucket just fell off the hinge and would not stay on again. This is perhaps a downside of buying a cheaper mower, but still not a major headache for me. Since the mower can be used in two ways, with or without the bucket, I decided to go for the second option. This doesn't affect the quality of the cut in any way, but does leave you with freshly chopped grass all over your lawn. Some people say you're supposed to then rake this up. These people clearly do not live in Manchester - I am lucky if I can mow all 3 lawns in between the drizzle, let alone scoop up the grass afterwards, but every rain cloud has a silver lining, and up here it's really not long before a wind picks up and helpfully blows the cuttings towards my neighbours' houses and beyond. Good stuff.
My mower lives in my shed which has walls and a roof, but also a window missing glass, and just a too-small piece of material covering the gap. It sits there for at least 8 months of the year without being moved, and also goes back in after every outing, but has yet to show signs of rust or neglect. I am perhaps a little rough with it as I'll fling it in without much care, but there is nothing really to break on it, as the blade is quite sturdy and the bucket hinge having already given up the ghost, and of course there's no electric circuitry to upset.
This is the first push mower I have ever used, so I don't have much scope for comparison, but from my experience I would certainly recommend it. The price has since fallen to just below the £30 mark which is a true bargain in my eyes, and I just cannot see the point in bothering to pay more for a relatively boring piece of household kit. It's basic, but it works, is quite sturdy and hard-wearing, has no maintenance or fuel costs, is super simple to use and it won't break the bank.
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Hand Lawn Mower
Lawn Mower / Brand: Qualacast - Cut Widths, 30cm, Cutting Height 12-40mm,
Manufacturer: Brill / Type: Lawn Mower
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