Product Type: Champion Lawn Mower
Newest Review: ... & after an initial gush of smoke ran very smoothly.I selected a suitable cutting hight & was very impressed with the quality of &qu... more
The Lawnmower Man
Member Name: DavidJWest
Date: 07/04/04, updated on 07/04/04 (23379 review reads)
Advantages: Cheapish, Decent finish, Seems quite well built
Disadvantages: A bit heavy, Instructions could be better
However, as we moved into a new house recently and the old mower had packed in, it seemed like a good chance to get a petrol
mower especially as the new gardens have much more lawn.
Petrol mowers generally cost more than their electric counterparts, but if you have large lawn areas then they are far more suitable as you don't have wires trailing all over the place. I must admit to having cut through the electric cable of my old mower once previously, much to my embarrasment. Luckily I am still here today to tell the tale! The moral of the story is be very careful if you have an electric mower.
Petrol lawnmowers are themselves not entirely safe either, the fuel is of course highly flammible and you have a large blade spinning around under there not to mention a hot engine, so be careful at all times.
I opted for this particular model mainly based on price, it isn't the absolute cheapest as there was another one for sale in Argos for £20 less, I think it was a "Power Devil" model but it looked a bit "plasticy" to me so I went for the Champion, hoping it will last a good few years. I'm certainly not an expert on lawnmowers in general, but I would suggest that the amount you pay for a model depends on how big your lawn is and what standard of finish you want. My lawn isn't all that big and it's pretty much just an average "family" lawn with lumps and bumps, weeds and all. If you have an acre of land to mow then of course you go for a bigger model, maybe a sit-on effort and if you are trying to get a lawn up to the standard of the 18th green
at St Andrews you probably want to pay for a more expensive model with a roller for those stripes.
But I don't need that thank you, simply something which cuts the grass with minimum fuss and being easy to use,
hopefully long lasting.
The boring stuff first then, the techy bits.
Cost - £99 from my local DIY store, "Focus Do It All"
Engine "Briggs and Stratton" 3.5hp petrol engine, 4 stroke.
Weight - approx 20 kilos
Grassbox capacity - 55 litres
I bought a box of bits and pieces called a "servicing pack" with my mower, this included the oil I needed (check the specification of any oil you use with the manual) gloves, spare spark plug and new air filter. All the bits I will need to service the mower for £10.
They recommend you service the mower every year, you can do this yourself and it looks pretty easy from the manual and should ensure it lasts a long time. The mower runs on normal, unleaded petrol, and the consumption is very good, I can't give you a definite ffigure for this as I have only used the mower a few times so far, but a litre should last a few months. Obviously this depends on how big your lawn area is.
Before you can use the mower, you need to get it out of the box, read the manual and assemble it. When I say read the manual I mean it as well - don't risk getting anything wrong as it can have dangerous consequences. When I say you have to assemble the mower, don't panic as you only need to put the handle and grass box on, no need to fit the engine together!
This is where I had some trouble, as one of the instruction leaflets was not clear. To be fair to Champion I think this leaflet was added by Focus and is not standard, as their instructions in the manual are much better, but of course I used the extra leaflet as it was a larger diagram which I wrongly assumed would be clearer!
The leaflet simply shows how to assemble the handle and join it to the mower, unfortunately it shows the screws in their wrong positions and the wrong screw altogether in one case. If you buy one of these and h
ave any troubles, send me an e-mail and I can give you some advice. There is also a number you can ring for help, I had to ring them later on when I couldn't find the dipstick - no funny comments!
The grassbox was easy to assemble a bit fiddly perhaps but once in place it started to look like a mower ready to go. The grassbox is quite large, 55 litres which will hold enough grass to complete a decent sized lawn without needing emptying before the job is done. For the record I consider my lawn a decent size and it is roughly 1500 square feet.
So after an hour I eventually got the handle on the mower and then I searched around for the dipstick so I could put in the oil. You should never start any type of engine unless it's got oil in it and the manual says to be careful as the engines are shipped without any oil. So I quickyl located the oil drain with dipstick, but couldn't work out how to actually put the oil in there - a quick call to the helpline (2 actually as first time I couldn't get through) and I managed to find it. But I still found this part a bit tricky, there is a hole where it says "oil", but it didn't look like you could put anything in as the hole didn't appear to go anywhere.
The hole is like a wide slot for a screwdriver, with a circle in the middle and two posts at either side. I tried to twist the poles to see if the whole assembly came away but no good. Eventually I worked out you need to put a screwdriver in there and twist, the whole thing does come away to reveal a built in dipstick type device and then you realise where the oil goes. What a dipstick!
Being careful not to overfill with oil, I gingerly tipped a bit of the stuff in, checked the lel and repeated. The manual says the mower
has a capacity of 600ml of oil, which is nice to know. Unfortunately I didn't know if there was maybe already some small amount of oil in there from the factory so I took my time fillin
g it. Good idea to check the oil level every time you use the mower.
So, oil in place it was time to fuel her up. The fuel was much easier to work out, unscrew the cap and pour in fuel. However don't do what I did and try to put 5 litres of fuel into a 2 litre tank! After leaving the mower to dry out for a while it was time for the moment of truth - would it start? If you do spill fuel, like an idiot like me, make sure you move the mower somewhere else and let everything dry out after mopping up what you can. My spillage wasn't too bad and it was outside so I was fairly lucky there.
There is a little rubber "button" you squeeze to get the fuel to start flowing before you can start the engine up. Usually you squeeze this 3 times before starting, but after I had done this and pulled the starter cord for all I was worth I decided to read the manual properly this time.
Aha, you squeeze the thing 6 times when you first use it! So another three squeezes and I pulled the cord - success the engine
chugged into life! It's quite satisfying the first time you get this beast to start, maybe that's just a man thing?
When you want to start the mower, as well as pulling the cord you need to hold a lever at the top of the handle. This is a safety device which cuts the engine if you lose control, when the lever is released the engine will die automatically. It's quite stiff to hold the lever for the duration of the mowing, but you do get used to it and safety is very important so I can't grumble too much.
So off I go, mowing the lawn, it's harder than I thought for the first few yards. Then I looked back and realised the height setting was a bit wrong. You see this mower has 5 different height (or length) settings, depending on how long or short you want your grass to be. Straight out of the box, my mower was set to the lowest possible heigh, so I was in effect more-or-less dragging it along the
ground. Looking back expecting to see some nicely trimmed grass, I had now got a nice line of mud, devoid of any greenery at all! I'd only recommend the lowest heigh if you are mowing a golf course green, it's not really suitable for lawns at all I reckon. There is no roller on this mower, so you wont get that stripey effect which some gardeners like to see.
I then adjusted the height, it's very easy, just press a small lever near to each wheel, so it was now set to the highest setting. My lawn is quite bumpy and I think I read somewhere that the first cut of the year should be quite gentle. With the heigh raised up the job becomes much easier, but several areas of the lawn were untouched, some practise required here I think! My advice would be to try the heighest level first and then reduce it a notch at a time until you get the desired effect.
Although this is quite a light mower as far as petrol models go, with large-ish wheels, it is still quite tiring if you are unfit like I am and have an uneven lawn with a bit of a slope. Probably not ideal for the elderly, maybe better to pay more for a self-propelled model. You need to be quite careful too if you have any fiddly bits in your lawn as it can be a bit unwieldy, you soon get the hang of it though. It takes me about 20 minutes to do the whole garden, not bad I reckon. As you'd expect for a petrol engine it's pretty noisy, but I don't feel like I need to wear ear-defenders. There is a label on the mower saying "98 decibels" if that means anything to you.
Overall, for the price this is a good mower, you probably want to do more research if you are a keen gardener but for the average garden this fits the bill nicely. I'll be updating thsis review as time goes by and things develop. If you read this review and there is nothing added, then you can be sure that my mower is still going strong!
?DocID=67912 - This is the engine manufacturer's website if you want to know more.