“ Brand: Flymo „
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What do you want from a petrol lawn mower? Something that starts, doesn't give you any hassle and cuts the grass. Well the L400 I got has been a disaster. It does, eventually, cut the grass but getting it going is a nightmare. The very first time took an age - which is fair enough. But every time since has been a three act drama - and now it's given up the ghost inside 6 months. The idea is quite simple - prime the carb by squeezing a teat that sucks the petrol/oil mixture through. Then yank the handle and, cough, splutter, cough the thing should start up with with that scream you might remember from your first motorbike. But it doesnt. Despite a, ahem, lot of teat squeezing there's nothing else you can do. Check the air filter clear, replace the spark plug etc etc are ideas but in my case it's only ever started a dozen or so times so shouldnt be required. Anyway. It's pathetic. Don't buy one. Next petrol lawnmower I get will have a push button start !
For years, I had been ploughing (not literally) up and down my garden, which is long and thin with an electric hover mower of some make of other – it doesn’t matter which, I seem to get through them quite rapidly. I had my routine for doing it in two halves, moving my carefully orchestrated pair of power-cable drums over at halftime. Then I got the “Ground Force” bug, building in a deck (with water feature of course!). Of itself, this caused no problem since it had actually shortened the effective length of the mowable garden – I refuse to call it a lawn. What did create more problems than it solved, was the construction of raised “beds” walled-off with a variety of wood and stone surfaces. These have random curvaceous edges, which I think look like the lids of grand pianos, although my wife swears that I have modelled them on two of Charlie Dimmock’s other well known attributes! Building the nipples in logroll was a might tricky, I can tell you! Anyway, the newly shaped garden did not lend itself to a steady plod from one to the other with a mower that has a 250 volts umbilical in tow, since the lead was needing much more frequent re-routing if I wasn’t to put my earth-leakage circuit breaker to the test on a weekly basis. Therefore some sort of “infernal” combustion engine was on the cards. I didn’t need anything so grand as a sit-on ride, or even a cylinder mower for those “stripes”. Anyway, with the size of my garden, my heap of clippings would build up faster than my need for mulch, necessitating trips to the “dump”, that other well-known Sunday occupation. A hover mower with an engine was what I wanted. Whaddya know, Flymo made one! The L300 Hover Mower with 2-stroke petrol engine. It weighs little more than an electric version, making carting it back to the shed quite easy. It will also hang flat side agai nst the wall in the same way – just make sure that the petrol cap is screwed on! Petrol seems to be a creosote solvent and can tend to make your shed floor look a bit anaemic if it drips throughout the winter. Speaking from experience? Who, me? The first "start" of the season calls for a few hefty yanks (if only I knew some) on the starter cord. This gets better with second use. The process is reasonably simple. Squeeze the “teat” in the fuel line a few time to prime it, put a foot on the hover “skirt” to hold the whole thing down, hold in the orange safety bar with one hand and yank the cord with the other. Once running, keep the safety bar pressed to the main handle and off you go. It stops straight away if you let go. There is no speed-control; after all, it needs to be constant to keep it hovering. Pros And Cons ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Performance wise, it’s nothing special. The minuscule engine has only just slightly more kilowatts of output as the old electric, but then it didn’t think it would. In fact it looks remarkably like a model aircraft engine on steroids! Quality of cut is on a par with other hover mowers without any grass collection facility i.e. nothing fancy and prone to leaving clumps of cuttings in random piles (I had those once). What is a revelation is how much quicker it is to scalp the garden without any leads to constantly re-arrange. I am now about to use it for it’s third season. Unlike an electric mower, where keeping it free from dried clippings and an occasional check of the blade condition are all that’s needed, the Flymo will of course need some of the servicing that’s associated with engines. The spark plug is easy enough to get at, as is the air filter. The blade needs the same care afforded to the metal ones in electric hover mowers. It has a two-stroke engine for simplicity. This does mean that you have to m ake your own “mixture” from unleaded petrol and 2T oil. This is not as bad as it sounds using the mixing bottle supplied. Just pour in a litre of petrol, and top up with oil to the correct ratio mark. Shake well, and pour! I challenge anyone NOT to get smelly fingers when carrying this out. The first minute of operation does tend to label you as a polluter, but the blue smoke diminishes quickly. It is also not too noisy, although more so than an electric equivalent – counter this to the less time it spends running. The mower cost £199 B&Q, but I’ve seen it for less since.