* Prices may differ from that shown
Over the years I seem to have acquired the responsibility for keeping our garden looking tidy. Fortunately, the majority of our back garden is lawned so it is mainly a matter of mowing regularly, weather permitting. Our lawns are quite sizable, however, and our garden is split level meaning there are effectively two separate lawns to tackle. I use an electric lawn mower, this Qualcast Easy Trak 320, which we have owned for several years and was originally purchased from a former Focus store.
The Easy Trak is quite a large model but doesn't feel unduly cumbersome or heavy to either push or lift. Due to the split level nature of our garden, I do need to lift this up and down when I'm mowing so the weight is a major consideration for me but this is certainly manageable. Storage is also straightforward, with the grass collecting basket removing easily which helps to reduce its overall footprint although it would be useful if the handle could be folded or removed for easier storage.
The cord length is fairly long but nowhere near long enough to meet our needs so I do need to use this in conjunction with an extension lead. I suspect that a longer lead would seem excessive for many smaller gardens, however, and could easily prove a safety risk. I would appreciate some kind of hook incorporated on the handle to store the lead tidily after use. I do try and wind the lead around the top lever and then over the knob that sticks out further down but this isn't entirely successful and I usually end up with some of the cord escaping and the plug dangling around, which isn't ideal.
In use, the Easy Trak functions well. The mower is operated by both a button and a lever which need to be pressed down at the same time, with the lever being held down continuously during mowing. This is a useful safety feature as it prevents the mower from being switched on accidentally. There is also an automatic cut off feature that will switch the mower off if it becomes overheated.
As the name indicates, this is really smooth and easy to push and manoeuvre around the lawn, particularly if the grass is kept at a manageable level. I do find that the soil on our top level tends to hold water so the grass can feel quite damp, even after a lengthy dry spell, especially if it is quite long. The Easy Trak will still tackle this slightly damp grass but I do find that the collection basket can clog up quite quickly, even when this is still plenty of space inside. It is possible to adjust the cutting height of the mower, if needed, but I find this quite fiddly to do and don't like messing about underneath the mower. My husband will occasionally adjust the height but I tend to keep it at the same level and simply try to mow on a regular basis.
Removing and re-attaching the plastic grass box is very easy as it simply clips into place. I find the capacity to be adequate - holding a decent amount of grass without needing to be emptied too frequently. If the box was much larger, this would hamper the manoeuvrability and also make the mower slightly heavier too. Despite being made from plastic, the box is very sturdy and robust and has not become damaged or weakened at all.
The overall results are always fairly neat and tidy, although I do find that the mower isn't able to reach the outer edges of our lawn adequately, which does lead to unsightly areas of long grass. I have to tackle this separately with manual shears or a cordless trimmer. Despite several years of regular (seasonal) use, the cutting mechanism still works efficiently with no sign of any deterioration. The only obvious indication of this mower's age is that it has recently started to make more noise and there is a very slight rattle at times, which suggests that the mower has seen better days. It's not the noisiest of mowers, by any means. I suspect that there may have been some minor damage to the blades by going over small stones and other debris hidden in the glass, usually left by my kids and unseen until I hear a tell-tale 'crunch' of the mower blades! This certainly appears robust enough to withstand such treatment.
We've owned our lawnmower, this Qualcast Easy Trak 320 for several years and, thus far, it has coped admirably with tackling our lawn without issue. As this is an older model, it is no longer widely available but a quick search online reveals a stockist currently selling this for £70. This is a reasonable price for a reliable and efficient mower with no major flaws although, in all honesty, when the time comes to replace this I will probably invest in a more modern version for a similar price.
Short back and sides please
My garden does not have rolling hills. There are no statues, no summer houses, no ho-ho and very little ha-ha. It is what many people have. A thirty-five foot by twenty foot strip of grassy goodness. And lord, how the grass in my garden does grow.
I've had hover mowers before. They are light, but collect no grass which means raking, shovelling and a fair amount of swearing. My last one decided that it had had enough of being sworn at, and told repeatedly what a piece of ....ah...mechanical faultitide....it was, with weedly little cutting blades that faint at the prospect of more than a blade of grass at a time.
Retreating from the smoke and smell of burning plastic, I decided to head down the local homebase and see what they could offer. A short while later, I emerged £60 poorer, but with a Qualcast RM32 (the successor to this one) in tow.
Take that, Festuca rubra subspecia commutata!
Ah, to have wheels once more. It may not float on a cushion of air, but this lawnmower is like the mars rover. It just keeps going with arguably less affort. The noise it generates from its 1000w motor is about the same, but the heavy duty blade beneath hungers for anything you can feed it.
For the price, this really represents great value for money. The flex is long enough that I can do the entire garden. Altering the height to one of three possible settings is a bit of a pain, moving the axles between the three groves on each of the four sides, but it is simple enough. The main body is reassuringly solid, and feels well engineered.
The main weakness in this package is the plastic grass collector. It frequently chokes on what the blade is trying to feed it, needing you to lift the back and manually force the cut grass to the back of the box. Having a bucket or two handy if you need to make trips through the house to the green recycling bin is advisable to avoid racking up some serious mileage. 30 liters sounds like a lot. It's not.
At 8 kilograms, it is easy to carry. Just don't tell the wife. As far as she's concerned, it's almost as heavy as her car, earning you many relaxation points afterwards. Storage is simple enough. It hangs from a nail in the garage happily enough, waiting to be used next time. All in all, I am impressed with my purchase.
The Qualcast Easi Trak 320 has had a home in my garage for many years now. My husband and I chose it when we had got too fed up with our previous mower which had plastic blades which were forever breaking and having to be replaced. Several times whilst c the grass was being cut the blade would have to be replaced a few times and sometimes we would run out of replacements. It's annoying to have a lawn which resembles a Mohican.
I'm not completely sure where we bought the Easi Trak from as it was a long time ago but I believe it was from B & Q. I don't think this model is sold by that particular store any longer.
Now our lawn isn't immense and over the years has shrunk, as my husband has laid a patio and then has extended this. We also decided to pave an area at the end of the garden so that we could have a flat area for the use of an Easy Set pool. So the lawn area is what would probably be considered on the small side. Never the less it's large enough to require a mower, and it looks decidedly scruffy when it needs a cut. At the moment it looks quite nice as it was mown only yesterday.
Now that spring is here I know that the mower is well and truly out of hibernation and will have to be brought out of its home at the end of the garden every week. Well, I am glad that I can honestly say that the Qualcast Easi Trak 320 has been a reliable mower and a great improvement on our previous model.
Years ago I would quite enjoy pushing an old fashioned non-motorised mower. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I found it somewhat therapeutic but my days of pushing mowers around are now gone. In fact the gardening overall, mainly falls to my husband. He admits now that he prefers to use labour saving devices where possible, thus saving energy for the more manual tasks around the garden. Well, let's face it an hour or two spent in the garden usually gets quite involved and can be hard enough work without the mowing. But I think electric rotary mowers do have a similar effect in the way of being therapeutic as the old fashioned type of classic mower but they are lighter and easier to operate.
Our mower has passed the test of reliability and durability. It has worked hard over the years and seems to still be going strong. I don't find many electrical items have as good a life as this has.
The main advantages of the Qualcast Easy Trak, in my opinion, are :
EASE OF USE
As the mower is light this makes it easy to manoeuvre over our lawn, making the task of mowing a relatively easy task. In fact it is classed as a lightweight mower as it only weighs 7.4kg.
And the four wheels help to allow for easy movement.
Operating this lawnmower is easier than with any other we have owned.
It has adjustable cutting heights which is a good feature although we usually use the shortest setting. However, if wanting to adjust to the other two cutting heights (between 20-60mm) it is easy to alter by simply fixing the axle into a choice of three notches.
The blade is metal, which in my husband's opinion is the best option, after having so much trouble with plastic blades on our previous mower.
The blade rotates with the same action as a helicopter's blades. The blades work well. If the grass is damp then they tend to clog up a little and this can be resolved by removing manually from the blades but ONLY attempt this when the mower is switched off from the electricity supply!
It's easy to switch on as you have to push in the button and lift the handle; then you can mow away without needing to leave your finger on the button. As long as the handle position stays up the mower remains on.
The Easy Trak has a 850w motor which is perfectly adequate for cutting our lawn even if it is badly in need of a cut.
The grass box catches most of the grass as it is cut and makes clearing up easier. Some grass escapes the box so a little raking is needed but this job would take much longer without a grass box.
As we have a full up garage (no room for the car) it is a desirable feature of this mower that the handle folds down meaning it is easier to store. The lead winds easily around the handle.
This mower is easy to carry owing to it being fairly light. The handle is of a good design for ease of transporting.
LENGTH OF CABLE
The cable is 10m (32ft) in length and for us this isn't long enough to reach from a socket inside the house and we have to use an extension cable. A power breaker should always be used.
I have been looking at stockists and prices for this particular mower and have found that prices vary quite a lot. It is available on Amazon and from many gardening and DIY stores. I found the price to be as much as £95 but mostly it seems to sell for around £70.
The grass always looks good when this mower has been used especially when the lowest length of grass setting is used.
This lawnmower was bought the Summer before last when our old manual cylinder mower finally gave up the ghost. The main reasons for purchase were that it was cheap and lightweight. We don't spend a lot of time on garden maintenance, the biggest job is probably to mow the lawn once a week during the Summer months. As I am at home most of the time the mowing falls to me, so I wanted something that wasn't too taxing on the arms.
Looks - It looks cheap. It's plastic, bulkier than I was used to but not really that big; green and black with a bright red starter handle and button. The grass clippings box attaches to the back and holds 28 litres. Ours has kept it's original appearance very well.
Assembly - It was quite quick and easy to assemble, once the instructions had been read properly, (bad habit of mine). The handles are height adjustable. To set the grass cutting height you need to push the front wheels into one of three notches, it's easy, ours is generally left on the lowest setting.
Performance - It's quick, relatively quiet and efficient. It's a very light mower, (7.4kg) and easily manoeuvred. It cuts at a width of 32cm, so probably not big enough for larger gardens. The cutting height varies from 20 to 60mm. (I think the idea is to set it high if the grass is long and then go over it again at a lower setting - not that I do). There's a safety mechanism which means that to start up you need to first press a button and then pull on the starter handle.
The difference between this and our old manual cylinder mower is vast. It's much quicker and it's possible to get the lawn done in less than half an hour without working up a sweat. We have a small back garden with an uphill section at the back, (sizewize it's probably roughly equal to half a tennis court). Our garden is also quite uneven which hasn't caused any problems for it. The rotary blade action gives a neater finish to the grass than the cylinder mower, and pushing up the slope is no longer hard work.
Criticisms - No major complaints. The cable could do with being longer, we need to use an extension cable with it, but this seems to be par for the course with mowers in general. It is a very basic mower but that is all I require.
Obviously it's not advisable to use electric lawnmowers when the grass is wet which can lead to the grass getting a bit lengthy in wet Summers.
Durability - I probably haven't treated this all that well. Sometimes the grass gets left, ooh, a little bit longer than it should, so it's been used to tackle fairly long grass which it has done without complaint. I have also used it on the lawn after the hedge has been pruned and allowed it to chew up and spit out bits of branch which doesn't seem to have bothered it unduly either. It hasn't required any maintenance so far. It came with a five year parts guarantee.
Price and Availability - I don't remember exactly how much this cost us, but a quick price comparison brings up Amazon as one of the cheapest suppliers, where it currently costs just under £52.
Cable length 10m
Size (H)30, (W)40, (D)81cm
Lightweight only 7.4kg
Grassbox: 28 litre
1000 watt motor
height of cut: 20-60mm
Conclusion - The Qualcast Easi-Trak 320 32cm Electric Rotary Lawn Mower looks cheap. It is cheap, but it performs well.
Ok. For starters, I hate mowing lawns and as I look out the window I can see that soddin' spring is beginning to arrive and I'll have to begin monotonously strolling back and forth down the garden as my shoes mysteriously turn green. The grass is growing. And is mocking me.
As a result of my deep-felt hatred, there was no way I was going to spend a lot of money doing something I hate so a few years back, when my father-in-law finally threw in the towel and decided we needed to mow our own lawn, I went out on the mission of finding a stupid lawnmower.
This one cost about £45 in the sale and was the cheapest in B&Q. That should raise the eyebrows a bit but cheap is good when lawnmowers are concerned so the rather oversized box was manhandled into the boot and we were away.
Once out of the box the full plastic nature of the thing takes hold. Flimsy plastic at that. Or so it appeared. I suppose you don't want brittle plastic as it will crack but this seemed especially flexible. Assembly involved screwing the handle together, but nothing too perplexing. Turn on plug and you're off.
There is a little button on the handle that you have to press in as a safety measure before pulling the trigger 'on' button. The four-year-old has now worked this out but luckily can't quite reach the blades and hold the handle at the same time. Unless you push him.
This is a rotary mower so there is a fast-spinning blade of death that chops the grass as you walk along behind it. The blade itself is replaceable but we never have because I refuse to spend money on it. The blade nowadays is a bit chipped and dented and not exactly sharp after 3 years. If a worm were to poke its wormy little head out I suspect it might be bludgeoned to death by it rather than bisected.
There is no clever automatic height setting (never understood that - if I want to cut grass I want it as low as possible so it'll be longer before I have to do it again). You have to move the front wheels onto one of 3 little notches. This is easier that it sounds, they just ping into place. I don't do it often .
Ease of Use
Dead easy. It starts as I said earlier and you, er......push it. It is a pretty light thing. The four-year-old pushes it along quite easily. He is almost as good as a goat. When the detachable grass box is full, it slides off to be emptied with little fuss.
Quality of the cutting
Well, where once the grass was long, it becomes short after use. I don't know is the simple idea. It doesn't do nice stripes or anything like that but it cuts grass evenly and with little problem. The cutting radius isn't great on it so if you have a big garden then you'll need something bigger and anyway I don't like show-offs.
My problem with it is self-inflicted. I can't be bothered so sometimes the grass gets quite long. There comes a point where it gets so long that my wife starts complaining about the lawn looking unsightly, we have a pheasant infestation and Jac went out to play last week and no-one can find him. That is my cue. The trouble is, by the time I get out there, there is no way the measly 850W motor can get through the grass. I sort of have to tilt the thing to get it to snip the tops of and then slowly work my way to the bottom bit of the grass. By the time I have finished, harvest is over and the cute little animals have begun to make their wintry homes. The grass, when long is usually very wet as well and clogs the whole thing up, especially around the blades and it makes a rather clunky grindy noise.
However, the little miracle survives and is still working despite many a clogging and snipping of cable with the blades.
This is even more impressive when you consider that I use the lawnmower as a mulcher. If the garden waste bin is full and I've still got the Buddleia attack I simply pile all the cut of branches on the floor and mow them to death! And it still works.
It is chap and plasticky and basically not very good BUT it is a robust little chap. I don't treat it with respect or care at all but it always starts first time and it does the job its intended for with little fuss or complaint. I will use it until it dies.
Actually, there is a 5 year guarantee with it so I might just wait another year before it does 'die'.
More info at: http://www.qualcast.co.uk/rotary/easitrak32.html
A quick cut-and-paste summary
* Blade Width in cm: 30 - 34 cm
* Cutting Width in cm: 32 cm
* Grass Collection Bin: Back
* Mowing System: Rotary
* Power Supply: Mains
* Type: Walk behind mower
* Wattage: 850 Watt
* Wheel Drive: without Wheel Drive
May also be on other review sites.
When I use this lawn mower on our fairly average size lawn I do think that the boyfriend had a Tim the Tool Time Taylor from the TV comedy show Home Improvement moment when he bought this. I think he wanted something a bit more substantial and manly than the petite flymo that would have probably been enough for our postage stamp size patch on land.
As a lawnmower it is very efficient, it utilises a metal cutting blade which has a cutting width of 32cm and it runs really smoothly. Apparently according to the manual the blade speed is 3600 rpm which I guess is pretty fast.
On the occasions I have used it I have found it to be able to cope with both short and long grass and the rear mounted grass storage holds 26 litres caacity of grass when full which is plenty for the size of garden we have and is quite heavy to lift when full. I have also found it to be good with slightly wet grass as well as the blade is pretty powerful. You can set the cutting height to three different settings depending on the length of grass.
I find it reasonably light to work with unless the box is full and it is relatively easy to steer however I do feel you need a reasonable size lawn that is biggerthan average for it to be really effective.
32cm cutting width. Metal blade. 850 watt hi-torque motor with 'Power drive' system gives a balde speed of over 3600rpm. 3 cutting heights. 26 litre grass collection box.