Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. It appears I have upgraded to a cordless line trimmer. I guess the proper name would be brushless and I think it has something to do with the motor. I never wanted a battery-powered trimmer because I thought it meant a lack of power. In 2018 (I think) I decided we needed a new more powerful trimmer. Well, since I was doing the trimming instead of dad, I was more interested in power and performance. I wanted one with a brush cutter attachment as well. Dad had an Echo, his second one, but it just wasn’t up to snuff. I am not saying Echo isn’t a good brand, it is just that this one was not adequate for all the trimming I was doing. The other problem was the motor would get very hot and burn my arm (I found out I could just turn the motor to solve that issue).
The local small engine shop had several Jonsered trimmers available with brush cutter attachments. They had the saw blade that I thought would be better but the price was over $300. Dad wasn’t going for that so we went to Tractor Supply in Clinton to see what they had… Well, we looked them over and dad decided on the Cub Cadet BC490… The brush cutter attachment was like the ones I was steering away from but since dad was paying for it, I agreed. How much? Over $300! We could have bought the better Jonsared for the same price!
The Cub Cadet BC490 was much better than the old Echo GT225 in many ways. I wanted a 4 cycle so I wouldn’t have to mix gas and oil which I thought was a good thing. But it is so HEAVY buy the time it ran out of gas I was also out of gas. The straight shaft was also a plus and the string is easier to load than the Echo.
Well, in May I started painting the interior of a rental house in Clinton for a friend (also the minister of the church I attend) and I needed to mow the yard. We went to his house and loaded his riding mower on the trailer and he grabbed his trimmer. First of all, I had used his mower a couple of times before… A Simplicity… At first I thought (to myself) Simplicity was some kind of an off-brand. Once I used it I was shocked! It could run circles around my John Deere! It worked great! It was more comfortable and had a better turning radius than my John Deere LT120. The yard at this rental was uneven and there were a lot of holes but the Simplicity did a great job. It is hard to imagine, but it seemed flexible. That sounds whacky, I know, but flexible is the only word I can think of. I quizzed him about the mower and then looked it up online and found out Simplicity is NOT an off-brand at all. Simplicity bought Snapper in 2002, then Simplicity was bought out by Briggs and Stratton in 2004. Well, they also have an interesting history. I had known for a while that green paint isn’t what it used to be…
Now, for his trimmer… It was a Stihl FSA85. With a battery… I thought, “GEEZ!” I picked it up, looked it over, and I was somewhat skeptical. It weighed nothing compared to my Cub Cadet… I didn’t even know how to turn it on and had to ask. He showed me and all I had to do was press the safety switch and throttle and it just came on… It was very quiet, and again, I thought, “GEEZ!” There are two settings, one for high speed and one for a lower speed, depending on the grass and what you are cutting. The lower speed also conserves battery life. Well, everything I use has to be in full throttle…
Well, I was shocked! This thing really worked so I thought I needed one. Once he paid me for my work, I set out to find one… Before that, I watched several videos on YouTube about the Stihl FSA85 and a few about trimmer reviews. Ace Hardware in Clinton sells Stihl but they didn’t have this model. I went to the mower shop where David bought his, but he didn’t have any in stock either. I did get the prices, though, which wasn’t very pleasant… I knew Heritage Tractor (a John Deere dealership also in Clinton) sold Stihl so I went there. Ummm… Same deal but the price was a little less ($10). The salesman, who I worked with before to get parts for my mower, explained a lot more to me and he said he could have one in a week. He said I was under no obligation and they could just have one sent from another store. So, I agreed…
I could have bought an upgraded battery and charger, but I decided the standard models would be good enough. For me, they are completely fine. If I bought an upgraded battery it would last longer and the upgraded charger would charge faster. The standard battery lasts long enough in the heat anyway. I am not one to know when to quit sometimes, so when what I am using stops working or runs out of gas, it does help to remind me maybe I should take a break.
Some reviews I read were negative, saying the trimmer string would advance well, it wasn’t powerful enough, and so on. Honestly, every trimmer I have used has some issues with the string advancing 100% of the time. I had to fiddle with the Cub Cadet almost every time I used it. As far as power, it has plenty. Reviews and other people’s opinions are sometimes debatable. It is like reading reviews of movies. Even if I think a movie is perfectly great, there are others who think it stinks. Well, I do have to add my opinion to the mix. (I am a movieaholic and have been since the early 1980’s when videos first came out).
SO, how does the Stihl compare to the Cub Cadet? I am was impressed how powerful it was to be so quiet. It cut through tall, heavy, thick clumps of fescue just about as fast as the Cub Cadet. Once I saw this, I didn’t hold anything back and it took everything I dished out. It cut through the clumps right down to the dirt. The Stihl has a wire guard that you can swing down to protect small trees or whatever you don’t want to cut down. I found it works great around steel fence posts that normally play heck with trimmer string. ALSO, and this was a miracle… Tall grass stems, like with fescue and foxtail, were all the time wrapping around the shaft above the trimmer head with the Echo and Cub Cadet. I used the brush guard in the down position and never once had any issues with the stems wrapping around the head. No more repeated stopping to unwrap the grass saved a lot of time. The bottom electric fence wire around the garden is pretty low and it always gave me a few issues when trimming. I just slid the brush guard under the bottom wire and went to town. I know, I know… If I trimmed every time I mow I may not have this issue. I mow approximately three acres, so who wants to trim after that? Consequently, the grass in the two ditches, around fences, trees, foundations, the water hydrant, the martin house pole, the barn, garage, two sheds, the chicken house, the wagon… It gets taller than it should. One time someone mentioned it looked like I need to do some trimming. I told them I was letting the fescue go to seed. 🙂
Oh, yeah. I almost forgot to mention the Stihl trimmer’s motor is not on the top of the handle… It is at the bottom where the guard is, making the trimmer more balanced. The handle is fully adjustable so you can move it to where it is the most comfortable for your height (the others probably do that, too). It only weighs a little over 6 pounds… I suppose all battery-operated (brushless trimmer) motors are at the bottom of the shaft.
SO… My first experience owning a trimmer was the Weedeater FL25C that I bought when I was at the mansion in Mississippi. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I needed a trimmer. Well, you know, they always say you get what you pay for. It didn’t have an auto-advance for the line and it was also hard to load by hand… It did get the job done, but it was very frustrating. The letters FL stand for FeatherLite… One day I did some yard work for a friend who had a straight shaft trimmer, a very expensive brand but I forgot what. I did their landscape maintenance, cleaned and painted a rental for them, and when their housekeeper quit, I started cleaning their house. Anyway, it was my first experience using a professional trimmer with a straight shaft. I am not even going to compare it with my small inexpensive weedeater.
When I came back here in 2013, dad had an Echo GT225. Now, you would think anything that says GT would be badass. Like the Mustang GT and other performance cars, GT meant something about performance. Well, I am sure for an average homeowner with a little trimming to do every week, it would be fine. My problem is, I will admit, I use my tools for all they are worth mainly because I used hand tools with my own power for a long time. As long as I kept the blades sharp there were no issues. SO, I have a tendency to try and force inadequate tools to do more than they were made for. I think I bent the shaft on the Echo because it is weird now… LOL! Truthfully, I never told dad that and he didn’t use it after I started. WHEW! Damn kid! I did read where grass wrapping around the shaft can bend it. I could never see how, but that “could be” what happened. Dad said to start at the top of the grass and go down, but I thought I had enough grass on me for that.
Hmmm… The brush cutter on the Cub Cadet BC490 takes A LOT of getting used to. While it works OK on smaller saplings and some thick weeds, there are just some things it refuses to do. Sometimes you have to whack what you are cutting and then it works OK. (Hmmm… That would probably bend the shaft, too, huh?). Like with Ironweed… The first time I tried using it with Ironweed was quite interesting. The sparks flew and there was smoke! I am very tempted to put a small saw blade on it to see what happens… It has to be better than this gizmo but it would probably void the warranty that has now expired… I just have to remember this is a trimmer, not a chainsaw…
Then there is the line issue. All trimmer lines are NOT created equal. I had been using the same line dad had been using from the small engine shop for years and we had to buy a new roll every spring. Fortunately, when we bought the Cub Cadet, it came with line was A LOT different and lasted a long time. I did some investigating online and found out square, or even three-sided line didn’t last that long. I found this Vortex™ Professional Trimmer Line on Ebay in 2018 and I might finally run out this summer. It has lasted that much longer than the other square line of the same thickness.
It looks like two lines wrapped together and it lasts a long time. You have to be careful because the line can eventually wear where it comes out of the head and break off. When I was at Heritage Tractor, the salesman showed me some of the other attachments and line they had that wil also break off before it wears out. If you are interested in the Vortex™ string, it is part #27-12161. It gets a Belmont Rooster 5 Gold Star rating…
When I moved back here in 2013, dad had a Black and Decker hedge trimmer that was kind of dull. I have no clue what happened to the one I had in Mississippi… Well, I mainly used the Corona shears at the mansion because they did a better job. There was an overgrown Privet hedge at least 150′ long and parts of it were probably 12′ tall along the street. There was also holly all along the front porch and sunrooms that were maybe 8′ tall. The hedge had other trees and Poison Ivy mixed in to boot. I managed to get it all trimmed back and they looked very good after a few years. The holly was a nightmare to trim and I had scratches all up and down my arms. It was worth the battle scars in the long run, though.
Dad’s Black and Decker hedge trimmers were just fine with the Yew in front of the house. He always told me to make sure I cleaned up good because the Yew would dull the mower blades. I always mowed the grass before I trimmed the Yew so I could clean up better anyway. The trimmer blades were definitely dull and sometimes I just used the Coronas. In 2019, I think, I started doing the landscape maintenance for Kevin, the friend I have mentioned before several times. Anyway, his Privet hedge runs along one side and in front of his house. I could definitely tell not only were the electric trimmers dull, so was the Corona… I figured it was from all the sap from the Yew. The top of his hedge would literally turn white because of all the smashed leaves. They looked like they were sunburned, but when I looked closer I could tell it was from dull trimmers. I cleaned the trimmers with this stuff that was also a lubricant, and it did seem to help.
Last summer I went to the hardware store to see about buying a new pair but the only thing they had was a cordless trimmer that cost about $100. Well, I passed at first but later in the summer when I had the extra money I went ahead and bought one. My first battery-powered trimmer… By that time, I didn’t need them for Kevin’s hedge, but I did for my own…
I will tell you I was very impressed. The teeth are farther apart plus I had an additional 6″ of blade and the battery lasted the whole time I was trimming. This trimmer also has a power button to use when you get into thicker branches. On Monday, I went to Kevins to try it out on his hedge for the first time. Unfortunately, his brother-in-law had already done it… GEEZ! I had more plants for his planters, so I finished planting then came back home.
Since I was in the trimming mood, I started in on the Yew in front of the house… When I came here in 2013, dad had been trimming the Yew as individual bushes. I told dad they would look better if they looked more like a hedge. He didn’t care, so I let them fill out. They started growing like weeds and within a couple of years, they looked great. I had to really give the front a good pruning AGAIN because they are getting so wide. I am not finished yet… I cut back so much you can see the gaps between the individual bushes and the top edge needs more work.
The one on the corner is more of an upright grower that I have managed to trim round for a few years. Before, it was just plain weird… There are still a few holes because of the way it grows. Some of the longer branches, or whatever you call them, need to branch out.
Seriously, I think I would prefer other shrubs here besides Yew. They certainly aren’t my favorite bush. Forget about low maintenance, because these are definitely not that… Every time I trim, they seem to get taller. I tied a baling string along the front of the porch a few years ago I used as a guide to keep the hedge level. The yard kind of slopes, so it is hard to keep them level when you are walking downhill… The string is almost a foot below where the top of the hedge is now… Hmmm…
Over the years, I have learned to be open-minded when it comes to tools and brand names. Bigger companies, not necessarily better, have bought out other companies to the point you don’t know who owns who. You have to really do your research because some of the less expensive brand name products are made by not-so-favorable companies… Several years ago, Electrolux bought out Huskavarna and Jonsared. The story goes when Huskvarna became more popular and made more income, they bought the company back from Electrolux and also bought Jonsered. Both Huskvarna and Jonsared are from Sweden like Electrolux. I remember Electrolux vacuum cleaners, but the company also owns a lot of other companies now, mainly vacuums and major appliances. The Weed Eater company was bought out by Emerson Electric which merged with Poulan which was later bought by Electrolux. Now Weed Eater and Poulan are on Huskvarna’s list of brands. Electrolux bought White-Westinghouse which had bought out several other appliance companies. Well, appliance companies are a different ball of wax.
I don’t want to get into MTD, but In September 2018, Stanley Black & Decker bought 20% of MTD Products for $234 million. Stanley Black & Decker will have the option to acquire the remaining 80% of MTD (starting July 1, 2021). With the acquisition of Craftsman by Stanley Black & Decker, the brand’s products are now produced by MTD through this partnership… MTD owns several companies or brands, so Stanley Black and Decker… The list of companies Stanley Black and Decker owns in many segments is VAST and it makes a good read! I am not an MTD fan, by the way…
Stihl is privately owned by the descendants of its founder, Andreas Stihl, and has a manufacturing company in the United States.
I better stop looking up companies or this post will get way out of hand. 🙂
In closing, you have to get the right stuff for your needs that works well or the task at hand becomes more of a chore. Sometimes, I will admit, I splurge on something of better quality that I really can’t afford. If you settle for less, you may be disappointed in the long run.
I started two posts before I wrote this one, but I wanted to write about the new trimmer. Then, I trimmed the shrubbery and thought I would write about the new hedge trimmer, too. Grammarly seems to be running slow, well it is the internet, so there may be a few weird words in this post. Grammarly’s red circle just keeps turning so one only knows… 🙂
Until next time, be safe and stay positive! Always be thankful and GET DIRTY.