All about petrol trimmers

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Which is better – a hand-held scythe or a brushcutter-trimmer?

I was forced to ask the question in the title by an incident that happened to me. At first glance, the answer is obvious, of course a brushcutter is better in all respects, but this, for example, is clear to me now. And ten years ago, back in 1998, when this question first arose in front of me, the answer to it was completely unknown, because then this type of tool – mowers, came to Russia in single copies, and no one could say anything about them.

I have a summer cottage – not a summer cottage, a vegetable garden – not a vegetable garden. In general, a piece of land where I rest is 10 acres with a hut. Due to the lack of a special desire to swarm around in the land, growing natural products, it grows on these ten acres mainly – grass, well, rare bushes, and a couple of flower beds with flowers, the wife breaks. To give the site a noble look, I mowed this grass for several years with an old-fashioned tool and the usual one in use – an oblique-Lithuanian, a couple of hours a week to wave a Lithuanian one is not work, but a sheer pleasure.

But I got into trouble – I seriously injured my leg, and the whole summer the site was unmown. I come next summer – my God, the grass is above my head. I take a braid and start to mow. But it was not there. New grass is interspersed with dried old, and even the entire area is overgrown with small annual willow. In general, after three strokes the scythe had to be corrected, and after a dozen – the old handle cracked. Not pleasure, but rough work turned out. He spat, threw such a mow, and moved home in the evening. And the next day I went to the hardware store to buy a new braid. And there I saw a completely unfamiliar-looking instrument, standing alone against the wall, on the price tag of which was written the unfamiliar word “Trimmer”, and under it, finely – “benzokos”. Of course, I was very interested, carefully examined the device, and then asked the seller, who told everything he could about this unit. So I first learned about the existence of a petrol cutter, a device that makes it easy to mow the grass and replaces the hand-held mowing tool, invented in ancient times and remained unchanged for many centuries – the scythe.

Gas cutter device

The petrol cutter device turned out to be very simple.

A regular gasoline internal combustion engine is about the same as in a chainsaw, but instead of a chainsaw tire, a long tubular rod is attached to the engine gearbox, inside which a shaft passes, transmitting torque from the engine to a working tool attached to the end of this shaft. This whole structure is suspended on a belt thrown over the shoulder, so that it does not need to be held on the weight by hands, which is very important with the sensitive weight of the chainsaw – about 5 kilograms. A handle is attached to the bar, with which you can conveniently move the end of the bar with the tool attached to it along the surface of the earth. From the side facing the feet of a person, the tool is fenced with a light protective shield – a casing so as not to accidentally touch it during operation.


Well, about the instrument itself. This was very new to me – they cut the grass with fishing line! That is, the tool is a round drum, on both sides of which a thick nylon line comes out of the holes by about 15 centimeters. When the drum is spinning at high speed, the line is pulled out by the string under the action of centrifugal force and, striking a blade of grass, it easily cuts it. Since the fishing line is nylon, that is, it is plastic, it wears out rather quickly, so it is possible to lengthen it on the go, unwinding from a reel located inside the drum.

The seller called the petrol cutter in a foreign language – “trimmer”. Subsequently, I inquired about the origin of this word, referring to the “primary source” – the English-Russian dictionary. The English verb “to trim”, from which the word “trimmer” comes, is translated into Russian as “trim, trim, trim”. So the word “trimmer” literally translates as “trimmer”, “trimmer”, “trimmer”. And since in Russian there are the words “mow” and “scythe”, then this tool can also be called a brushcutter or, by analogy with a chainsaw, a petrol cutter.

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Accordingly, the working tool attached to the bar of the petrol cutter – trimmer is called the trimmer head.

The fact that trimmer heads are different, I found out right there, in the store. The seller, having heard about my difficulties with mowing, said that the trimmer head with a knife is included in the set of the gas cutter, which is up to the shoulder for mowing dry grass and small bushes. Replacing the head with a fishing line with a head with a knife took 10 minutes, together with the search for a lost key somewhere. In general, I left the store as the happy owner of a new tool – RUOBY petrol cutters. Now it is almost impossible to find trimmers of this company with us, but then – 10 years ago, it was the only model in the store.

The next day off, in the morning, I began practical testing of the new acquisition. I prepared a gasoline mixture with oil, as for a chainsaw, and poured it into the gas tank. Having put on a sling, I first tried on and adjusted the height of the chainsaw suspension according to my height. I moved the end of the bar with a knife over the ground, the movements do not require any significant effort. I pull the starter handle, which is similar to the starter of a long-familiar tool – a chainsaw, the engine starts. The sound is quite loud, like all two-stroke engines, and the engine is located high, but this inconvenience can be tolerated. And I start mowing. The feeling is wonderful, close to delight. Grass obediently lays down, cut off by a rapidly rotating two-blade knife, shaped like an airplane propeller.

If manual scythe mowing is hard work that requires a lot of effort to “pull” the scythe when cutting the grass, especially thick and high, then here – practically no effort is needed. The mototrimmer mows itself, you just have to guide it into the thick of grass. For a trimmer head with a knife, the old dried grass, young willow shoots, and the thick trunks of a bear pipe turned out to be within their power. In general, after a couple of hours of work, my entire section, overgrown with wild grass, was carefully mowed and began to resemble an English lawn, and not a meadow in the taiga. It took me three to four days to mow this area with a hand scythe, even though I didn’t allow it to grow so much before.

Since then, I have literally fallen in love with this wonderful tool, whatever you call it – a petrol cutter, a motorcycle trimmer or simply a trimmer. This petrol cutter served me for four years, and after the muffler burned out and the sound of the engine became unbearable, I bought myself a new trimmer. The choice in 2002 was already much larger, and I managed to buy a completely new at that time model MTD 890. The engine of this trimmer is four-stroke and makes much less noise than two-stroke engines of most petrol cutters, which actually served as the main argument when buying – to the noise of the previous I did not manage to get used to the trimmer, I even bought headphones to work with it. This trimmer still works in my country house, and in stores you can buy his younger brothers – new models that have replaced the old one.

And the question of which is better – a hand-held scythe, or a petrol cutter – a trimmer for me no longer exists. The answer to it is now completely trivial – well, of course, a petrol brush.

The history of lawn mowers

Having got acquainted, bought and regularly use a wonderful tool – a petrol cutter – a trimmer, I became interested in the history of lawn mowing with the help of power tools. Abroad, park lawns and lawns with short, well-groomed grass have been known since the 17th century. But before, only aristocrats could enjoy the beauty of lawns, since the maintenance of the lawn required a lot of human effort and time. Therefore, lawns were quite rare, and the grass was fought on them in a variety of ways – grazing pets, mowing with a scythe, sickle or cutting with scissors..

The first patent for the so-called “grass mowing machine” was received by the Englishman Edwin Buding on August 31, 1830, and this was the prototype of the modern lawn mower..

Bading spied on the design at a weaving factory where he worked as a foreman. They used a device for uniform shearing of carpet pile, which is a rotating cylinder with knives, permanently fixed to the bed. Buding realized that this wheel-mounted structure could be used to mow grass. Together with engineer John Ferrabi, he made the first lawn mower and began mass production of it. All the first lawn mowers were made of cast iron, and a cylinder with knives was driven by gears from the rear wheels that rotated when the mower was moving. The mower was pushed across the lawn by the mower using handles similar to those of a wheelbarrow. They also used donkeys and horses harnessed to such mowers. Subsequently, quite a few design options for the mechanics of lawn mowers were invented, but all of them were driven by the muscular power of humans or animals..

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Bading and Ferrabi sold the license to manufacture their mower to everyone. The Ipswich-based company Ransomes began manufacturing lawn mowers in 1832 and became the most successful. “Ransomes” remained the only company that has existed since then, which is still the most famous manufacturer of garden equipment today..

In the 1890s, lawn mowers were introduced that were powered by a steam or gasoline engine. At first, steam-powered lawnmowers were more popular, but it soon became clear that it took much longer to fire a lawnmower on a steam engine than mowing the lawn itself, and by 1900 the gasoline engine had won.

In 1902, Ransomes, already known as Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies, began manufacturing gasoline-powered lawnmowers and was the market leader in gardening equipment until World War I..

After the First World War, there was a surge in lawn mower production. Technologies stepped forward, companies needed new sales markets, consumers moved to new country houses, an integral addition to which was a small garden.

The most successful company to emerge at that time was the British company Atco. Atco’s petrol lawn mowers, launched in 1921, were a huge success. In the same twenties and thirties, many manufacturers tried to make electric lawn mowers, but the need for them came much later..

In the fifties, progress took a huge step forward, lawn mowers became inexpensive and very reliable. And in the sixties, after the start of their use in the production of plastics, lawn mowers became even cheaper, and became an indispensable accessory for almost any English and American home with a lawn..

The first garden trimmer was invented in 1972 by businessman George Ballas of Houston.

For a long time he puzzled over how to cut the grass around trees and bushes without damaging them. The idea came to him while he was washing the car in a car wash. He loved that the nylon bristle rollers that wash the car do not scratch the car’s paintwork. Returning home, he immediately set up an experiment. Taking an empty corn can, Bollas drilled holes in it and fastened short lengths of thick fishing line to them. Then he screwed this attachment to the rotor of his garden cultivator and, in a few seconds, gently cut the grass without any damage to the trees. Very quickly, the invention was appreciated by manufacturers, and its mass production began, first as an additional tool for existing lawn mowers. Soon, the new tool took on a modern look – a small gasoline or electric motor with a long rod, at the end of which a rotating drum with fishing lines is fixed.

Bollas called his invention “Weed Eater” – “weed killer”, but the name did not catch on, and now devices for mowing with the help of a rotating line are commonly called trimmers..

Benzokosa trimmer is an irreplaceable assistant

A modern trimmer can become an assistant when performing a wide variety of work performed both in the summer cottage, and in the garden, and in the home farm. From a device designed for one purpose – mowing, thanks to a variety of interchangeable heads, it has turned into a multifunctional unit that is capable of pruning trees and shrubs, forming hedge crowns, cultivating the soil, and removing snow. And for the main work – mowing grass, they have invented and produced many trimmer heads and knives. The number of cutting lines in the trimmer head can be from one to twelve. The line can be released to replace worn out manually, semi-automatically and automatically. It can be wound in a drum on one or two reels. Trimmer knives can be made of plastic and steel and have a wide variety of shapes.

The trimmer engine can be not only gasoline, but also electric. Electric trimmers are not as widespread as gasoline trimmers. The reason is clear – firstly, the electric trimmer is tied to the mains with a power cord, much inferior to the gasoline trimmer in mobility. Secondly, there is a great danger of electric shock, the electric trimmer must not be used in the rain and on grass wet after rain or dew. Thirdly, petrol trimmers are more powerful. That is, the electric trimmer is applicable only for small lawns located near the house..

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Before buying a petrol cutter, you need to decide what basic work it will have to do. Whether you’re making hay for your pets, or your lawn is the size of a football field and covered in weeds and bushes, you definitely need a professional gasoline trimmer. And for periodic mowing of a small lawn and cosmetic care for ornamental bushes, you can purchase a semi-professional or amateur (household) model of a petrol cutter.

The cutting head is chosen based on what grows in the cultivated area – if there are a lot of fruit trees, stones, bushes in the cultivated area, you need a trimmer head with a cutting line so as not to damage the trees and break the knives. And if there are no trees and stones, a plastic or metal knife is used – a milling cutter. The shape of the knife is also chosen depending on whether only grass or grass with shrubs will be cut.

Choosing a two-stroke or four-stroke engine is a matter of taste, the power of the engines designed for use on petrol mowers is about the same. A two-stroke engine is more noisy and slightly more vibrating. Four-stroke engine – more expensive, but I like it better, mainly due to less noise and vibration.

Many additional accessories make it easier to work with the petrol cutter. You can purchase various sling for suspension of the petrol cutter, handles of different shapes for installation on the bar, knee pads and protective shields.

And, of course, you can purchase a wide variety of trim heads.

Trimmer selection

The choice of petrol cutters in shops selling tools and garden tools is now the widest. The list of companies producing these devices is quite large. These are Alpina, SunGarden, Homelite, Husgvarna, Makita, McCULLOCH, SOLO, Stiga, Hitachi, my favorite MTD, and many others. All these companies produce a wide range of petrol brushes – from household to professional. The difference is obvious – a household petrol brush is designed for occasional work on the backyard lawn, a couple of hours a week, and they work with a professional tool for several hours every day. Accordingly, the engine power, and reliability, and the completeness and design of the trimmer heads are different. For example, if in a household petrol cutter it is quite possible to get by with a trimmer head with manual line feed, then in a professional semi-automatic or automatic line feed becomes an urgent need.

All modern petrol cutters have a device to reduce engine vibration. Almost everyone has an easy engine start, that is, they start “with a half kick”.

Many models in the basic set have several trim heads for different mowing conditions, but even if there is one head in the set, you can buy another in addition. You just need to pay attention to the description of petrol cutters – for some models, the ability to replace the heads is inherent in the design and does not require any additional devices, and for some, replacing the head with a fishing line with a head with a knife requires the use of a special adapter.

Most modern trimmers use two-stroke internal combustion engines with a power of 1 hp or more. for household models up to 3-4 hp from professional. Sometimes four-stroke engines are also used..

The design of all modern trimmers is almost the same, although there are also very original models – for example, the SOLO 155 gasoline trimmer, the engine of which dresses like a backpack, and the torque is transmitted to the bar with the trimmer head using a flexible shaft.

A typical representative of a household trimmer is the MTD TB 10 CS petrol trimmer. Easy-start 2-stroke engine with 1 HP, quick-change system for multifunctional attachments without the use of tools, making it an indispensable companion in the garden.

And for workers caring for urban lawns, we can recommend the ALPINA Star 55 DP petrol trimmer with a 2.85 hp engine, complete with replaceable trimmer heads – with a semi-automatic line release and a metal knife – a cutter that allows you to cut shrubs.

In general, there is plenty to choose from.

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