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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Would it be too late in the season to start mowing with a reel mower? I've just been enlighten to what they do for Bermuda grass and being a lawn nut now I have to have one!!! I've been using a rotary at about 2" HOC and would love to get a reel and be at about 3/4 HOC. Don't want to kill my lawn though if it's too late to change this season. I'm in North Texas; thanks!! Also I know I would have to level maybe a couple of times, the builder did a terrible job with my sod and my yard is pretty bumpy in areas.
 

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Definitely not too late in the year to switch. Bermuda is just now hitting full stride with plenty of growing season left. You'll need to scalp it below your intended HOC, you said 3/4" so at least go down to 1/2-5/8" to reset the grass. It's going to look like crap for 2 weeks or so while it recovers.

What kind of reel are you looking for... what's your budget, how many sqft are you mowing? Homeowner brands like a TruCut or McLane are easily found on Craigslist. Just post a link here and I'm 100% sure everyone will let you know what the think about it. For a bumpy lawn a front roller is a must. I mowed my lawn at 3/4" last year and it was nowhere near level or even smooth. Even better and more expensive is the Greens mowers e.g. ( John Deere, Toro and Jacobsen are the big 3, I'll throw Baroness in there for MQ) with front and rear rollers. They normally max out their HOC a little over an inch. They are heavier built machines than the homeowner reels. Meant for mowing 18 holes every morning.

As for leveling it will help for sure and the more you do it the smoother everything will be. Be careful though because it seems to be a sickness :mrgreen: I have yet to see anyone just level once
 

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I'm curious what others say because I am in a very similar situation as you, Txmx583. Poor work by the subs for the builder regarding the yard and landscaping all around. I imagine it didn't help the sod was laid in the Fall and ended up having several days of snow and ice storms that winter before the sod was ever really established into the existing red mud. And my Honda also requires me to cut at minimum 1.75" without scalping it to the dirt in the front yard.
 

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Leveling will definitely help, but the geometry of a reel mower with a front roller will automagically let you mow lower than you can with a rotary mower without scalping. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
J_nick said:
Definitely not too late in the year to switch. Bermuda is just now hitting full stride with plenty of growing season left. You'll need to scalp it below your intended HOC, you said 3/4" so at least go down to 1/2-5/8" to reset the grass. It's going to look like crap for 2 weeks or so while it recovers.

What kind of reel are you looking for... what's your budget, how many sqft are you mowing? Homeowner brands like a TruCut or McLane are easily found on Craigslist. Just post a link here and I'm 100% sure everyone will let you know what the think about it. For a bumpy lawn a front roller is a must. I mowed my lawn at 3/4" last year and it was nowhere near level or even smooth. Even better and more expensive is the Greens mowers e.g. ( John Deere, Toro and Jacobsen are the big 3, I'll throw Baroness in there for MQ) with front and rear rollers. They normally max out their HOC a little over an inch. They are heavier built machines than the homeowner reels. Meant for mowing 18 holes every morning.

As for leveling it will help for sure and the more you do it the smoother everything will be. Be careful though because it seems to be a sickness :mrgreen: I have yet to see anyone just level once
My yard looks to be about 4700sqft. I'm looking at the McLane and Tru cut home owner models, trying to get one cheap to get started and then im sure upgrade at some point haha. I found a Tru cut 27 on eBay that isn't to far from me and the guy said it runs great but the reel doesn't spin very strong, he thinks the clutch for the reel side is going bad or needs adjustment. He's asking $299 for it. Thanks for the good info guys!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
MedozK said:
Go for it! However, PGR will be the next thing you will want to take advantage of once you star cutting low.
What is a PGR? (Kind of afraid to ask haha) hope your not opening the door to another addiction lol
 

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Txmx583 said:
My yard looks to be about 4700sqft. I'm looking at the McLane and Tru cut home owner models, trying to get one cheap to get started and then im sure upgrade at some point haha. I found a Tru cut 27 on eBay that isn't to far from me and the guy said it runs great but the reel doesn't spin very strong, he thinks the clutch for the reel side is going bad or needs adjustment. He's asking $299 for it. Thanks for the good info guys!!!!
I am guessing that this is the one that you have been looking at.



It looks rough but Im guessing that is just because it has sat outside for a while. It is the older model because it has a thin chain cover. The tires look to be in good shape. Based on the pictures the chains look pretty loose so replacing them may help with the reel issues. Also MQ did a great article on how to adjust the clutch on a TruCut which I have used many times. Make sure that the reel and bedknife don't have any big nicks in them.

One of the biggest issues that I have seen has been an issue with the sprocket/key on both the drive shaft and the reel(both sprockets). Two of the TruCuts that I have bought in the past have had issues where the key holding the sprocket in place has partially rounded and started to turn and wear the shafts down. ***That is one thing that the seller saying that the "reel does not spin strong" makes me thing of.***
I would specifically check out the two sprockets(pics here) to make sure that is not happening. Let me know if you want me to go into more detail on this.

FYI a new clutch assembly is pretty expensive. Possibly even more than what you would pay for that mower. TruCut parts list and prices. Im not trying to talk you out of the reel but it is older and you should expect to get your hands dirty if buy it!

It does look like it might be a good option. Not may TruCuts can be found for $300 and if you have some negotiating skills I would think you can have it for less.

Let me know if you have any questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
That's exactly the one I was looking at. I was thinking it looked kinda rough but also that the tires have a lot of tread left and look original. If the auction ends without a sale I may go down and look at it and if it looks half decent and after checking the points you told me about I may grab it and clean / restore it a bit. Your right about the clutch cost, I already looked it up and for the whole assembly it's about $350. Wouldn't be worth the savings after that haha. It's a tough call, I'd like a decent reel but also don't have a ton of cash at the moment.. would a McLane be a better option? There is a 20" McLane that is really clean for $350 in the area also... Thanks for all the great info!!!
 

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Txmx583 said:
Your right about the clutch cost, I already looked it up and for the whole assembly it's about $350.
That is for the whole assembly. I know you can replace the necessary pads on the clutch for under $100, I think. That also takes more of your time and you also have to have a rivot machine to install the pads. Its hard for you to tell what is needed on the mower though. I even have a hard time and I have been face to face with 5+ used TruCuts over the years.

Many people on here have a McLane and are very happy. Does it have a roller? Post a picture on here and I'm sure some people will give their opinions. I have one in my garage that could use an Engine Swap or carb rebuild. If you were local I'd cut you a good deal :) I need to post that thing on CraigsList to help clean out my garage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Here is the McLane mower, it's the 20" 7 blade model. No idea how old it is and no roller. The guy said he bought it from someone that used it 5 times and got tired of needed to cut his lawn often.. $350 seems a tad high but if it's fairly new maybe not...

 

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That McLane looks pretty decent but $350 seems high to me especially since it doesn't have the front roller. If the reel and bedknife are sharp and don't need a grind that's a plus. If all it needs is a roller I would think $200-250 range. I bought my mclane for $75 but then spent $125 to get a grind done on the reel and bedknife and then bought a roller for $180. It also had a broken throttle cable but that was all. In the end I could have found myself a greens mower and I wish I would have but so far my mclane has been a good mower.
 

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I agree with Brodgers. If your like most of he people on this forum you will eventually want a roller. 350 plus 150 for a roller. That's getting pretty high for a McLane.

There are always deals to be had on Craigslist you just have to be a little patient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Cool, thats kinda what I was thinking. I want a front roller for sure so I've been thinking of that cost in addition to the mower cost anyway.. I'll keep looking, I'm sure one will pop up for a decent deal. I'd really like a Tru cut but they are super expensive.... I really appreciate all the feedback, and can't wait to get my hands on one and start working in the yard!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
SGrabs33 said:
Txmx583 said:
My yard looks to be about 4700sqft. I'm looking at the McLane and Tru cut home owner models, trying to get one cheap to get started and then im sure upgrade at some point haha. I found a Tru cut 27 on eBay that isn't to far from me and the guy said it runs great but the reel doesn't spin very strong, he thinks the clutch for the reel side is going bad or needs adjustment. He's asking $299 for it. Thanks for the good info guys!!!!
I am guessing that this is the one that you have been looking at.



It looks rough but Im guessing that is just because it has sat outside for a while. It is the older model because it has a thin chain cover. The tires look to be in good shape. Based on the pictures the chains look pretty loose so replacing them may help with the reel issues. Also MQ did a great article on how to adjust the clutch on a TruCut which I have used many times. Make sure that the reel and bedknife don't have any big nicks in them.

One of the biggest issues that I have seen has been an issue with the sprocket/key on both the drive shaft and the reel(both sprockets). Two of the TruCuts that I have bought in the past have had issues where the key holding the sprocket in place has partially rounded and started to turn and wear the shafts down. ***That is one thing that the seller saying that the "reel does not spin strong" makes me thing of.***
I would specifically check out the two sprockets(pics here) to make sure that is not happening. Let me know if you want me to go into more detail on this.

FYI a new clutch assembly is pretty expensive. Possibly even more than what you would pay for that mower. TruCut parts list and prices. Im not trying to talk you out of the reel but it is older and you should expect to get your hands dirty if buy it!

It does look like it might be a good option. Not may TruCuts can be found for $300 and if you have some negotiating skills I would think you can have it for less.

Let me know if you have any questions.
So the owner contacted me and said he would let me take it for $200. That has made me very interested as I think a c27 would be an awesome first reel. Of course I would do some major cleaning of it. If I decide to go check it out is there anything else you would recommend I check out besides the reel, bedknife, and two sprockets? Thanks again for all the great advice! I think $200 sounds like a good deal.
 

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Exactly what J_nick said. Here is a video I did that shows movement in the reel other than rotational. The right side bearing seized and wore down the reel shaft. Prob about 300 to replace the reel.

https://youtu.be/5pj7dklw7gs

Did you understand what I mentioned before about the wear around the two sprockets? I've seen this twice now where the key that holds the sprocket in place wears round and causes the sprocket to spin some on the shaft, ruining it. Both on the top and bottom side sprockets.

That covers most of the expensive parts if hey tneed to be replaced. Sounds like the engine was already running. Those GX engines seem to run no matter what gets thrown at them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
SGrabs33 said:
Exactly what J_nick said. Here is a video I did that shows movement in the reel other than rotational. The right side bearing seized and wore down the reel shaft. Prob about 300 to replace the reel.


Did you understand what I mentioned before about the wear around the two sprockets? I've seen this twice now where the key that holds the sprocket in place wears round and causes the sprocket to spin some on the shaft, ruining it. Both on the top and bottom side sprockets.

That covers most of the expensive parts if hey tneed to be replaced. Sounds like the engine was already running. Those GX engines seem to run no matter what gets thrown at them.
Thanks for the video! I'll def check that out!! Can you not just replace the bearings in the reel? Seems like a waist to have to replace the whole thing just for a worn out bearing. Good info!! I'm pretty sure I understood the sprocket wear, I think your talking about the square piece of metal sitting on the shaft that goes through the sprocket to turn it, right? Meaning the shaft would have to be replaced so it has a new square edge for the sprockets the have a tight fit against?
 
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