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Mowers Have Feelings, Too

By Steve Rak II


Hello, I'm a 52-inch-cut, 26 hp, walk-behind commercial lawn mower. My blades spin really fast and I can cut some serious turf. I'm not bragging here, but I can even go through water. I work around 40 hours per week and sometimes I feel like my motor is going to burn up. But I keep going, through thick and thin - grass that is - I cut right through, never stop.

Oh, sometimes my oil gets low, but I don't complain - what with all that engine noise no one would hear me anyway.

At one point I thought about changing careers, but no one wants a lawn mower vacuuming their house. So I stick with the landscape business, it just makes sense that's all.

I really shouldn't say this but my operator doesn't understand me that well. As soon as he gets to the first job he opens up the throttle full bore and starts me up, then when he's done he doesn't even idle me down - just shuts me off at full throttle. That's just not good for my insides. My air filter sometimes gets so clogged up with debris that I can hardly breathe, then he wonders why I don't have any power. How would he feel if he had grass and dust filling his intake, I mean his wind pipe? I wish he would at least knock the debris out of my air filter once in a while.

Then there is the whole oil business, why do landscapers think they can run us mowers for a million hours before changing our oil? Seriously, check my manual and change it as recommended. The best part though, is when my blades are so dull and my deck is completely clogged up with grass, he just starts cursing at me like it's my fault that I'm not able to cut the grass! I want to say, "Hey buddy, how about I fill your mouth up with grass and round off your teeth then give you a nice steak to chew on, how would that work out for you?" I mean, I know he's busy and all, but my deck needs to be scraped and blades need sharpened, I simply can't do a good job otherwise.

Sometimes it's just comical though and I have to laugh; like when one of the owner's guys runs me with a low tire, this is classic. You should see the look on his face after the first time around the perimeter of the lawn. It's priceless - and usually it takes him way too long to figure out what the problem is. Even funnier is that since I'm in the lawn its kind of hard to tell that I have a low tire. He just keeps looking at me, messing with the deck, checking for bent blades and of course getting mad at me. Even better yet, this always seems to happen when it's raining.

I sometimes wish it was like the old days when the owner ran me all day long. He really took care of me, not like this young hot rodder. The owner is just too busy to be out mowing anymore so I understand that, but maybe he could come up with a preventative maintenance program for me.

I know he spends an awful lot of money on the mechanic at the local mower shop to fix me up. I really hate going there by the way. How would you like it if someone was welding your joints and replacing your parts? I can't stand the sound of those power tools any more.

So anyway, I've gotta roll. I have a lot of grass to mow and my operator needs to fill my gas tank. He is actually good at that because I just shut down when I don't get gassed up. Hey, it's the only leverage I have these days, my motto is "no gas no mow".

It was nice talking to you, and since you are a landscape professional would you do me a favor? I have relatives everywhere working with you folks and it sure would be nice if you could put a preventative maintenance plan in place at your shop. You know the weekly stuff like scraping our decks, sharpening our blades, greasing us and cleaning the air filters out. Change our oil as mandated by the manuals and try to keep an eye out for things that can be prevented like loose nuts and bolts that can vibrate off and cause even bigger problems and repairs.

You can always talk to your mower vendor or go online and check the manufacturer's website for advice on what you need to do and when you should be doing your mower maintenance. Whatever you do please don't ignore it because us mowers don't like all that cursing.

Steve Rak II is the president of Southwest Landscape Management, Columbia Station, Ohio, and a partner with his brother, Jeff, in Rak Consulting. Contact him at steve@sw-landscape.com.