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String trimmer modification idea

 
gardener & bricolagier
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Me and my mom moved to Missouri, from the desert, and are getting our tails kicked by the fast growing grass. The rental is being the most issue, I'm modifying our property as fast as I can to make it maintainable. I don't have our house built yet, so no grazing animals yet, and none at the rental house. I have back and strength issues, and time issues, so mom does the trimming. She's 81, and doesn't have a lot of strength for string trimmers, she bought a battery one because it is light. It's pissing us off to no end, just doesn't have enough power, eats the line all the time, snarls up, etc. So I'm thinking....

The battery powered one doesn't have enough power to get mean. I put a set of the plastic bar things (look like zip ties) on an electric one to test it, it kicked ass till it burned the motor, those things need a gas engine to drive them. Gas engine ones are too heavy. The neighbor has a walk behind trimmer but it's unwieldy.
 

Snow Wolf type shovels are made to hold the weight,and just let you pivot it (I want one for mulch etc!) The handlebars they put on trimmers would give it good maneuverability, I think.


I'm wondering if anyone has ever put a gas weedeater on a single wheel to hold the weight, added handlebars, and put a serious cutter head on it. Did it work? Is this something worth trying? I'll be VERY glad when we are out of here, but could probably use a usable trimmer in the future too.

I also still want to put a hedge trimmer on a handle that makes it so I can use it at ground level. All the trimmers I have are electric though....  I WANT MY GOATS!!! Been buying these type of things too, they don't edge the sidewalk etc, they hurt when you hit something hard...




Be careful what you wish for, we wanted to be where things grow easily! And we have gotten it.... :D
 
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I think that would work (wheel on a string trimmer).  The only issue could be that you'd have to go in a straightish line.  No waving it back and forth.  Unless the wheel was a caster.  But it may be hard to find a big enough caster that is light enough.
 
pollinator
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Pearl, I would suggest you look into the new higher-powered trimmers. I had a 24V and it was so bad I gave it away and went back to the noisy hellhound of plant doom or scythe/ditch blade.

I recently converted over to electric (the batteries are 60% or more of the price), so once you have a battery, the tools are reasonable. I have a 60V setup now and it goes through some serious weeds. Might see if you can trial someone's equipment and see if it would work. It is light enough my 10YO uses it.
 
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I "lucked" into a deal from a neighbor that was cleaning out a storage shed.  I had no idea how useful the thing would be.  Many people sell something like it.  DR happens to have a good video.  I would look for one of these on craigslist.

It uses a heavy diameter string (.1" if I recall.)  It makes a large cutting radius and is easy to control around obstacles and buildings.  Because it is a two wheel, the balance is light and maneuverable.  I have mowed overgrown fields, walkways, edge maintenance, fence rows, etc...

With an internal combustion 4 cycle engine you have plenty of power.  The string is heavy so lasts a long time without changing line.  It can hit questionable areas without fear of benign a drive shaft or throwing a blade at you.

 
Pearl Sutton
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TJ Jefferson: mom asks if you can run a blade of some sort on that machine. She's tired of string (and so am I, if all string trimmers work like this, I have no idea why anyone would have ever bought a second one, they should have gone out of business due to sucking.) I really liked the blades that I burned a trimmer with. Those were very effective.
 
pollinator
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Pearl Sutton wrote:I'm wondering if anyone has ever put a gas weedeater on a single wheel to hold the weight, added handlebars, and put a serious cutter head on it. Did it work? Is this something worth trying? I'll be VERY glad when we are out of here, but could probably use a usable trimmer in the future too.


Not sure if you know that they make one of these: weedeater harness

or one of these heads: trimmer head
This has been one of the best things that ever has happened to me as a tool upgrade in my life!
 
Jack Edmondson
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Pearl,

So the first time your picture did not load.  I see you have already tried that option.  Sorry it was unwieldy for you.  However, I don't think a one wheel option is going to improve performance.  
 
Tj Jefferson
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Pearl Sutton wrote:TJ Jefferson: mom asks if you can run a blade of some sort on that machine. She's tired of string (and so am I, if all string trimmers work like this, I have no idea why anyone would have ever bought a second one, they should have gone out of business due to sucking.) I really liked the blades that I burned a trimmer with. Those were very effective.



I haven’t tried but the machine is much more powerful than the old one. The replacement tool is generally $40, the battery won’t crap out trying. I use mine with string on reasonably big weeds.
 
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Pearl, I think chances are the uniwheel version is going to give you even more trouble, simply due to balance/tipping. I'm with you, on string trimmers, in general, and am looking for a blade version, myself.
 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:...they should have gone out of business due to sucking.)



I actually laughed out loud at this.  Sums up my feelings perfectly.
 
pollinator
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Pearl Sutton wrote: I have back and strength issues, and time issues, so mom does the trimming. She's 81, and doesn't have a lot of strength for string trimmers, she bought a battery one because it is light. It's pissing us off to no end, just doesn't have enough power, eats the line all the time, snarls up, etc. So I'm thinking....



I think the wheel and handlebar idea has some merit, but I am more and more in favor of a well fitted European Style scythe. I bought one this spring and have yet to start my string trimmer this year and won't unless it's to use the cultivator head somewhere. I have a relatively small trimmer that I can switch the head section out with other tools like a cultivator or sickle bar for hedges. With string trimmers I can tell you that investing in good quality string that is the correct diameter is worth every penny. When I mowed lawns for cash back in highschool and college, I tried the cheap stuff once. I burnt through that entire roll faster than I thought possible.

As for the scythe, the European Pattern has the benefit of being lighter weight. I have been using a 26" blade all summer and just got the 20" Gardener's Blade to try out and use for tighter work around fence posts and such. Even with the heavier blade on my scythe it's still lighter than my string trimmer and easier to swing.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Caleb Mayfield wrote: I am more and more in favor of a well fitted European Style scythe.

I  bought a couple of old ones, that are big for me, and I hope to learn to use them at some point. I modified one down to fit me, and sharpened it's blade. Right now I'm just going under from excess grass, I'm running the brushcutter, riding mower, push type electric mower and the string trimmer and not keeping up. (And I have other things to do, this isn't my idea of fun.) It's been a hard year for this, all the flooding in this area in the spring made the grass go totally amok. And mom being annoyed by the trimmer and not being able to help me is not making it easier...

Bought 2 scythes! and I have bought at least one or two more since then. When I see them cheap second hand, I pick them up. Good for Permie barter if I can't handle them. :)
I'll look at those blades, mine are in sad shape. Might be easier to learn to use a sharp one :) They cut weeds well, but not mileage of grass, at least not yet, with me doing it.
 
pollinator
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I regularly use a large string trimmer on my homestead and I would NEVER buy anything other than Stihl. I have the first model in their commercial line of trimmers. I stopped buying consumer-grade equipment a while back.

Three points to consider when dealing with string that breaks:

1 - The reason that a lot of trimmer string breaks is because it breaks down from UV rays and other conditions, such as heat. The issue is the string become brittle and breaks too easily. So, the trick I was taught was to keep my spool of string (think mowing crew spool) in a small bucket of water. The water helps keep the string from becoming too brittle and it doesn't break nearly as often.
2 - Trimmer string can also break when we don't let the end of the string do the cutting and we push the cutting head too deeply into the grass/brush. Be conscious of only using the ends of the string and not the middle portion. It takes just a bit of practice and at first, you'll be a bit slower. But, when you factor in the time you save in not having to fix your trimmer head and get string back out after it breaks, you'll be faster. After a time or two out on your property being careful about what portion of the string you use to cut with, you'll find you're reducing your trimming time way down.
3 - As with most things that are manufactured these days, there are good products and there are bad products. Trimmer string is no different. Don't by cheap string. And if you are doing a lot of trimming, buy it in a large spool. The spool that I buy lasts me about two years and it is a lot cheaper when buying the larger quantity.
 
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Jack Edmondson wrote:I "lucked" into a deal from a neighbor that was cleaning out a storage shed.  I had no idea how useful the thing would be.  Many people sell something like it.  DR happens to have a good video.  I would look for one of these on craigslist.

It uses a heavy diameter string (.1" if I recall.)  It makes a large cutting radius and is easy to control around obstacles and buildings.  Because it is a two wheel, the balance is light and maneuverable.  I have mowed overgrown fields, walkways, edge maintenance, fence rows, etc...

With an internal combustion 4 cycle engine you have plenty of power.  The string is heavy so lasts a long time without changing line.  It can hit questionable areas without fear of benign a drive shaft or throwing a blade at you.




Insert incredibly jealous guy here!

That was a bit of "luck" I would say. I really like these machines though I have yet to pony up and buy one. I borrow my fathers, but I really need my own. With my fathers I half the time it takes to string trim.

As for my hand held string trimmer, I have had everything. From expensive name brands, to dealership bought ones, to massive sized ones, to tiny battery powered ones, and they were all junk, and never lasted. Then I bought a cheap Troybilt one at Lowe's for very little money and that thing is incredible. It always starts, is light weight, and kills everything, even stuff it was never designed to handle. I just took on 200 feet of raspberries, about 10 feet wide yesterday, and it took one tankful of gas, 30 minutes, and only needed string replacement twice.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Pearl,

I pulled up some reviews on the new battery powered trimmers and it doesn't look good. I have the Greenworks 60V and the reviews were good for string, but if the manufacturer is limiting the string diameter to the smaller string, it generally means they don't think it will handle large string or a brush blade.

They do make a dedicated 80V machine which comes factory with a brush blade and bicycle handles which might be appealing ergonomically but I can't speak to it. The annoying thing is that you are buying an ecosystem because the batteries are $100-$150 or more depending on amp-hours, and you want to limit the number you have to buy. The tools as mentioned are reasonably cheap without a battery. So because I am converting over (wth the exception of chainsaws at this point) I had to see if they had good trimmers but crappy mower for instance. I think the electric machines are getting pretty good, but it is a pretty expensive up-front cost.

On the scythe front, you probably aren't supposed to, but when my ditch blade gets beat up, I run it on either a fine grinder or file and then peen it. If you are starting with an old blade you need to know if it is stamped or forged, and if it is stamped, you just treat it like a knife- in my experience the steel won't peen. I use an round file instead of the stone on that blade and carry it like I would a stone. When the weeds get really high, the scythe and ditch blade are great but you will hit rocks and need to work the blade and (for me) reset the handles with some annoying regularity. The wood helps not transmit the shock but I just use my old aluminum snath and a beater blade- and my hands pay for it.
 
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