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Dr brush cutter reviews

 
gardener
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Has anyone used the Dr Brush Cutter? Your opinion of it?
 
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In 2010, we borrowed one from a friend to clear brush and grass off a property we bought that had sat unattended for 10 years.

It was a lifesaver.  I don't know of any way we could have cleared that lot without it.  We didn't have time or goats to do what the DR brush cutter did.

We were very happy with the results!
 
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I don't know what the current models are like, but we bought a used 15hp DR in 2010, I think it was new around 2005. Used it constantly until 2018, then left it behind when we moved to a new property. Now we're kinda regretting not bringing it with us.

It was reliable, had loads of power and a top forward speed that made you almost jog to keep up. We had a 1-acre pasture area that was heavily encroached each year by willows from an adjacent canal. The DR would mow this area and grind down the willow clumps in less than 4 hours. Replacing worn drive belts and doing other maintenance wasn't too hard, just the usual amount of cursing and scraped knuckles.

The only downside was that, at 300 lbs, it was a bugger to maneuver in tight quarters and when side-hilling on a steep slope. One year I gave myself a mild shoulder injury from constantly dragging the beast backwards to reposition among the garden bushes, rather than shifting into reverse.

Yeah, I miss the old girl and the good times we spent together. In my dreams she sometimes beckons to me: "C'mon big boy, let's do those willows like we used to, just you and me..."
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Brush cutter
Brush cutter
 
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I have the tow- behind version of their brush mower, which I tow behind an ATV. It works quite well for the most part.

A couple of quibbles - it is very heavy, which can be a factor if you have to deal with a lot of hills. And, you need something with enough power to pull it even on the flats.

Also, the rear wheels both shredded on me at different times, when a hunk of wood wedged between the wheel and the wheel frame. DR was good about shipping out replacement wheels in a timely fashion.

It has a long tow bar, which means you have to be really careful to avoid getting stuck somewhere that you can’t turn around and can’t keep going. Given the size and weight, it can be tricky.

It legit chops up 3” saplings, so it is definitely a beast. For mowing open fields, it isn’t all that easy to avoid leaving strips of uncut material between passes, which may or may not matter to you.

I use it mainly on some trails that are too canted for me to run my tractor with bushhog over - too much pucker factor if you know what I mean.
 
John F Dean
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Thanks for the information. It has just moved to my short list.
 
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I want one too!
 
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I believe I have the same one DC mentioned. It's a beast, in a good way. Really good write up. Completely agree.
 
John F Dean
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Hi DC,

Your pic is pretty much what I am looking at. There does seem to be an important difference. The current ones come with removable attachments. That is, the brush cutter can be swapped out for a snow thrower, mower, chipper, etc.
 
Sonja Draven
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I just ordered a maintenance kit from them so I can prep mine for winter. I received a promotional email mentioning their refurbished options, in case that's of interest:
https://www.drpower.com/reconditioned?utm_content=2_hero&src=HL1B727XO40A0000&utm_medium=email&utm_source=DR+Power+Equipment&utm_campaign=20201006-OWN-ALL-Reconditioned_30
 
Dc Stewart
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The current ones come with removable attachments.


Oh yes, the DR catalog is like browsing the old Sharper Image catalogs. "I want that! And that too! And ooooh, we could really have fun with that!"

The old models had that handy swap-out feature too -- pull the belt cowling, pop the belt and a retainer pin and voila, the motor unit is ready to accept all the attachments that you can afford. Their offerings used to include a generator attachment, don't know if that's available today. Ours came with the mower deck attachment but our ground was too uneven to make it useful.
 
John F Dean
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I have a terrible habit of boldly taking mowers where they don't need to go.  Hence, me looking at a brush cutter.  I put off buying a new mower this year. It was not such a great idea.  It did buy me the time to cooly examine my needs.  Clearly, I had been taking my mower where it was not designed to go.  I decided I needed more brush cutter and less mower.
 
John F Dean
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The deed is done. I have ordered the thing.  This will give me the time to knock down the overgrowth that has gotten away from me before winter sets in.  Now I have to work some more at cleaning the barn to make room for it.
 
John F Dean
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The new toy is here. I have not used it yet.  It is bigger than a 6hp Troybilt Horse. Makes sense...it is 14.5 hp.  Easy to assemble solo. Oddities are it is an electric start ...which I ordered but there is no recoil start as  backup.  Also, it came with only one key.
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Unloading was an easy one person job.
Unloading was an easy one person job.
 
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I had a pull behind version, 50” motorized I think. M

I couldn’t keep it to stay together on my land, which is hilly and rough.  

Ended up returning it and getting an acre ease.  It is more expensive but much more robust.

But I have started having issues with it tearing up belts that I am trying to figure out with them.

Again, I am doing crazy cutting pulling it behind a gator. I mow at over 10 mph in high grass.
 
M Johnson
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Btw, even though it wasn’t as robust, the cut was more clean.

I bet with a walk behind, the issue with it tearing up won’t be a big issue
 
John F Dean
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Hi M

I hope to try it out tomorrow.  I will post a few more pics.  I have a couple acres of potential pasture I need to cut so I can run fence. There is also a lot of pond banks I need to get under control.  In a day or three I will post the results.
 
John F Dean
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Well, things took a dive. For reasons unknown the wheels don't engage. I am in contact with the company. They are mystified.  I have a number of things on my plate today.  Tomorrow I am going to take a good look at the drive belt.  It may have come loose in the shipping. At the present, I don't think the problem is serious .... just frustrating.
 
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I found this:

Adjusting the Differential Lock In/Out Cable





https://www.manualslib.com/manual/794932/Dr-Field.html?page=37#manual



 
John F Dean
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The drive cable (clutch?) Appeared to have loosened in the shipping. I played with it a little, and the wheels appear to be working ...sort of.  I am making progress.  Or course, I have now learned the breaks dont work....,but who needs breaks anyway.  I am sure that is a cable issue as well.  

Worth noting, I am impressed with the machine even though things aren't at 100%.   I am less than impressed with the customer service.
 
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Hi John,

I am liking your new purchase!  Please do tell us your adventures as they come.

Eric
 
John F Dean
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Hi Eric,

I need to stress the machine appears to be OK.  My logic is that if it had shipped with the cables not attached, I wouldn't have given the issue a second thought.   My frustration is with the unresponsiveness of the customer service. And, the one time I did make contact, the dept not having a clue.

As a retired CEO, this is a prime example of how one employee can torpedo a company. DR made a much too common error. Always put your best employees at key contact positions ...receptionist, customer service, purchasing, etc.  
 
John F Dean
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DR got back to me 2x.  They told me what I have figured out on my own. But, it is good that they affirmed my actions.  Now I still have problems getting the wheels to turn. But at least I can move ahead with more confidence.
 
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yep I got a used one from craigs list and when that died I got a new one.

If you have a woody place they are probably the most important tool
 
John F Dean
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Hi Burl,

Thanks for the pic. Mine does not have not a chain drive. But much of the inner workings are similar.  I am finding multiple problems. I suspect they are all related. My most recent discovery is that the drive belt that my model uses is incredibly loose....  as in falling off.  One person in the net said his solution was to buy a smaller belt.  Maybe.  But I have trouble believing that DR routinely ships a product with an undersized belt. My cutter ran for two hours after I did the initial cable adjustment. The belt could not had have been that loose then.  I am looking for a common problem to account for all the issues.  I suspect the real issue is something like a single nut that didn't get tightened adequately that came loose during shipping and more so during use that impacted everything else. This would account for why a few customers have the problem, but the majority do not.

While I am very frustrated with the company and the product, I think that the root problem is something as simple as someone not taking an extra quarter turn during assembly with a nut or bolt or some such.
 
John F Dean
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But, when it was working, it was impressive.
IMG_0375.JPG
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Before
IMG_0380.JPG
After
After
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Wow! Impressive. Sad that you received a Friday 4:50pm unit though -- not cool.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Douglas,

While I have to admit, I am ticked off .... being rational, I dont think it is that big of a problem. DR finally got back to me. More importantly, they appear to be willing to work with me.... including taking it in to a dealer.  I need to deal with reality though. And reality is I will need to get a piece of machinery with a 396 pound shipping weight back through that field, with its wheels being unpowered, and on to the back of a pickup truck.  Dont feel too sorry for me. I have a front end loader, but I do want to try less extreme measures first.

The answer seems to be in getting that driver belt tighter.  And, that should be a simple adjustment

Today is cool off day.  I am helping my wife in the kitchen ... did I mention our refrigrator shut down and we waited 4 weeks for the parts?  The repair person is to be here Tuesday. Fortunately, it is under warranty.  But it sure didnt help canning season. As I mentioned to someone else, I have been up to my behind in alligators this month.
 
John F Dean
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Well, I was wrong.  The spindle that supports the drive pulley, and appears to be a molded part of the transaxle,  is broken at is base. This is not a simple repair. The entire transaxle looks like it needs to be replaced. I suspect shipping may be the blame, but I really have no evidence.  It is difficult to imagine the company crating a product with a broken axle.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Argh! Incredible FAIL! Lousy situation.

In your interactions, please mention that this fail is being closely monitored by other people, would-be buyers with cash at hand, who are waiting to see if this company stands by its products, or has been hijacked by race-to-the-bottom accountants.
 
John F Dean
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DR has stumbled but not fallen.  I suspect it, the service issue,  was the work of a single employee who was given too much responsibility.   It happens. But as time passes I am more confused as to how on earth the axle broke.  The crate was in good shape upon delivery.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Your unflappable reasonableness is appreciated here.

However, I have learned that direct indications of going nuclear/ballistic/social meda/legal help to escalate the conversation to the person who can make a decision. Such is our world nowadays. Sometimes you have to put on that hat.
 
M Johnson
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They have a good return policy, I would suggest at least swapping it out with all the issues you’ve had.  There might be other things that you just haven’t seen.

I always liked the cut but hated it falling apart.

Taking it to a place to get it fixed all depends on how good that shop is and then you have to wait which means you aren’t mowing.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Douglas,

One of my jobs in real life was as an accreditation surveyor in the health care industry.  Trust me, they got a couple of hard core emails from me when they missed their own deadline for getting back to me. But as I said, my experience tells me that, most likely, a single employee messed up. In spite of the excuses given, my guess is that he was new to the position, got covered up in phone calls, and forgot about routine follow up.

Hi M

That broken transaxel really bothers me.  It comes with a 2 year warranty. I am considering extending it for 3 more. As I commented, the shipping crate showed no signs of being slammed around. With the drive problems I had from moment one, I am sure the break was there from the start. As my pictures show, all I mowed was tall grass and weeds.  Now, the drive movement was pretty jerky the entire time. What I took for break in issues was just it finishing breaking.  
 
Dc Stewart
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It's still an awesome machine, but I confess to being disappointed with the creeping modernization. The photo posted above by Burl Smith shows "the good old days": modern transaxle versus basic gearbox with chain drive to the wheels, modern electric clutch versus simple cable that pulls idler against the drive belt to tighten it on the pulleys. Unfortunately, we're doomed to the future of "no user-serviceable parts inside".
 
John F Dean
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Well, things aren't getting any better. DR told me they were still looking for someone to do the repairs.   I located an an approved shop in 3 phone calls.  That shop told me they had waited 2 months for a transaxel on another DR product....an older one.  So, I have contacted DR with this information. I also used the word lemon in my correspondence.  Oh yes, the first 2 shops I called ...they will no longer do warranty work for DR. They did not give a reason.
 
John F Dean
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It was a two hour drive to the repair shop....and two hours back.  I wanted to make sure that the shop was the real deal. They sold Ferris mowers, so I thought it was a good indicator.    When I showed the repair guy the break, he flatly said he had never seen anything like it. He could not come up with anything to account for the break. Anyway, the part was ordered while I was there, so we shall see how long it takes.
 
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