I’ve been toying with the idea of replacing our string trimmer. I have a 5 year old Poulon Pro that hasn’t needed anything more that the usual maintenance and upkeep until this year. I have replaced several major parts on it lately and it continues to find new and inventive ways to avoid doing its job. I’ve considered taking it to a repair shop to have it “rebuilt” but with their labor rates and parts prices, replacing it will (most likely) be cheaper. This is not an expensive trimmer.
I’ve been looking at string trimmers, comparing features, prices, and reviews. The reviews are the really amazing part. In most cases users either love or hate all of them, regardless of brand, and the reviews are posted with the vast majority being either 4 and 5 stars or 1 star: very little in between. I wonder if it’s really that black and white (you either get a good one or a bad one) or if people are getting too emotional in their reactions.
I’m looking at trimmers in the $150 – $175 range. Basic models: not bottom of the line, but not even mid-range on the better brands. Of course “better brands” is subjective. If I were willing to move up to the $300 price range, the review chart starts being much more top-heavy. But I am not able to put $300 (or more) into a string trimmer. My needs are modest as is my budget.
I’d bought the Poulon at Lowe’s, but Lowe’s has moved away from Poulon and toward Husqvarna and Troy Bilt. I have nothing against Husqvarna: I have a “Husqy” chainsaw that serves me well. Husqvarna tends to be a smidge higher priced ($179.00) in a feature-to-feature comparison and has a 2 year warranty. My main reason for dodging this option is the service availability. If I don’t buy a Lowe’s Extended Warranty ($25.00 minimum) they won’t have anything to do with it should I have trouble and need service under warranty.
I have owned several Troy Bilt products and have found them to be a good example of the review charts. The good ones work well for a long time, the not-so-good ones make me cautious of this brand.
I had the field narrowed down to a Cub Cadet model at Tractor Supply or a Stihl model at Ace Hardware. Both were $169.00 and had similar features, ratings, and reviews. Both are stores I shop at a lot.
On Saturday I got a sale notice from Tractor Supply, and in that my Cubby trimmer was listed as $20 off. Okay … that seemed like a good sign post, and I planned to go into town either after church on Sunday or Monday morning to get it.
After church we just went home.
At home I looked at that sale flyer again and found the sale ended that day. So I left Marie in charge of The Dog Herd and drove into town to get one of those Cub Cadet trimmers while on sale.
When I got there I found three of them hanging on the display rack. All had been used, all had been returned and were marked down for sale “as is, no warranty”. One of them was only $75! I was temped – for a second or two. Then I thought, “If I wanted to spend my time tearing down and repairing a string trimmer, I have one hanging on the wall of my shed already.” So this was a dampener of my enthusiasm for this make and model. They had no more new ones and a rain check would lock in the sale price but the unit would not arrive for two weeks. There would be gazelles grazing around my workshop in two weeks: I need to cut that area back now and cannot do it with even a walk-behind mower. I’d been pondering this decision a while already.
So I drove down the street to buy the Steele trimmer. It would be $20 more, but … (shrug).
When I got there I found that the price was down from $169.00 to $159.00 making it only $10 more than the sale price of the Cub Cadet. The Stihl 2 year warranty gets bumped to a 4 year warranty (as opposed to three years on the Cubby) if I buy a 6-pack of Stihl synthetic oil for it at the same time ($12.00: half the price of most “extended warranties”). If I do have trouble, I take it back to Ace and their Stihl technician comes around weekly to make repairs in shop (if possible). With the Cub I’d have to take it to a Cub Cadet service center in Dandridge – which is better than having to ship it to Albuquerque or something, but still less convenient than dropping it off on an errand run to Newport.
By the time I got home with my new trimmer it was dinner time, so I stashed it in the shop and went home.
It’s Monday morning now and it’s been raining since before dawn. No trimmer testing will get done this morning. Maybe later. But I’m glad I didn’t put off my trip into town for this morning; it’s mighty wet out there!