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News & Views - Outdoor Power Equipment

This section of our website is intended to provide you with useful information relevant to ‘Outdoor Powered Equipment’. This is based on our knowledge and experience. It is not intended to be a technical publication but more general background that can assist you with the buying decisions and a little bit of trouble shooting when you have issues. Like most things in life there are often a number of ways to get to the same result. This is our view. We welcome your feedback and comments either agreeing or disagreeing with our comments based on your experiences. We will use these to update our views.

Please note this info is provided free and we accept no liability for any loss or damage that may arise from use of this information.

Lawn Mowers

Selecting and Investing in a new lawn mower the main questions to answer are:

1) Who is going to be the user the lawn mower? Young, old, male, female etc

The old style ‘side valve’ engines require a strong pull to achieve sufficient speed to start. Thus the older person and some ladies will find these mowers hard to start. Most mowers sold these days have overhead valves (OHV). These are more efficient and relatively easy to start. There is also the electric start option. Weight can be an issue. The alloy bodied lawn mower is heavier than the steel bodied.This can be an issue where the mower has to be lifted into place and/or up and down stairs.

2) How long does it take to mow the lawn?

The engines are air-cooled. Most engines are made with alloy and are designed for 1 mow per week for 8 to 10 years life. The longer the engine runs the hotter the engine gets. Thus a small engine run regularly for an hour will not last long. A common issue is that the valve mechanism fails. They either fail to close properly (= lose of compression) or something brakes.

For example

a) 30 to 40minutes -The smaller engined mowers are normally good for 30 to 40minutes mowering time. Some customers run these mowers for longer periods. This generally leads to valves not closing properly (= no compression) and an overall shorter engine life.

b) 40 minutes plus - The larger engine will last longer if the mower is regularly 40 minutes plus.

c) 60 minutes plus regularly. Where a lawn mower is going to work particularly long and/or hard we recommend investing in a mower that has an engine with a ‘case iron lined cylinder bore’. The extra cost is well worth the significant increase in engine life.

3) What is the ground like and in particular level, sloping or steep (hard to walk on).

Most (98%) of lawn mowers sold these days are 4 stroke. That is, like the car, the oil and petrol are separate. However, the mower engine does not have an oil pump. Thus if the ground slope is 30 degrees or more, the engine will likely suffer from lack of oil lubrication and be damaged. Thus on steep slopes a 2 stroke engine is required. A 2 stroke engine is one where the oil and petrol are mixed together before going into the mower engine. Thus the lubrication is added to the fuel.

Note: The 2 stroke engine is being phased out. Two of the main drivers for this are

a) the process of burning the fuel-oil mix, means they create significantly more pollution than the 4 stroke engine, and

b) the declining numbers of 2 stroke engines being manufactured means the cost per unit makes the product uncompetitive against the large volume of 4 stroke engine being manufactured.

4) The lawn mower body – steel or alloy

The steel body is cheaper to make and lighter in weight.  The body is made, by pressing a sheet of steel into shape. Almost all of the mowers below $400 are steel. The main disadvantage of steel body is that it will rust.

The alloy bodied mower is heavier and more expensive (generally around $150 to $200 more) than a steel bodied mower. The advantage of alloy is that with a little care and attention, they often lasts 10 to 15 years. Thus you are likely to purchase at least 2 steel body mowers over the life of ONE ally mower.

5) Investment – How much do you want/need to invest?

The answer is probably similar to income tax = zero but that is not going to get the lawns cut.

Think about it this way –

What do I get, if I invest $2 per week on a new lawn mower?

How long will the lawn mower last?

Take a mid range steel bodied mower – life expectancy 5 to 7 years. $2 x 52 weeks x 5 years = $520

Take a mid range alloy bodied mower – life expectancy 10 to 15 years. $2 x 52 weeks x 10 years = $1040

Lawn Mower Sales in NZ

The major suppliers in the ‘out door power industry’ provide sales volumes on a confidential basis to then have a good guide as to the volumes each year. The volumes sold in New Zealand annual are between 60,000 and 70,000 units.

The industry also look at volumes by price break. The results are:

1) $0 to $199 - this is mainly electric and push powered mowers

2) $200 to $499 - the highest volumes – mainly petrol powered steel body mowers

3) $500 to $699 – a modest volume of steel and alloy

4) $700 to $999 - the 2nd highest volumes – mainly petrol powered alloy body mowers

5) $1000 plus – mainly petrol powered steel body mowers

These results suggest to me:

1) the highest volume of purchases are based on price. I believe this is mainly due to

a) Quality - many customers lack understanding and appreciation that there is a significant difference in quality and longevity between cheap and more expensive,


b) Affordability - many customers are struggling to pay the rent, rates, food etc so they are no choice but to buy ‘cheap’.

The old adage applies “You get what you pay for"

Where to from here?

Come into BoB’s Mowers for free advice on what mower best suits your requirements.

Check out our website –

We stock a large range of mowers and can access even more. Brands include Masport, Morrison, Victa, Honda, Sanli, Cyclone, Testarossa and Makita.

Unlike the ‘bulk’ store we are negotiable on prices AND we provide full service and support on your outdoor power equipment.

BoB’s Mowers the Small Shop with the Big Heart

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