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Tools and machinery

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Tools and Machinery

Mower

The very first tool I knew I'd need was a good ride on mower. I wanted a zero-turn with hydraulic drive, there's just something about that spec that says it's seriously built for the purpose.

By chance I came across a mower service shop in Canberra that was selling a secondhand Walker zero-turn with grass handling system (catcher) and a small 36 inch deck. I wanted a catcher system because there's nothing worse than long-haired dogs and grass clippings. It was working and usable but I had not come across the Walker name in my casual searching up to that point. I researched the brand overnight and went back the next day and bought it.

The seller stressed that I was buying it without any warranty, which I took as a genuine warning over this particular unit. It was blowing some oil smoke so the Kohler engine may need attention sooner rather than later.

Over the first 12 months several minor faults appeared, which as a secondhand machine I expected to have to deal with, most of which were electrical and easily fixed with a little diagnosis with a continuity meter. The main ignition switch was replaced, and the PTO and forward drive safety switches were simply cleaned and adjusted. The later two switches failed at the same time so the problem wasn't immediately obvious. The engine does burn a lot of oil, which I've been managing so far without major overhaul. I check frequently and replace the spark plug in the offending cylinder with a cleaned plug every couple of hours and the problem doesn't appear to be getting any worse.

Update: Four years now and the mower is still doing the work. I managed to destroy the PTO uni joint through neglect and hard work, but it was easily replaced. Still cleaning spark plugs and adding oil every couple of hours. A year ago the engine started to backfire but some new spark plugs fixed it.

1. Can't wait to put it to work

About Walker Mowers

I have absolutely no commercial interest in any mower products except that I now own this one, so I can say in good conscience that I love this mower.

Everything about this brand says "original" and to me it's just an elegant design.

Given the number of features embodied in the unit it is still quite low and compact and extremely easy and agile to maneuver.

The steering levers are uniquely one-handed fingertip operation that is ergonomic and very relaxed, yet precise. The out-front floating deck is also the foot-rest, so I feel every pitch and roll. I really do feel that the machine becomes an extension of myself when I'm in the seat.

The deck and blades are driven by a shaft drive-train rather than belts, which allows the blades to cross paths without risk of colliding, that is, because there is an adjustment in the drive-train that does not change over time. This is not possible with belt-drive systems due to the risk of belt-slip, and so belt-driven decks cannot therefore align all their spindle centres on the line perpendicular to the centre line of the mower (normal line of travel). This inability to overlap cutting circles means that it is possible in some circumstances to miss cutting some grass, as it can pass between the blades. To overcome this in the normal straight ahead travel direction the line through the adjacent blade centres needs to be rotated a little from the perpendicular. But this doesn't cover all possibilities either. To be even more geeky, when the tangent to the turning arc is perpendicular to the line passing through the spindle centres, the belt-driven deck would leave a nice thin arc of uncut grass behind. It would need at least three blades in an almost equilateral triangular pattern to cover all situations.

The deck's rear feed to the grass handling system means it is symmetrical and therefore able to work around obstacles from either side. Most other ride-ons with a catcher, usually connected to a side chute on the deck, cannot do this. The catcher can also be left open while mowing if I want to spread the clippings over the paddock as mulch, which I do in paddock 2 to save time.

Being able to lift the deck to the vertical position for maintenance or for clearing wet grass build up while in the field is also a big plus.

Generally, their level of willingness to engineer solutions to real but infrequent and even theoretical problems, even if I'm just imagining it, is what I think sets this brand apart form most brands.

2. I've since bought a small trailer for the mower, which is useful for small loads.

Saws, etc.

I would need a medium chain saw. I also bought a brush cutter with multiple additional attachments including a small pruning chain saw attachment, blower, hedge trimmer, and rotary hoe. All of these have been invaluable.