In praise of our mower

I bought it at our local Sears when we bought our house, in September 1999. It was the second least expensive mower they had. I have never taken care of it like I should have, thinking I’d just get another cheap one, or maybe a rotary mower when it stopped working. Every spring, after spending the winter in our shed, it has started on the first pull. If I could, I would erect a statue in its honor when it finally gives up the ghost. I’ve never sharpened the blades. I’ve never changed the oil. I put gas in it, and it does what it was built to do. If there were a lawnmower hall of fame, this would be in it. I salute you, Cheap Craftsman Mower.

I bought a Craftsman (with a briggs motor) in 2005ish. Every year I kinda hope it finally dies so I can upgrade. Every year it starts up on the first pull. A few years ago I even put new wheels on it because they were wallowed out and a little wobbly.
Last year I bought a battery powered Ryobi. I really like it. It’s quiet, it’s light, it easy to put away for the winter. There’s virtually no maintenance other than sharpening the blade from time to time.
I have a feeling, even after not being used for a year or properly stored, that old Craftsman will start right up. Old oil, gas still in the carb, plug hasn’t been changed in probably two years…it probably won’t even notice. If I didn’t have my eye on the battery powered mower, I’m sure the Craftsman had at least 10 more years in it. The stupid thing still worked as well as it did when I got it.

Mine is the opposite. A Lawnboy, bought when my son was mowing the lawn - so that would be at least 12 yrs ago. Despite regular servicing, each time is an adventure - can take up to 20 pulls to start.

Was going to buy some gas and try it this afternoon - until it started @#(%^$& SNOWING! :mad:

Maybe it won’t start this year, and I’ll be able to convince my wife that we should buy a new electric…

People bitch about Craftsman quality, but I’ve always found Craftsman motorized stuff to be supremely reliable.

My dad bought a Craftsman riding mower in… probably 1994. 1995 maybe. He had about 2 1/2 acres of cultivated lawn and an old horse pasture that he mowed with that thing. He changed the oil and sharpened the blades once a season, but that’s it. Every spring he would fire it up and it would happily go do what it was supposed to do. This time of year he was mowing some part of the property every day. He had a trailer and a pull/behind leaf catcher that he used throughout the summer, so the little tractor did more than just mow. It was used several times per week for probably 8 months out of the year, daily for probably 3 months each year.

I think that thing gave up the ghost in 2015 or so. 20 years of hard work and minimal maintenance. I doubt many cars would put up with such abuse. Around the time that he bought the riding mower, he also bought a push mower — also a Craftsman — for doing the edges of the lawn that the rider couldn’t fit into and around flower beds and the like. He got rid of that one a decade later when they re-landscaped and he didn’t need it anymore. It was similarly reliable.

He also bought, around the same time (this is when they finally landscaped their property and put in a proper garden), a Craftsman rototiller with the counter-rotating blades. That machine got lots of yearly use and was only just replaced the year before last. Further, that rototiller was stored in a lean-to woodshed. It didn’t get rained on, but the shed didn’t have walls so it wasn’t really protected. 20+ years of essentially maintenance-free dependability.

A friend of his always called Briggs and Stratton “Briggs and Scrapiron.” My dad would just roll his eyes and point out that those Briggs engines have a better track record than the engine in his friend’s Ford.

Granted, this experience is with the older stuff but still. Unless their quality has taken a huge nosedive in the last decade, I would have no problem buying a Craftsman mower today.

About the same story with my little Murray. It’s the B&S motor that deserves the credit. That guy stays outside year round, starts up first time, every time. Never had any other mower, any other gasoline powered tool that reliable.

I started a thread several years ago asking ‘Are you a lawnmower killer’? When I bought our house, my friend left a lawnmower with it. I discovered a stump and twisted the crankshaft. I bought a Craftsman mower to replace it. I found another stump with that one. It was able to be fixed without replacing the shaft. I think I found yet another stump with it, and I bought another Craftsman. Hit another stump (How many hidden stumps *are[/i around here? :mad: ), but it didn’t break anything. Anyway…

Mrs. L.A. said that if I bought a self-propelled mower, she’d mow the lawns. I bought a Toro. I like the self-propulsion. It starts reliably, even after sitting in the shed for months. I haven’t found any stumps with it. Did I say ‘I’? Yeah, Mrs. L.A. doesn’t mow the lawns. :stuck_out_tongue:

Years ago our old mower (Lawnboy?) gave up the ghost. I bought a “new” Murray at a Goodwill. It was under $10 before the senior discount. (The 2nd mower I bought in the last ~40 years.) It needed a carburetor part to run, so a few bucks for that. Some “helpful but not required” stuff was missing which I eventually got from a toss-out mower left on the curb. (Have a neighbor in the lawn care business and they leave these out surprisingly often.)

Since then I’ve had to replace blades, wheels, a belt, etc. It always irks me when one of those costs more than the price I paid for the mower.

The most recent repair: the starter cord broke acouple weeks ago. Lots of fun with the spring fixing that with cord I already had on hand.

Maybe 15 years since I got it. ??? years with the previous owner.

An inch accumulation and coming down hard this a.m. Fucking spring in Chicago! :mad:

Forgot to add this tidbit about when I got my current mower.

At that time, my next door neighbor (not the landscaping guy) put his mower out on the curb. I knew they didn’t treat their stuff well. E.g., leaving the mower out in the yard. As in doing half the yard. Stopping. Walking away. Resume a week later, maybe. So I asked what was wrong with it.

It was a nearly new mower. He didn’t realize that HD hadn’t put oil in it. So they used it sans oil and engine failure ensued.

I passed on it.

Getting a good mower is fine. Being a good owner is even better.

I bought my cheap Craftsman in 1999(?) and used it regularly for about fifteen years. I might get by with only one cutting in January, but grass grows year-round in these parts, and I also mulch dead leaves into the yard during winter. The oil got changed and the blades sharpened about once a year, and I rinsed out the air filter every two or three months. It still has the original spark plug.

Then in 2014 we moved into our current house and I got a Troy-Bilt Horse riding mower. Without going into the many sordid details, suffice it to say that I believe Troy-Bilt is a brand name used by CCAWMC (Certified Con Artists Who Manufacture Crap) Inc.

While waiting for mail-ordered parts the second time the Troy-Bilt died(first time was brief and in the winter) the craftsman had been sitting idle for about a year and a half and started up on the first pull. This past winter I decided to use the Craftsman with the bag attachment to start a compost barrel with mixed leaves and grass clippings. At this point it had been idle for about four years. It started on the first pull again.

The cheap Craftsman mower is a champ.

IME Troy-Bilt stuff is really good until anything goes wrong and then it never works again.

I wonder how many of those go-karts and mini bikes built in the seventies with Briggs and Stratton engines are still going. I thought I wanted one when I was a kid, but my parents and brothers rightly pointed out that they wouldn’t work very well on our unpaved road. I held out for a used trail bike.

I got a Troy-Built mower perhaps in 2003, still starts on the first pull, changed the oil 1x or 2, never the plug. Sharpened the blade 1x. I also use ethanol free gas with Sta-bull added. It’s self propelled 'personal pace, walk behind mower. It’s used it as a lawn mower, and also a couple times a year going into ‘brushhog’ service keeping a small meadow area cleared of much taller and thicker stuff, and a leaf grinder and works up and down hill, sometimes hitting the ground, grinding stumps and hitting rocks as it goes.

Rode on home built versions in the 60s, then got one at the BJ’s for my kids in the 80s, it was the same thing really, very basic design with a centrifugal clutch. They were pretty basic and sturdy. I don’t know anyone who wore out a new one, I think they pass from hand to hand over time. Pretty sure I sold ours when we moved. After a few rides in a big parking lot the kids were getting bored, and as you point out, they’re worthless off-road where the fun would be.

Similar to the OP but I have done a wee bit of maintenance. Craftsman bought in 2000. I did change the oil once. It still has the original blade but I have “sharpened” it a couple times (as good as I can). I don’t have a very large yard, but I use the mower as the mulcher for our composting (we compost everything except for the woodiest of items and we have large gardens). I also run it out of gas in the fall (I always buy non-ethanol for my small engines). Mowed for the first time this last weekend and it started right up.

Well, I jinxed it. The front drive axle broke while mowing today.

Got it “fixed” enough so that I could use it as a push mower. (The axle drives gears to the front wheels which are on their own bolts.) Grunt.


  1. New axle. Almost $50. Wow, for an old sub-$10 mower.

  2. Fake a new axle. Get a 1/2" steel rod. But it needs holes for pins, etc. Lot of work there.

(And 1 and 2 don’t address why the thing broke in the first place. There’s something wearing it down on one side that shouldn’t. Don’t see the what or why. Was there something like a rock that got jammed in there that was doing it???)

  1. Get a new mower. In this environment I don’t see how I could rustle up a used mower like I’ve done before.

I guess I’m the outlier here because I have a Black & Decker cordless electric mower. It sits in an unheated shed all winter, usually hooked up to the charger all the time because it’s more trouble to go out and unplug it than it is to leave it plugged in all the time it isn’t actually mowing. I’ve never sharpened the blades or done anything nice for it and the number of sticks, rocks, mole hills and dog toys it’s run into is, well, impressive. It’s probably pushing ten years old and it always, ALWAYS works just fine. The battery has always been just enough to go over the front, back and side yards on one charge assuming it’s not first mow of spring meadow taming, that requires two passes but then again so does my body these days, ow.

At one point I thought it would be a good idea to get a gas mower too, so’s not to have to break up the spring meadow taming duty. Got one from Home Despot, standard B&S engine one and used it maaaaaybe 2-3 times the first year. Come winter I ran it all the way out of gas like I was taught, and stuck it into the shed with the electric one. Come spring, the ethanol in the teensy bit of gas that must have remained in the engine had shellacked the carburetor into an inoperable mass and around here when you discover your mower needs servicing you’re gonna wait six weeks for the few repair places to get around to it. So I wheeled it out of the shed because why the fuck should I waste shed space on a lump of inoperable metal and wrapped the engine up in a heavy duty contractor bag so I guess it would work if someone wanted to go rebuild the carb on it but in the meantime the electric is just out there doing its job. Matter of fact, I just put it away after attacking some knee high giant papyrus grass all over the back yard.

Anyone want a POS gas mower? :wink: