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Good but not great
The following is my opinion. I am not a qualified green keeper nor a mechanic. I have owned and used a cylinder mower - Rover 45 - for the past 16 years. The old girl has served me well and never missed a beat, however the cylinder was in dire need of first aid and as such I needed to ship the mower to Sydney & return to have the grinding etc. performed. Total cost around $500. So great excuse to convince the wife I needed a new cylinder mower ;), which I did, and then I purchased a grooming cylinder (Trident Mowers, Perth) for the Rover, ba...rgain I now own a groomer. Anyhow, there were a couple of cylinder mowers I would have loved to buy but being in excess of $10K they were out of the question. So I came to the decision on the Masport 660RRR, which @ $2,299 rrp is around the money for a domestic cylinder mower. There were a number of factors leading to my decision. Firstly, I could buy a Masport through my local mower shop and support locals. This also means any warranty issues should be easy to deal with (?). The price was OK, I paid $2,200. I liked the idea of a 26" cutting width, less work? It has a B&S 5hp motor, my last mower has a B&S and has never, ever, missed a beat in 16 years, starting second pull every time. The frame and design; its on the same frame as the old Scott Bonner, Rover, Protea, Victa etc. etc. Weight, yes weight, it comes in at 76.8kg - weight (I believe) is very important for a cylinder mower, it has to sit in the lawn, not ride on top of it. Also bigger weight equals better striping. Yes, weight also has negatives, I will mention these later. Some of the competition had aluminium and one even a plastic rear roller!! No thanks. I also liked the idea of a large plastic catcher. More on this later as well. I wanted a 10 blade cylinder, however the 660RRR is available with a 6 blade only! I did some asking around and all said 6 will be all you need (my Rover had a 10) P.S. They were wrong!. I wanted a smooth rear roller, you can have ribbed rubber lined only! Duh! The 660 has a lipped bed knife, bottom blade, cutter bar which ever name you prefer. I liked this idea as it has less drag on the cylinder blades, all the expensive mowers seem to have this feature. So to first use. The mower came set up and ready to use. A quick check of the cylinder confirmed it cut paper cleanly over the entire cylinder width. Then turn the fuel and choke on, pull the starter cord and motor fired up first pull. The first thing I noticed was how light the start pull is. To this day it still amazes me, I am not sure if the motor has an 'easy start' system similar to some Honda engines or not, but to start all that is required is a short pull on the cord with a slow steady motion and it fires up first time, every time. If you had wrist pain issues this would suit you. Also the motor is very quiet, about a quarter of the noise level of the old 3.5hp B&S on the Rover. I like the idea that the motor has a fuel tap, kill switch and a seperate throttle lever down at the carby. There is also a throttle control on the handlebar. It has a large fuel tank and brilliant fuel economy (is that even an issue?). I couldn't tell you the metres per litre, but I have filled the tank twice in +14 hours of use. The cylinder will commence rotation with increased throttle speed i.e. it stops on idle, not that I would put any body part near it with the motor running. The drive system is operated by a bar fitter across the width of the handle bars so it can be depressed by either or both hands. The speed of the mower is proportionate to the amount of depression. So off I went, for the record my lawn is 300 square metres of Santa Anna Couch, which for summer I maintained at 7mm height. This mower is claimed to have a cutting range of 7mm - 30mm. I did notice the height adjuster getting very light at 7mm and perhaps it was about to come free? It never did. I noticed the extra width immediately, both in a good sense from the perspective of less time mowing - confession: I love a great lawn, but I am not that into mowing - really! also from the negative perspective that it was much harder to turn than the 17" Rover. I don't know why that was a surprise. You get used to this very quickly however. This brings me to the handlebars which are modern looking upturned and joined. Aesthetically pleasing, yes. Functional, ergonomic I don't think so. They are too narrow to provide any decent leverage when turning the mower at the end of each run, you will need brute force for this. Also the clutch/drive bar located across the handlebars has to be depressed to actuate the drive, I find this bar to require partial depression only, with full depression giving a speed to fast (for me). This means that one hand has to have a light grip on the bar and drive control whilst the other hand more or less is used for steering control. I'd prefer the old straight handlebars with a singe hand clutch lever fitted, not modern looking but very functional - ergonomic. The catcher; as stated I like the fact that it is made from HDPE Plastic, so no dents if you bump into things. BUT, with a capacity of 82 litres be warned it can hold a lot of grass clippings. Sounds good right? No it isn't, if you allow it to get too full you will tear your arm out of its socket trying to carry it and the plastic bends badly. Also when fitted to the mower that massive weight with clippings, which will always be unequally distributed will cause the mower to be heavier one side more so than the other, causing uneven cutting. So the answer is to only allow a small amount of clippings to accumulate prior to emptying, then all is good. The rear roller is a steel drum covered with a ribbed rubber lining, there are no other options. Now this provides great traction if your lawn is sloped. But if your lawn is flat, as is mine, then it is unnecessary and in fact when the sub soil is soft (following rain or watering) it is almost impossible to perform a tight U-turn without tearing the grass up. You will need to perform a three point turn at the end of each run. Also if you have to move your mower over any gravel surface the rubber collects numerous small stones which it will then deposit onto your lawn. Cylinder mowers and stones do not go well together. This steel roller and the solid fabrication of the mower itself give the weight of 76.8kg, I understand for a contractor loading and unloading a mower many times a day this is excessive, however for true cut and striping this weight is essential, but for me my garden shed is about 6 metres from my lawn and has gravel and raised pathways in between so I am required to transport my mower on a trolley truck to and from the lawn. This could be a consideration for you. The cylinder to bed knife adjustment is an easy process with only very slight turning of a 13mm bolt located on either side of the mower above the cylinder blade, there are no locknuts or clamps to deal with, a big plus. There are also no indicator markings or notches, adjustment is 'freehand'. You will get used to the minuscule adjustments these bolts regularly require as the cylinder blade is made from plasticine. To maintain the scissor action of cylinder and blade to cut paper, you will usually have to adjust the cylinder prior to each use, being honest, that equates to 5 seconds and it actually takes longer to get the ratchet and socket out. Also I have had to backlap the cylinder three times now in less than 14 hours of engine time, so even less in actual cutting time. This is because the middle section of the cylinder blade will not cut paper no matter the adjustment. The cylinder blades also seem to be rather thin? Backlapping is not hard, some paste, a variable speed hand drill and a 13mm socket is all it takes after removing the side drive chains cover (two bolts). Asking around I have been told this is normal for modern domestic cylinder mowers? Seems excessive to me! Oh, I fitted an hour meter to the mower, just because it was a good idea as it allows me to keep some type of record of everything. At $9 on E-Bay and about 10 mins. to fit I don't know why they are not standard equipment, on all mowers. Am I happy with my Masport 660RRR. Yes and no. Would I buy it again? No. I would get the Masport 500 Golf. Why? Because at 20" it would be easier to turn and it comes with a 10 blade cutting cylinder and a low cutting height of 4mm. Also at 207 cuts per metre compared to the 124 cuts of the 660RRR it would give a much better appearance at very low grass heights. Not applicable if you have Buffalo or Kikuyu which you would never mow at such low heights and with mowing higher a 6 blade is better than a 10. Look, it's a good mower, well built, great engine, just has some disadvantages. If your reading Mr. Masport, make a split-smooth rear roller and a 10 blade reel consumer options. They're the main reasons together with the handlebars I took two stars away, oh and save the planet, use less plastic with a much smaller user friendly catcher. Sorry.
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