My German Farmer Problem Revisited

GermanFarmer

A few weeks ago I shared my “German Farmer Problem”.  You can read the whole thing here.  In a nutshell it is the belief that every possession I own will be good forever – absent some sort of natural catastrophe.

The problem manifested itself after my twenty year old lawnmower (which I bought used fifteen years ago) became an environmental hazard due to oil incontinence issues.  How bad?  How about “I may as well just pour three quarts of oil in my yard while I cut it” bad.

I have received some offline inquiries into how I solved my problem.  OK, I received one inquiry (you know who you are) and I decided that an update was warranted.

I. Bought. A. New Riding. Mower.  Gad, that is still hard for me to say.  But I cannot decide if the German Farmer got the better of me again, or if I vanquished him by doing so.

First the grass cutting guy issue kind of resolved itself for me.  He notified me that he had taken a full time job but that he could still handle some customers after hours.  Unfortunately he seemed to have over-committed, as his “after hours” seemed to mean “after all of the hours contained in May and June”.

I started looking at used equipment, as any good German Farmer would counsel me to do.  But I learned a lesson – pretty much all good used riding mowers are being used by their owners during the summer months.  It is only the ones that need “just a thing or two” that are for sale, at least at a reasonable price.

I liked the size of the classic Snapper that an elderly neighbor used to own.  I found one owned by a guy who had stopped mowing for health reasons.  The German Farmer in me was willing to overlook the fact that it needed an adjustment in the drive mechanism.  The guy would include the tool for making the adjustment.  I was also willing to overlook the fact that it was built in 1973.  Because a quality mower will last forever (quoth the German Farmer in my mind}.

My Mrs. gave me one of those sideways looks and gave me her opinion.  “Why don’t you quit looking at junk and just buy a new one?”  I had to admit that she had a point.  I didn’t really need a project – I already owned a project that I was unwilling to tackle.  And it was during my final 3-quart-of-oil-mowing that-I was forced to admit something: that I was unwilling to commit the time and resources necessary for maintaining a classic lawnmower collection.  What I really needed was a tool that was going to work when I needed it and without any backtalk.

I did like the fact that the brand new Snapper was the same basic design that had been in production for decades and that it seemed a perfect size for my modest homestead.  And if a Snapper from 1973 was still running then a new one should be good for the rest of our lives.  It was this last part that tickled the German Farmer.   Buy a good one and it will last forever.  Everybody knows that.  And so I did.

I agonized over the cost.  Understand that I have bought perfectly serviceable cars for less money, though that probably says less about the cost of the mower than the age and mileage of some of the cars I have bought.  It is also no longer possible to get one of these without an electric start.  Fortunately I was not also forced to get an air conditioned cab or power steering.  And I suppose that good old fashioned durability comes at a cost.

The only issue this left was my need to get my weed whacker started for the first time since . . . uhm, I’m not sure.  But the good news was that all the parts to make it run were $6.58 on Amazon.  The German Farmer was proud when it finally fired up after I replaced the decayed fuel lines and primer bulb.  But then the other end started giving me trouble when the plastic cutting line kept getting bound up.  I thought I could fix that too until the big spring inside of the unit simply disappeared during one of the thirty disassembly operations.  So a new one of those was procured as well.  Oh well, at least the big metal tube in the middle was fine.

So here I am, all set for the rest of my life in terms of lawn care.  Yessiree, self-sufficiency is the rule here at J P Manor.  And it is true – driving makes everything more fun (or at least tolerable).  So I either went full-on German Farmer or wrestled him to a draw.  Either way, I think the German Farmer is pleased.  As am I.

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22 thoughts on “My German Farmer Problem Revisited

  1. OoooooOoOOOoooooooooo! I admit to suburban yard-care implement envy. And you can stand it on its end!

    My favorite possession was my Craftsman lawn tractor, before I sold it because I wouldn’t need it for my tiny Zionsville yard. Eighteen seasons I got from it. It was old, but I had taken care of it (despite one hillbillly repair) and it still ran great. But the dang thing required such a large amount of storage space.

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    • Yes, the “stand it on it’s butt” thing was an appealing bonus feature to me. Now I need to get some junk cleaned out of the garage so that I can make room for it along with the two cars that will also need to be in there this winter. For now just the Snapper and the Miata (in their matching color combinations) live indoors while our two dailies live outside. Something that I am beginning to get more of those sideways glances about.

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      • Our garage is crammed with crap and all of our cars live in the driveway or on the street. I’m hoping Margaret and I can clear out enough space for at least one car this winter.

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      • I’m jealous of the Miata – I almost bought one once, but it just wasn’t practical. I had a two seater Pontiac Fiero in the 80’s which was a nightmare to drive in the winter.

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      • My Miata is over 20 years old and spends most of its time sitting in the garage, usually with the top down. I often think of selling it because I drive it less every year, but then I take it out on a summer evening and fall in love all over again. You need to think of it as more of a toy than as a car.

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  2. Very good! Sounds like the best solution for all. Lawn guy takes a full time job, JP gets a new mower, Mrs JP does not have to endure another project. Some factory gets to crank out a new mower. Is Snapper still made in USA?

    And asking about an old lawn mower, who would do such a thing? By the way, what’s your solution to the old mower question. Did it get sent to the curb or are you going to repair it in your spare time anyway? 🙂

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    • Yes, they are still built in the US – Milwaukee, I believe.

      The old one was taken away buy the guy who delivered the new one. I had offered it to a couple of guys I know with some mechanical aptitude, but neither was in the mood for a project. Perhaps they will find it worth the repair and can sell it as a refurbished used one (he thought, wishfully).

      The next project to present itself is the need to do a little landscape work that will make some of the contours of the yard a little more friendly towards the new equipment. Is it a natural law that one improvement always leads to the need for more improvements?

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  3. A very good choice for JP Manor! A while back I had wondered if Snapper was still in production and it’s good to see they are. It’s an ideal size for your place and maneuverable enough where your time trimming with a push mower should be minimal. Was the engine produced by Snapper or someone else?

    My parents bought a front-engined 18 or so horsepower two-cylinder Snapper when I was in high school. I think it lasted until about 10 years ago and they routinely kept 5 to 7 acres mowed. It was the only riding mower I’ve ever seen with a tilt steering wheel.

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    • Briggs & Stratton appears to have bought the company about a decade ago, so you can probably guess the name on the engine.

      No tilt wheel here, other than upgrading to a 33 inch cut over the basic 28, I got the most basic thing they make.

      I was told that they had introduced a new design on these several years ago but that it proved unpopular, causing them to re-introduce the “classic” design. It feels like the lawnmower equivalent of being able to buy a brand new 1972 Dodge Dart. 🙂

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  4. Well, good for you—riding high —and no longer on the brink of potential catastrophe due to noxious leakage,

    And I must admit I found Part 2 of this personal ride courtesy of the German farmer much more engaging than Part 1!

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  5. We were getting worried that you were going to have to attach a blade to the bottom of your Fit. Well done!

    On a side note, I commented on your last post, however the comment didn’t make it to press. Is the disappearing comment problem a frequent visitor to your website? I will be more diligent in copying and going back to see if my comments stick next time. Thanks JP.

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    • Hmmm, I will have to look into the comment thing. I had not noticed anything untoward on this end.

      I had actually wondered if the Miata might make a better mower than the Fit, but perhaps the Miata’s extra low first gear is not quite low enough for yard work. 🙂

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  6. This likes a lot like the mower that my father-in-law rolled over, on a side slope in his New England yard, and got pinned under. I say “looks like”, because his mower had a LOT of patina. It might have once been red … or blue … or yellow. Or perhaps it was always brownish-green. Be careful!

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    • Yeah, the idea of flipping over on something with a sharp, spinning blade underneath does not sound like something I want to experience. My back yard has some hills, but my rule has been that those sections are “downhill only”, something I can accomplish through a funky pattern I have figured out.

      The manual has a page with some kind of diagram to tell you if you are on a slope of over ten degrees, and to avoid anything greater. Although I am quite sure that the ten degree limit has a lot of “lawyer factor” calculated into it, I also have a healthy respect for how not to approach hills with it.

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  7. I live in an apartment, in a crowded neighborhood, on an 8th floor with a 50 sq mt terrace. Plenty of space and sun and a sea view. No lawn, alas. Nor place to park the mower!!!!

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    • There are days, my friend, when I envy you. I am currently working up the courage to resume my battle with some poison ivy (a plant that oozes an oil that makes skin itch and blister, in case you are unfamiliar).

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  8. Pingback: Making Choices | J. P.'s Blog

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