Author Topic: Rebuild, Repair, or Replace (DR Trimmer)  (Read 351 times)


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Rebuild, Repair, or Replace (DR Trimmer)
« on: July 20, 2019, 07:48:43 PM »
I'm pretty sure I've got my decision made, but... in the realm of interesting and less-common discussion on here, how do you decide when to repair/rebuild/replace property equipment?

My specific example is a DR Trimmer - think "walk-behind weed eater."  It uses (very heavy) strings to chop down just about anything - and, of massive importance to me, doesn't have metal blades to spark on the basalt.  I can't mow most of my property with a metal blade because of the rocks.  I'm working on removing them, but a metal blade, dry cheatgrass, and basalt leads to grass fires - and from personal experience, I just can't get excited about fighting grass fires more than really needed.  I won't start a property tool if it's too windy, and I almost always work downwind from the structures.

Anyway, this particular late-1980s tool came from a family member's shed, and after a good bit of work, has been operating well enough for the past few years.  It's old, it's clanky, it burns oil, it's... just beat up, but it's been working.

Recently, though, it's more or less hit end of life.  After a particularly nasty set of mowing, one of the handles broke down by the mounting bolts to the frame (the handle is now in two pieces - rather structural and probably hard to weld since it's right at the joint), and the power is... lacking.  I've known since I first got it started that the rings were in bad shape based on the oil consumption and the lack of compression, but it's been struggling to keep up with even lighter use lately without bogging out.  I replaced the air filter, which helped a tiny bit, and the next step is the spark plug, but... the motor is just worn out as near as I can tell.  If I turn it over quickly with the string (which I replaced two years ago), I can find the compression stroke, but if I turn it over more slowly, all I can feel is friction - the compression stroke is faint, at best.  Starting is getting harder as well recently.

Plus, the blade control doesn't work (it's jammed in the "on" position, which is fine, if a bit annoying), the shaft constantly fouls with grass, etc.  I can resolve these with enough work, though finding parts for a 30 year old unit is a bit of a challenge (DR still sells wear items, but things like the handle is a "call us" item... which tells me it's going to be a pain to track down and/or expensive).

And the rubber sheet that keeps debris from taking out your ankles is broken (again), it's just... worn.

It's not impossible to fix, but I'm at a point where I'd be looking at putting a new motor on, probably having a custom handle built/bent, replacing a bunch of bearings and cables, and mostly building a new unit around the frame.  It's an interesting project, but not one I particularly have time for.

A new base model of the capacity I need is around $400, a new high end one (a good bit more power, nicer adjustments, and self propelled) is around $1000.  Plus a bit in quick disconnect heads and the like that, for my uses, would be incredibly useful.

I normally wouldn't bother with a self propelled unit for myself, but it's also used around the property - we live near some relatives, and one of them uses the trimmer a good bit as well.  He's getting up there in years, and while still quite robust, he's in his late 60s, so a self propelled one would be of some use to him as well longer term.  I expect the new one to last 15-20 years, given the history of the current one.

So... my solution, currently, is to replace it with a new one and consider rebuilding the old one as I can find parts laying around to have a secondary one (it's literally the most useful thing on the property).  But, I'm interested in other opinions.

And, yes, I've considered learning to scythe, but as I understand it, that mostly works on grasses, not the thicker woody growth and tumbleweeds and such that the DR trimmer makes short work of.