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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

String Trimmer Review

You have to give credit to Troy-Bilt® for their willingness to send products out to people like me to use and review, no strings attached.

Like several other garden bloggers, I also got a TB57 Lithium Ion Battery Cordless String Trimmer / Weed Trimmer from them earlier this spring.

One fine Sunday afternoon, not too long ago, I went out to the garage to put it together. It took me about twenty minutes, and most of that time I was messing around getting the handle attached. That takes four screws, and they are kind of odd screws, not really meant for a Phillips or slotted screwdriver, I think, though I’m not sure. The other problem, mostly my own, I’ll admit, was the print on the instructions was kind of small and I tried to read them without my glasses. I think that all instructions should be large-print regardless.

Once I put the trimmer together and charged up the battery, I gave it a test run and well, um, let me get to the point… I didn’t like it, at least for me. Here were my issues:

- I like to use string trimmers for edging along the driveway and sidewalk, and this one is not made for that. (Edging is different from trimming; with edging you run the trimmer at a right angle to the drive or sidewalk versus trimming, when you keep the trimmer flat to the ground.)
- I had trouble holding down the on/off trigger and if you let up on it a bit, the trimmer doesn’t stop, like with a corded electric trimmer, it just slows down.
- I started to get an ache in my upper arm and neck, probably due to the weight of the battery and how I was holding the trimmer.

So, I put the trimmer back in the garage and thought about what I might write about it.

Then it occurred to me that maybe my nephew, who is a new homeowner, might like a new string trimmer!

He would indeed, and so I give it to him to try out. I showed him the basics of how to use it, even though he used to work at a golf course and has a lot of experience with trimmers. In doing so, I used my middle two fingers to hold down the trigger, and that seemed to work better. Then I proceeded to use it to demonstrate how it trims and maybe I was holding it differently, because it didn’t seem that bad. Then I started to think maybe it wasn’t such a bad trimmer after all, and should I really give it up so quickly?

But I did give it up and my nephew has used it and reports that it is a pretty good trimmer.

Here’s his assessment:

- He likes it better than a gas powered trimmer because when you let go of the trigger the string stops right away.
- It does slow down as the battery runs low, but that is to be expected.
- He thinks it is almost big enough to have a shoulder strap, like some of the bigger gas powered trimmers, and that might make it easier to hold
- He would like it to be just a few inches longer when fully extended. He’s an even six feet tall.

But it works well for him, and he’s going to keep it.

As for me, I had a basic Troy-Bilt® corded electric string trimmer that I loved and used for several years, but they don’t last forever and late last fall, it had one too many parts go kaput, so I bought a new one this spring. Guess what I bought?

7 comments:

Kylee from Our Little Acre said...

We've used ours three times now and it's still going strong on the original charge!! Now with an acre of various trimming to do, that's saying something!

Romie said the same thing about the comfort issue. He was getting a sore back by the time he finished, mainly from the weird angle it put him at when he used it. He doesn't like that trigger either.

But it does a great job at trimming! I'm curious as to why you didn't think it did a good job trimming by the driveway or sidewalk? Seems to work okay here, but maybe I'm not understanding what you mean.

Helen said...

One thing I'd love to try a string trimmer for is to shred leaves before either composting or adding them to the garden as mulch. I've heard it's possible to do this with a large garbage container and a string trimmer. Anyone have any experience with that?

Likely an electric trimmer would be better than battery operated, for continuous power -- as you're not going anywhere.

Perhaps one day I'll be the kind of blogger that companies send trimmers to... one can only live in hope.

Karen S said...

I just got a new trimmer last night. We had a cordless troy-bilt in the past and I didn't like the length of time it held a charge and our lot is too large to haul an electric cord around.

We got a new Black & Decker trimmer with removable batteries. It came with 2and we already had 2 of the same batteries from a B&D drill. So, that gives me 4 batteries to work with and it was half the weight of the gas model. Hopefully it works as well as it seemed to when we tried it out at 10pm last night!

healingmagichands said...

We are still using the big hog gas trimmer. Or I should say, Jim is using it. I don't do weed-eater, largely because it trashes my upper body so bad it interferes with my profession, which is massage therapy.

Which brings me to an observation. I do massage on people who do use weed-eaters on a regular basis, and in my observations on the effect this activity has on human beings, I would say that lighter is better. Using a shoulder harness is better too. But the big problem this item gives to people is "trigger finger syndrome", and because of the safety issues I imagine this problem will never be solved satisfactorily, since the manufacturers are unlikely to put out a trimmer that will stay on until you decide you want it off, thereby eliminating the need for the finger to stay on the trigger.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Carol, as you know I got one too, and I had the same problems with the trigger. I'm giving mine to my sister because her yard is smaller, and she needs one. Great review, BTW.~~Dee

Larry said...

Hello,
I got a TB57 the other day so i will share my thoughts. Pros - charges quickly [ 4 hrs ] and holds an ample charge allowng you to get the job done in one session [ 2 hrs range] Lithium ion batterys are great...will not develop a memory so you can charge it at any point in the charge/discharge cycle. Relatively quiet and light. Cons - unit appears to be designed on a computer for a computer....poor ergonomics...meaning...uncomfortable to use as the shaft does not telescope to an adequate length...the trigger is abysmal, as it requires enough tension to depress that your hands will fatigue quickly. It is somewhat under powered for a "full service" trimmer...it requires 5-7 passes to get the same results that 1-3 swipes with a gas trimmer will produce....so in essence you are working harder, longer to acomplish the same task....but without any noise or gas fumes. Is it worth the trade off ?...hard call...i think the answer for me is in having two trimmers...a gas one for the heavy cutting & an electric one for general maintanance after the yard has been "tamed" by the gas powered cutter. B&D has a higher powered unit available which, if it were not for the high price & the fact that the use time is only 1/2 hr before the charge is depleted....and a spare battery costs 100$....might have been the perfect weed whacker that could make all others obsolete. manufactures are coming closer & closer to hitting the elusive "bullseye" & it seems it is just a matter of time before the weed whacking public is going to be blessed with a wonderous whacker indeed

Ken said...

Bought the model reviewed yesterday and returned it today. I totally agree with the post about the ergonomics - they are truly abysmal. One needs the grip of a young Arnold to use this thing. The screws used to tighten the handle are very poorly designed in that they won't grip adequately to hold the handle. Very difficult to use this trimmer. My Black and Decker died after 7 years and I thought this might be a good replacement - but I guess I'll keep looking.