a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Maintenance Costs and Built-In Obsolescence

Monday, September 20, 2010

Maintenance Costs and Built-In Obsolescence

SUMMARY: Garden tools and dogs.

I have this newish lawn mower. Bought it just a few years ago, after discovering that the cost to sharpen my 25-year-old mower was more than half of what a new one cost (on sale). It was only a push mower, no engine parts, so really it could've gone on forever, and how much improvement could they really have made in a manual push mower? But some parts were having trouble staying in place, the height adjustment didn't adjust much at all, and I decided to replace. I freecycled the old one.

Now the new one needs sharpening--did you notice the long and ragged lawn in those weaving Boost photos last wednesday? Because I have to go over it 2 or 3 or 4 times, not a fun prospect. So I'll pay my $65 and wait a week and then hopefully it will once again coup de grace--er, cut the grass--as nicely as when it was new.

The hedge trimmer that I absconded with from friend Steph a few years back--hmm, did I ever pay her for it? think not--tsk--now needs either sharpening or new blades. Because, instead of cutting my shrubs, it's now mostly massaging them. I'm sure the hedges feel more relaxed, but I don't. But sharpening--several places won't do it, the only quote I got was for $75 but they'd "have to see it first". New blades--hard to find them on the web; don't know how old the trimmer is, but they're special order & take 2 weeks and cost almost $50 including postage (that's assuming that the company knows what it's talking about; a couple others said that they're obsolete and no longer available).

I also called the manufacturer for instructions on blade replacement (because it wasn't intuitively obvious). And the instruction manual for this model isn't on their regular web site. The very nice lady found me the manual online, but it has no blade-replacement instructions. Oh, no, she said, you won't find that kind of instruction in any of our manuals. But if you call the service center in Hayward (that is, it's a toll call), and ask for a technician, I'm sure they'd be glad to explain how to do it.

Sooooo I decided I'd spent enough time already on this, went down to Sears which is right down the street and which has some well-rated hedge trimmers, and bought a new equivalent one (on sale) for about what I'd have paid for blades for the old one.

And as for the dogs-- when they're asking you to tote up your annual costs for having household canines, I don't think they usually include vacuum cleaner bags. Mine fill up quickly! Have to replace them almost every time I vacuum. Which is, OK, not all that often, but I probably go through 20 bags a year.

...OK, OK, that's not a *huge* expense, but still--it's one of those hidden costs that just add up. On the other hand--letting the hair fall on the floor is a lot cheaper than taking them to the groomers.

But, if I were to spend some time this week combing, and then using my new hedge trimmer to defrazzle my hedges, and my newly sharpened lawnmower to trim my lawn, man, next week I should be able to get some really nice, well-maintained-looking photos! Looking forward to it.


  1. You're making me tired. Too much hedge clipping, lawn mowing, vacuuming, dog brushing stuff. I hope you get to do something fun soon! :)

  2. I dunno, I think hedge trimming IS fun! It's the cleaning up the stuff that's fallen all over the place afterwards that's not so hot.

  3. Y'know, it was SO long ago that you probably don't remember why I GAVE you the hedge trimmers in the first place.

    I'm not particularly fond of hedges that *look* sheared. I like a hedge that looks like it just grew that way naturally, so I took to pruning with hand shears. No, not those long, scissors-looking things. Just your basic bypass pruning clippers. And the power trimmer was doing almost as much chewing as it was shearing for me.

    So, when you said you needed some power trimmers, I got to clear something out of my garage!

    There! They've already been free-cycled once. Do it again if you'd like. You feel like paying me? Buy me an ice cream. :-)

  4. Thanks, steph! That's very cool. OK, I'll buy you an ice cream--but not this friday because (I forgot to mention) I'm going to be at the course-design/judging clinic and won't be here this friday.

  5. Slacker! Oh, maybe not. And morning ice cream doesn't seem quite right anyway. We'll have to arrange an afternoon sometime... maybe a weekend when you're not out agilitizing.