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Black + Decker BESTA525 Strimmer (review)

My (un)birthday present to myself arrived today. A day earlier than planned. It was... minimally packaged.
Minimal packaging

Upon opening it up, I needed to find a crosshead screwdriver and install the protective shield around the cutter, and then push-fit the secondary handle.

The business end

I extended the main handle to what seemed about right.

The handle

The motor is not big. It is rated 450W. Size is important, as there are no wheels, it's the user that will be carrying this thing.

The motor

The thing with Black and Decker is the rather stark BRIGHT ORANGE colour scheme. Bosch makes things a tasteful garden green, but this runs the risk of getting mislaid around here. How do you spot something green in amidst a pile of green?
Not so for Black and Decker. I have my doubts that one would be capable of mislaying this device at night.

As a thunderstorm was approaching, I didn't have much time so I unrolled the extension cord and hooked it into the handle (a neat trick to prevent the plug from being pulled out of the socket).

Cable arrangement

Then it was time to turn this:

Before strimming

Into this:

After strimming

The first thing that struck me is that the switch to turn it on and off is a simple grip on the main handle. It seemed to me to be a little odd that it was just a basic switch, and that there was no sort of interlock mechanism in order to prevent turning it on accidentally (like picking it up in a hamfisted way).

The motor made some noise, so headphones or earmuffs might be preferred. It wasn't particularly noisy, although given that the other things I have use combusion engines, I'm perhaps not the best person to ask. It seemed to me, entirely objectively, that it was less obnoxious than a power drill (a noise that really rubs my ears the wrong way).

The strimmer coped with grass, nettles, and thinner strands of bramble. This is about on par for a strimmer using nylon string rather than some sort of blade. It was a little slow going as the grass was tall (in the region of 10-30 cm), the actual cutting diameter isn't that big, and there is only one string (so only one thwack per rotation). However, the motor seemed powerful enough and the strimmer gently made its way through the grass and weeds.
While I wouldn't be able to use it like the petrol strimmer (broad side to side strokes), it did come into its own going around the tent pegs and other metal bits. Care and precision were necessary, and the dimensions of this strimmer helped make that work.

When in use, I would try to counterbalance using the black (secondary) handle to take the weight, and the main handle to guide it. in order to keep a reasonable distance from my feet (the handbook advises 60cm) one needs to hold it away from themselves. This will make your upper back hurt, and the arm taking the weight. Thankfully the device is completely ambidextrous in use so I could swap which arm was using which handle at regular intervals.
I'm not going to comment too much on the back/arm pain. It may simply be that I need to fiddle around with the pole length and secondary handle position to get something that works for me.

I noticed that by the end the strim string was about four centimetres long. It's supposed to be some sort of "intelligent" mechanical device that spools out more string as necessary. I don't know if it wasn't working properly (no, it's not the sort that you bash on the ground to get more string) or if it uses some sort of balancing to throw out more when it gets too short, and it wasn't yet too short. Perhaps it is determined by rotational speed? I don't know.

I did end up wearing some of the grass. This is unavoidable when you're smashing the grass with a nylon string. However most of it was below the knee, and it's pretty much all fallen off now. Nothing like when using the petrol strimmer.

Unfortunately, an incoming thunderstorm (that I think missed us - thankfully) put paid to doing anything else. I brushed the motor and shield off with a soft handbrush (the same one I use to clean the grass off of Marte), and I used a short stick to scrape the gunk off of the underside of the shield.

In need of a clean!

I wonder how long the strimmer will last for, as it looks like the motor cooling mechanism is to suck air (which will very likely contain bits of grass) in at the top of the motor and blow it out at the bottom of it. So I wonder what that air path might risk getting gummed up with.

 

It took just under quarter of an hour to do that small patch. If you are wondering why I bought myself a small electric strimmer, then let's compare.

  • Get strimmer.
  • Unwind extension lead.
  • Plug strimmer in.
  • Strim.

Or...

  • Find yellow petrol can.
  • Pour about half a litre of petrol into it, from Marte/Pig's red petrol can.
  • Add a quarter measure of oil. Not any oil, the two stroke oil. Add a little more "just to be sure".
  • Add a smidgen of lead substitute. One 'dose' apparently treats 10 litres, so we need a 20th of a dose.
  • Shake the fuel, and then fill up the strimmer's fuel tank.
    [why don't I keep strimmer fuel prepared? easy - it doesn't get used often enough to not have the fuel mixture go stale, so I usually make it up as necessary]
  • Check the strimmer head. Make sure there is enough string and it's the same length on either side.
  • Turn the switch to the ON position, and set the carburettor to the CHOKE position.
  • There's no "primer" button, so grab the handle and yank the string forcefully to turn the engine.
  • Repeat about twenty times and if you're lucky, the engine will fire and then stall.
  • At this point, you might wish to consider offering burnt sacrifices to the old gods.
    Don't waste your breath praying to the new "God". If he understood anything about mechanical things and technology, we wouldn't have been blessed with systemd. Or Facebook. Or x86. Or the Ford Fiesta.
  • Move the carburettor lever off of CHOKE to about quarter of the way to RUN, and then keep cranking until it starts and doesn't die.
  • Muse that at this point, if you had an electric strimmer, the job would be done by now.
  • Leave the engine to tick over and warm itself up, or it'll die the moment it revs up.
  • Find the harness. I say harness, it's a shoulder strap. Wear it.
  • Pick up the strimmer and clip it to the harness.
  • With one hand reaching back to the carburettor lever (mind the exhaust, it's hot!) and the other hand on the throttle, move both gently until you find a point where the engine will kick into action and run at speed. It isn't the part that says "RUN", that would be too easy.
  • Commence strimming.
  • Stop after the first clump of grass chokes the head. Set the strimmer to idle, unclip the strimmer. Lay it down. Approach the head (which should NOT be moving). Pull off the grass. Pick up the strimmer. Clip it back in place.
  • Repeat the previous two steps as often as necessary.

I think I've made my point...

 

 

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J.G.Harston, 19th June 2020, 18:37
Ah yes, the back pain... 
 
And the orange. It's the orange cable that gets me. Some years ago I was mowing my lawn and thinking: why is the cable orange, there's a reason tigers have orange strips and hide in long grass, orange cable in tall dappled grass is... *BANG*! Yes, the cable was so well camoflaged I'd mown straight over it. 
 
The cable was too short anyway, so I made up an extension lead in white, which is blindingly obvious with grass as the background.
Rick, 21st June 2020, 05:24
I think the point of orange is that it is supposed to be more visible. I certainly find it obvious in the grass, but then again not everybody's eyes are the same. 
 
Be careful with using standard white cable - outdoor cables tend to be made of a slightly different plastic that is more resistant and also doesn't degrade in direct sunlight. 
 
Am I to take it that back pain is normal? Sheesh... 
David Pilling, 25th June 2020, 15:37
Strimmer tales... You can get 4 strokes which cause a lot less grief. As to the Ryobi which proved such a problem for me, Ryobi now sell mains power units that replace the 2 stroke engine. They're the home of the Pac Man screw head, which was designed to stop punters adjusting the carburettor. Why might they want to do that, to make starting the engine easier.
Rick, 25th June 2020, 17:15
I can only imagine that a 4 stroke would be heavier...
David Pilling, 27th June 2020, 03:19
I have 4 stroke Honda strimmer, can't say the weight is noticeable. Just very easy to start.

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Last read at 20:15 on 2020/07/07.

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