Jari mower – working

On Sunday I finally got a chance to finish the rehab of the Jari mower that we bought off craigslist. In a previous post I described how we got it working except for the gas tank, which was rusted out. We ordered a replacement tank, but it didn’t quite fit, and in the end I found a used motor in Five Islands that had a compatible tank, so I used that one. I also had to diddle with the throttle cable to get it hooked up, since the assembly that connects the throttle cable to the governor through a spring attaches at the gas tank. I changed the oil, and it fired right up with a puff of ether in the carb.

Then I had to learn how to use it. It doesn’t have the usual safety features that come on mower these days; no dead-man switch, etc. – it will happily keep on mowing straight ahead, with or without the operator. It has one speed, and it goes at an impressive clip – you can throttle it back, but then the cutter bar doesn’t run fast enough to cut challenging grass. The drive system is such that you can’t power it forward without the cutter bar running. It can cut through small brush with no apparent struggle, and it handled an impressive thicket of tall, reedy grass amazingly well on the first pass through. Its biggest limitation became clear on subsequent passes – it is not happy about recutting grass that is already on the ground, and it is relatively easy to get into a mode where it pushes a big wad of grass ahead and mats down the material instead of cutting it. Then you have to disengage the drive, haul it backward to clear it, and raise it clear of the wad before resuming. It also binds up on really rank, fine soft grass, the kind that gets about 8″ high and then flops over. If you hold the bar higher it can shave the top off that stuff tolerably well though. The tendency for the bar to clog on fallen material from the previous pass leads to a temptation to err a bit wide of the previous swath, and I’m afraid the mowing job wasn’t as pretty as I would have liked, but it was broadly effective, and it was fast. I estimate I mowed about 2 acres in perhaps 4-5 hours – that’s a lot faster than the rotary walk-behind that we use in 5 Islands. It also leaves material that can be used as hay – though I think we were a little late of the optimum season (no critters to eat it yet, so not a big deal).

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