Black and Decker and Dragons, Oh My!

An electric weed-whacker, what heresy is this? Weed-whackers are loud, angry, foul smelling beasts. They scream with a high pitched wail and breathe smoke. Their principle difference from dragons is that they neither fly nor breathe fire, and of course, dragons are exceptionally poor at lawn maintenance.

A stock photo of the fearsome beast known as the GH3000R
A stock photo of the fearsome beast known as the GH3000R

The surge in popularity of electric lawn equipment, is, in my purely amateur opinion, due to three principle factors.
1. Recent advances in battery technology, namely lithium ion batteries, shortening recharge times and most importantly giving portable electric devices power and lifespan that previously was limited to their gas powered brethren (and dragons)
2. The mainstream-ification of the green movement, since lawn equipment is entirely immune to emissions regulations.
3. Everyone hates carburetors. No one understands them and everyone that does, knows them to be more temperamental than a dragon (this is about as far as I can stretch this metaphor), No one under 25 knows how to take them apart and clean them, as you have to every time leftover gas varnishes up their insides, and no one under 16 even knows what a carburator is. This last point is of particular importance, since should I ever find myself with a 16 year old son, he certainly will be learning the manly art of lawn maintenance, like my father before me.

So given my extreme dislike for carburetors, I was naturally drawn to the electric weed-whacker, particularly when I saw this Black And Decker, GH3000R (The R stands for Refurb) model for sale on ebay for a paltry $19. I’m told at retail price this device would sell for TENS of dollars more, and having put it through the paces, I can see why.

When I say put it through the paces, I should explain exactly what I mean. You see, I purchased a house in October of 2013. I first cut my grass in May, of 2014. In those 7 months, my front yard grew to a proud 3.5 feet tall. This was grass that waved in the wind; every little gust revealing it’s exact path across my yard. When I looked out my front window, I could see predators stalking their prey across my front lawn, using my tall grass to conceal their approach. While cutting the grass, I found not just nests, but small villages, nay, SOCIETIES of small animals, scurrying for their lives as their world crumbled around them.

You could say, I enjoyed cutting this grass. It felt like a life goal, too long put off, finally accomplished.

It also provided an excellent opportunity to try to kill this weed-whacker. See, I have this compulsive urge to find the limits of everything I buy, PARTICULARLY when a retailer or manufacturer tries to shaft me with a 30 day warranty. If something is going to fail, I’m damn sure going to make sure it fails in the beginning, rather than in the end. (I’m looking at you, amazon paper shredder) In this instance, my torture test consisted of 2 hours of nearly continuous grass cutting.

But first, let us meet the victim of this abuse.

The Black and Decker GH3000R corded weed-whacker is a one string, string trimmer that weighs.. not that much, definitely less than a gas or even battery powered string trimmer, it comes in a box with limited padding, requires a grand total of one screw to assemble, has an adjustable angle handle, adjustable length shaft (with a quick release lever) and a rotatable head to use it as an edger. Adding to the edging capability is a little wheel, which wasn’t particularly useful to me, but might help guide you along a traditional driveway. This corded weed-whacker, actually has no cord. While this may seem like skimping on the part of the manufacturer, the assumption is that you’re going to use an extension cord that is long enough for your yard, and including some inadequate little pigtail cord would only increase the opportunity for failure. Instead, you plug the female end of your extension cord into the recessed male end of the string trimmer (gender roles be damned!) This no integrated cord design will make it perfectly simple to replace the cord, when you inevitably cut it with a piece of lawn equipment, probably this very weed whacker.

The 7.2A power of the GH3000 is more than sufficient for normal grass trimming, but when I was demolishing my 3+ ft monstrosity of a yard, it was necessary to cut narrow paths into it, lest I overload the motor with a bundle of 3+ ft tall grass. But even when trying to overload the motor, the worst it would suffer would be a moderate slowing of the normally 7500 rpm cutting speed, but it would never seize no matter how much long grass tried to wrap itself around the cutting head. The cutting head (or string spool, or whatever that thing is actually called) would always free itself of the tangles it was trying to create. After hours of this abusive behavior, I never managed to get the motor to overheat, so I have no idea if there is any sort of thermal protection built in, but if there is, I’m confident you won’t need it.

The overall fit and finish is a bit higher than you would expect of something costing tens of dollars, but certainly not professional grade. The length is adjustable, the handle is adjustable, and the shaft rotates (oh yeah) for edging. At no point did it ever strike me as flimsy or inadequate for the abuse I was putting it through. The sound, lacked the angry wail of a dragon, but was still loud enough that you probably ought to be using hearing protection, though my masochistic ears didn’t mind it much.

All in all, I can think of no better way to spend $20 on lawn equipment. Even at the fiftyish dollars they’re charging for it in June of 2014 at Home Depot, it would still be a good buy.

Lessons painfully learned:
– Don’t strike the cord with it, it has enough power to damage the cord.
– Wear safety glasses, it will throw shit in your face.
– Don’t buy the cordless version, the motor is less powerful and you can’t go all night long.

One thought on “Black and Decker and Dragons, Oh My!”

  1. That’s a bunch of bullcrap. The “R” actually stands for “really dope”, and you’re a jerk. My dad put 40 years into Black & Decker, and help make that company what it is.

    Thanks for sharing! Great post. Follow me on Twitter!

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