|DRŪ Field and Brush Mower Review|
|On this page, I will give you my most sincere and
honest feedback on my personal experiences with my DRŪ Field and Brush Mower.
But before I get into the specifics of the machine, allow me to first
give you a little background information.|
In 1990 I retired from a 20-year career as a Naval Flight Officer. Upon retiring, I moved my family to east Tennessee, where we bought 53 acres of rolling forest near the Tennessee River and the Cumberland Plateau. The property was basically one huge hill. rising upward from every side toward the wide flat summit, which was almost at the very center of the property. Our plan was to build a home on top of the hill. Although everyone told us we would never be able to do it, in the late 1990's we built our new home on top of that hill. We had to clear several acres of land to open up the beautiful view of the river and rolling hills.
Locating the home on this lofty hilltop provided us with the most breathtaking views of the sunset over the river and mountains that you can possibly imagine...
However, the house was located quite a distance away from the highway that borders the property on the west, which is the only side we can access the property from. The driveway winds 2200 feet up the hill from the highway to the house. (I will discuss my experiences maintaining the driveway in my next post).
We cleared several acres of land alongside the driveway near the highway, and also more acreage in front of the house in order to open up the beautiful view. This resulted in a steep field in front of the house near the top of the hill, and a fairly steep field alongside the lower portion fo the driveway next to the highway. Unfortunately, most of the cleared land in both locations is too steep to maintain with a riding mower or a farm tractor.
So while we quietly enjoyed the beautiful sunsets each evening, Mother Nature began to reclaim the fields that we had cleared because I couldn't maintain them with the equipment I had at the time (a riding mower and an old Ford 9N farm tractor.) After a few years of total neglect, the cleared fields became totally overgrown with weeds, thorns, briars, poison ivy, vines, and countless other forms of vegetation, including a large number of tree saplings. The overgrowth was so dense, thick and tall that it formed an inpermeable wall that even the wild deer could not pass through.
At one point I hired a local farmer friend to bring in his 4-wheel drive tractor and try to bushhog the less steep parts of the field near the highway. He had hardly started when his tractor tires were punctured by the long thorns that had spread throughout the field. He quickly decided that it was not possible to clear the property with a tractor because the tractor tires were no match for the huge thorns. I decided that it was time to do some serious research and find some type of equipment that could clear this tangled mess...
Before I continue, please allow me to digress for a moment to talk about the kind of research I usually do when I'm looking for information. Where can you find reliable information that you can trust? Over the years I've learned that the best source of information comes from people who have already bought the product and want to tell others of their experiences, whether those experiences are good or bad. So, before spending hard-earned money on a product that I really don't know much about, I always turn to the Internet to find out what other people are saying about the product(s) that I may be considering. The most honest and reliable feedback, whether it be good or bad, usually comes from people who have already purchased the product and put it to the test. After using a product for a period of time, many people will either want to vent their frustrations and disappointments in an effort to warn others, or they will want to sing everlasting praises of the product to help others who may be looking for such a product. Either way, owner feedback is the kind of information you need to know before you spend your money on any product. (Another dependable source that I usually check is the independent consumer product testing organization Consumer Reports. They do not accept any revenue from manufacturers and therefore they are one of the few organizations that provide unbiased product reviews based solely on the merits of the particular product being tested.)
Over the years I am thankful that ordinary people have taken the time to post their personal experiences and impresssions of the products they have purchased. These owner reviews have saved me and many others from spending good money on bad products, and many times have pointed us in the right direction to buy reliable products that we might not have otherwise bought.
So, the purpose of my website is to share my own personal experiences about a few products that have proven themselves and served me well for a long time. This is my way of contributing to the information pool and giving a little back to the online community. I hope my contribution will help others who may be considering one of these products.
Now, having said all that, lets get back to the problem of my overgrown fields...
I knew there had to be other people who were having similar problems maintaining their steep overgrown property. What kind of equipment were they using? I was determined to find a solution. So, once again I turned to the Internet to see what others were recommending to handle steep overgrown fields such as mine. After a lot of research, one machine kept showing up and grabbing my attention. It was the DRŪ Field and Brush Mower.
The company literature said that the DRŪ mower is a self-propelled walk-behind bush hog that can clear overgrown properties like mine and (depending on the model) can even take down saplings up to 3 inches in diameter! Most owners that had commented seemed to be very happy with their mower. (Of course, you will always find a few people who speak negatively about ANY subject you research, but overall the DRŪ mower received many more favorable reviews than negative.) I was definitely interested, but I was still skeptical that any mower could handle the tangled mess growing on my property.
I wasn't prepared to invest in a new mower until I was absolutely convinced that it could do the job. So, just to be cautious, I decided to find a used DRŪ mower and try it before investing in a new one. I figured that I could pick up a used mower for a fraction of the cost of a new one, and put it to the test. If it didn't work out, I could just sell it and continue to look for something better.
It took a while to locate a used DRŪ mower. I discovered that most people who buy them don't usually sell them until they have a life-changing event (such as a move from the country to the city). But I finally got lucky and found a used one listed for sale just 3 miles from my home. An older couple had decided to sell their lake home and move to a subdivision in town. They would no longer need the mower, so they were selling it and other outdoor equipment. I called and made an appointment to see it that afternoon.
When I arrived at their house and rang the doorbell, the old gentleman greeted me and escorted me around to the back of his house to a storage room where he kept his lawn mower and other yard maintenance tools. Sitting there behind his riding mower, his wood chipper and several other yard tools sat what appeared to be a simple high-wheel walk behind lawn mower. I didn't see the DRŪ mower that I had been expecting. I glanced at the old fellow with a puzzled look. He pointed toward the high-wheel mower, moved the other equipment out of the way and pulled the machine out into the sunlight so I could have a better look.
Needless to say, I was very disappointed that this small mower was the great DRŪ machine he had told me about. It definitely was not what I expected.. This little machine resembled nothing that I had seen on the DRŪ website, nor had I seen anything like it in any of the literature I'd reviewed. According to the old gentleman, this mower was about 12 years. He was the original owner and had bought it new when DRŪ first started producing them back in the mid-to-late 1980s. This machine didn't look like much compared with the new models. This thing just looked pretty much like a small push lawn mower with tall rear wheels. I was sure that there was absolutely no way this wimpy looking thing could tackle the acres of overgrown jungle growing on my property.
It was orange with a red 8-HP Industrial Briggs & Stratton engine, black fuel tank and cream-colored trim. It had both an electric starter and a manual pull starter and tall narrow bicycle-like spoked wheels with solid rubber tires. It had a belt-driven blade and chain-driven wheels. Self-propelled in the forward direction, but it had no reverse gear and no brakes (factory design, not a defect.) I was just about to tell him I was not interested, but he just kept talking about what this wonderful machine could do. I was having trouble believing this little mower could do the things he was telling me...
The old fellow had nothing but glowing praise for the little old mower. While I had serious doubts that it could even make a small dent in the overgrown mess on my property, he assured me that the mower could cut anything I would ever need to cut, including saplings between 1 and 2 inches in diameter. He had no overgrowth on his property and couldn't actually demonstrate the mower in action, so I was still not convinced.
He said he had never had a single problem with it in the 12 years he'd owned it. As he talked, I reached over and turned the ignition key to the start position. Nothing. Nada. Zip. The battery was dead. The man apologized and said the battery was the original factory battery and it had died several years ago. But then he went on to say the mower always started on the first pull, so he never really needed the electric starter and therefore, just never had a reason to replace the battery. He reached over and flipped on the choke, turned on the ignition switch and pulled the starter rope. The engine roared to life on the very first pull, even though he said it had not been started in months. The engine ran as smoothly as any engine I've ever heard. He pushed a large handle forward and the blade began to spin. Squeezing a lever on the left handle, the machine began to move forward. He motioned for me to give it a try. I took the handles and squeezed the lever. The mower moved forward. I braced myself and tried to hold it back to convice myself and the old fellow that it wasn't powerful enough for my needs. But the tires dug in and pulled me along with without the slightest hesitation. The machine was much heavier and more powerful than I would have guessed.
I knew that used DRŪ mowers are hard to find, so I decided to take a chance and give the little mower a try while I looked for a bigger models. I figured that I could use it to clear the smaller growth areas, and when I found something more appropriate I could easily sell this one and get my money back. So I ended up buying the little machine for $800. As I loaded it in my truck that day, I never expected to keep it very long. I certainly never would have guessed that I would still be using this remarkable little machine nearly 10 years later and singing its praises to all who will listen.
When I took the little mower home and put it to the test that first day, I received the surprise of my life. I was absolutely floored at what this little mower was capable of doing! There was nothing in my overgrown fields that required it to run harder than a fast idle. It was almost like it had magical powers! It could chew through the tall thick weeds and briars as easily and quickly as a regular lawnmower slices through tender blades of grass. It's heavy brush hog blade would instantly slice down saplings and then convert the entire sapling into mulch in a matter of seconds. I was totally amazed at what this little machine was capable of doing. I remember the first time my son visited while I was using the mower. Seeing it in action for the first time as it chewed down a patch of saplings, his eyes widened and he remarked "That thing is a BEAST!" Everyone who sees the mower in action is amazed at what it does.
I've had the mower for about 10 years. It still has no battery because it still starts on the first pull every time. It still clears about 10 acres of overgrown property two to three times each year, as it has done each year for the past 10 years. Because there's so much property to maintain, I usually procrastinate and only use the mower when the weeds, briars and saplings get up to about waist high. I've never had a single problem with the little mower, except for wearing out a couple sets of belts and wearing out the tires to the point that they literally split apart and fell off the rims.I even ran the mower a season or two with the worn out tires wrapped in duck tape and electrical wire to hold the pieces on the rim. Eventually my homemade tires also wore out, so I finally called the DRŪ factory and ordered a new set of tires. I couldn't believe they still carried tires for this mower, even though it was at least 22 years old. I believe my mower is good for at least another 10 to 20 years. It still starts on the first pull, it uses no oil and runs all day on a single tank of gas.
If you decide to buy a DRŪ mower, I recommend that you get a model with reverse gear and brakes, because even for a guy like me who's 6'-2" and tips the scales at 230 pounds, it is sometimes a challenge hold back the mower when going downhill or to pull it back up steep slopes or ditches and creekbanks. The lack of reverse and brakes is the only complaint I have with this mower. As a matter of fact, these machines may last so long that you will never wear them out, so do yourself a favor and get the model that you really want the first time. It will be easier to live with for a long time if you start with the one that you really want. I didn't start out with the model that I really wanted, so I had to learn to live with its shortcomings (lack of brakes and no reverse). So my intention for the past 10 years has always been to wear out this mower and then buy a new model with a few more bells and whistles (such as a reverse gear and brakes.) But being realistic, I am starting to accept the fact that I will personally wear out long before this little mower needs replacing.
As the years pass, it takes a little longer each time to clear the 10 or so acres. Sometimes I drag it out for days. A few times I've strung it out for weeks. Not because the mower isn't ready and willing to work faster, but because I'm the one that is wearing out. I don't move as fast as I did 10 years ago. I'm fast approaching 60 years of age and my old joints have trouble keeping up with the little DRŪ. But I recently figured out a clever way to keep up with it without wearing myself out. I built a small cart to pull behind the mower that I can stand on or sit on and ride. Although the little mower was never designed to pull nearly 250 pounds behind it, it happily towed me around the fields, mowing without complaining. :-) (I will add photos soon.)
I must assume that the quality of DRŪ mowers has only improved during the past 22 years since. I know from my own experiences that 22 years ago they built field and brush mowers that have stood the test of time. But even if the quality of their products today is only half as good as the quality of my little mower, you can expect that most of today's models will still be going strong 25 or 30 years from now. While I still may one day own one of the fancy new models with reverse and brakes, as long as my little DRŪ mower continues to work as hard as it has worked for the past 25 years, I will probably never buy a new one.
In summary, even though when I saw it for the first time, I had serious doubts about its capabilities, it proved once again that you can't judge a book by its cover. It quickly dispelled all doubts that I had and soon became a trusted friend. It has always beem ready, willing and able to go whenever and whereever I asked it to go. It has proven its worth over and over time and again. And after all the years of brutal use and abuse, the little mower still takes a lickin' and goes right on tickin'.
I hope this bit of information about my vintage DRŪ mower will be helpful if you are considering a field and brush mower for your property. I cannot speak for any other brands because mine has served me so well that I've never even considered looking at any other brand. I can say with full certainty that I have definitely gotten my money's worth many times over, and based strictly on my own personal experiences, I can most heartily recommend the DRŪ Field and Brush mower and other DR products without reservation. Good luck in your search for the right equipment for maintaining your own property. I hope you will be as impressed with whatever you chose as I have been with my mower.
DR Power Driveway Grader
I also own a factory reconditioned DRŪ Power Grader, which I have used for about 3 years. I will share my experiences with the grader in a separate review on this site (in the near future.) If you are considering a driveway grader, you will not be disappointed in the DRŪ grader. A very high quality product that is definitely worth consideration.