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It is a big time of year for yard work. Those of us in the north know that any day could be our last opportunity to clean up the yard before snow and ice descend. And with the garden more or less minding itself at this time of year (at least until we get a good hard freeze) it is the perfect time to really get in there and take care of a few serious yard projects.

Which means it’s also a great time to put another cool Troy-Bilt tool to the test. This time around I’m testing the TB60044 Straight Shaft String Trimmer. I know, string trimmers are so, um ho-hum, right? Well not this one because it claims to be a string trimmer but really it’s a do-everything little bundle of magic.

First off, it’s a four-stroke engine which means, among other things, that you don’t have to premix the gas and the oil, it’s quieter and a little more fuel efficient. Am I the only person in the world who is a little intimidated by premixing oil and gas? I realize it’s a relatively simple process but I’ve always been afraid that I’m going to do it wrong and wreck something. No worries with a four-stroke engine; you just fill up the gas tank and fill up the oil tank and you’re good to go.

I was a branch cutting machine.

This string trimmer comes with the string trimmer bit, but other attachments (and there are many to chose from) are also available. I’ll be honest, I don’t like using string trimmers and I actually didn’t even personally try the string trimmer part of this. Mr. Much More Patient did and I assure you, he is smitten. I, on the other hand, went straight for the good stuff, which was the TrimmerPlus pole saw, aka a mini chainsaw on a long stick. Chainsaws scare me. They are cool but I’m pretty sure you ought to know what you’re doing before you operate one. But this is a mini chainsaw that is not at all intimidating. And let me tell you, I had a blast going around and trimming up all the small low-hanging branches on our trees, up to a good 10 feet off the ground or more. It cut through them (I would say they were maybe 3 inches in diameter or less in most cases) with no problem and there was zero flex in the pole so I really felt like I had a lot of control. In fact, I got a little carried away and we spend the next couple hours dragging branches all over the yard.

This shows the reach of the pole saw. Throw in a tall guy and you can really get up there.

Then I tried out the Trimmerplus brushcutter. This is just a really sturdy metal blade that spins like a string trimmer attachment does, but it takes out, well, brush. I have been anxious to reclaim some of the areas under the big trees on our property that have gotten really overgrown and weedy and I went to town with this thing. It worked great, but I quickly learned that this attachment is one that you definitely need to think about safety with. It’s loud, so I used ear protection and pants and good shoes are a must because stuff goes flying. In fact, the gator-type protectors they sell would probably be best because even with jeans I had a few pieces of brush that stung a bit.

That area is a such a mess and the brushcutter attachment is the first step in taming it.

There are many other attachments available with the Trimmerplus system, including a lawn edger, hedge trimmer, cultivator, blower and more. But what good are all these cool tools if you can get them started? Ladies, you know what I mean; pulling those strings to start gas-powered tools is difficult to impossible. Honestly, I don’t think it’s a strength thing. I think it’s an arm length thing. I’m not joking; my arms are not long enough to pull the string on a tool and hold it with the other hand. When we first bought our house, Mr. Much More Patient was out of town (and out of the country) most of the time so I sort of MacGyvered a lot of things around the house. And on one occasion, I used a brick, my foot and some sort of yoga pose to start some sort of tool (the specific kind eludes me) that I propped up on a rock. It occurred to me shortly after that I was probably going to get away with something that stupid without hurting myself exactly once and never did it again.

Enter the Jump Start Lithium-Ion Engine Starter, which is the single coolest thing to happen to gas-powered engines in possibly forever, at least if you are a person who has struggled with pull string starting. Charge it up, stick it in the hole on the trimmer, push the button and the trimmer starts. That’s it. As silly as it sounds, it’s incredibly freeing to know that I can go cut down low branches whenever I feel like it, without having to ask for Mr. Much More Patient’s help in starting up the trimmer. It’s empowering. I’m not kidding. Wanna see how it works? Check this out:

Alright, I’m gushing. I’m trying not to, but it just make so much sense. You have to like that in a tool.

Disclosure: Troy-Bilt provided the products mentioned here for the purpose of this review, but they didn’t tell me what to say. Or, in this case, what to gush about. All opinions are my own, even the ones about string trimmers usually being kind of boring.

3 Responses

  1. I HATE mixing the oil and gas and am always afraid I'm going to blow something up, having such highly flammable hair and all. I'm in the market for a new one. Maybe if I stop spending $$$ at the Le Creuset outlet I can afford one. We'll see. I could certainly stand to clean up my sorry garden.

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