A Harness, A Harness… My Kingdom For A Harness

One of the reasons why the revolting barons took such deep exception to Edward II, as any fule kno, was his proclivity for hedging (and ditching). How different things might have been had he been armed with the Tanaka 240TBC brushcutter, complete with hedge-trimmer attachment. Those beastly barons and their red-hot poker would have been seen off big time.

I took possession of the brushcutter from MowDirect about a year ago, and a very fine tool it has turned out to be – undoubtedly the first potentially temperamental little two-stroke that started with the first tug after the winter lay-off.

I decided to add the hedge-trimmer attachment the Tanaka TPH-200 earlier this season after becoming increasingly weary of the inadequacies of my dodgy little electric shears (Though I bought it for the above mentioned tool, in fact, it’s compatible with all Tanaka straight-shaft loop-handle grass trimmers/brushcutters. ) This gizmo is not especially cheap at £200 a throw (£40 less if you buy it with the machine rather than separately) but, is it worth it?

Firstly, get it out of the box and (the bit I hate), read the manual. This was mercifully short, broke into what I took to be Dutch at one point, and, like most of its counterparts, turned out to be complete balderdash (not the fault of MowDirect, I hasten to add). Yet more mercifully, even the unfortunate Eddie II would have worked it out for himself. Simply remove two allen screws from the brushcutter head and attach. It very soon transpired that the head of one of the allen screws protruded too much to enable the angle of hedge-trimmer to be adjusted freely. No problem – just use the existing crosshead screw that came out of the hole instead.

At full stretch, the machine then measured a good eight feet long – not quite a match for one of Eddie’s lances, but not the sort of thing you should wield in your front room unless you want to take out your chandeliers. Indeed, that was one of the first things that struck me – this is not a tool for those cramped little corners.

Then what? There was no mention of this in the manual, but it soon became apparent that the brushcutter blade guard got in the way. No problem – just two more allen screws to fetch that off.

My experience thereafter demonstrated both the good and the not so good. Firstly, the sheer length of the assembled machine enabled me to stand back and get a good, clean sweep at the hedge, ensuring a smooth, even cut. And the angle of the shears could be adjusted to suit all eventualities.

But at first outing, it proved to be hard work – quite heavy, especially when wielding it at full stretch (some of my customers’ hedges are 15 feet tall and more) – and a tad unwieldy, especially when tottering around at the top of a stepladder.

“Use the harness, you arse,” says my mate Rob from MowDirect. OK OK, take two. He’s right. With the harness adjusted correctly to take the weight, the machine effectively pivots, making a clean sweep a whole lot easier.

This still does not address what is a straightforward logistical problem – how the hell are you supposed to be able to see what is going on at the top of a 15-foot hedge when you are standing underneath it? A hedge-trimmer with a periscope, perhaps? Discuss.

All in all, I reckon it’s a first-rate tool. If MowDirect were to throw in a horse, a suit of armour, mead and serving wenches as well, I reckon this could prove a top-selling ticket.

Anyone for a medieval banquet? Or a red-hot poker?

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Bruno is a keen and talented gardener, plot holder, amateur squirrel hunter and all round decent chap. An ex-journalist and sub-editor, he loves peanuts, playing cards, growing produce and giving it to other people in exchange for beer. An enthusiastic cyclist, he is often to be seen whizzing around North London, quietly cursing and threatening dangerous car drivers with large home-grown vegetables.  

Thanks Bruno. Holly will be back next Tuesday. For more hot tips on what to buy when it comes to hot hedgetrimmers – check out Dick’s blog tomorrow. Drew Hardy.

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