10 out of 10
I prevaricated quite a bit before buying this machine and considered quite a few others, Hayter, Cobra, Mountfield, all around the £500 mark but I'm pleased I plumped for this one in the end and saved myself £100.
When I bought this, the description didn't make it clear but this machine comes with interchangeable scarifying and aeration reels which was a pleasant surprise. The scarifying reel with fixed steel blades as described and the aeration reel with sprung claws. Oddly neither the scarifying blades nor the aeration claws are 'balanced' in the sense that they re only single-ended and not opposed on the shaft which leads to a little bit of vibration in use.
My particular one came without any assembly instructions but as all the various controls and wires are pre-installed to the handle , assembly only consists of fitting the three sections of the handle itself to the machine body and this wasn't too much of an issue. However there were operation manuals for the machine itself and the engine in every imaginable language. The most difficult part of the whole operation was getting it out of the huge box it came in.
Once the handle was fitted, I filled it up with oil (supplied) and petrol and pulled the cord. It started first time and off we went. It's almost effortless to push, even on our sloping lawn, has a solid feel to it and removes amazing amounts of thatch. The debris bag works well but fills up all too quickly and needs regular emptying. This isn't a problem as the machine can be left with the engine idling and the cutter blades disengaged simply by releasing the dead mans handle. Pulling the handlebar- mounted lever right back lifts the blades clear of the ground for transport across hard surfaces and storage. The other handle by the front wheel has five positions and is for lowering the machine as the blades become worn to maintain optimum depth of cut.
All in all a very pleasing purchase.