Troy Bilt TB415CS, 4-cycle Gas Trimmer:
String Trimmers have come a long distance since the first ones were built. Today, you've got your choice of several types of power. There is battery (and must be charged), electric (which uses an extension cord), internal combustion engine (2-cycle and uses a gas/oil mixture) and internal combustion engine (4-cycle - no mixing of gas/oil). When purchasing a string trimmer the first question is - what type of power? Does it make a difference? You bet!
For example, my yard is 155' by 140' and I use to use an electric string trimmer. I had to uncoil over 150 feet of extension cord to trim my yard. I can honestly tell you that I did not trim my yard every time I mowed. I trimmed when the yard began to look really unkept. I never tried a battery operated string trimmer, and I was concerned about the run time with such a unit. On the other hand, I really didn't want to purchase a 2-cycle (2 stroke) unit that required me to mix the oil and gas. I just didn't want the hassles of storing the gas/oil mixture and using it only for the string trimmer.
Then came the 4-cycle (4 stroke) units! I was a little happier about them, but the prices were a little steeper. The Troy-Bilt, TB415CS was $149.99 brand new at Lowes. I finally caved in and bought one in the spring of 2006. I have never been disappointed with the unit. To be honest, this 4-cycle engine does require a little bit of maintenance during the first 10 hours of run time. After the first 10 hours, it is recommended that you change the oil and also adjust the intake and exhaust valves. The air filter also requires some attention. After that, it's 25 hours between oil changes/valve adjustments and 10 hours for air filter maintenance. This may seem a little extreme, but I really don' t mind accomplishing this maintenance knowing that I am not mixing oil and gas for a 2 stroke.
As a side bar - this is not your father's (or mother's) Troy-Bilt. This is an MTD Product that purchased the Troy-Bilt name/logo several years ago. Please don't think that you are getting a better product just because the name is Troy-Bilt. Please read my other reviews concerning the naming of lawn equipment.
OK, the TB514CS is an easy to use string trimmer that I am happy to own. Since the engine is a 4 stroke, you should perform the start up procedures exactly as required. The primer bulb and choke (for such a little engine) are critical elements in starting the unit. You may not get the unit running by failing to follow the instructions. The pull cord uses an easy start feature that assists in turning over the engine. Therefore, it's not recommended that you come with brute force and YANK on the pull cord. Firm and stern does the trick for starting.
The string trimmer head does not use a bump and feed feature. You place one piece of string in the head and use it until the string wears out. I've had the bump and feed on my old electric and it was a pain in the butt if the string wasn't properly wound in the unit. I bought on Ebay a small plastic string holder tube and carry several pieces with me around the yard. This saves me from running back to the shed. I paid less than $10.00 for it. If you are really interested in obtaining one (and not from me) give me a shout and I'll try and direct you.
The overal balance of the unit is a little engine heavy. I'm in my 40's, so I really don't have much of a complaint concerning the overall balance. I'm not using the unit all day and trying to get several yards done. Once a week, I start the trimmer up and use it for about 30 to 45 minutes at the very most. I don't carry it around using some sort of body harness. I can easily manage it with my hands.
Some concerns or cautions when buying a 4-cycle unit. Be prepared to change the motor oil. Just like in your lawnmower engine. It uses a basic 30w oil for lubrication. Don't mix the oil/gas! Not required. Also, I don't mind adjusting the valves on my unit. If this is a concern for you, then please investigate a 4 stroke unit that may not require such maintenance. I really love tinkering with my yard equipment - so it doesn't bother me that much. Also, the string trimmer head is not a bump and feed unit. Again, it was a trade-off for me. You should really consider whether this type of string head is for you.
Update: 18 May 2008: Last fall, I service the trimmer and used a gasoline stabilizer. This spring, I pulled the unit out of the shed and fired it up with 3 pulls. I primed it 5 times prior to pulling the starting cord. Thus far, the unit has been running well. I 've trimmed my yard about 4 times since spring has arrived. I'm still happy with the trimmer and would purchase another one if this one was ever to be removed from the tool shed.
Update: 16 March 2012: This morning, in lovely North Carolina, I had to mow the grass, trim the yard and prune some trees. The first thing to get pulled out of the shed was the gas trimmer. I checked the oil and added some gasoline. I primed it 10 times and it started right up. While this unit may have gotten some poor reviews by others. Again, I stand by the mantra that good periodic maintenance keeps your equipment running.
If this guide has had some use to you - please rate it. Thank you!