The extra bits...(Under construction).

Friday, 19 August 2016

The perils of buying cheap......

     Well I must confess that the germ of an idea (or should that be the 'seed' of an idea?) of attempting to start my own gardening business that will finally allow me to put the dark days of factory work behind me is actually, albeit slowly, taking off. To say that I am surprised at the way in which it is developing would be the biggest understatement since General George Armstrong Custer said "that is a lot of Indians"! The learning curve that I am undergoing at the moment is steep indeed and my head is in a constant spin trying to keep on top of things and remembering to walk before I run, even with these knackered knees of mine!

     But learning I am and mostly I am enjoying the lessons, though some are hard learnt and not very enjoyable to say the least. One of the lessons that hurt was the perils of buying cheaply, I have always gone by the adage "buy cheap, buy twice"  but it has been difficult to adhere to this as decent machinery costs an arm and a leg and I have little in the way of financial back up at the moment. I have scoured the classified ads, Facebook buy and sell pages, and various auction sites to accumulate the basic machinery I require to allow myself to provide a service beyond reproach but this route has led to much oath usage and no small amount of frustration, for no matter how carefully I purchase a used piece of machinery there is always the risk of it failing on me whilst in use. When such things happen not only is it frustrating but I feel that it tarnishes my reputation that I am trying my utmost to build and protect, a decent reputation takes eons to build and only seconds to lose m'thinks.

     A couple of examples of failing machinery are my two heavy duty mowers bought recently with a combined purchase price of over £200.00. Now to some this may seem a small cost but to myself it is a large outlay at the moment. 

     The first mower is a 'rough cut' mower, a basic and ugly little beast that is designed for initial cutting on rough and overgrown grass areas. When picked up it started fine but once I got home would it fire up? would it hell as like. Investigation revealed that whilst awaiting me to arrive the mower had been left outside in some inclement weather for an hour or so. Armed with this information the air filter was removed revealing a damp sponge element so the carburetor was removed to dry thoroughly and also the combustion chamber was checked and dried. One thing noted was that the gasket between the carb and the housing was knackered so gasket paper was promptly ordered with gasket sealant being used in the mean time. The ugly brute started first time but let me down on a large area of rough cutting when the carb gasket seal failed, gasket to be made and fitted and hopefully it should run for some time then.

     The second, and the most disappointing mower is an Australian beast that again when picked up started and ran, albeit a tad lumpy. A quick check before payment was made revealed a spark plug with damaged ceramic that allowed it to arc to the casing. A reduced price was agreed and said mower was in action the very next day complete with new spark plug fitted. It performed admirably until that it is when stopped whilst emptying the grass box it refused to start and then the starter recoil bloody mechanism failed, the word "bollocks" sprung to mind. So I now have too butt ugly and non-working mowers awaiting my attention before I can take them grass cutting. 

The two frustrating mowers

     Unfortunately I am unable to attend to them due to being a tad under the weather at the moment and as weak as a kitten that is having a particularly off day (you just would not believe how long it has taken to write this drivel thus far). A second affect of being ill is that I am absent from the 'not so fun factory' which is also frustrating because, even though I seek to be rid of factory work, I do not like letting work and work colleagues down and always try to do my job to the utmost of my abilities. It's an old fashioned side of me that is rooted deep in my psyche that, although unappreciated where I am employed, refuses to allow me not to try my best. Anyway I'm off on a tangent again so back to the plot, thin as it is.

     These are just two examples of buying cheaply and being bitten in the arse because of it, believe there are several more that I could relate but I think that you have the general idea. Although one more example is worth a mention and that be even when purchasing the mundane buying cheap is not always the best idea. I buy, or should say used to buy my fuel from the the local 'not so super market' as it's cost effective....errr nope it is not! On my last visit to my best client and largest grass cutting area I refueled three machines with this fuel and all three played up and then gave up the cost. When the first failed I put it down to being bit by the buying used purchase rat, when the second failed the cogs began to slowly turn but not enough to stop me from starting the third mower up and it failing too. Frustrated once more, I took a stroll to a near-by petrol station and purchased fuel for four pence a litre more than what I had used in the mowers. Draining then filling one machine it started with some objection but once the fresh fuel flushed through the carb it ran like a dream (nearly finishing the job until that bloody gasket failed). It goes to show that perhaps things are cheap for a reason and that reason being that they are not fit for purpose.

    The upshot of these failures is that I bit the bullet and purchased this little beauty which turned up on me doorstep yesterday.....


     ....the damn thing is that I am too weak to even open the box just yet. Hopefully this latest addition to my machinery will give me chance to build up the reliable side of my reputation, also hopefully that my outgoings will now reduce somewhat and I can start moving forward with other areas of my business. 

Til the next time take good care of yourselves,

John 
     

15 comments:

  1. I love budget tech, but sometimes it just isn't worth the risk I guess!

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    1. Indeed Simon, I usually enjoy buying used/worn machinery to make good then use or sell on but at this stage of my business non performing equipment is a luxury that I can ill afford. Unfortunately affording the well built and reliable new stuff is also a luxury that I cannot yet afford, a catch 22 situation I fear. this time though with the new lawnmower I felt that I had little option and had to invest in the hope of future reward.

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  2. Good luck John and I hope you feel better very soon. I'm glad to hear that your new business is already beginning to take off!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer, tis early days and the journey is fraught with pitfalls but I have faith in myself that this will work.

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  3. For commercial work you need commercial grade equipment. Homeowner grade machines are just not made for that kind of use. The can't handle ethanol laced fuel now an inescapable reality everywhere. Manufacturers of home grade machines pay more attention to bling and gadgetry than actual mechanics of the design. Over here all the lawn maintenance guys use Walker brand riders, http://www.walkermowers.com/ and Husqvarna and Echo brand products for the smaller machinery.

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    1. You make a valid point Sir Silvius, equipment designed for the domestic market is certainly not up to the demands that I require from them but unfortunately the best equipment is the most expensive and a fledgling service such as mine finds it difficult to justify the cost but at the same time knowing that the most reliable and functional equipment is what really is required...catch 22 if the service takes off better machinery may be purchased at the same time lower grade machinery may well be my downfall in these early days...tis difficult to achieve the right balance, but so are all things in life m'thinks.

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  4. If you ever get left in the lurch on a job, maybe you could rent a mower to finish, if it means saving your reputation.

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    1. Tis a good point Mr. Smythe, and one I will certainly consider.

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  5. Good luck John. Hope your luck changes to the good and your health, as well. Nothing worse than needing to do and not having the strength to do it. Lessons are always learned the hard way, when you can least afford it. I wish you weren't so far away. My husband does the yard work, but we have other areas, that have been neglected for a few years that could use some help. Wishing you nothing but success!! Ranee (MN) USA

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    1. Thank you Ranee, indeed many hard lessons are coming thick and fast yet I am still enjoying the challenge of making this work. Coupled with the fact that I would go as far to say that I love the work I feel that I will succeed in this venture.
      Ah tis a pity that I am not in driving distance of your location, the work sounds just up my street.

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  6. Good reliable kit is essential for a gardening business. Many years ago Norman Wisdom's son did our garden (in Sussex), and his machines were always breaking down; he was also very expensive.

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    1. Indeed Cro, reliable kit, a reliable/knowledgeable/helpful workforce and a fair price are the bones of such a service if it is to bloom for season after season and not wilt away swiftly. I did not know that Mr. Wisdom's son tried his hand at gardening perhaps it had been better if he had chosen a different path?

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  7. OK John, here's my two cents worth. Having owned a landscape company back in the day, what you're experiencing is pretty normal among lawn mowers. On the other hand, I now have a Toro just like the one you bought and I've beat the shit out of it for at least 12 years and it continues to run like a dream.

    Here is a little something about G.A. Custer that might bring a smile to your ill self.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fe0q8Lq3L2Q

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    1. Hello Mark, to tell truth the Toro was not my first choice but having a green-keeper trained brother I know that they are a good machine. I would have preferred a large Honda machine at this point in time but my budget would not stretch to one with a large enough cut (by a considerable amount). I have to budget for other equipment and sundries as you will know well and it all adds up.
      The link about G.A. Custer did indeed bring a smile though the old photographs, although staged, were of great interest to me so thanks for that my good man.

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  8. Hi, this is my first visit here, and I hope your new beauty mower will serve well for years to come.

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