Learning to L-E-A-R-N (or teaching an old dog new tricks), and a 20" mower follow-up report

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Learning to L-E-A-R-N (or teaching an old dog new tricks), and a 20" mower follow-up report

Summary: How do people learn something new?  And why is it important?

In church this morning, the pastor mentioned that the amount of human knowledge doubles every 12-13 months; upon google-ing it, it is referred to as the “Knowledge Doubling Curve" created by Buckminster Fuller.  So what does this have to do with Ego?  Well I'll share a little bit about how I've learned some new things in my lifetime, and then tie it back to Ego.

I have learned to master a few things in my lifetime: knife sharpening, motorcycles, and generally tinkering with things.

I'll start with the oldest, knife sharpening, which I learned to do on an Arkansas oil stone as a kid.  I'm certain I messed up a lot of knives, and left many duller than when I first picked them up. The Spyderco Sharpmaker, the white and brown triangle rods that sat in a V configuration.  They too came out with diamond rods, but I couldn't afford them at that time.  So I stuck with the Spyderco for many years, I think the defacto blade steel at the time was 154CM (or CM154).  But when the next newest hardest steel came out, which for me was S30V, the poor ole Spyderco was not up to the task of reprofiling, and would do a somewhat decent job of touching up an edge, but that was it.  So that is when I jumped to diamond sharpening stones, which at the time was Diamond Manufacturing Technology (DMT).  The DMT Guided Angle Sharpening system worked well for several more years.  The next jump in technology was the Wicked Edge System, which took guided angle sharpening to the next level.  One day while reading inexperienced knife sharpeners complain about how the Wicked Edge did not work for them (on the WickedEdge FORUM).  Here were customers with a $400 knife sharpening system, and they were not getting the same results as a master knife sharpener could obtain with just little pieces of stone.  Here I am talking about Japanese master craftsmen who sharpen a Samurai sword to a razor's edge with little more than little pieces of stone.  REALIZATION: it is the tool operator, not the tool itself which is the critical element.

Next I'll talk about motorcycles.  I bought my first motorcycle the summer after high school.  I learned to ride from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Basic Rider Course.  Until then, I had only riden bicycles and mopeds, no dirt bikes, etc.  The first motorcycle I learned to race on was a 750cc Kawasaki.  And that was a built race bike, not a stock one.  Which in hindsight was a huge mistake!  The following season I dropped down to a 600cc middle weight bike, and then learned to ride rather than hang on for dear life.  In Japan, they recognize that as the size of the bike increases, so does the requisite riding ability; thus they have licenses for 125cc, 250cc, 400cc, 600cc, 750cc, 1000cc, and larger.  REALIZATION: Sometimes having the biggest fastest tool will hamper your ability to learn proper technique.

Lastly, generally tinkering with things.  I love to take things apart, to figure out how they work, but most of all how to make them better.  I'm fortunate to have a job that pays me to figure out problems, and to make things better.  And I just realized that in today's message the pastor said one of the steps is to: "read the manual". I'm guilty of that all the time, I will open the box and just start pushing buttons and turning knobs.  But what I have learned (the hard way), is that sometimes you will save yourself so much time and effort by spending that time up front, and avoiding the frustration on the tail end.  9 times out of 10, I will just google something rather than continue to struggle; and my favorite saying is: "you're probably not the first one to have had that problem".  REALIZATION: RTFM (read the flippin manual) and then google your issue (or in the case of Ego, read the forums).

So back to Ego... in the grand scheme of things, we are at a pretty infantile stage of Outdoor Power Equipment.  I chose Ego because after testing three different chainsaws (Echo 58v, Ego 56v, Kobalt 80v), I concluded that Ego has the best SYSTEM; specifically the Battery Management System (BMS) and the battery pack design. (note: I returned the Ego CS 14" gen 1 w/ 2.0 AH battery, and kept the Kobalt, but as soon as I have a need for another battery, I'm buying the Ego 16" with 5.0AH battery).  I have noticed that these electric tools require a slightly different skill set to operate at peak performance.  Here are the few things I've learned that are different:

blower: how you can still get work down without holding the turbo button the entire time (and killing your battery)
string trimmer: that the direction of rotation might be different, and you need to re-learn (or continue to pepper yourself with rocks)
chainsaw: let the saw do the work, especially when using a 0.043" width chain
mower: covered in the next section

Conclusion: There have been quite a few customers who are not happy with the way their Ego product is performing, or not performing up to their expectation.  Did your technique work before?  Great, but just because it worked for the last tool or situation does not mean it will work for this one.  A lot of frustration could possibly be avoided by considering if the operator could do something different.  Could the tool be made better, stronger, faster... sure, but at what cost to the consumer (remember, time is a factor too)?

Related Threads:
20" Mower Field Repair (or how I broke my mower, and then fixed it)
https://community.egopowerplus.com/ego/topics/20-mower-field-repair-of-the-motor

##

BONUS: 20" Mower Review and Lessons Learned

1) what is your machine trying to tell you?  You can read page after page about how people cannot get their tool to perform, whether it's the mower (mainly), or the chainsaw, or the blower.  When I mow the grass, I try and feel what the machine is doing, is it singing along happily, or stuggling to cut.  Now the best indicator is the indicator light, the second it flashes orange, I will back off a little if driving forward, or slow down the forward progress until the rpms rise again.  As I have posted many times, there are just some sections of grass in my yard that no matter the heigh I am trying to cut it back, if I drive it forward, it WILL stall; so rather than continuing to hammer my head against that wall, I will see if there is something that I the operator can do differently?  Sometimes that means taking smaller cuts, or pulling it backwards, or tilting the mower up to temporarily lessen the cutting load.

2) Mulching, works for my situation.  So having read the countless threads about "it don't mulch", I had to see if this applied to MY mower and MY yard.  I have 600 sq ft (20 x 30), and another 400 sq (10 x 40), so 1000 sq ft total, not large my any means, but too tedious to cut with only a trimmer (I tried for a couple of years).  Since it had been 3 weeks since the last mow, and I usually mow at the lowest (#1), I didn't want to propagate all the weeds, so I put it on #3 and BAGGED for the first round.  Then I dropped it to #1 and went around mulching.  On the 600 sq ft section, there were some parts where the mower started to slow down, so some of those areas I went back and fourth on.  And there were some thicker section where I only drug the mower backwards over.  The cut/mulch quality was good, the cut was about 1" sections.  The ground along the neighbor's white fence is rather uneven, and there is a section that slopes into the wall, so that area I have to be careful not to "high center", or overload the mower.  Another section has zoysha grass, and that is a backwards only section.

Height setting #3 (from lowest), BAGGING


Height setting #1 (lowest), MULCHING


Different view, #1 lowest


600 sq ft MULCH, 1" blades of grass


Section where I need to pay attention to not "high center" the mower


When I went to the 400 sq ft section, where the ground is very uneven, I found that going from setting #3 to #1 was going to be too much of a cut; the mower immediately starting blinking orange, so I backed off, tiled the mower back, pushed it to the end, dropped it back down, and pulled it backwards to complete the cut; then I went back and fourth 3 more complete times.  The mulch size was probably closer to 2" blades, and a lot more was left behind.  If I truly wanted to mulch it finer, the solution would have been put it on #2, go over it once, then down to #1.











3) 20" mower Gen 1 Temperatures: And just some measure temperatures; ambient was 84F, on particular concern is that the top of the 5.0 AH battery was 135.8F immediately after mowing.  I'm definitely going to do a test and mow with the lid open (or removed), and see if there is a significant temperature difference.  Also, the motor internal (measured through the bottom) was a high of 128.1F; so I might look into creating some ventilation in the top cover to allow that heat to escape.







Battery temp dropped from 135F to 110F (-25F) in 10 minutes, sitting on cool garage floor.
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(a)Typical Engineer

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Posted 3 years ago

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Egocentric

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Zen And the Art of Lawn Maintenance...is there quality in mulching or bagging?   Interesting tale sir.  I need to read it again. 
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bloomz

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+10 - no make that +20 - thank you!
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Jeff L

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When all else fails, read...the...instructions!...can't figure it? Then ask someone who has already done it.
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Ken, Champion

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That seems a little extreme, and I'm not sure your hand-wringing over temperatures is warranted. A big part of Ego's appeal is all the effort the company has put in to thermal management with its batteries, including wrapping the cells with phase change material to dissipate heat.

Do you have any indication that the temperatures you're measuring are out of spec?
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Ken, Champion

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Why not just devise a portable umbrella rigged to the handles to shade the mower as you walk?

I guess I disagree with your assumption that there is "thermal abuse" going on or that batteries are being "pushed unnecessarily." You seem to be in search of a solution to a problem that may not exist.

Well, unless you count the stress you're putting on the mower by running it with three blades installed. ;)
(Edited)
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(a)Typical Engineer

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Summary: Leaving the battery cover open appears to allow the battery to stay cooler

Mowing Conditions:
This was 6pm at night on 05/20, so not quite the exact same conditions as the previous mid-day mow; ambient  temperature was 80F.  In the previous test, the grass had not been cut in three weeks, so was quite over grown (on 05/06).  Then cut again with the modified 20" HL blade in WET conditions on 05/09.  So eleven days had elapsed between the last cut and this one.

Discussion:
As a follow-up, I added a stick to prop the cover open 2".  I cut both sides in about 40 minutes, until the battery went RED.  I immediately measured the temperatures; the highest of which was the 90F from the inside of the battery.

Follow-up Test:
I neglected to take the motor temperatures; which I suspect would have been lower due to the easier mowing conditions.  Therefore, I need to re-run this test and collect the motor temperature test data.  Had thee motor temps been the same as (128F) as before, I would have been able to conclude that the open cover test was a success, but not yet.

Conclusion:
Promising but I'm going to call this one further testing required... however, I can conclude that not very much grass got into the battery compartment; and since the Ego mower (system) does NOT have active cooling (like the chargers), then there is very little concern with additional debris getting pulling into the battery cooling vents and causing issues.











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(a)Typical Engineer

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Summary: Leaving the battery cover open appears to allow the battery to stay cooler

Mowing Conditions:
This was 6pm at night on 05/20, so not quite the exact same conditions as the previous mid-day mow; ambient  temperature was 80F.  In the previous test, the grass had not been cut in three weeks, so was quite over grown (on 05/06).  Then cut again with the modified 20" HL blade in WET conditions on 05/09.  So eleven days had elapsed between the last cut and this one.

Discussion:
As a follow-up, I added a stick to prop the cover open 2".  I cut both sides in about 40 minutes, until the battery went RED.  I immediately measured the temperatures; the highest of which was the 90F from the inside of the battery.

Follow-up Test:
I neglected to take the motor temperatures; which I suspect would have been lower due to the easier mowing conditions.  Therefore, I need to re-run this test and collect the motor temperature test data.  Had thee motor temps been the same as (128F) as before, I would have been able to conclude that the open cover test was a success, but not yet.

Conclusion:
Promising but I'm going to call this one further testing required... however, I can conclude that not very much grass got into the battery compartment; and since the Ego mower (system) does NOT have active cooling (like the chargers), then there is very little concern with additional debris getting pulling into the battery cooling vents and causing issues.











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Egocentric

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Speaking of teaching old dog's new tricks, last night I had a play with the new 20 inch mower.  The grass really didn't need cut (by my standards) but there was some grass and the temperature was cool and breezy.   So why not have a play when it is comfortable out?

I tried the side chute.   As everyone here has indicated, it is pretty lame, and resulted in a row of clumped cut grass.  It appears that the grass sort of piles up in the duct, gets to a critical size and then blows out in a clump.  

So then I tried the mulching plug.  Pretty cool, it cut the grass and left no noticeable cuttings.  I ran back over the clumps left from the side chute and it dissipated them. The motor did not bog down, or seem to labor at all. 

I was using a height level of three, so I tried setting it down to two.  With my lumpy yard, it cut fine in some places but started to scalp other places.  So back to three.  

I tried to pay more attention to how the mower felt.  It seemed to push easier than the first time I tried it.  So as a comparison, I got out the 20 inch MTD and pushed it around (it doesn't start so I am sure I put on a bit of a spectacle for the neighbors).  The MTD seems less awkward to handle, but with smaller wheels it may have taken more effort to push than the EGO.  But it definitely seems less awkward to handle. It is a compact mower by comparison. But to be fair, I wasn't actually cutting grass just pushing the mower as though I was cutting grass.  I think much of my initial reaction was that the Ego just seemed huge with the bag installed.  

So can an old dog learn new tricks?  Yes, last summer I would have scoffed at the notion of a battery operated lawn mower.  Buying and using the Ego chain saw taught me that batteries are a real possibility.  I used the saw again today and I positively love that saw.  So new trick number 1 is a battery operated anything.  I am now a believer!  Trick number 2 is mulching.  Sixty eight years old and I have never mulched before in my life.  Didn't even know what it was.  The technology of grass cutting and lawn care hasn't exactly been a big factor in my life.  So I went from having a battery operated Kindle last summer to an Ego chainsaw in December,  line trimmer in April, mower in May, and (trick # 3) I have the 575 CFM blower on order coming in this week.   Yes, believe it or not I have never used a leaf blower before.  So yes an old dog can learn new tricks.  Hmmmm, shame I don't have money for a Tesla!   
(Edited)
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Blue Angel, Champion

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Entertaining read, for sure!  Thanks for sharing!  I believe the day you stop learning is the day you turn for the worse... may that day be a LONG way away for all of us!  :-)
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szwoopp, Champion

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Great Post Egocentric.  Glad you gave mulching a try and it worked out well for you. 
(Edited)
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Egocentric

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Yes mulching, who knew? For years I have been setting those odd adapters on a shelf, find it several years later, wonder what it is, and pitch it in the trash. Mulching? Isn't that the thing that the avant-garde couple across the street does?
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szwoopp, Champion

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Whats next - composting ?
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Egocentric

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What's that?

Let's not get carried away with ourselves...too many new tricks and I may go senile.