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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Review: TB57 Lithium Ion Battery Cordless String Trimmer / Weed Trimmer

A few weeks ago, Troy-Bilt was nice enough to send me their new TB57 Lithium Ion Battery Cordless String Trimmer / Weed Trimmer. Like most other products I review, I was unsure exactly how useful this would be in my urban garden, but after a trial run it seems that this will find a solid place among all my other tools.

I have never really considered buying a line trimmer before, as I have no lawn on my property. Typically trimmers are used to trim around obstacles in the line and edge the grass where it abuts sidewalks, walls and fences. That said, I have found a great use for this trimmer.

In my front garden, I have a large arrangement of geometrically shaped azalea beds planted by the previous owners. (You may have seen and heard me talk about trimming those in previous installments of A Gardener’s Notebook) In-between these beds are pea gravel paths. During our Winter rains, these paths quickly fill with grass and other weeds. The drier months cause these to die back, but every Spring the front garden looks a bit messier than I would like. Additionally, the mature elm tree that dominates the front yard also drops tens of thousands of seeds. These quickly sprout up in the paths and in the middle of the other plantings.

Enter this new line trimmer. Today, I was able to go out and spend about an hour clearing the paths and other open parts of the beds of all types of grasses (both tall and short), elm seedlings and anything else that decided to pop up in the paths. In the past I had thought about using Round-Up or other herbicide to clear the paths, but years ago I decided against using such products in my garden. Everything here must survive under the rule of benign neglect and organic gardening, even if I don’t go about it with any grand plan in mind.

This benign neglect “philosophy”, if you can call it that, really makes the TB57 a great choice for my garden. It allows me to physically control weeds that would take hours to remove by hand (ask my wife). It is electric and cordless, so I am not using the heavily polluting 2-cycle gasoline motors used by many devices. The battery life is certainly sufficient for my limited needs. It seems it should give at least 1-2 hours of typical trimming work on one charge. The specifications at Troy-Bilt.com also show that it is only supposed to take 4 hours to recharge the Lithium-Ion battery. This means with an extra battery you would be able to work most of a day.

My only issue with the TB57 trimmer is its hand grip. In my testing I was unable to find a way of holding the unit that was totally comfortable. I think that adding a bit of a curve to the straight handle might help to move the battery out of the way a bit and allow for a more natural grip. I am also playing with the placement of the U-shaped handle to see if moving that up or down might make it a bit more comfortable for me. My 11-year-old son was able to easily operate the unit and didn’t seem to have the same issue with the grip, so maybe those who are a bit smaller than I am will find this less of an issue. My usage of the trimmer is typically in the 30-45 minute range, not the hours that some might be spending with it, so it didn’t significantly impact my ability to use the trimmer.

If you are looking for a powerful, yet cordless, trimmer for your garden, the Troy-Bilt TB57 makes a good choice. It is easy to use, feels lighter weight than typical gas-powered units, pollutes less and is useful in a variety of roles – whether performing your typical lawn trimming needs or my more esoteric path clearing.


Anonymous Larry said...

I recently procured a TB57 and wanted to share my experience and opinion. I love how fast the battery charges, in just 4 hrs your good to go. And the battery holds an ample charge allowing you to work for several hours....that is....IF you can tolerate being hunched over for that long. As the shaft does not telescope to a length adequate for me to work comfortably [6'1]. And IF you can tolerate the strain on your hand, as the trigger requires way to much force to depress. At 1st you will think nothing of it, but after a half an hour your hands will be aching and fingers shaking.
How unfortunate that Troy Bilt would "fumble the ball" at the five yard line. As they came so close to making a really great machine. Apparently they either did not "field test" this for any length of time....or just did not care that the unit needed a little tweaking.
so...you get a fairly lightweight& quiet machine with a no hassle start up, no fumes & a great battery/charger...yet...i found that i actualy had to work harder using this than with my heavier Stihl gas cutter. As the battery powered one requires 5-7 swipes to get the same results that 1-2 passes with the gas powered one gets. Plus the extra stress on the back and hands equates into an unpleasant work experience. The gas powered unit is actually FUN to use....as it is well balanced & super powerfull. But then again you must mess with gas & oil & coax & cuss the machine into starting for you...& then you must tolerate the noxious fumes. I thought about returning the Troy Bilt but now i believe i will pursue another path. Meaning....i plan to modify the Troy by making a shaft extending insert, and fiddle with the trigger mechanisim untill it works to my satisfaction. I think if i can iron out those 2 issues i will have a worthy addition to my yard tools.

6:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too love the TB57 cordless trimmer. I did have trouble with the trigger. It was very stiff. Iff you figure out how to make it softer to pull, please post it. I tinker a little and think I could copy your retro fit. Thanks,

11:54 AM  
Blogger Lumber Hugger said...

I agree with Larry . . . . I looked at the trimmer in Lowe's and it is too short for me. Also it doesn't look to have the power of a gas trimmer. A 28 volt model may work.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Lithium-Ion Battery Charger said...

it is really fast i just found out

1:56 PM  

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