In April 2009 I purchased a Sears Craftsman Walk Behind Lawn Mower. It is a 21" 775 Series Self Propelled, Automatic Start, Rear Bag Mulching Mower with 175 CC and 7.5 ft/lbs Torque Briggs and Stratton Engine. Model # 917.371031, one of the best available at the time, or so I was told. I paid $426.99.
We mow our lawn with A Sears Craftsman Riding Lawn Mower and I use the Walk Behind to cut the few areas that the Rider will not fit into and I did not use it every week, the point is it saw very little use and gentle use at that.
To be honest and fair, first I must say that I really like it a lot, when I can use it. The starter is easy and trouble free and starts the first time every time. The drive is more than adequate and it cuts and mulches great. The engine runs great and is much quieter than my old mower and with more power. It bags well for the few times that I tried that. Overall it is a great mower, with one serious design flaw.
In July 2010 the handle fell off of the deck. It appears that the bolts attaching it to the deck had worked themselves free. That is a very poor design to begin with and I have noticed that newer models of the similar mower have a cotter pin to hold the bolts securely. Anyway, I called Sears and they told me to bring it to them (40 minute drive) and they would send it off to be repaired. About a week and half later I received a phone call telling me that the Shaft was bent and needed to be replaced (estimated cost over $150) and that was the cause of the bolts vibrating free. I told them it was impossible to bend a shaft cutting grass without hitting a foreign object of some mass and that I had only used it a dozen or so times to cut a couple hundred square yards of lawn, with no incidents. They insisted that it was bent and must be replaced in order for them to fix the handle. I refused and begged them to just put the handle back on and send it back to me which they did after several pleas to do so. Well, they tightened the left side and replaced the bolt on the right side only. Note that the bolts are threaded directly into the deck and have no nuts or lock washers or cotter pin or anything to hold them in place. It worked great for the remainder of 2010.
I used it the rest of 2010 and only 3 times thus far in 2011. The left bolt, the one that they only tightened and not replaced has vibrated free again and is gone. I called Sears again to ask them to reattach the left side of the handle like they did the right. They said that unless I paid to replace the Shaft, they could not and would not do anything for me.
So, essentially I am left with an excellent mower with no handle to direct it. IT IS USELESS in this condition and Sears really does not give a *** and basically told me as much on the phone. I would not recommend this mower to anyone and will think very carefully before recommending that anyone buy a Craftsman Mower.
R. Kevin Wierman
E-mail - R.KevinWierman@juno.com