Oregon shows string trimmer replacement head

Oregon Gator SpeedLoad / Credit: OregonIf you put away your string trimmer this year in disgust, chances are it had something to do with misbehaving cutting line. It wouldn’t feed when you wanted it to or, worse, it jammed or even fused up inside the trimmer head. Whatever the problem, Oregon Products hopes you’ll consider its Gator SpeedLoad replacement head next spring.

The Gator SpeedLoad, shown at the recent Green Industry and Equipment Expo trade show in Louisville, has just two parts: the trimmer head and a tiny disk cartridge that resembles a very cool Oregon Gator SpeedLoad detail / Credit: Oregondrink coaster. The line is wound flatly around to form the cartridge, in diameters ranging from 0.80 to 1.18 inch, and its tongue-and-groove shape helps keep the cartridge intact.

To load line, you unclip the head’s cover, plop a cartridge in and run each of the two lines out (see video below) between two pairs of guide posts before replacing the cover. One plus Oregon is touting is how quickly a user can replace a disk cartridge: 20 seconds or less.

The product sells for $30 or $46—the head comes in two sizes—and is compatible with several gas-trimmer brands. Replacement cartridges, sold in packs of three, cost about $6 (0.80-inch) or $8 (0.95-inch) for the small-diameter and $10 (0.95-inch) or $12 (1.18-inch) for the large-diameter. To check if your string trimmer can accommodate the Gator SpeedLoad, check out the company’s guide.

Among other announcements, Oregon will add a 6.0-amp-hour battery, for longer run time, to its line of 40-volt cordless tools.

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Drill Attachment Eases Paint and Mortar Mixing

OX Pro MixM8 for paint and mortar / Credit: OX ToolsIf you’ve ever mixed paint in a five-gallon bucket or small batches of plaster, thin set or mortar, it probably wasn’t an experience you look back upon fondly. The traditional steel paddles you spin with your drill, after all, can leave unmixed material behind and even dent your container. Want a better way? Try the Mix M8 Mixing Paddles from OX Tools, which we saw demonstrated at Hardscape North America, a mason’s trade show. It runs concurrently with the Green Industry and Equipment Expo every October in Louisville.

The Mix M8 resembles rabbit ears, at least while you’re holding the rabbit by its feet, and is made of a flexible, durable plastic. The smaller hex-shaft version, more appropriate for DIYers, costs about $42 at OX dealers. Once you’ve loaded it into your cordless drill’s chuck and inserted it into the bucket or other container, the whirling “ears” fan out and whip the mixture into a circular motion that, the company claims, leaves nothing unmixed along the edges of a bucket. (See video below.) OX also says the resulting blend minimizes trapped air.

To clean up, you can run the same tool attachment in a bucket of water or, later, knock off the hardened material—either of which is easier than chiseling away at metal paddles.

Mix M8 is also lightweight, just over a pound. It measures 22.5 inches tall (to keep you from bending), and the blades are almost 8 inches in diameter.

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