The grass here is not exactly what you'd call lawn; there are four separate areas, each one has a different makeup of weeds, stones, molehills and tree roots, all with a bit of grass thrown in. I can't avoid passing the mower over a few stones, and the nasty crunching noise it makes tells me that the time I spent sharpening the blades has now been wasted. Sometimes it hits tree stumps hidden in the grass, and sometimes it just stalls on random large solid things put there by malevolent pixies.
Recently, it threw in the towel when asked to deal with a particularly nasty tree root, and the central blade mounting sheared completely off its moorings. Perhaps the failure was a long time in the making, perhaps it was just sudden and catastrophic. Anyhow, I had to replace the blade mount before I could use the thing again.
Our local Espace Emeraude in Evron sells the brand, and can order spare parts. They always say they'll be in the shop in three days and it always takes a week and a half. But the service is otherwise good: I needed to buy four separate components; the housing, the inner spindle and two ball races and the engineer put them all together for me before I come to collect the mounting, ten days after I ordered it.
Taking the old mount off the chassis was interesting. The mount was attached by four bolts, and on undoing them, the heads just sheared off, as if they were designed to. Once all four were broken, the mount came away with no problem. There were no nuts on the other end of the bolts, they just seemed to screw into the metal bracket; perhaps they were special self-tapping ones. There was no thread on the new bracket, and I had no special self-tapping bolts either, so I attached it with four nuts and bolts with anti-slip washers. I greased them up before use so I have a fighting chance of getting them off again if I have to.
Here's the old and new mounts. The blade is fitted by mating it onto a flower-shaped boss made of soft metal (you can just about see it in the picture on the right) that is intended to bend in the case of sudden shock, I guess to protect the engine from damage. On the old mount it is completely flattened.
The new mount fits easily into its proper place, and the blade turns freely. I have tested the mower and it hasn't fallen off yet. So far, so good.
And with thanks to my Dutch neighbours who let me borrow their mower for as long as I needed - much appreciated!