I didn’t have a ride-on mower in the UK. I didn’t need one – all of the lawns on our estate except for private back garden ones were managed and I only needed a Flymo to keep my back lawn in trim – so I don’t know if what I’m about to talk about also applies in the UK. Somehow I doubt it.

The cutting belt on my Jonsered mower, which is made by Husqvarna, snapped several weeks ago and it’s been the Devil’s only job to get hold of a replacement. The belts for sale on the internet with the part reference shown in my mower’s user manual are all, without exception, of totally the wrong length so I don’t know what’s going on there. The trouble is that that leaves you in the tricky position of having to order the belt just by length alone which then opens up all sorts of cans of worms, as I’ve found.

The problem wasn’t helped by my making a mistake when I measured the length of the old one. I did a quick measuring job and wrote the external length down as 2255mm. The trouble was that when I placed my initial internet orders I misread this as 2235mm.

This meant that when the first order arrived the belts were bound to be too short. However, it was even worse than that because when I measured them they were a further 20mm or so shorter than what I’d ordered. This came to light after I’d fitted one which I thought was very tight to get on and which burnt out and snapped in a cloud of smoke within minutes.

Unfortunately, what I hadn’t realised was that when I’d been forcing the belt over the pulleys, it had also bent a tag of metal that keeps the belt aligned with the tensioning pulley when it’s slack and this, of course, damaged the next belt that I fitted and would have done the same with all subsequent belts until I removed the cutting deck, found the problem and corrected it.

By now I was getting wiser. I remeasured the old belt and found that actually it was 2260mm long and so I began to proceed on the path of redemption, or so I thought. Not a bit of it, as I’ll explain. A more careful internet search revealed that what I was looking for was a 4L890, as the following picture shows.

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What could be easier, you ask, than to find a supplier selling such a belt, place an order, wait for it to arrive, fit it and get mowing. I thought the same but it was then that my problems really began to start.

All of the 4L890 belts that I’ve ordered from several suppliers have been too short in the order of 3cm or so and I’ve ended up having to pay for them to go back for refund. Why this should be so I do not know, but the difference between the length shown on their web sites and the actual lengths has been pretty consistent from all of them.

There was one exception that arrived last Friday and my hopes rose, only to be dashed again after it too self-destructed after a few minutes’ use, probably because after waiting so long to receive it, as deliveries here take at least 2-4 days from date of order, my grass/weeds were so long and the quality of the belt was so poor, that it just wasn’t up to the job.

I complained vociferously to one supplier from whom I’d ordered two belts that were supposed to be of the right length but in fact were too short and they sent me a replacement of the right length off their own bat. Unfortunately, when I received it I hadn’t discovered the bent metal tag so it also only lasted a few minutes before being destroyed.

But aha, I thought, at least I’ve now got a supplier who knows what length belt I need. But I was being too hasty. I ordered two more from them, which arrived today, and surprise surprise, they were also too short.

I sent them an email earlier as nobody ever, or hardly ever, answers phone numbers given on internet sites here, telling them how they’d cocked up yet again, that I wasn’t prepared to return the belts at my expense but that I wanted the problem resolved. They replied saying that they will do so and I now wait yet again to see what action they will take.

But in the meantime I had to do something as my garden was getting into a worse and worse state. I went down to my local garden products man in Thonac last week in the hope of getting a belt locally that I could check before I paid for it, knowing that I’d end up paying through the nose but being prepared to pay anything by that time. However, he was closed as his wife had just had a baby so that’s when I placed my last internet order that arrived today. But I knew he’d be open today so went back and explained my problem to him.

He blithely said that sure, he had a 4L890 in stock and voilà, here it is. I said whoa, slow down, let me measure it, and he gave me his steel rule. And guess what… the label said that it was 2260mm long, but in fact to his surprise (but not mine) it was only 2240mm, so also too short!

He scratched his head and said that all he could do was offer me a 4L900 which would be too long, but I said OK, let’s have a look at it. Here’s the label on the packaging showing quite clearly that it should be 2286mm long, so too long by 26mm making it totally unsuitable for my machine.

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But when I measured it, again guess what… it was actually 2260mm long, just the length that I was looking for, so I bought it. It cost three times what I’d been paying for belts on the internet but if I’d got it originally, I’d not be anything like out of pocket to the extent that I am having paid to send so many back. He was sceptical that it would work on my machine and kindly offered to take it back so long as after fitting it I didn’t start the machine up.

But he needn’t have worried. It went straight on and this afternoon I’ve got my whole garden back into shape using it totally without incident, so that was a relief. But how bizarre that all of these so-called specialist internet suppliers (and even my local man) apparently have no idea that what they are selling in no way conforms to the descriptions that they are providing to their customers.

My concern now is that I’m going to end up with a whole lot of belts all of the correct dimensions that I’ll end up storing for years in my garden shed as from my experience to date with my machine, the one I’ve now fitted will last for years so long as I don’t abuse it. Probably longer, in fact, than I’ll be around to do so 😉

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