Stihl FS 56 RC-E Trimmer Build Quality
The Stihl FS 56 RC-E trimmer has just been launched as part of the Homescaper line of straight-axis trimmers. It’s equipped with STIHL’s innovative full-crank Easy2Start system and a semi-automatic choke, making starting the trimmer a hassle-free experience. This is a significant improvement, as it eliminates the daunting task of starting a typical 2-cycle motion engine. With the Easy2Start system and semi-automatic choke, anyone, including your wife or mother, can effortlessly operate this trimmer.
The Stihl FS 56 RC-E trimmer we received was fully assembled from a local dealer. It arrived repaired, which means it was pre-fueled, fully assembled, including the handles, and ready to be used immediately. Weighing in at 12-1/2 lbs, it falls within the weight range of similar engines. Stihl has meticulously encased the entire front of the motor, down to the throttle, in a sturdy gray ABS plastic casing, leaving only the air filter and choke assembly sections exposed. This design not only protects you from the engine’s heat if you accidentally touch the side closest to the spark arrestor but also gives the trimmer a robust appearance.
At the rear of the engine, we noticed the full crank system, featuring Stihl’s Easy2Start spring-assisted pull starter. Unlike other brands, this starter system doesn’t add unnecessary bulk or weight to the trimmer. It seamlessly blends in with the orange back cover, which is molded to shield the parts while maintaining a sleek look. Refueling is a breeze, as the 50:1 oil-air mixture can be poured into the translucent tank without having to turn the trimmer over. Additionally, the reversible half-moon handle simplifies removing the gas cap. The starter bulbs are easily accessible, and all fuel lines are well-protected beneath the motor housing.
STIHL FS 56 RC-E Maintenance
Maintenance for the STIHL FS 56 RC-E is incredibly straightforward. Cleaning the air filter requires only a star bit driver, while replacing the spark plugs involves removing the molded cap and guard using a standard spark plug socket. Adjusting the carburetor is as simple as turning the high and low idle screws located next to the semi-automatic choke. The drive shaft of the trimmer employs a centrifugal steel-on-steel clutch, ensuring that the rotating trimmer head only engages when the throttle is activated. This prevents the head from spinning when the trimmer is idle, minimizing any potential issues. Additionally, all throttle cables are fully enclosed for optimal safety.
The flex cable drive shaft is fully lined and straight, making it ideal for tall individuals and those needing access to tight spaces like decks or stairs. Stihl caters to both consumers and professionals, incorporating as many professional-grade features as possible into their lower-end models. However, one notable absence in all Stihl models is the attachment capabilities, which are usually avoided by professionals as they can lead to specific points of failure.
The TapAction Convex Head
One aspect we have reservations about is the trimmer head. The Stihl FS 56 RC-E trimmer employs a TapAction convex head that, in theory, allows for easy cord release. However, our experience was quite different. Releasing the cord from this head proved to be a challenging process, often requiring a considerable amount of effort. In our opinion, it would be prudent to purchase Stihl’s FixCut 25-2 head or an aftermarket equivalent that utilizes fixed, 8-inch ropes for quick and effortless loading. Another issue we encountered was that the 0.095″ Quiet Line strings provided with the trimmer had specific grooves which, while reducing noise, made them more prone to breaking. Consequently, we went through more strings with this trimmer compared to others we have used. While loading the trimmer is relatively simple in theory, the instructional sheet provided by Stihl was difficult to follow. In summary, we recommend opting for the fixed-string pro head, which provides a superior user experience and allows for the use of thicker strings.
Using the Stihl FS 56 RC-E Trimmer
Starting the Stihl FS 56 RC-E trimmer is a breeze, thanks to its semi-automatic choke feature. Simply set the choke, start the bulb, and gently pull the starter wire. Once the engine fires up (usually requiring just a few pulls), depress the interlock switch and pull the throttle trigger. This automatically disengages the choke and revives the engine. As per Stihl’s recommendation, it is advisable to let the engine fill up three tanks of fuel before operating it at full throttle.
Aside from the issues we encountered with the trimmer head and cord, the Stihl FS 56 RC-E trimmer delivers exceptional performance when cutting grass. Its two-stroke engine also makes it versatile enough to be used as an edger when tilted 90 degrees. We appreciate the fuel line and filter configuration, as the trimmer never stalled, even when not fully fueled.
Large Quantities Welcome
Throughout our review period, we employed this trimmer to mow a quarter-acre of land multiple times, and it performed decently. However, we noticed that the strings broke easily and frequently, so we recommend purchasing higher-quality 0.095″ strings to replace the ones that come with the trimmer. In terms of vibration, this model is slightly above average, so it is highly advisable to wear gloves. When starting the trimmer on the ground, it vibrates just enough to move on its own, reminiscent of the feel of a 4-stroke engine but with a bit more intensity.
It is worth noting that the trimmer features a handle assembly that fits flush with the plastic housing for the throttle control. However, we found this handle position to be too close if you are over 5’8″, resulting in an awkward balance. Initially, the trimmer felt heavy, and maneuvering it smoothly from right to left was challenging compared to other models. However, sliding the handle forward a few inches greatly improved the balance and reduced the perceived weight. Stihl expects users to customize the handle position to suit their individual preferences for optimal comfort and balance.
While idling, the trimmer produces a reasonably quiet 83 dB SPL, but at maximum throttle, the noise level reaches 104 dB SPL. Therefore, we highly recommend using ear protection when operating the trimmer. It’s worth noting that the local Stihl representative kindly provided a free pair of ear protectors when delivering the tools for our review.
The Stihl FS 56 RC-E Trimmer undoubtedly gets the job done. It offers ample power to cut through dense grass effortlessly and performs admirably as both a trimmer and an edger. The trimmer comes with a two-year warranty for consumer use, boasting excellent build quality and a motor that starts easily. Stihl ensures compliance with current EPA standards, making it a reliable choice for any consumer application. However, due to its bulky feel and sub-par TapAction bumper, some users may prefer exploring other options before settling on this particular product.