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The Gilmour Traveling Sprinkler is a cast iron, green-and-yellow model of the classic John Deere tractor. It follows the path you lay out with the water hose, covering up to 13,500 sq. ft. of lawn, and the manufacturer says its adjustable spray arms water at a diameter ranging from 15 to 55 ft. Gilmour also says the 2-speed traveler will follow up to 200 feet of hose before the sprinkler’s shutoff ramp automatically stops it and turns off the water.

User reviews at Amazon and at DrillSpot are a toss-up between one-star (hate it) and five-star (love it). Some folks say the sprinkler works especially well for odd-shaped yards and that kids get a kick out of it. Others complain that the gears strip themselves and the plastic internal parts fall apart right away. Are the Deere design and the cool factor of a self-propelling sprinkler enough to part with $70 – 100? Let us know in comments.

Traveling Sprinkler [Gilmour]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Street Pricing [Google]


33 Responses to Hot or Not? Gilmour Traveling Sprinkler

  1. Roscoe says:

    You want the Nelson: http://www.amazon.com/Nelson-1865-Raintrain-Traveling-Sprinkler/dp/B00002N6AN

    Nelson makes huge models that you’ve probably seen on sports fields and where new grass is planted commercially, they’ve adapted it for smaller areas and make a decent unit.

  2. Toolhearty says:

    Comments on Amazon aren’t very positive, looks like most give it a NOT.


  3. Mike says:

    Semi-Not: If you lay out more than 50′ of hose, the weight of the water-filled hose exceeds the ability of the sprinkler to drag it.

  4. BadBob says:

    I have one of the yellow rain trains I like very much.

  5. Joel Spangler says:

    NOT – I wouldn’t want to see anything with a JD logo on it in my yard.

  6. Matt says:

    I like mine. Came with a ramp that engages a shut-off valve on the belly of the beast. Sweet. Also has 2 settings for throwing different amounts of water.

  7. Steve C says:

    Wow, a blast from the past, sorta.

    Dad had something similar when I was growing up. It was already old in the 60s and to my knowledge is still working today. It was all cast iron but didn’t mimic the look of a tractor even though they do kind of resemble each other. The thing weighed a ton. Dad could set out a loop of hose and it would do the entire lawn with no supervision. It’s a great idea but it sounds like this one suffers from “let’s take a good idea from an old product and make it from cheap plastic crap.” syndrome. Too bad.

  8. Blair says:

    We had a similar (in theory), sprinkler in the 60″s. The one the folks had was actually a hose reel, that followed the hose, and wound up the slack as it traveled.
    I believe it was a Melnor brand, and for our yard I remember it worked very well

  9. Brau says:

    I have the YardWorks (yellow) tractor and it is a godsend for my property which is 120′ long and 40′ narrow. Saves a lot of hassle moving sprinklers. (The Nelson appears to be a rebranded version of the same model). One caveat is that the shut-off ramp doesn’t always work on unlevel ground (like lawns) so I have mine on a timer to make sure it stops. It *can* follow the hose over gradual arcs but I have found it best not to, as it occasionally skips the hose and runs off somewhere else if it’s not dragging the hose straight behind.

  10. Chris says:

    Not. You don’t want this Gilmour one or the Nelson Rain Train. They are both plagued with the same problems: stripped gears, inability to go up even the slightest hill, an “off” valve that sticks. So, you end up with a tractor sprinkler than can’t go or, worse yet, keeps going off the hose but doesn’t shut off. My wife chased her mom’s Nelson sprinkler all over the neighborhood her entire childhood.

    If you really want a tractor sprinkler, you want the National Walking Sprinkler (https://www.nationalwalkingsprinkler.com/). This is the original walking sprinkler that every other company (poorly) copies. It may cost more up front, but it is well worth the slight extra cost in lack of frustration. It pulls hundreds of feet of hose, drives up mild inclines, and just works.

    @SteveC: check out the link above. It is probably the sprinkler you remember your Dad having.

  11. shopmonger says:

    I live in NJ What is a sprinkler? HAAA HAAA HAAAA

  12. Eric says:

    I have the yellow traveling sprinkler by Nelson (model 1895) and it is *very hot*. I’ve used it since 2001 and haven’t had any problems. I like that it has a plastic ramp that I can place over hose and the sprinkler will shut off when it reaches that point on the hose. I also like that follows the hose where I want it to go and every square inch along that line will get watered. I’ve had a lot of people that enjoy just sitting on the porch talking while we watch it move across the lawn.

    – I’ve used it with a 100ft hose and haven’t had a problem with it pulling that around. (But I also have 70-80 lbs of water pressure, if that makes a difference.)
    – I agree with the person that commented about making sure not to do curves that are too sharp. Just takes a little trial and error to get a feel for it.
    – Nelson’s web site says they introduced theirs in 1963. YardWorks seems to be a Canadian brand. The Gilmour version seems *really* similar to the Nelson model. Since Gilmour and Nelson are both owned by Robert Bosch Tool Company, that would explain the similar design. I’ll leave it to someone else to decide/comment if the parts are of the same quality.

  13. ambush says:

    The one Chris posted looks really hot, but the other one seems like more of a gimmick.

  14. Allen Bormuth says:

    My John Deere Travelling sprinkler tipped over and broke the plastic tee fitting the first time I used it. It has been on the shelf since I can’t find replacement parts. Without replacement parts I give it a big NOT.

  15. Roger Allen says:

    To: Allen Bormuth

    Can find parts at (www.lrnelsoncorp.stores.yahoo.net) or call 1-800-NELSON-8 (1-800-635-7668) M-F 8a-5p. The spray arm assembly (#77506) is priced at $10.00, have to purchase whole assembly — tee fitting not available alone. As for stripped gears — the entire motor assembly (#77376) is priced at $13.00.

    • Chris N. says:

      These prices have doubled and the product quality has gone down. Unfortunately the 28.00 for a gear box that is not holding up has got me down and I am now going to spend the extra money and go with National and the metal worm gear.

      I do like the adjustable 20 or 40 feet per hour setting with the Nelson but these once good sprinkler systems have now become crap with really cheap Nylon gears and the design hasn’t changed since it was created.

      Why hasn’t someone come up with a impact mechanism for the front that disengages the gears and some sort of mechanism to stop it (turn it off) if it is not following a hose. The two things that plague these units.

      • Gabb says:

        Sadly, National is out of the B-3 model until next spring…..
        I think the A5-2 will do me just fine though 🙂
        I am ordering any day now!

  16. LJ says:

    Chris’s post is correct. ONly the National Walking Sprinkler has no plastic parts provided you opt for the steel gear. You can order direct from the mfgr- US made in Nebraska as it has been since 1937. The
    Real Deal. I have one my father in law gave me that his father in law gave him.

  17. Herschel Cornett says:

    I have a traveling sprinkler that I’ve had for over 25 years and it is German made but they don’t make them any more. About 4 years ago I bought a Nelson Model from Lowe’s and it has plastic gears and it didn’t last a year. Even though my first one is still working fine I am looking to buy another one so I can have two running at the same time because one of the down sides is they do move slow and it takes a long time to water even an average size lawn.

    The only reason I’m responding is for anyone interested, be sure to get a model with metal gears otherwise you’re going to be disappointed.

  18. Butch says:

    The problem with these small travelling sprinklers is that they water s circular area. Most residential urban lots are rectangular. Circular watering causes too much water waste. Some day, I hope, someone will design a travelling sprinkler that conforms to a rectangular pattern.

    • Gabb says:

      With all due respect, these sprinklers are not made, nor marketed to “residential urban lots”. There are a boggling array of sprinklers that will work for that application.

      These sprinklers are for very-large areas of turf, agriculture, athletic-fields, etc.

  19. Rebecca says:

    Here I am so regretting a $70 Gilmore John Deere 4010J:(
    I really considered the original National but the cost deterred me. Now after only 2 summers of use…yep, the plastic gears are stripped and its $30 to replace the motor assembly. This is a rip off! I brought this model because it’s made of metal! I knew plastic can’t survive Texas summers! I can’t recall if it said cast iron or not but I do know for sure > it didn’t say the gears plastic!

    So do I shell out $30 for a new gear assembly? Only to have it last a yr or 2? Or just suck up and order the National?


    • Chris N. says:

      Buy the National.. I just bought a gear box and killed it in 2 uses when the tractor jumped hose and tipped over while I was gone for 30 minutes.

      It would be nice if the design could be improved on to help prevent these situations.

  20. gian paolo says:

    Gilmour traveling sprinkler does it work with the grey water?

  21. Chad says:

    I have the Nelson and regret the decision. I bought it and the gears stripped out in a few weeks. They replaced the gearbox under warranty and the second time I used it the Shut-off Mechanism fell out (the plastic broke) Learn from my poor judgement and steer clear of these. In a few weeks maybe i can forgive myself and buy and national.

  22. c cunningham says:

    where can I buy one? really need it as a replacement for one that got broken.

  23. swimmerbob says:

    the gears do NOT ‘strip out’ so to speak. what happens is the lower housing breaks at the lower worm gear pivot. this is usualy caused by a person over-tightening the allen bolt beneath the plastic spray bar tee. only use a stright piece of allen wrench or an allen bit without any ratchet or handle devie to increase tightening torque. also thoroughlylube the gear box and the threads that tightening (by hand only) in to the lower motor housing. if you do this and teat the sprinkler with repect. it will last for years. i don’t buy lines like “the prices have doubled while the quality goes down”… is this person speaking form experience? i am. i have repaired many of these sprinklers. i buy my sprinklers thru wal-mart and i think the 77376 motor is a good deal for what you get. go ahead and spend all that money on the national unit. i’m sure you will find something wrong with it, too- after you’ve spennt all that money. rc

  24. Daniel says:

    Spent $90.00 on this piece of crap imitation of the one my grandfather had and can understand why they don”t make parts for it anymore. That’s what happens when you send all the jobs to China. Would’t even consider buying anything from this company again.

  25. Daniel says:

    Where does one order the new gear boxes through? Everything I’ve looked through says the parts have been discontinued.

  26. ELSON MAPANGA says:

    Where can I get one

  27. Ben says:

    This is not the best traveling sprinkler. You view the best traveling water sprinklers with reviews from real people here: https://tractorsprinklerhub.com/best-traveling-tractor-sprinklers/

  28. Dan says:

    Where can I get parts for the green John Deer? The shaft broke and now won’t work. love mine and miss it. Any help appreciated

    • Seth Burgin says:

      Check eBay periodically. $30-$40 plus shipping, and supposedly they are not hard to work on, and I have heard tales the gears can be replaced with brass, but I have serious doubts about that. I am going to just buy a National Walking Sprinkler and go back to what works, and a brand that sells a whole line of replacement parts. They cost 2x more, but I think it’s worth it to have a lifetime product.

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