View Full Version : Confused Homeowner

02-14-2001, 09:51 PM
Hi to all.
I've been reading your posts and still have a lot of questions. I would like to replace my tractor with a commercial zero-turn unit. I'm mowing ~2.5 acres with some slopes and a lot of trees and obstacles. Not being able to justify a new unit I have kept an eye out for a good used unit. Perhaps I should leave brand names out of this to avoid brand-loyal confrontations. Some of the units I looked at had about 1500 hours, some only 800 hours. So, if it served this amount of time beeing worked hard and (perhaps) maintained haphazardly, what would a reasonable life-expectancy be?
I realize that I'll still have to replace a belt or a spindle here or there, but it shouldn't nickel and dime me to death either. Is it a fairly safe bet for a homeowner to save $2000 on a unit with high hours or should one spring for the low hour model? (All machines are compareable to each other, having 22-25hp and a 60" deck, being mid-mount riders)
Also, I was wondering if there is a 'guide' (like a blue-book) for used mowers. If anyone has a link or info on how to establish a fair market value for used mowers I'd apreciate your help as well.
Lastly, what are good indicators of abuse, or - at the same token, a well maintained machine? Any tricks of the trade there?
Thank you all for your help.

02-14-2001, 10:32 PM
Lets see ... first it helps if you have some mechnical abblity after all thier almost like cars and cost as much.A used unit is a good choice if you can work on them or you have a good trust worthly freind that can take a look at it.maybe even getting some ls member in your area to look at it . yes for the kinda of money you want to spend you can get a nice unit. with the obstical course that your cutting and outfront with a large deck(48,52,or even 60)would do you great.as far as slopes if you come accros a walker at a good price you can go with a low profile WIDE tire with agaresive tread....either way as long as you demo a used unit check the hydro fluid for metal, listen to all parts of the mower run it.....heck my walker was used and in several peices when i got it it has over 1800 hrs on it and i work it everyday .. either way you go if you get a True commercial unit i belive u can't go wrong.unless its junk....hey the end of the season is a good time to get used equiptment for lawn companies upgrading or someone going out now thiers a deal waiting on you. hope this helps.

02-15-2001, 09:49 AM
Hi there and thank you for your thoughtful comments Bushmaster.
As you may know, wrenching on stuff is only fun when you don't have to. I don't have a problem doing repairs, but I was hoping to avoid them for a while by buying a good unit to start with. I think you are right, once you look at a certain level of machines I'd think the quality is comparable, seperated perhaps by personal preferences or applications all mowers should be equally well build.
There is a local Walker dealer who just started carrying the line, I was very impressed with the design of these units, but was un-able to find anything used in my area. Some concerns came up with it though, I was told that the GHS units will clog up in the transfer-tunnel occasionaly, forcing you to stop and clear it out. I love the design, as I mentioned, but I really don't want to pick up grass all the time - it is more appealing when leave-raking time comes around or the grass got out of hand. I'm also trying to cut down on time, I wish they would offer a 54" deck on the GHS system.
So, I like the out-front decks of the Walker and another dealers Grasshopper, but can't find a 'cheap' unit.
So far I'm considering a Dixie Chopper and Scag, both midmounts.
Thanks again.

02-16-2001, 03:20 AM
You can pick up some pretty nice used ZTR if your careful. If a mower is 1 year old it shouldn't look like it is 5 yrs old. Go to the small engine shops and ask someone if they know anyone with used mowers for sale. They usually know commercial cutters who just updated and have used ones for sale. I will say, that walkers have a higher price on them from the start, so they are usually still pretty high for used units. An used exmark, toro, or Great dane would be worth really looking for. After you find one, ask to take it to a dealer to have it checked out. Have the dealer give you a list of things that need to be done or will need done before long. Money very well spent for such a big purchase.

02-18-2001, 07:04 AM

Try picking up a new, but old model year from a dealer! There are several dealers out there that specialize in this practice. I have done this with all my big mower purchases. It saves alot of money, plus you still get a new machine.

02-18-2001, 09:55 PM
listen here homeowner... do not and i mean do not buy anything that is used unless it has less than 1000 hours.
Trust me, a commircial mower like a dixie or a Lazer that has 1500 hours will nickle and dime you to death, also i dont want to be the barier of bad knews but a Kohler 25hp engine for example only lasts 2000 hours if maintained good !!! we have 10 mowers like what your thinking about buying and ever spring we trade them in to dealers, and people like you buy them... dude there abused and almost on there death bed !!!! sorry good luck ---price book is available call Weingartz @ (248)471-3050 or weingartz.com on the net !!! ps. they sell our used mowers if your brave

--- MIke --

Eric ELM
02-19-2001, 01:27 AM

I sold a Dixie Chopper to a friend 3 seasons ago that had 2,500 hours on it then. He mows about 1 hour a week with it and he has only replaced 1 belt on it.

I have a Dixe Chopper I still use that has 3,236 hours on it and it still runs great. This one has a 22 HP Kohler and the first one I mentioned has a 20 HP Magnum and both decks are 60".

If you can find one that isn't beat up, it could be a good deal. You never know how it was treated, but by listening to it, looking for leaks, and testing it, you can get a good ideal.

02-19-2001, 09:41 AM
Wow, that's what I was afraid of.
First off, thanks to all for your time. O.K. - if I buy a new unit (which I would love to do) my wife is going to hang me by the tender-parts .....
I looked at demos from dealers (very few around by the way) and found them to be just as un-affordable; seeing how everyone is looking for one the demos didn't offer a big price-break.
Mike's statement was something I heard about at the dealers also, 2000 hour life-expectancy? He was trying to get me to buy new and piece of mind versus 'you'll only save $2000 on a used and it may only have 2 years of life left....'.
Then you hear about sucess-stories like Eric's, making me think about a 'cheap' used unit for sale locally .....
I ought to move into an apartment, things were a lot easier then ....
By the way, you cover all brands of mowers here, why don't I ever hear anyone talk about Grasshoppers? Just curious.
Thanks again to everyone for your efforts.

John DiMartino
02-19-2001, 09:49 AM
I would buy a newer model now,no sense saving 2K on the mower,only to out 2500 into it in a yeae when the motor blows,and the hydro system has a problem,then you still have an old worn out mower,but with a new motor,so it will still nickel and dime you to death.I have a Kohler 25HP-its a 2000,the motor is garbage,a boat anchor is all its good for,avoid them,or by it cheap enough,so you can slap a 23 Kawi on it and still be ahead.Good luck,and buy late model used-or new.The downtime and repair bill isnt worth the savings.

Double D
02-21-2001, 01:05 PM
Catcher, check out http://www.turfquip.com , there is a NEW Toro model 74172 compact Z, 20hp Kohler w/52" SFS deck for $5799. Also http://www.alamia.com has some good deals on commercial mowers. Just a thought.

02-21-2001, 09:37 PM

I'm surprised no one mention this so far, but have you considered a walk behind mower with a sulky?

You said you have 2.5 acres, which is not that large of a area for a walk behind unit. Also, you mentioned you have slopes, trees, and a lot of obstacles. This being said, I have to say that a walk behind with a sulky may be a good idea.

In case your not familiar with terms, a sulky is a 'cart' like attachment that you stand on, even can sit on in some cases, that is pulled behind the mower.

Now, the big thing here is cost. You can get a brand new walk behind, either gear or belt, for well below the price of any rider, even used rider for that case.

My friend, who mows his small farm, and is our mechanic, got a brand new Encore, 48 inch belt drive AND a brand new echo string trimmer thrown in on the deal for around 2k. The mower was a factory trial mower which had a 14 hp tecumsa 'PRO' engine which didn't really excite him. However, these mowers are built for 40 hr work weeks. Most homeowners don't even put 40 hrs on their mower in a year.
It may not be the 'best' mower, but it beats the hell out of his old craftsman tractor. For a 100 or 200 more, he could get the sulky, but for know he walks because he says 'the exercise does him good'.

Not sure if you have considered this, but I would definitely look into it if you could bear the thought of walking or standing instead of sitting.


02-21-2001, 10:38 PM
Hello and thanks again to everyone.
Thank you for the links Double_D, I checked them and will continue to do so, looks like there's some good deals to be had there.
Yes John, you're right. It isn't worth saving 2 grand, that's why I'm looking at older stuff yet, to save more. In the long run I think I'm peeing in the wind, but in the short run I just can't afford the doe on a new unit. I guess I just hope to get lucky to find something not beat all to heck, that'll give me a few years of worry-free service.
As far as Steve's idea with the walk-behind goes, that was actually the first idea I had, sounded kinda cool - something different, and the exercise thing too. Then I got to think about it and figured that I probably don't need THAT much exercise :-)
I guess between the low-hanging tree branches and my reluctant acceptance of my lazyness I got stuck on a rider; thanks for the thought though.
I guess when push comes to shove, I'll whine about it long enough until the wife buys me a new one or we hit the lottery. Hmm, wonder which will happen first?
Happy mowing

02-21-2001, 11:06 PM
Catcher, Check eBay. I look there all the time. Do a search on the word "mower". There will be over 300 items. Sometimes there will be ZTR's for sale.

02-21-2001, 11:16 PM
Thanks Bob,
been there a few times, there either isn't one, or they are real old, or - what may have been a good deal was on the other coast ........
I'll keep at it though, you never know.
I thought I'd seen a post where a guy was going to build his own, maybe I'll give him a year or two and see how it turned out :-)

02-27-2001, 04:09 PM
Actually, in reply to the walk-behind setup: I was perusing some of the links above and came across some interresting designs, like the Great Dane Super Surfer or the 'Stander'- similar design by someone else, brandnew for for 5k.
That didn't look too bad ........
Any thoughts anyone?
Also, the local Grasshopper dealer is having a contractors open house saturday, any experience with Grasshoppers?

Double D
02-27-2001, 08:15 PM
Catcher, Use the search function at the top of the web-page. Type in the name of the mower you are interested in, and you will be surprised at the amount of information that has been discussed in the past. You could try Great Dane Super Suffer, or Wright Stander (two of the stand up type mowers) and you can read what has been discussed here on the site.

02-27-2001, 09:23 PM
If I were you I would buy a 61 inch walk behind or a 72 inch walk behind. These mowers can be had for almost nothing and they cut real nice. Also if you buy a sulky for behind it you will be almost able to cut just as fast!!!For five years I used a 61 inch scag with a sulky seat and cut alot of grass with it! 2.5 acres would take about an hour!

02-27-2001, 11:36 PM
Another place to look, http://www.machinefinder.com/

03-01-2001, 01:02 AM
Id buy that ztr .one that looks good no white or black smoke.Paint it an restore everything to new.Lube and put it on mobil 1.With a little luck an alittle work,you got something to really be proud of.

03-01-2001, 02:21 AM
If you decided to check out the commercial walkbehinds look for an exmark or toro. Check on this site in the used equipment forum. Turfquip might have some nice pieces for sale. You can get a walkbehind and sulky and ride with style. The job will get done very fast and you won't spend all day cutting 2.5 acres. I used my 48" walkbehind w/ sulky on larger properties than this and it worked great. Of course, I'm now completely spoiled with my Lazer HP.

One good walkbehind would probably last you forever cutting only your property.

03-01-2001, 09:37 AM
the Grasshopper place has a contractor's open house this Saturday.
Hopefully I can get my claws on a good used trade in of any kind!
If not I'll stick with the Dixie Chopper -60"/ 22.5hp/ 1300hrs.
Seems to be the best deal so far, the only drawback beeing that the next Dixie dealer is a ways away, or I would've bought it already.
Whatever I buy - the first thing I'll do is pour about 200lbs of fertilizer on the lawn, so I can show it who the boss is this summer :-)

03-06-2001, 04:29 PM
personly i would buy something new, you never know what could go wrong with something used, you don't know if they kept good care of it, how often the oil was changed , and everything else that could go worng. just my opinion.

03-07-2001, 08:33 AM
I agree Josh, if we're talking about $2k - $3k difference, I may as well go new and get piece of mind. I really was looking at machines that cost $9k - $10k new and are for sale for around $3k; that may be worth it.