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View Full Version : Smoothness of ZTR control inputs??


WGASA
06-22-2006, 02:39 PM
Looking to buy JD 757 60", Hustler Z 60" or Exmark HP 56". One significant variable to evaluate is how smooth and easy to operate are the control handles of each brand. For those, who have been there, can you give your opinions. Thx

WGASA
06-22-2006, 05:33 PM
I've tried the JD and it seems to ease into forward and reverse, but I heard that the Hustler is real responsive...some would say touchy - don't know anything about the ExMark in this regard. Maybe they are all pretty much the same....that would even be good to know. thx

AltaLawnCare
06-22-2006, 06:19 PM
I have a JD 757 25kaw (103 Hrs) and a Lazer Z 23 Koh (1200 Hrs). The John Deere is much smoother hands down. The Lazer is soo jerky, we never use it on nice lawns. The JD felt sluggish, but now its broken in, it handles perfect.

Cut quality of the JD is much better too.

HighGrass
06-22-2006, 06:41 PM
I may be overstating this a bit, but I think it's all in the dampners. I agree that the Exmark seems a little jerkier (Is that a word?:confused: ) but I have grown to like it as I can make control changes faster. Faster = $$$$. I also have a similar size Scag (Wildcat) and you can see the difference in the dampners both in feel, and the actual dampner itself. It takes more presure for control input and actually is a smoother feel...but slower. Hope that helped.

WGASA
06-22-2006, 07:17 PM
I appreciate the response, as do others, I'm sure, who are thinking about a new machine. I think that I would prefer a slower, more measured input than one that if I barely touched it, it would jump. I don't want to have to be 'that' attentive to the touch, especially on moist or slick ground.

Roger
06-22-2006, 07:25 PM
I have a JD 717A; bought it a couple of months ago. I think the stick response is very good. It certainly is not jerky, but rather easy to control and not spin/skid tires.

I was concerned about being able to make straight passes across an open lawn. That has not been a problem at all. Despite some of the lawns being quite rough, with the machine bouncing around, I am still able to do well at making straight lines.

tacoma200
06-22-2006, 08:22 PM
When someone says jerky I take that as more responsive. I knew heavy equipment operators that complained of new backhoes being jerky but it was just a more powerful hydraulic stystem. You can get used to any of major brands. Scag has the most dampering I've seen and Dixie Chopper seems to have the least. There is a difference in powerful sensitive controls and dampering though. A week hydraulic system (small pumps and motors) seems smoother to the average person when they first get on mower but they will appreciate the quick handling later. My opinion. My lazer goes on the best lawns. Using the controls on the Lazer and other top mowers is as easy as breathing after you get used to it. You don't even think about it.

lawnmaniac883
06-22-2006, 11:06 PM
They are all different, the more you use them the easier to operate either will be.

MJB
06-23-2006, 12:51 AM
Altavista Lawn care. Are you using the MOD deck on your 757 ? If so have you experimented with the blades, high lifts medium , or mulching ? I demoed one and I swear it would not side discharge hardly at all. It would cut clean but windrow the grass, the mulch deck did the same. What have you learned about that MOD so far?

Envy Lawn Service
06-23-2006, 01:53 AM
Funny how 'most' share the same pumps and wheel motors...
Yet they all feel so different.

It doesn't have much to do with dampening. The dampners are just used for stick resistance and return to neutral. I personally do not like the dampening effect much. All I want is just enough so the stick stays in neutral and doesn't fall over when I put it there and let go.

Anyways, the response/jerkyness has more to do with the overall system setup. Some systems are smooth and some are a bit quick/sensitive. The dampners will help a quick system some if they are stiff, but it won't erase the fact they are sensitive.

AltaLawnCare
06-23-2006, 06:28 AM
Altavista Lawn care. Are you using the MOD deck on your 757 ? If so have you experimented with the blades, high lifts medium , or mulching ? I demoed one and I swear it would not side discharge hardly at all. It would cut clean but windrow the grass, the mulch deck did the same. What have you learned about that MOD so far?

No, mine has the 7 iron II deck. The MOD looked too restrictive, besides I never mulch, all I need is an OCDC. Here with the humidity, and tall fescue, I was afraid it would clump like the Lazer. Discharge is great from the 757. I'm selling the Lazer.

Envoy, thats exactly right on the hydro systems. We change out the dampners every year on the Lazer...the new ones are shot in just a few months.

WGASA
06-23-2006, 12:26 PM
Funny how 'most' share the same pumps and wheel motors...
Yet they all feel so different.

It doesn't have much to do with dampening. The dampners are just used for stick resistance and return to neutral. I personally do not like the dampening effect much. All I want is just enough so the stick stays in neutral and doesn't fall over when I put it there and let go.

Anyways, the response/jerkyness has more to do with the overall system setup. Some systems are smooth and some are a bit quick/sensitive. The dampners will help a quick system some if they are stiff, but it won't erase the fact they are sensitive.

Is the sensitivity Brand specific? I.E. Can the smoothness and/or sensitivity be generally categorized most to less relative to JD, Exmark, Hustler.....thx

Envy Lawn Service
06-23-2006, 02:11 PM
Is the sensitivity Brand specific? I.E. Can the smoothness and/or sensitivity be generally categorized most to less relative to JD, Exmark, Hustler.....thx

Yeah, it's brand specific. I think it's the input drive ratio and how they plumb their systems, as well as how they set up there actual control arms that run down to the pumps. But I also think it is all in what you get accustomed to. After a little seat time, you adjust.

The good part is almost anyone will let you 'Just drive' one around if the feel is your biggest concern. As far as the 3 brands you mention there, they all feel fine to me. I'm no big Deere fan, but their 757 is really smooth. The eXmarks feel good to me now, but they are certainly a tad jerky and more of a challenge to keep tracking straight. The Hustler's are very responsive and quick, but I wouldn't say jerky, just solid and fast. But Hustler also has 2 different drive systems too.

Personally, I find the Gravely 252Z/260Z the most jerky and hardest to drive and the Great Dane Chariot LX is my favorite to drive. Grasshopper and Dixie take honors for silky smooth easy to move over the lap sticks.

I just think you need to go drive a bunch quite a bit and get a feel for yourself.

WGASA
06-23-2006, 02:52 PM
Wow! What a group of professional, considerate and well versed reports of experience in action. Homework is useless without good competant teachers, willing to share knowledge. thx

captken
06-23-2006, 09:42 PM
Good thread.
I just got my new steering dampers for my Hustler Z. After about 2500? something hrs. this is the second time I've had to replace them.
The Hustler dampers are rather large when compared to others I have seen and tested on various mowers.
When the dampers get weak, the machine seems over responsive with jerky steering. I'd have to say that "size does make a difference" I am refering to the rating of the damper. They are a type of shock absorber. Different brands have different ratings. So Yes, dampers play a very important role....I believe the difference between "jerky" and "smooth" is in the damper and its rating.
These things are beefy and good quality, and no you cannot buy them from the manufacture of the damper.....I tried:cry:

Envy Lawn Service
06-23-2006, 09:56 PM
Ken,

Those look like the ones on my Lesco. About the size of a big storm door dampner.

captken
06-23-2006, 11:19 PM
yeah, they have a big barrel. You cannot pull the shaft out on the new ones, the old ones you can just....barely..it takes a lot of effort...kenny

Envy, they are not spring loaded!! They are gas charged. Here is the link for the manufacturer that Hustler uses...all you would EVER want to know about dampers....kenny:waving: can you say bi directional damping??? [what we have] I just like cutting grass! http://www.avminc.com/oei/index.htm

captken
06-23-2006, 11:30 PM
without having to search, kenny. Controlled rate of return...what??...enjoy all you techno freaks!

http://www.avminc.com/oei/self_center_damper.htm

puppypaws
06-24-2006, 08:22 PM
Looking to buy JD 757 60", Hustler Z 60" or Exmark HP 56". One significant variable to evaluate is how smooth and easy to operate are the control handles of each brand. For those, who have been there, can you give your opinions. ThxThe Hustler operation is smooth but very responsive, it has to be able to react quicker because of the difference in ground speed. The Hustler Super Z operates perfectly to me, even if I get on a regular Z I almost bend the handles forward trying to make it go faster and I loved my Bobcat that I put 700+ hrs. on but I just needed to mow faster. I can tell you once you get use to that speed you can never go back unless you only mow small areas where you never need to mow fast.

tacoma200
06-24-2006, 08:25 PM
The Hustler operation is smooth but very responsive, it has to be able to react quicker because of the difference in ground speed. The Hustler Super Z operates perfectly to me, even if I get on a regular Z I almost bend the handles forward trying to make it go faster and I loved my Bobcat that I put 700+ hrs. on but I just needed to mow faster. I can tell you once you get use to that speed you can never go back unless you only mow small areas where you never need to mow fast.

Yes the Hustler is very smooth, so is the Exmark to me. The Scag has too much dampening and the Dixies is at the other extreme. A matter of personal preference.

Likestomow
06-25-2006, 01:13 PM
Anyone know why dampners are even used?

Dixie Chopper doesn't use them and they have the smoothest control, so why does everyone else use dampners?

HighGrass
06-25-2006, 05:23 PM
Funny how 'most' share the same pumps and wheel motors...
Yet they all feel so different.

It doesn't have much to do with dampening. The dampners are just used for stick resistance and return to neutral. ...........SNIP..........

I don't know about that. I have my two machines out in the yard as I write this. Today I took off both the Exmarks and the Scags dampners, and trust me...there's a difference you can really feel. With both of the unhooked and power on or off, they feel pretty close. Put them back and they are worlds apart. The dampners on the Scag are almost double the diameter as the Exmarks.

TLS
06-25-2006, 06:56 PM
Anyone know why dampners are even used?

Dixie Chopper doesn't use them and they have the smoothest control, so why does everyone else use dampners?

They save hydro pumps and wheel motors from overzealous operators.

Dixie was my first ZTR. I can't go back now. There's no "Look Ma,...no hands" on a Dixie.

Pumper
06-25-2006, 07:40 PM
The dampeners are used to bring the levers back to neutral. Depending on the Manufacturer, they either use dampeners or springs (Dixie Chopper uses springs on the handles to do this). The "smoothness" of a hydraulic circuit has a lot of variables. As far as the companies using the same pumps and motors, they are the same suppliers but there are a lot of variances between the parts.

tacoma200
06-25-2006, 08:05 PM
I like medium to light dampers. I have heard of people taking one hand off a Dixie to wave or scratch and end up doing dougnuts. But the handle nice as long as you keep your hands on the levers.

captken
06-25-2006, 10:38 PM
Self-Centering Dampers

AVM offers a unique, patented product that allows controlled movement in extension and compression and provides a controlled rate of return from either direction to a neutral position.

The most common use for this new technology is in the control of hydrostatic transmissions. The Self-centering damper replaces a combination of springs and dampers with a single, compact, cost-effective unit. The Self-centering damper is linked to a control lever or pedal and provides a controlled rate of actuation as well as a return to a positive neutral position.

TLS
06-26-2006, 09:53 AM
My dampners only self center from REVERSE. They are just dampning going forward. There is no "pull back" on mine.

WGASA
06-26-2006, 10:36 AM
So..on a Hustler, if you push your controls forward and let go, they just stay there and you keep going forward to some degree, until you pull them back?

Idealtim
06-26-2006, 11:28 AM
Scag has way too much dampening and the dixie chopper is almost like a trigger. The exmark and hustlers are perfect to me. Thats just personal preference though. I like the self centering of the exmark the best and I swear they feel better after more hours.

TLS
06-26-2006, 12:10 PM
So..on a Hustler, if you push your controls forward and let go, they just stay there and you keep going forward to some degree, until you pull them back?

Yes. That is correct. There is no spring feel at all to bring back to neutral.

There is going in reverse though. It does give a nice neutral feel.

hillndale
06-26-2006, 12:43 PM
Scag has way too much dampening and the dixie chopper is almost like a trigger. The exmark and hustlers are perfect to me. Thats just personal preference though. I like the self centering of the exmark the best and I swear they feel better after more hours.

I second this and glad to see it validated by another user. My Scag Z Cat is dampened to the point of unresponsive at times, when pulling the sticks back. I complained to Scag and they sent my dealer the damper shocks from a "tiger cub" which they claimed were softer. They helped a little, but all in all lack the smoothness I would like to have. More tire spinning than should be.

One thing to note, which I realize is common sense. I find it more comfortable to hold the control sticks lower down, at about the 2nd curve in the stick, but that cuts way down on the leverage. Holding the sticks at the ends, as I guess you're supposed to, definately allows for a perceived level of smoothness. Trouble is there is no adjustment to lower the sticks on the '05 Z Cat so my hand are on the sticks at chest height, making for very uncomfortable positioning, so I drop my hands down the stick again, and defeat the leverage. Oh well. That's my main gripe with the Scag.

hillndale:headphones:

captken
06-26-2006, 10:59 PM
My dampners only self center from REVERSE. They are just dampning going forward. There is no "pull back" on mine.

They dampen and do not self center going into reverse....TLS...

that is a correct statement. however, there is "controlled movement" when you "pull back" the sticks from full ahead to neutral.
There is resistance when you pull them back to neutral, there is tension resisting the [compression] or the "pull back" to neutral.

Dampers work both ways, compression/tension.
kenny. Is that clear or what?:drinkup: I just had a Jose Cuervo Black....:cool2: oh well....

tallimeca
06-26-2006, 11:34 PM
Alot of things can affect how a machine controls.

I mean comparing a machine with 100 hrs, to one with 1200 hrs isn't a fair comparrison.

Worn linkage, worn dampeners, worn pump belts, worn pulleys, debris packed in pulleys, overdue hydro filter changes and incorrect fluid can all affect performance.

Most of the newer machines are using pumps with built in "shock valves".

Basically what they do is relieve pressue so when you jam the sticks forward, you don't wreck the pumps. When these engage, they can make the machine feel sluggish.

Tire pressue can affect it as well.

What amazes me is you can grab a set of dampeners from one OEM. The same set from another, and look at the price difference. Some OEM's price them through the roof!!!!

QualityLawnCare4u
06-27-2006, 02:30 AM
I have a 737 and an exmark and the deere has smoother controls big time hands down. I made a comment about the difference on here several time. Have not tried the Hustler so I cant comment on them. The exmark is a lot more jerky than the 737 is.

tacoma200
06-27-2006, 03:42 AM
I have a 737 and an exmark and the deere has smoother controls big time hands down. I made a comment about the difference on here several time. Have not tried the Hustler so I cant comment on them. The exmark is a lot more jerky than the 737 is.

I'm not trying to be smart but Xmark didn't become #1 in sales by selling jerky ZTR's. I have had two and used others and none were as you call it jerky. Is the JD smoother, I can't say but will take your word for it. I have been on Scags, Exmarks, Dixies, Grasshoppers etc. NONE were jerky, they handle different from each other. Every day I mow I am amazed at how accurately the Exmark handles, it doesn't jerk with me at the controls. Maybe I just have an easier time adjusting to different mowers? The only jerks I've felt were when I pushed the handle quickly forward on a Dixie or Hustler Super Z. It jerked me to the back of the seat and tried to pull the front wheels. Different points of view I guess.

TLS
06-27-2006, 08:21 AM
They dampen and do not self center going into reverse....TLS...

that is a correct statement. however, there is "controlled movement" when you "pull back" the sticks from full ahead to neutral.
There is resistance when you pull them back to neutral, there is tension resisting the [compression] or the "pull back" to neutral.

Dampers work both ways, compression/tension.
kenny. Is that clear or what?:drinkup: I just had a Jose Cuervo Black....:cool2: oh well....

I believe you confused me more Ken.

Mine dampen on extension and compression of that shock absorber. I believe it dampens equal amounts on extension and compression.

Just sitting on the mower, engine off. The only spring pressure is when you pull the sticks towards your body. They will automatically return to neutral from this position. If you push the sticks away from your body, they stay where you put them. There is no spring tension to return them to neutral from this position.

Hope that clears this up.

My Lazer was the same way, except that they used physical springs to do this as the dampner was just that....a dampner.

captken
06-27-2006, 08:57 AM
I believe you confused me more Ken.

Mine dampen on extension and compression of that shock absorber. I believe it dampens equal amounts on extension and compression.

Just sitting on the mower, engine off. The only spring pressure is when you pull the sticks towards your body. They will automatically return to neutral from this position. If you push the sticks away from your body, they stay where you put them. There is no spring tension to return them to neutral from this position.


Good morning! Having coffee here. Did not mean to confuse anybody.
TLS, I agree 100%. No return to neutral from foward.

Engine off, push sticks all the way to stops. You work against the damper which resist you while you are pushing it out. Take your hands off, sticks stay there. Now pull the sticks back to neutral. You have to work against the damper resisting the return to neutral. It is controled movement. Thats is what keeps us from going all over the place when we hit bumps mowing fast, or when we make slight corrections and the actions don't result in jerky movements with the machine. We are on the same page here, just saying it differntly maybe, kenny:waving:
I left out reverse, and yes there is the resistance pulling it towards your body. Let go and it returns to neutral. I think they are all gas charged, but when I change them out, I'll try to open one up to see if there are any springs inside, that are used for return to neutral from reverse. kenny

james mcdonald
07-12-2006, 03:19 PM
I have settled on a 48 inch to 50 inch ZTR but control sensitivity has been a real drawback on my choosing a ZTR brand. I have tried a Dixie, Exmark, Scag, Toro, Dixon, and John Deere in the dealers' parking lots. Hard to get a demo on your own property here. I have been able to talk to the owner of a 2006 48 inch tiger cub that mows a cemetary lot and he loves the machine much more than some previous ZTRs he has used. He said there were no "tight spots" for this mower. However, cut quality of the unit he had was just ok in my opinion. He was cutting at 2 1/2 inches. I liked the offset deck design of the 48 inch Toro with the turbo force deck and notice several local commercial operators using them. The cut quality appeared very good. Athough the Toro was not jerky on most models tested, it seemed busy on the straight aways and required more attention to keep straight. The tiger cub and John Deere were the smoothest and appeared to have the most control with less effort and attention to keep straight. The John Deere 717A, which apparently uses only one pump with two wheel motors did not have much deck off set but had better trim edge visibility than the cub. The dixie Silver Eagle was more sensitive trimming but tracked straight with no effort.

One thing I noticed about Toro and Exmark in the units I tested was inconsistency. The control sensitivity and straight tracking ability varied from unit to unit. (I went to several dealers.) This was especially true of the Toro. I am not sure why this would be the case. However, I still like the Toro deck set up the best for my purposes. All units were in the $6,000 range with the scag being the most expensive if you purchased the Kaw engine.

The Exmark, like the Deere had very little trim edge capability but the visibility of the trim edge, like the Deere, was very good.

Finally, the Hustler deck choice was limited to either a 44 inch or a 52 inch. I wanted more than a 44 inch but not more than 50 inches. Plus again the 44 inch deck model had very little trim edge capability.

Still not sure what I will purchase.