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View Full Version : 2.5 acres with slope - ZTR question


sperho
08-13-2006, 12:43 AM
Background:
I've recently purchased a home with about 2.5 acres to mow. I currently have a 33" HiVac Snapper rear engine rider that I use. If I mow the whole property at once (which I prefer to do), it takes about 4.5 hours seat time. There's a fair amount of turning on this property (not exceptionally evident in the pictures below, but...). I have a very reputable Cub Cadet dealer nearby me that I would like to support, so I'm about 90% decided on Cub Cadet. There's a Scag dealer a little further away, but their reputation isn't as clean.

I've considered a tractor, but with as much turning as I have to do, I'm pretty confident that a ZTR is the way to go. In order of importance, my selection criteria are: (1) Shortest time to mow, but still do a quality job (not much scalping, good finish cut, etc) (2 - as important as 1, really) the ability to handle my hills (3) Good dealer support should it be necessary (4) good mulching capability. Not in the list, but I want to go commercial because I want the thing to last forever.

Questions:
(1) Would a 50" KHS (stamped deck "commercial" model) fit the bill on longevity? i.e. is a fabricated deck really necessary for me wanting the mower to last 'forever'. I have no plans on going commercial with it. Frankly, I'm leaning toward the M54 Tank with the fabbed deck because I think a mid-50s deck would be eek a little more time out of the job, yet still be a pretty agile machine.

(2) Do you think a ZTR, specifically the Cub Commercial line will stick on the hills shown?

(3) The Tank M54 would be about $7,000. I'm willing to pay this amount for a solid mower that got the job done without fuss. I realize that prices are somewhat regional, but would I be getting screwed at that price? i.e. could I go buy some Scag model that was head and shoulders better at a similar deck size for that kind of dough?

(4) Those of you who mulch on Tanks, how do they do? Or does the deck with side discharge cut the clippings fine enough that mulching isn't really necessary. It always seems like I'm mowing when my lawn is about 5-6" tall. I like the look of a bagged lawn (little to no brown clippings lying on top of the grass after a few days of drying out), but absolutely don't want to bag!

Thanks for your help...

http://redboston.com/pics/1721_rock_springs/2006-03-21_114618-1_std.jpg

http://redboston.com/pics/1721_rock_springs/2006-03-21_121743-1_std.jpg

http://redboston.com/pics/1721_rock_springs/2006-03-21_123202-1_std.jpg

http://redboston.com/pics/1721_rock_springs/backyard%202_std.jpg

http://redboston.com/pics/1721_rock_springs/2006-03-21_122732-1_std.jpg

MJB
08-13-2006, 01:07 AM
Background:
I've recently purchased a home with about 2.5 acres to mow. I currently have a 33" HiVac Snapper rear engine rider that I use. If I mow the whole property at once (which I prefer to do), it takes about 4.5 hours seat time. There's a fair amount of turning on this property (not exceptionally evident in the pictures below, but...). I have a very reputable Cub Cadet dealer nearby me that I would like to support, so I'm about 90% decided on Cub Cadet. There's a Scag dealer a little further away, but their reputation isn't as clean.

I've considered a tractor, but with as much turning as I have to do, I'm pretty confident that a ZTR is the way to go. In order of importance, my selection criteria are: (1) Shortest time to mow, but still do a quality job (not much scalping, good finish cut, etc) (2 - as important as 1, really) the ability to handle my hills (3) Good dealer support should it be necessary (4) good mulching capability. Not in the list, but I want to go commercial because I want the thing to last forever.

Questions:
(1) Would a 50" KHS (stamped deck "commercial" model) fit the bill on longevity? i.e. is a fabricated deck really necessary for me wanting the mower to last 'forever'. I have no plans on going commercial with it. Frankly, I'm leaning toward the M54 Tank with the fabbed deck because I think a mid-50s deck would be eek a little more time out of the job, yet still be a pretty agile machine.

(2) Do you think a ZTR, specifically the Cub Commercial line will stick on the hills shown?

(3) The Tank M54 would be about $7,000. I'm willing to pay this amount for a solid mower that got the job done without fuss. I realize that prices are somewhat regional, but would I be getting screwed at that price? i.e. could I go buy some Scag model that was head and shoulders better at a similar deck size for that kind of dough?

(4) Those of you who mulch on Tanks, how do they do? Or does the deck with side discharge cut the clippings fine enough that mulching isn't really necessary. It always seems like I'm mowing when my lawn is about 5-6" tall. I like the look of a bagged lawn (little to no brown clippings lying on top of the grass after a few days of drying out), but absolutely don't want to bag!

Thanks for your help...

http://redboston.com/pics/1721_rock_springs/2006-03-21_114618-1_std.jpg

http://redboston.com/pics/1721_rock_springs/2006-03-21_121743-1_std.jpg

http://redboston.com/pics/1721_rock_springs/2006-03-21_123202-1_std.jpg

http://redboston.com/pics/1721_rock_springs/backyard%202_std.jpg

http://redboston.com/pics/1721_rock_springs/2006-03-21_122732-1_std.jpg

If you have a good Cub Dealer then go with the Tank. One thing to consider is how bumpy is the lawn, if you can, get the suspension seat upgrade it will pay off if your in a hurry. I have only demoed a Tank 60, $8000 with the mulching kit and I think it would work fine for a homeowner. There are no hills I can see on your property that would give it much of a challenge. If you want the M54 get enough HP and the mulch kit, this will help you hide the clippings. You can always take it off and side discharge if you let it get to long or double cut it. If you have a Hustler dealer near you ask for a demo . Either way I would talk your Cub dealer into bringing it out to you to try on your property. Tell him you'll have a check waiting if you like it.

sperho
08-13-2006, 01:10 AM
If you want the M54 get enough HP and the mulch kit, this will help you hide the clippings.

What would be the minimum horsepower that I would want on a 54" mulching deck?

Thanks for the comments... My dealer did say that he would bring out mower and let me see if it would handle the hills before I bought it. If it did so to my satisfaction, only then would I be obliged to buy it

MJB
08-13-2006, 01:19 AM
What would be the minimum horsepower that I would want on a 54" mulching deck?

Thanks for the comments... My dealer did say that he would bring out mower and let me see if it would handle the hills before I bought it. If it did so to my satisfaction, only then would I be obliged to buy it
The 60 Tank I demoed had a 27hp Kohler on it. That was plenty of power for the 60". Si I would guess 25 hp, I don't really know anything about the 54, what are your engine options? When you demo it make sure you let your grass grow out to the worst conditions you would after you buy it. This would be a good test for it.

sperho
08-13-2006, 01:22 AM
what are your engine options?

With the caveat that websites can and often are incomplete, the Cub site only lists a 23HP Kawasaki twin as an engine for it. Seems underpowered to me, but what do I know?

MJB
08-13-2006, 01:27 AM
Oh yeah, when you demo it, if certain sections of your lawns get to long and it doesn't look as good as you like it too, raise your deck 1/4 to 1/2 inch and make a 2nd pass in the opposite direction this should take care of any extra clippings. That might not be necesary in TN because your grass is different than what we grow up here. But in case thats how we make it dissapear with the mulching decks.

MJB
08-13-2006, 01:29 AM
With the caveat that websites can and often are incomplete, the Cub site only lists a 23HP Kawasaki twin as an engine for it. Seems underpowered to me, but what do I know?

That might be enough but I would ask about other options and then demo like I said to see if you need more power.

SOMM
08-13-2006, 01:53 AM
The grass will evict you unless you tend to that much acreage with a good used z of one of these in at least 20hp kohler or kaw: dixie chopper, grasshopper outfront or z, or hustler z in at least 50" cut, 60" is better.

A well mantained engine even at 1500-2000 hours nets you better than half price of present retail. Be sure to have them haul it to a large scale customer's premises or at least an open field at a park for your testing prior to purchase.

Even a good used 52" hydro wb in 17-25hp V twin (or even 16hp Briggs i/c V) with sulky or wheelplate, (like a bobcat, bunton, exmark, grasshopper, ferris, scag) would serve you well.

Bring it by your local dealership to inquire of stocking and availibility of parts, and for the service department's opinion of good or very good condition which will affect price also.

sperho
08-13-2006, 01:59 AM
The grass will evict you unless you tend to that much acreage with a good used z of one of these in at least 20hp kohler or kaw: dixie chopper, grasshopper outfront or z, or hustler z in at least 50" cut, 60" is better.

Can you elaborate on why those recommendations; especially vs. the Cub Tanks?

MJB
08-13-2006, 08:56 PM
Many people see Cub Cadet as a lesser machine. I demoed one and thought it was fine for a homeowner or a new person who was on a tight budget, but not equivilant to Exmark or Hustler. But if you have good dealer support the Cub will do you fine and should last for yrs. Can you do better? Sure if you needed too. Hustler, Exmark,, Grasshopper, all are a step up above the Cub. But if you demo it in extreme conditions you should feel good about your purchase. Is that the only dealer close to you??

dcondon
08-13-2006, 09:10 PM
We run all cub TANKS 2 60"s and a 72" and a couple W/B's. Make sure you demo a 60 because I think it does a much better cut and will hold on the hills better. I know they are a little more money but you will not regret it.Let us know what you get!!!:waving:

sperho
08-13-2006, 09:42 PM
Is that the only dealer close to you??

There's actually a Scag dealer that I've been talking to people about and today I feel like they've tipped the scales in my mind as a reputable, solid dealer. I would consider Scag an option. It seems that a 52" Wild Cat or 52" Tiger Cub will be in the running two, but given the closer proximity of the Cub dealer (about 20 miles closer), Scag is going to really have to impress me to sway me from a Tank.

Comments on Scag Wild Cat or Tiger Cub vs. the M54 for my application?

sperho
08-13-2006, 09:44 PM
We run all cub TANKS 2 60"s and a 72" and a couple W/B's. Make sure you demo a 60 because I think it does a much better cut and will hold on the hills better. I know they are a little more money but you will not regret it.Let us know what you get!!!:waving:

The fact that my yard has a bunch of dips and swells that are scalp-prone, I'm pretty nervous about a 54" deck, let alone a 60. So the 60 cuts better and holds hills better than the 54? Why? Wider is better in general?

MJB
08-14-2006, 01:34 AM
The fact that my yard has a bunch of dips and swells that are scalp-prone, I'm pretty nervous about a 54" deck, let alone a 60. So the 60 cuts better and holds hills better than the 54? Why? Wider is better in general?

I mow a lot worse than that everyday with my 66" hustler and 60" Exmark. I believe you can get some kind of stripe rollers with those mowers. They actually are giant scalp rollers that help you keep from scalping. The pictures are both from a 60" deck with a stripe roller. These are some small hills but can be mowed by my 66" deck also. One trick is to use the deck lift pedal if you think it's going to scalp push on the pedal to raise the deck a little. Those options are available on most 60" mowers. Check to see if the 54" have them also.

sperho
08-15-2006, 12:05 AM
Let us know what you get!!!

Thanks for everyone's replies...

I took the plunge today. After driving both Scag (Tiger Cub and Wildcat) and Cub Cadet Tanks (M50 and M54), looking at specs out the wazoo, and thinking about the "whats" and "whys" of this purchase, I went with the Tank M54. I had ag tires and gator blades put on it before they delivered it this evening.

SWEET machine, I must say. The Scag had a little leg up on deck heaviness and motor, but after the $400 off deal that Cub was running, it was also a $1500 more expensive machine. The Tank should more than suit my needs and desires for durability and cut quality. The dealer is a gem, to boot.

So far, I've mowed about all of my terrain types (was mowing till dark) except for the steepest hills. I'll go for that soon, maybe when there's daylight :). I set the deck to about 2.5 inches which is about the same cut height I was using on the Snapper and I was extremely impressed by the lack of scalping on mounds that had been a problem for the Snapper (with anti-scalp rollers fully lowered). The cut even at about 2X the ground speed of the Snapper was fine. Even with sharp blades, the Snapper was limited to about 2.5 - 3 mph before cut quality degraded too much. I would say that at the tire pressures as delivered (18 psi), I was limited by how much I wanted to bounce myself around. I checked them after mowing. I lowered them to about 10 psi - based on the owner's manual recommendations as well as what I've seen recommended on Lawnsite. We'll see if that smoothens the ride up some.

I've got to get used to the handling of course, but I think I'm going to be able to cut down my seat time by about 2/3 or so. There wasn't very many seconds that I wasn't cutting grass. Efficiency was what I was after and efficiency was what I got!

Given some of the hills I have, I went with the ag tires on my dealer's recommendation and after I've mowed for awhile I'll see if I really like them or not. One thing you do NOT do while coming down a slope is sweep too hard to the left or right - talk about plowing effect! After a few sod removal exercises, I was getting better, but will still need awhile to gain the inside-wheel speed judgement so damage is minimized.

Gator blades are cutting quite well and the side discharged clippings didn't layer-up at all. We'll see how side-discharging with them goes when I have to skip a week or two between mowings.

The seat switch is pretty sensitive. I'm about 150 lbs and while feathering the deck over roots with the foot pedal, etc. the switch cuts the engine. Need to see if I can make it less sensitive. I'm not wild about shorting the switch, really... Anyone with ideas of how to make this switch less sensitive (better positioned, maybe?)?

dvmcmrhp52
08-15-2006, 12:24 AM
You should be able to move the switch up just a bit to accomodate your lighter weight.

You will probably get your cut time down to about 1.25 hours once you learn it a bit more.
Have fun.........

jkingrph
08-15-2006, 08:07 PM
Spherco.

Hope you enjoy your tank. Looked at that also closest dealer for me was about 35 miles, he also sold Scag and said Scag was better machine. Price as about 400 higher than my local in town dealer so you know where I went. Really wanted to go with local dealer for parts service even though I may pay a bit more. Had one of cub cadets high end lawn tractors about 15 years ago and dealer support was bad and too many things broke to quickly like electric clutch at less than 3 hours. Axel broke and they had not applied anti seize agent and mechanic had to beat wheel off( made them replace that) That and more was why I did will not buy anything else with the caded logo again. Hope you have good luck with yours

Jeff

sperho
08-15-2006, 09:04 PM
Hope you have good luck with yours

Me too. Sounds like you had a heck of an experience with your tractor...