View Full Version : choppers exmarks & electric clutches

11-28-2001, 12:56 PM
I have looked at a dixie chopper and noticed it has a manual clutch to engage the blades,which is what i would prefer when i make my next purchase (ztr).However i like exmarks compact look on the 52 hp lazer z which i think has the electric clutch,correct me if i am wrong on this.From you all that have these units tell me if this is a concern on reliability with the electric clutch.It just seems to me with the manual clutch you can ease the blades on slower making less wear on the belts ,which makes me wonder why would a manufacturer even use electric clutches at all.Also i have heard something about the routing of the engine to blade belts wearing faster on the exmark due to routing as opposed to the dixie choppers design.I have talked to some people that tell me that the dixie choppers are the best cutting machines.I know that exmark walk behinds cut well having owned two units for many years,but when it comes to the high cost of the ZTR mowers I want to be as informed as possible before any purchase I might make.

living life lawnworker

11-28-2001, 01:31 PM
I love the manual clutch. I have 2 Exmark w/bs, a Ransome w/b, a Walker GHS and just bought a Dixie Chopper. All have the manual and have no problems. My first mower was 1983 Toro 44 belt drive. It had a manual clutch. Had a few problems , it was pretty reliable. I just hate the way the electric cluch kicks in . It feels as if the hole mower is being stressed too much and occasionally the load is to much and the engine just quits. I find it very diffucult to get employees to lower the rpms before they engage the blades. However, they can be trained to engage the manual clutch slowly which I believe is the better of two evils.

11-28-2001, 02:20 PM

I have owned both, on both. Dixie, Lazer, SCAG Manual, and SCAG Electric. Garden tractor manual, and Garden tractor electric. If I had a choice on a mower, it would without any doubt or hesitation, be ELECTRIC CLUTCH. Actually this is what is giving me hesitation on buying an Exmark walkbehind....theyr'e still manual!! I want electric, and only SCAG offers it.

Back to ZTR's and your question. The Lazer HP is a vertical shaft engine design so the belt doesn't have to do a dog leg twist to the deck. The electrics are a little tougher to engage when the engine/deck/belts are cold. But there is no fine tuning or adjustment needed as the belt stretches. My old SCAG manual was known for slipping the belt when it stretched. Today's electric clutches are by far outliving the ones that have left the bad rumors in your head.

Go for the better mower with the best/closest dealer.

11-28-2001, 02:56 PM

The 2002 turf tracer has a electric clutch but not the turf tracer hp
or the viking hydro also none of the belt drives

11-28-2001, 07:01 PM
Having had to replace the electric clutch on my Lazer with less than 300 hours, I tend to prefer manual clutches. I probably was a contributor to the failing of the clutch, by not idleing down the machine before disengaging the blades. If all else is equal, I would choose the machine with a manual clutch.

Kent Lawns
11-28-2001, 07:12 PM
For the record: All years Turf Tracers have/had electric clutch.

I prefer electic clutch and have only had a failure under warranty.

If you have to replace one at 2500 hours, the $150.00 shouldn't be a big deal.

It does not affect belt wear in any measureable way.

Bottom line: I think it's a matter of personal preference rather than a reliability, price or value issue.

Eng Mwr Guy
11-28-2001, 08:13 PM

The new Gravely WB's have an electric clutch properly specified to handle double blades.

Couldn't leave that one alone....sorry.

Gravely Guy

11-28-2001, 09:51 PM
Oh, I know, I should have clarified that "most" WB's aren't electric. As from a manufacturers standpoint, I would think that it is easier and cheaper to produce a mower with an electric clutch. Less to go wrong, no linkage, no extra pulleys, easier to wire in a operator presence control. I guess when/if the electric breaks it will be out of service that day for a replacement. However if you break something on a manual clutch, your down for a while too.

After seeing my local shopping center get mowed today, I see why electrics get a bad rep. The guy was operating a 60" Lazer. He had a backpack strapped to the back of the seat and was driving down the lot with the blades on (full tilt) and blower blowing the leaves up off the lot and into the grass. Then they had another guy on a Lazer with an Ultra-Vac sucking them up in the grass. Anyway, both guys were simply switching the PTO's off and on at full tilt!!! Repeatedly!!! I almost pooped my pants, and I dont even own the mowers! Thats kinda like fingernails on a blackboard to me! Both were doing it over and over, on/off, on/off. The Ultra-Vac unit is the one I was most worried about. I have done it by accident once or twice when my thigh bumps the PTO switch, and that makes me nervous, but come on, this had to be abuse of equipment.

lawrence stone
11-28-2001, 09:52 PM
Originally posted by shearbolt
My first mower was 1983 Toro 44 belt drive. It had a manual clutch.

The first year the 44" toro mid size walkbehind was produced was 1985 with an electric clutch.

Kent Lawns
11-28-2001, 10:17 PM

44" Toro WB was introduced in late 1988.

Toro WB production started in 1985 with the 36" and 52" only.

lawrence stone
11-28-2001, 11:07 PM
Originally posted by Kent Lawns

44" Toro WB was introduced in late 1988.

Toro WB production started in 1985 with the 36" and 52" only.

That's what I had originally thought but if you go to Toros parts finder web page they list a 44" in 1985.

And I just traded a 44" for a 32" a few weeks ago and I "thought" it had a 1987 serial number.

Plus did not Toro make pistol grip walk behinds b/4 1985?

Eng Mwr Guy
11-28-2001, 11:28 PM

Actually the cost is about the same.

Parts are less but assembly time is higher for manual.

More than you really needed to know.



Kent Lawns
11-29-2001, 01:02 AM
Toro didn't make a 44" in 1985.

The didn't make pistol grips before 1989.

They didn't have a website in the 1980's period.

The 44" will fit any mower back to 1985, that's where they're messing with you.

11-29-2001, 01:36 PM
Originally posted by shearbolt
My first mower was 1983 Toro 44 belt drive. It had a manual clutch. Had a few problems , it was pretty reliable. I just hate the way the electric cluch kicks in .

Went out behind the shed to my w/b graveyard(wife's most treasured place on our property) to check on old Toro's model and serial #, angrily cursing Stone's name as I go. But then ah, the memories as I WALK BEHIND the old girls, Ransome and faded Metro. They made me what I am today(a 35 year man who combs grass clippings out of his hair every night).I knew every zerk and cranny they had. But just like any close friendship there were bad times. I remember one trying morning attempting to choke you Metro but you just snapped. I still remember our last walk together when you betrayed me and my companions on that tall (very tall) spring lawn many years ago. Yes I admit it, I had my eye on another younger more reliable counterpart. I think we both saw it coming. And Ransome, your ransom was much to great for our daily friendship to continue. Yet even in your absence from my daily existence you both continue to give, even from your inner most selves. Thank you

Yes the model numbers always tell the truth.Only 5 years off on my Toro. (Nit picker)

And I mean't to say electric clutch instead of manual ( you can
see that if you look at the context of what I was TRYING to say)

Yes Stone you do have a purpose in my life and this is it.
Through condescending and intimidating posts you have inadvertently shown me why I love this business.


11-30-2001, 06:55 PM
Is there no one else out there going to defend manual clutches?

11-30-2001, 10:40 PM
My theory is anytime you go electric you have more wires - more wires rubbing bare - more shorts down the road - more problems if you run a mower for 10 yrs +. I have electrics on all my JD's - (a 1988 332 - 1995 455 - 1998 455 and 1999 455) They all work great, but had to replace one on the old 332 and was substantially more expensive that a pulley, or bushing, or spring etc. I agree - it seems like a terrible whack to the system when engaging compared to the ability to slowly engage a manual.

Kent Lawns
12-01-2001, 12:03 AM
If you're using a 10 year old mower, you're behind the times. You can't be a profitable or competitive as someone with newer equipment.

No hydro WB.
No Lazer.
A 1991 Dixie isn't going to keep up with an '01.
And, no flex deck 10 years ago. ;)

big james
01-17-2002, 10:48 PM
I got three riders ,all with electric clutch one is a 4 year old snapper garden tractor that has been used commercially ,when it gets hot and you disengage it ,it has to cool down before it will engage again but it keeps on going and going ,my two exmarks with electric clutches have not given me any problems . Manual is obviously simplier, but I would not trade my exmark s for dixie choppers based on whether they are manual or electric. I 'M NOT KNOCKING DIXIE'S ,I HAVE NEVER OWNED ONE -CAN'T KNOCK WHAT YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ....:angel:

01-18-2002, 11:40 AM
I have had ferris and exmark and replaced several clutches, I have used d/c for about 10 years and done nothing to them. I bought a bladerunner last year and it has a manual clutch. There is just less to go wrong with a manual clutch!

01-18-2002, 03:23 PM
Originally posted by big james
when it gets hot and you disengage it ,it has to cool down before it will engage again

I had a Dixon that would do this from time to time. Adjustment would take care of this. This is something that you may want to look into. :)

big james
01-18-2002, 06:14 PM
I did not know they were adjustable ! learn something new every day :) :) :) :)

01-18-2002, 06:59 PM
I think its obvious why you should never start an electric clutch at high RPMs, but why are people saying you have to throttle down to disengage? This makes no sense to me. Just a thought.

01-18-2002, 07:20 PM

01-18-2002, 08:47 PM

The issue of throttling down before you disengage the electric clutch is MUCH more important than when engaging the blades. All of these electric clutches on mowers are also part of the safety interlock system. They are required to STOP the blades within so many seconds (cant remember how many 2-4 I think) from full speed. They actually are a BRAKE as well as a clutch. The longer the blades spin when you disengage them, the more wear you are giving to the brake clutch plates.

Starting the blades while engine RPM's are high is only a quick SHOCK to the clutch mechanism, no actual wear (or very little) is happening. Its the DE-celleration that wears them out.

Hope this helps.

01-18-2002, 09:28 PM
Thanks for the info. Guess i will go buy a couple of throttle cables. LOL

01-19-2002, 09:45 AM
TLS i can see why u were bugged. im just nosey enough, to step in there office and tell management their help was killing their machine.they would probably appreciate it an its another positive contact for u. finger nails on a blackboard describes it about right.
i have always preferred simple to complicated,so i prefer manual engagement. i will say replacing my electric this yr
on a 96 lazer,turned out to not be a big deal. later now.

01-23-2002, 12:39 AM
i have a toro/exmark chasis 1999, 36 wb. with the manual (better described as belt) clutch. I hate it, All those linkages, I already had to replace them once at about 200 hours. The threads on one of the adjusters stripped, because there was too much play in another shoulder bolt. I had a machine shop make a special washer to remove the play from that bolt and it has been fine since. But before that I had to adjust the belt every 25 hours. The other thing is that the blades take about a minute to spin down with the blade clutch, and with an electric, the stop is instant thats a nice safety/productivity feature. For changing bags and stopping the blades to avoid obstacles. Also with an elctric cluch you get the automatic belt tensioner

01-23-2002, 10:07 AM
The thing I don't like about manual blade engagement is the
seemingly endless adjusting to get it set up right. Right when
I think it works good I pull the lever back and the blades still
turn. I just got tired of the hassles involved and only buy electric
now. I'm sure some manufacturers have good settups but I'm
not sure who they are.