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View Full Version : Am I going Overboard? Pro-ZTR?


RayoVac
04-28-2002, 10:03 PM
I am considering the purchase of a Commercial ZTR for my home use. Looking for some input from others. Here is my situation:

I currently mow just under 1.5 acres. Though this is not a lot... a 21 inch push takes me 3 to 4 hours to complete. I have a large pine tree row, and deck surrounds the home. I also have a lake front lot that I mow with no improvements on it or seawall.

Over the years I have gone through a number of push mowers... a 21 inch push does a fine job if I cut it when it is short.... but if it gets long... a 2 to 3 hour job on the main property can turn in to 4 or 5 (with all the bagging)

I have been considering the purchase of a new or used OutFront ZTR. I think the Outfront would allow me the ease of reach in and around the pine tree row along with around the deck and lake front.

My dilemma is... am I going overboard??? Opinions appreciated...

Is it realistic to think this could possibly bet the last mower I ever buy, by spending the big bucks on a commercial ZTR that will let me complete the job in say an hour.

I have considered the Walk Behinds... but the bagging options just stink... especially considering the close trimming needed.

Riding Tractors and Mid Mounts put me in the trees when it comes to the trim work. A neighbor has a Hydro Deere with 48" deck... that's great in the open... but is difficult when it comes to the trim work around the trees and deck etc.

I have been closely eyeing the 618 Grasshopper and the smaller Walker. Are there any other "smaller" Front Deck ZTR's to consider?

Any guidance, previous experience would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

RayoVac

che
04-28-2002, 10:42 PM
Rayo I had the same problem you have , and I own a smaller property than yours, less than an acre , it took me 3 hours at least to do the front and back of my house , with a 21" push mower, it's not that I'm lazy , I work 11 hours a day and when I come home to do the mowing can never get the front and back lawn done in one afternoon I always left the backyard for the next day , my neighbor has the same property and hired a contractor to do his lawn by the time I was done with half of my front lawn he was all done front and back and gone onto the next house so after doing some research and thanks to this forum I decided to get me an early christmas present : a HUSTLER FASTRAK 18 hp Honda engine 44" deck. I did the front and back in 40 minutes and still had time to do trimming and edging and that was the first time I did it so maybe the next time will be faster ...my other 21inch lawnmowing neighbors were looking at me with envy ..so I think that you are not going overboard unless you want to be a real tired man and had no fun mowing your lawn at the end of the day...

RayoVac
04-28-2002, 10:50 PM
Che,

Thanks for the reply... I had actually read and followed your dilema in some of your posts. I have looked at the Hustler Equipment... it looks great... and certainly the FastTrak is way cheaper than a Grasshopper 618... my only problem is Hustler does not have an "OutFront Deck" model. With my configuration, I really feel like an Outfront is the way to go.

So I am guessing by your reply that you don't think that I am crazy for thinking of putting down the cash for a commericial model???

Thanks again... sounds like your mowing life has improved!!!

Ps... Can you get any kind of a bagging option for the FastTrak? Or do you just Throw?

RayoVac

Gunner
04-28-2002, 11:08 PM
Che,

In your earlier post, you stated that you purchased your Hustler Fastrack for $4100.00 plus tax. What did the dealer tell you that the "list" price was? My local (and the only Hustler dealer) in my state, gave me a "list" price of $5199.00 plus tax. Was just wondering how you managed to get one so "cheap".

Gunner

P. S. Keep us posted on how the cutting goes with it!!

Catcher
04-29-2002, 07:41 AM
Never really heard of the 'fast-track', I've been mowing with a 618 for the last year and love it.
If you want to get a comparable quote check the Woods 6182, same unit but you may get some dealers to compete for price.
I love the frontmounted deck and the flip up otion as well, encourages you to keep it clean and sharp at all times without scraping your knees.
Also, why are you bagging? My lawn grows real healthy in spots and with the 'Gatorz' replacement blades I have no problems with grass layinf everywhere. Give them a try before you spend the money for the collection system.
Last fall was also the first time I did not rake the leaves, there were no colors visible in the lawn when the mower got done with them.
Good luck.

RayoVac
04-29-2002, 10:33 AM
Catcher,

Thanks for the input... especially in regards to the bagging. My initial thought was to go for the Model 7 collection system. But I think I will hold off after hearing your comments. After years of using 21" pushers... I t's hard to imagine that the commercial units are so much better that they actually permit a nice finish cut without bagging!

Do you have the mulch kit.... for the $150 or so, do you think I should get it?

Was definitley thinking SL deck... I could not see going for a Front Mount without being able to flip her up... not to mention saving the room in the garage when not in use.

Once last question for you... being a 618 owner. How would you say the Quality of cut is. I hear the ExMark guys talk up how well those Lazer Zs cut..... what can I expect from the 618? Are the Gatorz blades a GH blade or aftermarket?

Thanks again,

RayoVac

ps. Notice your in K-Zoo.. just (o.k. a couple hours) north of me... I got my boat from The Edge Marina in Portage and do a bunch of work for the guys up there. Nice area!

JMcGuire
04-29-2002, 10:45 AM
Originally posted by RayoVac
I am considering the purchase of a Commercial ZTR for my home use. Looking for some input from others. Here is my situation:

I currently mow just under 1.5 acres. Though this is not a lot... a 21 inch push takes me 3 to 4 hours to complete. I have a large pine tree row, and deck surrounds the home. I also have a lake front lot that I mow with no improvements on it or seawall.

Over the years I have gone through a number of push mowers... a 21 inch push does a fine job if I cut it when it is short.... but if it gets long... a 2 to 3 hour job on the main property can turn in to 4 or 5 (with all the bagging)

I have been considering the purchase of a new or used OutFront ZTR. I think the Outfront would allow me the ease of reach in and around the pine tree row along with around the deck and lake front.

My dilemma is... am I going overboard??? Opinions appreciated...

Is it realistic to think this could possibly bet the last mower I ever buy, by spending the big bucks on a commercial ZTR that will let me complete the job in say an hour.

I have considered the Walk Behinds... but the bagging options just stink... especially considering the close trimming needed.

Riding Tractors and Mid Mounts put me in the trees when it comes to the trim work. A neighbor has a Hydro Deere with 48" deck... that's great in the open... but is difficult when it comes to the trim work around the trees and deck etc.

I have been closely eyeing the 618 Grasshopper and the smaller Walker. Are there any other "smaller" Front Deck ZTR's to consider?

Any guidance, previous experience would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

RayoVac

JMcGuire
04-29-2002, 10:49 AM
I purchased a Toro Timecutter 17 kohler 52 inch deck. It is a stamped deck but the sturdiest that I have ever seen, and I am only going to mower my yard, so I won't have to worry about all that wear and tear of hitting trees. I have about 40 tree on my 1 acre lot, and the 52 does well with trimming around all of them without the tires getting in my landscaping. I have pea gravel down and, I never have a problem. I purchased mine fore $4100, and I like it alot, of course I would have rather had an exmark, but that is a lot of money and I already wasn't looking to spend, what I did. I can get done in about 35 min., and it will make a decent stripe when I mower slower.

Catcher
04-29-2002, 03:00 PM
Hello again Rayo Vac,
well - I've used the pushers and the tractors, I was being told over and over about the quality of cut with a commercial unit but had no real idea what to expect. Them boys have the highest allowable blade-tip speed and that too makes a difference.
When my Dad first seen me mow with the unit he thought I was going way to fast, feeling I would get a better cut by going slower over the lawn. Well, that stuff happened to be tall and wet - it looked great when I was done.
I thought about all the add-ons etc, like the hopper and mulching kit. Just got the 18hp machine with a widestance & traction kit with the low pressure agricultural style tires.
The blades are made by somebody else, your dealer should have them. They are like a regular 'high-lift' blade, the 'bend-up' part in the rear providing the 'lift' is heavily serrated so as to cut up the grass further.
I have never tried mine with the mulcher, you can always get that afterwards - same with the hopper.
I was really impressed how well it took care of all the leaves (only reason for me to have a bagger - which I guess I won't need now).
Coming back to the quality of cut, I think the Grasshopper deck is able to move more when following the terrain than a mid-mount (never compared the two, so please take it easy on me guys), I get beautiful stripes, even cuts and I haven't trimmed in a year.
The deck follows the bumps and dips nicely, giving a good cut even when going in and out of ditches or enbankments next to driveways.
I looked at the Toro as well, but that pretty much is where it stopped.

Thanks for the nice comments about the neighbourhood, too.
It's like everything else - if you live there long enough other places start looking pretty good.
You mentioned you're doing work the marina here? What line are you in?

Good luck with the mower.

RayoVac
04-29-2002, 03:25 PM
Catcher,

I am in the Computer Biz. The marina that I purchased my boat from renovated an old marina next door to them. I took care of all their Data/Phone wiring and setup thier network, Internet access, new phone system w/voice mail etc. We barterd my services for a VERY deep discount on my boat not to mention lots for freebies over the years. I was in private consulting at the time, now I am back with a Mortgage Company HQ'd out of South Bend. I work as a Systems Engineer.

Now... here is the rub. I went and talked to the local eXmark dealer today. Checked out the Lazer HP (23 Kohler, 52" deck Mid). He claims that the Lazers cut will be superiour to the Grasshopper and feel that it would be a better machine for me. Of course he would have to say that (it is what he pays his mortgage selling!!!). There are many nice things about it but... my main concern is how much would I miss the Front Mount of the 618? Would I really use the snow blade etc? He claimed nobody is using the Grasshoppers anymore, claimed my quality of cut would be better with the eXmark.

The eXmark would end up costing me about $500-$600 more. Did you by chance consider them in your evaluations? How important do you weight the benefits vs. manuverabiltiy of the Front mount deck?

I thought I knew what I wanted... now I am uncertain.

HELP!!!

RayoVac

Catcher
04-30-2002, 03:00 PM
Well,
I'm not going to tell you which mower to buy. My guess is that at least 90% of the people here will tell you to buy the Exmark. The dealer I bought the GH from sells Exmark also, by the way.
Personally, I love the front deck - wouldn't trade it for a mid-mount. The pro's like the mid-mount because they can haul more machines on their trailer. I see plenty of lawnservices here using GH's also though.
Here's the gig:
The dealer must realize that you are spending an extraordinary amount of money here, any reputable dealer will have a demo machine.
Get the Exmark for a weekend and cruise around with it, next time the grass gets tall have them deliver the GH.
Make up your own mind. That's really the only way for you to know what you're getting (or not getting) when you buy a machine.
This shouldn't be a problem for the dealer, if it is - you've got the wrong dealer to start with.
Once again, good luck
I know I about stained my pants when I finalized the deal.

P.S.
I don't use any acessories with it yet, but at least you have the option to mount blowers etc on it if you like. The mid-mounts won't allow for this either.
I have an old Bolens with some attachments that I use for odds and ends. You'll find the attachments for ZTR's are (in my opinion) too expensive to use once a year.

RayoVac
04-30-2002, 03:53 PM
Catcher,

Thanks so much for all the help. I am going this afternoon to pick my brand new 618!!!

I figured it this way. The GH with SL9852 deck is 5.5" deep. Blades according to GH spin at 18.8 or so. I had the dealer install the "flotation" option which basically just lets the deck move side to side approximately about 8 more degrees. The deck is baffled similarly to the eXmark. With all this in mind... could there really be that big a difference?

The eXmark Lazer HP runs the TriVantage deck... not the UltraCut deck. The UltraCut deck is 5.5" deep... the TriVantage is not as deep. They claim blade speed as 18.5 and have special baffle design.

Steel construction and thicknesses are almost identical. Only real difference I see is in the anti-scalp roller design (eXmark run quite a few more)... also not that this is probably due to the mid deck hanging under the mower instead of riding out front as in the GH's case.

The GH is under powered compared to the eXmark. But... for homeowner use, if I have to slow down in the tall stuff... or double cut, it really does not matter.

Beyond the above, I believe any other discernable difference in cut would be attributed to blades. I can always put the Excalibur eXmark blades or others on the tweak the finish quality.

Oh yeah... my final out the door price is about $800 cheaper then the comparably equipped eXmark Lazer HP.

Thanks again,

RayoVac

Catcher
05-02-2002, 08:06 AM
Congratulations!
The horsepower was one thing I was concerned with as well, seeing how I have to content with a steep hill and some very lush areas of lawn that used to create problems for the tractor.
The next bigger size motor was quite a bit more dough, 'cause it's conveniniently housed in the next bigger tractor.
After mowing the first few times I found that the motor never boged down, no need to go overboard.
The other benefit: I'm saving a bunch of gas.
Hey, take that bad-boy for a few rides and let me know how you like it, o.k.?

RayoVac
05-02-2002, 09:51 AM
Catcher,

Thanks again for all the great info. I picked it up on Tuesday... and I proceeded to mow right away!!!

I was being very careful, having never operated any type of ZTR, not to tear the turf. I was able to trim right up to all my trees, no string trimming was required!!!! :D

As this was the first cut of the season... even though I am aware of the 1/3 rule... I had to see how it would do. I had some really tall/thick stuff, I just slowed her down and moved right through it, no bogging at all!

I was side discharing.... only bogging happened when running back over some large piles of discharge that where on top of un-cut grass. Then it only bogged just for a second and recovered quickly.

Given the height of the grass... if pushing with catcher on 21"... it would have taken me about 3+ hours on the main property. Even with double and triple passes over the discharge to get it to disappear... I finished in about 90 minutes (and I was being really careful).

Also... I had the model 12 grass collection on order... I canceled it after seeing how well it cut and dispersed the clippings. I did go ahead and get the mulch kit (on order) and the extra wheels for the deck, one goes in the left front (anti-scalp) and the other is a vertical wheel for the left front to guide the trim edge.

I really loved the ZTR capabilities. Did not tear any turf... Never even came close the running the rear end into anything while turning. (Probably cause I was being really careful).

I adjusted the handles last night, to bring the as close to me as possible. My arms are short so the factory setting put my arms almost fully extended when going full speed.

Ordered some of the Mo-Deck spray for the deck, anything to keep from having to scrape!

Thanks again,

RayoVac

awm
05-06-2002, 09:33 PM
if u can mow it in 3 hrs with a 21 inc,id just get a 42 inch lawn tractor. u talkin an hour max. mabe 25 min with a ztr.,but a lot more cash outlay.

Catcher
05-07-2002, 07:30 AM
Yeah,


but only half the fun.

RayoVac
05-07-2002, 09:53 AM
Yeah... What Catcher said!!!! :D

After using a Hydro JD (lawn tractor) with 48" deck...
The ZTR is way more fun!!!


RayoVac

JimMac
08-06-2002, 09:51 PM
I am in the same predicament you guys were in. I own a part time landscape buisness, & have a 48" scag gear / belt driven and a bunton 36" variable speed belt driven mowers. Both are walk-behinds, which are much, much slower than a ztr. I know this now because I tried a demo with the exmark lazer HP 52" 23 horse power Kawasaki ztr. The dealer let me try it for a saturday and I thought I died & went to heaven! $7400.00 base price and 1250.00 for the 2-barrel catching system, for a grand total of $8750.00. This was the first one I tried, so I owe it to myself to try the grasshopper 725G2. The speed of the exmark was astounding! I would say this ztr would save me at least 40% of my time.... easily. And the cut finish was unbelievable even at a fast rate of speed. I just have reservations about cleaning/scraping and blade changes with the exmark. Also, a big part of my services includes lawn renovations. Core Aeration and Slit-Slice Verticutting are very profitable operations to include. Here's the gig: my machines do an excellent job renovating lawns, but they are only small machines for smaller sized lawns. Any time I have a larger sized residential lawn renovation, these machines are very time-consuming. Just to roll in the seed with the water roller will take in excess of 1 hour, never mind the verticutting. This is what I'm thinking... I want to be able to tow a larger unit behind or attach it to the front of the ztr I am going to buy. I have located several compaies which manufacture these types of renovators. ( 40-60" range). This is why I think that I can utilize the grasshopper 725G2 model out front ztr mower. The deck actually comes off the machine to facilitate the use of other implements. I believe this is the direction of the industry, since I'm already seeing a few different implement options. So now you know my dilema in deciding exmark lazer Z or Grasshopper 725G2. Please advise if possible as either option is close to $10,000.00. This is a big investment for me. Grasshopper will be about an extra $2000.00, but I'm more concerned with getting the right ztr for my needs. Is there another ztr manufacturer that I'm forgetting about that can utilize renovation implements? Thanks for any help guys. JimMac from Boston.

Catcher
08-07-2002, 09:12 PM
Wow jim,
heck of a paper you wrote there :-)

Some tough desicions you are facing here; to take it one at a time - you mention the speed comparison from your walk-behind to a ztr, I guess it would depend on the size lot you have to take care of. Just because a machine runs faster doesn't always mean you can do the job faster.
But since you mention that you're fairly sure on saving 40% time I guess you already thought about that.
I like the grasshopper because of it's out-ront deck. I've never heard a bad word about exmark either, though.
I think the type of property (obstacle) would propbably play a big role as far reach - ability with the deck go.
I didn't quite understand the need for a grass-catcher, if you mow regularly you won't have much to collect or leave unsightly windrows.
As far as implements, I would choose a mower based on just that: mowing.
this is the machine I'll mow with, and it better be good.
When it comes to implements, get what they're intended to be used with, a tractor. I thought about getting the grasshopper snowblower and such, but for the same money I can buy a good solid tractor with some attachments to boot (used of course, but you really only use them a few times a year).
Considering the amount time you'l spend mowing vs using various attachments, I wouldn'd let this factor get in the way of selecting a good cutting machine.
Cheerios