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Robert_in_NY
05-14-2002, 08:27 AM
I am looking for anyone with any experience with either the 600 or 700 series from Grass Hopper. I will be mowing 5.25 acres all together on 6 different properties we own and am curious if the 600 series would hold up to this amount. Does anyone have any experience with any 600's and know of any weak points. Are there anything to look for or options I am going to have to order on any of these units. I want to order it right the first time and not forget anything. The yards have a few trees but mostly buildings and sidewalks to mow around. I am looking at either a 52" or 61" deck depending on which series I go with. Any advice from any others who own one of these machines either good or bad will be helpful. Thanks.

tranum
05-14-2002, 04:17 PM
robert, i have a 721d grasshopper and 2 scag ztr's. i purchased the g/h with vac system primarily for spring/fall cleanups but thought i would use it for basic mowing also. it does a great job in open, flat areas, but i find the z's to be much more efficient if "obstacles" such as trees, beds, etc are present. the z is also much more stable on hillsides. g/h makes a good product. unless you are just "set" on a front mount, take a look at the g/h mid-mount z. it's a good looking mower. i personally much prefer to operate my mid mount rather than front mount.

Robert_in_NY
05-14-2002, 04:49 PM
What is the advantage of a mid-mount compared to a front? I have seen the mid-mounts but thought it would be easier to look in front of you to see where you are going instead of down like on a regular rider. How long have you owned the 721D and have you had any problems with it. Anything you wish they would have done differently when they built it or weak areas. Thanks for responding.

Catcher
05-15-2002, 08:50 AM
Hi Robert,
I bought a new 618 last year. After using it for an entire season I got a pretty good feel for it.
I am mowing about 3 acres with trees, rocks, hillsides and other obstacles etc.
So far it has never given me any problems either mechanicaly or with the cut-quality. If I was mowing 6 or more acres I would have considered the 700 series with a larger motor & deck.
The 18hp performs just fine, even in deep grass or when climbing the embankment. I guess another way to look at it is that it uses less gas also. I have the dual/ wide stance tailwheel assembly and the low pressure tires as well as the flip up deck as options.
I am not sure what to tell you in regards to the mid-mounts. I am a homeowner and don't have the luxury to experiment with many different types of machines, I felt that the front mounted unit would serve my needs best. If you need to trailor it, it can flip up in under 30seconds, if you have enough room on the trailor you can leave it down.
What I like about it is the easy maintenance aspect; it's so easy to clean it out after mowing and inspect blades etc. that I have done it after every time I used it. Also getting to the grease-zerks on top must be easier than on a mid-mount. I have a lot of evergreens, I can roll the deck under the tree or the fenceline and mow everything, even under swingsets etc. I have sold my pushmower a few weeks after I started to mow with the GH.
I would wonder if I would want a 600 series or the next larger unit with your acreage as well, however - if your 5-6 acres are split into 5 or 6 properties, you're only cutting an acre per property?
This would also allow the machine to cool off a bit between mowings versus running it continuously for 2-3 hours.
The only thing I wish they would have done differently is a better system for draining the hydraulic fluid out of the pumps, you don't need to do it often but it would make it a lot easier if they had something other than the hose-clamps.

Robert_in_NY
05-15-2002, 06:46 PM
Catcher, it sounds like the 618 is holding up quite well. My concern was that even shutting down between property's it still covers more acerage per year which means more abuse. My dealer said that the 600 series is considered the home owners series but is still better then most commercial riders on the market. I just don't want to wear it out by cutting the amount of yard I do right now and the way things have been going I have no doubt I will be mowing over 10 acres per week next year. I will talk with my dealer again and demo both the 618 and one of the 700 series to see how they handle the property. If you don't mind me asking how much did you 618 cost, my dealer is figuring around $8500 for one setup like yours without crunching any numbers yet so I would like a rough idea as to what to expect. Thanks for your response

RayoVac
05-15-2002, 10:06 PM
Robert,

I too just purchased a 618. I have the 9852 deck (flip-up). wide stance wheel kit, anti-scalp roller/trim kit and the mulch kit.

I absolutely love this thing!!!! I now have about 20 hours on it... I mow just under 2 acres. I am in a very similar situation as Catcher. My brother in-law has a eXmark (midmount), and my neighbor has a Deere Garden Tractor (Hydro with 48" deck). I have used both of these to mow my property and like the 618 far better then either. In my situation the front mount deck was a huge attraction. Now after using it for 20+ hours... I am very glad I did the front deck.

The quality of cut (even mulching) is awesome. With the wide stance kit... I am even getting some striping... I am mowing down at 2.5" (Bluegrass). I had some problems with the trim side (left side) of the deck scraping up turf at the base of trees etc. With the additional anti-scalp roller and trim roller... it no longer exhibits this problem.

My thoughts... from the dealers I have talked to... and the amount of property you are mowing. I would certainly look toward the 700 series. The Hydro pumps are better, more ground speed, bigger deck options. As far as going with a bigger deck then a 52"... you mention multiple properties.... Just make sure a 60+ deck is going to fit everywhere. Also note the 44" and 48" decks as well as the NON Flip up decks are NOT 5.5" deep like the 98xx series decks. (9852, 9861). They are more like 4" or so.

My 618 was a 2001 model with no hours. Before I added the options I paid $6750, the Wide Stance kit was $270, the anti-scalp was $85.00, the mulching kit was $140.00. I called a large GH dealer in Avilla, IN and got a price of $7099 on a 2002 618 with SL9852 deck. Never priced any of the 700 series.

Hope this helps... have not had it long enough to provide you with durability statements. But given the way it appears to be built... I would say with a little TLC it should last forever.

RayoVac

Mowingman
05-15-2002, 10:46 PM
I do not have any experience with the front-deck machines to speak of, but I do own two Grasshopper midmount diesels. I have a 428D that is now on it's second season, and just today I bought a new 321D midmount. If you have a lot of trees and stuff to mow around, the midmount might be a better way to go. On rough ground though, the front deck will give a little smoother ride and a little nicer cut.:)

Shultz
05-15-2002, 11:25 PM
What dealers are in your area? If they want to sell a machine, they should let you demo it, even if you have to pay(commercial) for the day, you can see what you like/dislike. I have a 61" Scag TT with the 22 kawasaki liquid cooled and love it, and prefered the midmount mower vs the outfront, but its your preference.

Catcher
05-16-2002, 07:59 AM
Well spoken, Rayo.
If you'll get into 10 or more acres I'd consider a step up size-wise; however - if the individual properties are still under 1 acre than a huge tractor with a massive deck may actually be cumbersome.
If I can trust my dealer, than the pumps on the 618 are of the same quality as the 700 series. I think the warranty on them was 600 hours. The difference between the 618 is a smaller frame and smaller motor with a deck up to 52" wide. It's a tough choice, with one 10 acre parcel I'd get a large diesel unit, but with mowing smaller properties I'd consider staying with the smaller unit. Are you providing professional lawnservice? If you are using the mowers for a business I'd probably stick with the 700 series, mainly for warranty reasons.
I believe I shelled out $7,500.- for my machine; that's incl. tax, options and different blades etc.
Also, like Shultz mentioned, if your dealer is worth his salt he'll let you take a mid-mount and a front-mount to try out at home. Personally I am stuck on the front mounted units, but I guess there are advantages to either design. As I mentioned earlier, the maintenance aspect is a lot easier (and will probably be done more often because of it) with the front mount.
Hope this doesn't confuse you too much.

RayoVac
05-16-2002, 09:26 AM
Catcher... A Big DITTO on the maintenance!!! I can flip the deck up in about 30 seconds.... because of this, I find I have been cleaning it down to the shiney paint... after every use.

Even though I am running the mulch kit... if I desired to pull it off, it would be 6 bolts... put the chute back on, away I go. If the deck was not so easy to flip-up.... I probably would never pull the mulch kit off.

Also one other option to note.... I also got the rubber (hinged) discharge chute instead of the metal one that does not move. Although most will probably run without a chute... if you need it the rubber one is great, I can run it into stuff... no fear of damage.

RayoVac

Catcher
05-16-2002, 09:44 AM
LOL, never thought about using rubber components for ease of bumping into stuff.
Sorry - just struck me as funny.
I used to tie the chute up when I was using a regular tractor, due to problems with it clogging up, I've never had a clogging problem with the GH, I feel it's safer to run the machine with a chute, rubber or steel; you never know when you'll pick up that one rock that'll embedd itself somewhere on the other side of your window or, worse - in someone's forehead.
On my old mower I had a hard time sharpening (or even checking) blades more than once a year, here it's a snap to check them out and give them a quick going over as they need it every now and then. I too clean the deck after every use, no sense in letting my 'investment' go down the hill :-)

Robert_in_NY
05-16-2002, 12:51 PM
Shultz, my dealer is great. He is a farmer that also sells Valtra tractors and a few other lines. He will have no problem letting me demo any unit he has but I was checking here first so that when I do demo a unit I will know what to look for and what to expect instead of not knowing anything about the machine and just riding around in circles.

Catcher, the properties are ours and our own yard is 3 acres but our neighbor is selling her place to us so that adds another acre. The yards in town and around .75 acres each and two are adjoining yards. I thought about taking on a couple yards to help pay for the machine so that it doesn't cost me as much but I would only be looking at less then 5 extra yards that adjoin our other properties so as to not cause me more travel time since I don't have much time to begin with. Since the 618 seems to be holding up well I am strongly considering it but will also look at the 700 series when I start crunching numbers with the dealer. I still haven't decided wether the 52" or 61" deck would work best so I will have the 52" on the 618 when I demo it and a 61" on the 700 series when I demo it to see how they both handle. I will also look at the midmount and see if it has any advantages over the fronts but I do like the flip up decks so the mid-mount will have to really impress me in order to be considered evenly with the front mounts.

How does the mulch kit leave the yard? I have never used one before and don't know how the yard will look afterwards. Does it leave the clippings scattered across the yard or do they fall down thru the unclipped grass so you don't see them as much.

Thanks

RayoVac
05-16-2002, 02:15 PM
Robert,

I have had the mulch kit on my 618 with the 9852 Deck for a number of weeks now. (note the 98xx series is 5.5" deep)

Our area has now topped any previous records for spring rain fall, already over 15" and it is raining more today!!! So needless to say the grass has been growing and growing and growing. I would say a few of the times I mowed it was taller then proper mulching would have dictated.

I am mowing primarily Kentucky Bluegrass and I keep it low right now, with all the rain, at apx. 2.5". The property is fairly mature at 4 to 5 years since I planted the seed. The growth is pretty dense with little to no weeds or dandelions.

I think it mulches GREAT!!! NO visible grass left behind.... except... if it is wet and tall (as it has been alot) ocasionally some clippings that have accumulated under the deck will fall. This happens mainly when I go up onto the pavement around the yard to make a turn. The jostling causes the deck to bounce... shaking some clippings down. This is really a non-issue. I have started to keep my turns within the grass (limits the bounce), and I have some Mo-Deck on order to assist in keeping the clippings from sticking.

Keep in mind... I am mulching high, wet, fine grass. When things dry out and summer actually appears... I would expect a PERFECT mulch job with NO clipping drop. Also, When I talk about the clippings.... I am mowing just under 2 acres.. and maybe we are talking about two or three areas a couple of feet in length where you notice the grass clippings.

Soooo to make a LONG story short (sorry....) The mulching option for the 98xx series deck should only run you about $150.00. Well worth it in my opinion!!!

Oh yeah the mulch kit comes with the two large baffle things mounted under the deck, the chute cover and 3 new Grasshopper mulch blades.


RayoVac

Robert_in_NY
05-16-2002, 04:03 PM
RayoVac, thanks that answers my question and then some. I guess I will order the mulch kit when the time comes. Thanks.

swn
05-17-2002, 02:36 PM
Robert - I have had several differnent grasshopper's. I personally like the outfront better than the midmount. I think it is easier to operate. If I remember right, the big difference is that the 618 has 1 filter between the 2 hydro pumps, the 700 series has one for each.

RayOvac - I haven't forgot about the pictures (from the widestance question) I just can't figure out how to post a picture. Did you ever get the widestance.

Catcher
05-17-2002, 02:48 PM
Can't confirm the configuration of the 700, but swn is correct, the 618 does have 1 filter for both pumps.
I don't believe this to be a problem, should I start putting on more than 30 hours per week I'll change filter and fluids more often.

RayoVac
05-17-2002, 05:19 PM
SWN,

Yes... I did get the wide stance. I like it tons better then the tripod. Last time I mowed... if I did not know any better, I would say I had some definite STRIPES!!!! :D I will take some pics and post (if the rain ever stops here). Thanks again for the recommendation on the Wide Stance... did the trick.

Catcher,

You are correct the 618 has one filter for both pumps. The 618 runs "Gemini Style" Hydros with top speed of 6.5MPH. (The 614 and 616 run the older Hydros... which share a pump.)

The current G1 700s run what appears to be similar to the 618 Hydro, with addtional filter?? Top speed of 8MPH.

The G2 700s and 900s run a newer Hydro that some say is easier to service and less expensive to repair?? Also note upgrades like Steel Hydro lines... Top Speed up to 9MPH and 10MPH on the 900s.

RayoVac