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View Full Version : How long do your mowers last.


lawnjocky
01-20-2010, 05:34 PM
I was reading another post and someone said a 20hp motor would last 2000 hrs. Over the years I have settled on 15-1800 hrs as my estimate for the life of a gas powered mower. After that it becomes a game of what will break or quit working today and dealing with the power/speed loss. I'm talking about the mower as a whole and not just the motor. When I'm done with a mower it still runs and will deliver good use for years to come, but I can't trust it because of the down time. Paying the help to come back with a non running mower tends to suck the profit out of a day.

My question to the board is this;
With proper servicing, how many hours do you get from your mowers before you start having trouble and think about trading or a major overhaul?

Please include if you run it yourself or have employees. The owner almost always takes better care of their own machines.

Mahoney3223
01-20-2010, 05:41 PM
TURF TIGER THAT WAS RAN BY EMPLOYEES LIQ COOLED DIED OUT 1900 HOURS....let you know when my others fail...I got a walker that was shortblocked at 1500 hours....yes the owner will take better care, and you have "perfect" service...but really who does? my dealers i've gone too have said air cooled engine on average 1500-2000 liquid 2000-2500 with proper maintenance.

topsites
01-20-2010, 05:42 PM
Gosh, speaking from my own experience I wonder today if it was even worth it...

My 48" Wb was about 8 years old when the transmission went out...
I replaced that, a year later the engine was down on compression, as you know
it's that gradual loss and it still ran but it had been some time coming.
Anyhow, I replaced that.

After that things took a turn for the worse, I suspect the power of the new engine
made a lot of other things fail, I am telling you...
I replaced several pulleys, all the spindle bearings, shafts, brakes and sheaves, springs and clips, a few things
more than once, seemed to me like I replaced everything except deck and frame, heck the muffler too, to make
matters down right rough for all of that year it seemed I couldn't get even one whole day out of it.

Finally two years later I got it half way running good, at least last year it didn't let me down but a couple of times ...

Now the deck has got cracks in it, the rust has gotten so bad I can see air (and I mean AIR) through certain parts ...
And it's just so worn out that some parts no matter how often I replace them can't
compensate for the wear, it's loose regardless and that causes more problems.
A new deck frame assembly costs $900

Unfortunately a new Wb like mine runs $3,700!

What can I say, I think I'm spending the $900.
Looking back I should have just bought another, hindsight is always 20/20.

I did last year manage to rebuild the Tecumseh peerless, crazy dang needle bearings, I am no dummy when it comes
to these things and I swear it all went back together exact but when I turn it by hand I can hear and feel a slight drag...
Who knows, maybe that's the way it's supposed to be, only time will tell.

The Kohler I also kept, that I'll likely be dropping off one day soon for a rebuild.

Is it worth it...
I'm guessing it's 3-4 thousand either way.

lawnjocky
01-20-2010, 06:12 PM
Mahoney,
I didn't even think about the liquid cooled gas motors. Never had one. Just air cooled and diesel's.

Topsite,
Repair or replace can be hard choice sometimes. Look on the bright side, at what? 10 years of use, that sucker's gotta be paid for:laugh:

MikeKle
01-20-2010, 07:10 PM
My first exmark metro, which was bought in 2001 still runs like a champ, still starts on the first pull everytime, and still has the original deck belt! All thats ever been wrong with it is a stuck open valve in the carb, I used Stabil, so I dont know how it gummed up, but that was the only repair its ever had. I believe if you take good care of them, they will last a good long time, mainly keeping oil changed, keeping the air filter clean, and winterizing them right, and greasing everything as instructed.

ecobluemaui
01-26-2010, 02:53 PM
I believe there are very important factors involved in keeping a mower (Rider, Push, Etc.). Keeping the filters oil, fuel, and air clean! Especially the air filter must be clean, dry, and oiled properly. Next high octane fuel. Sharp blades. And obviously keep to the maint. schedule for your machine. And last but not least overall physical treatment of the machine, and I couldn't agree more with you about Owners taking better care of your machines! They are our babies...We love taking them home and taking care of them..To our employees however are abusive step parents, and our machines are disobedient step children! Sorry for the tangent...

Cummins343
01-26-2010, 03:00 PM
a long time. One of my walkbehinds has 3000+ hrs on it.:weightlifter: All my standers are fairly new.

SangerLawn
01-26-2010, 03:46 PM
I have a 60 exmark lazer that made it to 3,700 hours with no major repairs. Yes I had to replace spindles, belts, and I think caster wheels on the front but in all I had no major problems until the motor locked up. I had engine rebuilt at 3,700 hours and it lasted about another 1,000 and engine died again.

This was the mower I ran, very very seldom did any employees run this machine. It has a kohler 22 horse command on it. It is now parked in my back yard with a tarp over it while I debate what I want to do with it. Probably gonna sell it to a buddy of mine.

nobagger
01-26-2010, 04:06 PM
Probably depends on a few things, how you maintain it, the abuse it subjected to, those are the two big things I can think of. I know guys that leave their stuff out in the elements and seem to never break down. I also know guys who garage their equipment and use an enclosed trailer who had a major break down in less than 200 hrs. with two new machines. Who knows, its a machine so anything can happen, all you can do is do the scheduled maintenance and hope for the best in a couple years down the road. Preventative maintenance begins with 0.0 hrs on it not 100. I take a lot of pride in our equipment so its washed down regularly and shinned up weekly. Aside from the normal scuffs and scratches on the left side of the decks, they sill look fairly new. There comes a time when a piece of equipment becomes too unreliable (weekly break downs) then its time to either do a major overhaul or buy new. I would much rather spend 1k to fix many problems on one machine than spend 4-5k on a new one.
EDIT: a good rule of thumb Ive heard and went by is, when the repairs are 75% the cost of a new one....buy the new one.

Mahoney3223
01-26-2010, 04:15 PM
Mahoney,
I didn't even think about the liquid cooled gas motors. Never had one. Just air cooled and diesel's.

Topsite,
Repair or replace can be hard choice sometimes. Look on the bright side, at what? 10 years of use, that sucker's gotta be paid for:laugh:

yeah man, i have had two Scag TT's with liq cooled and they run a lot cooler and it's less wear on the engine. They are really nice. It's basically like a little car engine. I got the new 35 HP BB Briggs liq-cooled on my new Tiger and I really like it, it has a lot of balls man. I would suggest a liq-cooled used since they tend to last longer. If you buy a new one, your going to pay like 1500 or more for it.

Cummins343
01-26-2010, 04:17 PM
In all honesty, with proper maintnence ie: oil change, blades, spark plugs, pulleys, spindles, hydro oil, these mowers should last a long time!:weightlifter:

sawinredneck
01-26-2010, 04:28 PM
There are a lot of variables to take into account as well. What are the temps you are running in? Up North it's moderately cool most of the time, South, it's warm, here in KS we have mowed in 35 deg weather to 122 deg weather. Temps stay close, engines last longer, lots of changes, shorter life span.
Arizona it's dusty all the time, Florida wet, this plays into the mantaince schedule as well.
What are you mowing? Commercial machines take a beating in parking lots, uneven sidewalks, constant construction with hidden potholes etc. It tears them up!
Residential, most yards are smooth (unless you are doing clean ups, which I'll get to next) well maintained, you can't get up to much speed to tear anything up (most yards) and more pride is ussualy shown so operators take a bit more care.
Clean up, this is the hardest use a machine will ever see. Most jobs require a brush hog but don't allow the room so just plan on a short life from this equipment when purchasing it.
Now what do you get? I still deal with a lot of Bobcat and New Holland skid steer owners, some have a lot of money, some don't, but the way I have it figured is 1200 hours is a good time to get out of any machine if you want to eliminate break downs. Period! That amount of hours, you have made a return on it, if bought right, you can sell it, make a profit and roll into a new one.
Why so few hours? It's true, most diesel engines are just getting warmed up at that time, but you are into hyd. and hydro leaks/failures, electrical issues, bearing failures and computer glitches. YES KIDS, get ready, computers are making ways into the world of mowers and already have! This is the point at which the "nickel and dime" turns into a machine payment quickly with breakdowns.
I don't know a lot of people that can afford to do this, I can't, but the theory is solid.
Engine life runs the gamut as well, I wont discuss Brigs as I do not recommend them to anyone anymore. I have rebuilt Kawi's with 4k hours on them, they didn't need to be bored, just honed, ringed and sealed. Ran for another 2k hours before doing it again. Again, not bored, just honed!
I've seen Onan's (wish they still made them right) with 6k hours, replace the intake manifold gasket and go on.
Honda, I don't have a bad word to say, good solid engine, but I'd take a Kawi given the choice. They are easy to work on once you learn the tricks though.
Kohler, I just don't know what to say about them anymore! I've got one(25hp command) on a mini skid with 1800 hours, runs great, I've got one(20hp command) on my genset with 70hrs on it dropped a valve. It seems hit and miss.
Now I did replace a Kawi on a Hustler last summer, 1500 hours and it dropped a valve, I talked to a few dealers, i wasn't common, but wasn't the first one for sure.
You also start having to replace and repair the safety equipment around that time. Sticking switches corroded wires, funky ignition switches and sticky linkages all start to add up.
If you can make the repairs and know what to watch for and how you can keep up with a lot of it. But there is always the idler pulley that locks up, the spindle that goes out and my favorite, the gear box that locks up on the hill!

Greenleaf Lawns
01-26-2010, 08:07 PM
Maintenance!


Still using the first commercial mower I purchased in 1991 (and another from 1992).


I am small, this has always been a side gig, though I have considered twice over the years quitting my day job. I do most all of my own wrenching and take pride in all of my equipment. I have retired a few handhelds over the years but i still have everyone of them and the will still all run. The newer machines have simply become lighter and more powerful.

Oldtimer
01-26-2010, 08:25 PM
I have customers who sell their mowers @ 1000 hours or 2 years, whichever comes first. A couple of years ago one these customers sold a 72" Lazer with about 650 hours because it was almost 2 years old.

Total your hourly operating cost per employee, gross hourly revenue and the value of your time to have a broken mower repaired. This doesn't cover the cost of any repairs. Every couple of hours of down time could possible make a monthly payment on a new mower. Lose a couple of hours and there goes a new trimmer or edger.

The LCOs who have a written business plan, know their costs, and have a very full schedule every day will have backup equipment as good as their front line equipment. They will not keep any equipment past the peak of it's service life.


Oldtimer

johnslandscaping
01-26-2010, 08:42 PM
with prices of ztrs going up we started to keep mowers and fix or repower them as felt needed also checking ads for cheaper used units with low hours. I figure why spend 10K on one new unit when I can get 2 to 3 good used ztrs at least if one breaks down I have back up machines ive had new machines break down a couple of times. I figure if you run machines 500 plus hours a year you might want to consider a lease program.

Oldtimer
01-26-2010, 09:10 PM
I figure if you run machines 500 plus hours a year you might want to consider a lease program.

The decision to lease or purchase is best made with the help of your CPA.


Oldtimer

lawnjocky
01-27-2010, 09:06 AM
"EDIT: a good rule of thumb Ive heard and went by is, when the repairs are 75% the cost of a new one....buy the new one."

I was always told 50%

"Total your hourly operating cost per employee, gross hourly revenue and the value of your time to have a broken mower repaired. This doesn't cover the cost of any repairs. Every couple of hours of down time could possible make a monthly payment on a new mower. Lose a couple of hours and there goes a new trimmer or edger."

This is what I'm talking about. Unless you're dealing with a blown motor or pump the parts and labor to repair are cheap compared to the down time cost's.

"with prices of ztrs going up we started to keep mowers and fix or repower them as felt needed also checking ads for cheaper used units with low hours. I figure why spend 10K on one new unit when I can get 2 to 3 good used ztrs at least if one breaks down I have back up machines ive had new machines break down a couple of times."

What you're doing is a good theory if you can balance the savings of a used machine against the breakdowns. But as another poster mentioned now-a-days these mowers have a lot of electrical and hydro components that the old stuff didn't. You can see and fix a worn bearing or broken weld. But loose or corroded connections sneak up on you. Additionally if someone is selling a low hour machine you've got to know why. I've gotten burned on deals more than once.

Lawnjocky

johnslandscaping
01-27-2010, 11:08 AM
"EDIT: a good rule of thumb Ive heard and went by is, when the repairs are 75% the cost of a new one....buy the new one."

I agree if repairs total 75% buy new but most of the time we see motor or pumps go out. Also we only look for machines that have been taking care of 300 -500 hours sometimes less hours than that. Last year we bought a exmark nav.07 model for 6500.00 with 38 hours used from a home owner that did not like it they are 12500. new good savings. We also bought a exmark las 60" 08 model for 5k with about 100 hours from a guy that went out of business. He had some other stuff that were good deals also but could not justify purchace at the time. I say the deals are out there you just have to have funds available when you see them or they are gone. Same with other equipment sometimes you can get things for the price of one rental.

Lawnut101
01-27-2010, 11:45 AM
When a machine starts to break, it's time to start thinking about getting a new one. I had a truck that wouldn't stop breaking down. I sold it and now I basically freed up another truck payment, because that's about how much the repairs seemed to be costing me. It always broke when I NEEDED it. Now that's worth a lot, to have something that works when you need it! Granted even new equipment breaks down, but is less likely to. I tend to like newer equipment, but it treats me better. There is a fine line between being stingy and getting the most out of your machine for your money.

MarcSmith
01-27-2010, 11:46 AM
I purchased a used lazer with 2000 hours on it. and it was running fine aside from needing new lifters @ 3000 hours.

I expect all my mowers to go 3000 hours before replacement.

@3000 it still has some useful life to sell it to a home owner or keep as a back up mower.

again if you neglect PM's then it will suffer. yes it is very possible to spend the same amount of $$ doing Pm service as you would if you slacked ont he pm service and juts made repairs has the happened. but with PM's you hopefully notice the problems before they become down time...

the biggest problem is finding hour meters to last as long as the mowers...

Imo if repairs are greater the 50% of the cost of a new one Id buy a new one...but think about it. for an 8K mower you have to have engine and hydro's to be toast at the same time...

jeremy's lc
01-27-2010, 09:30 PM
I have run walker mowers for over 13 years with 16hp,20hp,25hp,26hp kohler
engine. And get a good amount of hours ranging from (1600-2500). But I service the oil and filter at 50hrs, fuel & air filter at 100 hrs. Grease & change blades 3 times a week during the mowing season. Wash every two weeks. Routine maintenance saves your engine's life span. Or you can buy new one every other year.

lawnjocky
01-28-2010, 12:25 PM
One of the issues I have had in the past with liquid cooled gas or diesel engines is the idea of buying a mower where the engine last's 3-5000 hrs and the rest of the machine 2000. It is common for us to find cracks in the frames or worn out holes where the bolts go through. I don't really blame the guys to much because while there is abuse there is also metal fatigue and daily wear. Not to mention all the other stuff that goes wrong after time and usage. Wires, switches, bearings, etc.. all are low cost items until you include lost productivity. Winter is chip and paint time so we are looking for stuff and fixing known problems. But short of disassembling each machine you can't find everything. And maybe not then.