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View Full Version : Is a Hydro really worth it??


ple_1969
10-07-2002, 11:34 AM
I am looking to buy either an Exmark 48” Metro HP or the 48” Turf Tracer HP for non commercial use on 1.24 acres. I have performed a search and from what I read it makes me feel that a hydro is the way to go, but I am confused. Now, I am a homeowner that will only be cutting my lawn once a week and have no intentions of using it commercially or in the rain. I have read that belt slippage, tearing turf and backing up with the belt drive is a problem. Now with the hydro, the costs to buy and to replace parts are the major issue. My question to you, for my needs, would the extra $1900 be worth it for the hydro or will the belt drive be more that adequate?

Thanks,
Pete

KLMlawn
10-07-2002, 11:45 AM
For homeowner use, a hydro is not necessary. If anything, it would be a hydro that would tear at the turf - in the hands of an inexperienced operator (and even sometimes experienced, just can't help it) before a belt drive would.
You have the right idea with Exmark, and depending on what your preference is, it would be worth getting the mulching kit for it as well, they work great. Of course a catcher is always good to have on hand too.
As far as maintenance, you will probably have much less repair issues with the hydro, by design - less stuff to break and go wrong, but not worth the extra investment for home use. Your belts, tentioners, and everthing that a belt machine has that a hydro doesn't will last a long time with just a 1x a week cutting regeim. You might have to replace the belts because of dry rot more than wear and tear. Just make sure you sharpen your blades frequently - most important thing. For most homeowners, every 8-10 weeks is good and your lawn will like you more for it :D

Darryl G
10-07-2002, 11:57 AM
Keep in mind that my experience with belt drives is limited, I used older Scags and Buntons back in the mid 80's when I lived with some landscapers and have used by uncle's 48 belt drive J. Deere. I currently have a 48 Turf Tracer HP for commercial use and wouldn't consider trading it for a belt drive.

With that said, I think that the Metro would probably suit your needs fine. If you're a homeowner, you probably wouldn't be cutting in the rain like some of the pros do (belt slippage issue) and any increase in productivity from using a hydro probably wouldn't save you all that much more time. It depends a lot on what your lawn is like. Lot's of obstacles and hills would tend to sway toward the hydro. As far as reverse, you can always alter your property a bit to minimize the need for reverse.

If money is no object, I say go with the hydro. If it is, go with the belt drive. Either one is a big step above a lawn tractor. You might even want to consider a fixed deck rather than a floating deck model, since you probably won't be changing the cutting height much (one reason many choose the floating deck) and operated with care, a 48 doesn't have a great tendency to scalp, unless you're cutting low. That also depends on how uneven your ground is though, of course.

The best bet is to demo both and then you can make a more educated decision.

Darryl

HarryD
10-07-2002, 12:11 PM
i say go with the hydro for a little more cash ya get a much better mower IMO . you could get the sterable sulky to go with it , or a stand on velke . also i would go with the 52" Exmark with the mulch kit . even though this is gunna be used for your home why not get the best and have a lawn that looks like a pro mows it . ;)

i myself just picked up a 52" Exmark turf tracer hydro with a 23HP kawasaki got the 2001 power unit with pistle grip controls and a 2002 52" deck for $5,300.00 . i would go now and see what your local dealer has available before winter . you will get a much better deal now plus they have the no money down no payment till april and march financing . mow now pay later .

bubble boy
10-07-2002, 12:32 PM
save the $2000, get the belt. then treat yourself to a sulky.

SLS
10-07-2002, 12:40 PM
My vote goes to the HYDRO for the following reasons:

1) Easier to use/manuever. No gears to bang...especially reverse.

2) Better machine.

3) Less prone to breakage due to lack of trans/gears and extra belts.

4) Lower mantainance issues.

5) Higher re-sell value!

Well worth the extra money...in my humble opinion.

scott's turf
10-07-2002, 01:49 PM
Let's face it, the guy is going to use this thing 1X per week. Maybe 35 hrs per year. What is going to wear out on a belt drive with that little use? I had one for years and it didn't give me all that much trouble. For a home owner they don't need the fastest machine or the ability to mow wet grass. Most of the time they can wait. Save yourself lots of money and get a belt drive. It will probably last you forever. Get a sulky for a couple of hundred and you will be fine. Now if you have money to burn why not get a 60 lazer and ride!

ple_1969
10-07-2002, 02:16 PM
Thank you to everyone that has replied to my question. However, it seem that the response is sort of spit between getting the hydro or the belt drive. Here is another question for you. The reason why I am getting a professional mower is for the quality of cut that the mower produces. I am a fanatic about my lawn and I have read posts that the belt drive will rip or divot the grass on the inside wheel while turning. This is something that I do not want. Since the hydro is a true “zero-turn” this will not happen because the inside wheel can be put into reverse. For you guys that run the belt, have you experienced the divots in the grass while turning? Can this be avoided?

Pete

scott's turf
10-07-2002, 02:27 PM
It has to do mostly with the experience of the operator and less of the type machine. I had run belt drive for years and now own a hyrdo lazer. I have run it for a few months and feel very comfortable on it but I find that due to the larger tires and sudden acceleration and deccelation I chew up the grass more. you never truely zero turn. If you did then you would be facing the path that you just cut. It is more like a three point turn. With a belt drive machine I would mow the border twice around shooting the grass towards the center and then start the stripes. THis would give me plenty of room to do a 180 turn without scuffing the lawn. You never want to lock up one tie completely and rotate around it. The inside wheel should follow a tear shape trajectory.

SIG
10-07-2002, 02:28 PM
Any mower will divot the turf if you turn too fast. Anytime one wheel stops you are going to skin up the turf. It is more a product of operating it properly. I think a belt drive would do less damage, personally. Sig

walker-talker
10-07-2002, 02:33 PM
I use to run a John Deere WB belt drive and did not divot the lawn that bad becasue a WB is not that heavy. I rip the turf more with my ZTR, but as stated before, that is operator error.

Personally myself, as a home owner, I would probably go with a belt drive. As a professional, I would and am going with a hydro. The quality of the cut will be the same on either. If money is not an issue, go with the hydro.

MATT

HarryD
10-07-2002, 02:49 PM
its just me but when ever i buy something i dont care what it is I go with the best money can buy. like was said before if money is not a issue I would go with the hydro it will be the last mower you will ever buy . or even go with a used ZTR my local dealer has 4 used exmark ZTR'S sitting in front of his store waiting to go

Darryl G
10-07-2002, 03:06 PM
Scot's Turf - I zero turn most of the time on my hydro WB and find myself. I only do a 3 point turn if the turf is soft from rain.

Maybe I misunderstood you, but you say that if you do a zero turn you would be facing the path you just cut, which just doesn't make sense.

If you're turning right, the right tire stays on the same path during a zero turn and the left one swings around it to start the next row in the opposite direct. In order to end up going down the previous pass, you would need to turn greater than 180 degrees and then turn back toward your previous cut. Am I missing something here?

By reversing the right tire at the proper point in the turn, you can get a little overlap on your previous pass and also avoid turf damage. How you would end up going down your previous row is beyond me.

scott's turf
10-07-2002, 03:57 PM
darryl, so you turn like you would with a belt drive wb? A true zero turn means that the right wheel is going forward and the left wheel is going in reverse which would cause the axis of rotation to be at the center of the machine and not the outside edge of the right tire like the way you turn. Turning tight like the way you say can cause lots of turf damage with large tires.

Darryl G
10-07-2002, 06:52 PM
Scot's - No! Go out in your driveway and watch your tires when you take a turn, or better yet watch someone who knows what they're doing. You make absolutely no sense and I can not believe that you actually have a zero turn mower and yet apparently have no idea of how to operate it.

Darryl

Catcher
10-07-2002, 07:10 PM
save the $2000, get the belt. then treat yourself to a sulky

Hmm,
save the $2,000.- get the belt. Then treat yourself to a hot-tub :)

GarPA
10-08-2002, 06:37 AM
get the belt..you do not need a hydro for your purposes...and the cut will be excellent...but then again whats $2000 to someone who can afford to live in NJ and have a large yard to boot!!...just joking of course...I spent some time in your Garden State and was flabbergasted at real estate prices.... and Exmark is the way to go

scott's turf
10-08-2002, 07:54 AM
darryl, thanks for the insult. Do you agree that a the word zero turn radius means that one drive wheel is going forward while the other is going in reverse? Belt drives can not zero turn for this reason. Maybe we are having trouble understanding each other.

sunrise
10-08-2002, 04:25 PM
hydro is the best over all for someone useing it for pro work but for home owner belt is the best and cheaper unless you have alot of hills

ple_1969
10-08-2002, 06:39 PM
Thanks to all that replied to my question. Here is latest, I went another local dealer to see the machines and discuss the price. Now, he offered me the last Turf Tracer HP with ECS and the 17 hp Kawasaki out the door for $4200. He has a small shop and wanted to clear out the 2002 models to make room for his snow equipment, so I grabbed it. I think I got one hell of a deal!

Thanks again for all your comments....

Pete

Darryl G
10-08-2002, 06:52 PM
That is a great deal. Looks like your dealer made your decision for you! I paid $4,900 for mine in the spring with elect. start.

Scot's - Yes, I agree with that. That's how you make a zero turn, then mow the next pass. Sorry about my last post, I shouldn't have let my frustration with trying to communicate with you come out like that. However, your statements about where you would end up after doing a Z turn still make me wonder if you understand your machine.

HarryD
10-08-2002, 07:58 PM
what size deck was it

dlandscaping
10-08-2002, 08:08 PM
A steal!! 4200 o man. My dealer thought he was burning money by offering me the same mower for $5k.

Tvov
10-08-2002, 10:27 PM
darryl...scott's turf is correct.

Try taking your machine out onto a flat, hard surface. Come to a complete stop. Then, slowly let the left wheel go forward, while at the same time, letting the right wheel go backwards at the same speed. Your machine will pivot 180 degrees, ending up facing directly back over that track that it just made. That is what "zero turn radius" means.

What you're talking about is more of "turning on a dime", where you are braking one wheel to line up to make your next pass.

I think there is just some misunderstanding going on here.

(hmm... now I am wondering if I really should post this...)

(Ah, what the heck)

Darryl G
10-08-2002, 10:52 PM
Whatever, I know I don't tear turf and I don't go back down the same path with my TT HP. I use my zero turn capabilites to turn my mower around without scuffing turf, and yes, spin it around on a dime, and yes I do it by reversing the inside wheel. The only time I tend to rip up turf is when I'm running full out at 6 mph and let one lever out a little to fast coming out of a turn and burn out, or if the turf is really wet, soft, or sandy.

SLS
10-08-2002, 11:17 PM
Pete,

Congratulations on the purchase of what is a very fine piece of equipment!

You will be the envy of a lot of professional LCO's when they see you out there manicuring your lawn with that shiny, new Turf Tracer! :)

If you bought a 2002 48" Turf Tracer w/17 hp and ECS for $4200 then you received an excellent deal!

I payed about $100 MORE for my 2002 36" Turf Tracer HP w/15 hp Kawasaki and ECS controls.

I'm jealous! ;)

This machine should give you a lifetime of excellent, trouble-free service if properly maintained and cared for.

Have fun with you new "big boy" toy...and be safe!

ple_1969
10-09-2002, 07:45 AM
I guess I was at the right place at the right time. There are 2 dealers in my area. The first wanted $5200 and was not going to budge on the price. The second dealer was a smaller business that has been around for 50 years and has an excellent reputation. After we got talking he made an “off the cuff” offer on his last Turf Tracer HP. Before he changed his mind I grabbed it. Since it was at the end of the season and business slowed down a bit he wanted to move it out quickly. As I said, I was at the right place at the right time.

For those who have asked, it’s the 52” deck. I still can’t believe that I got it for $4200. I thought I got a good deal however reading your posts I know now I got one heck of a deal.

SLS – I am not looking to have the pro’s jealous it’s more of getting my neighbors jealous and having them asking “what the heck is that monster???” as they see me mow my lawn.

Thanks again to all of you comments!

Pete

Swampbeast
10-25-2002, 11:19 PM
Ha ha! Dont worry, you will have your neighbors AND the LCOs jealous when they see it! Thats a very nice machine, and any dipstick can see that its high quality.
Just be sure to read your owners manuel VERY CAREFULLY and UNDERSTAND it all before you start fiddling with it. You take care of this machine, and it will still be chugging when your six feet under and stone cold. I know thats morbid, but its true!
Congratulations on a fine machine and an awesome deal!:drinkup:
Welcome to the world of SWEET MOWERS!
:cool: :cool:

kona
10-26-2002, 09:29 PM
I have a 48 metro fixed deck and its great. I do wish i got the floating deck though.More even cut on lawns with uneven areas.

brucec32
02-06-2003, 09:24 PM
Originally posted by scott's turf
Let's face it, the guy is going to use this thing 1X per week. Maybe 35 hrs per year. What is going to wear out on a belt drive with that little use? I had one for years and it didn't give me all that much trouble. For a home owner they don't need the fastest machine or the ability to mow wet grass. Most of the time they can wait. Save yourself lots of money and get a belt drive. It will probably last you forever. Get a sulky for a couple of hundred and you will be fine. Now if you have money to burn why not get a 60 lazer and ride!

I agree. Talk about overkill for home use. How many decades before he wears out a $100 set of drive belts? If price is no object, sure go with a hydro.

And as far as things breaking...there's nothing other than the engine on a belt drive a reasonably capable person can't fix himself. A peerless transmission is what, $250? But I doubt he'd wear it out before he's in an old age home.

And yes, a hydro will resale for more, but if he buys what he likes he won't be selling it, he'll be passing it on to his kids,( or buying a robotic mower in the year 2030).

If money counts, get a 48" belt drive wb (something besides pistol grips for ease of learning) and a velke/sulkey for maybe $2700 if you catch it on sale. Heck, for the $1500 price difference he could pay somebody to mow/blow/go on it for a year or so. How can a hydro make up that kind of difference on one lawn?

Now a used hydro...might be another thing...

brucec32
02-06-2003, 09:43 PM
Originally posted by darryl gesner
Scot's Turf - I zero turn most of the time on my hydro WB and find myself. I only do a 3 point turn if the turf is soft from rain.

Maybe I misunderstood you, but you say that if you do a zero turn you would be facing the path you just cut, which just doesn't make sense.

If you're turning right, the right tire stays on the same path during a zero turn and the left one swings around it to start the next row in the opposite direct. In order to end up going down the previous pass, you would need to turn greater than 180 degrees and then turn back toward your previous cut. Am I missing something here?

By reversing the right tire at the proper point in the turn, you can get a little overlap on your previous pass and also avoid turf damage. How you would end up going down your previous row is beyond me.

Darryl, Scot's was right. Theoretically, a true "zero turn" would have wheels counter rotating equally and you would indeed wind up facing the same row you just mowed. Some hydro wb's can't reverse one wheel while the other is going forward, so perhaps there is some room for misunderstanding there. I think they're turned by slowing the inner tire while the outer one is moving faster. But that's not a true "zero turn" like on a ZTR mower which can spin in place in it's own radius, though not to any useful effect.

challenger55
02-08-2003, 09:14 PM
if you have the money go with the hydro