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Orrdc
04-03-2012, 10:58 PM
LookIng for some expert opinions.

I have a small operation, as it sits right now 20 accounts, none being more than 1/3rd of an acre. Currently I am using a commercial 21 push Honda that does a great job. I am thinking of adding a wb to increase production and maybe add a few more accounts or if nothing else get jobs done faster. This is only a part time gig as I also have a full time job.

Questions:

1. Would getting a 36 in wb be worth it period or will it not make a huge difference and save that money?

2. If I were to get one, would a belt be fine because of the small nature of my accounts ( I have read all about belt vs hydro on here)

3. If I do make the purchase I want something that is good, not pistol grip and most Important last with good maintenance, I have thought maybe a 36 in toro

4. I have the opportunity to buy an almost brand new exmark 36 metro belt for 1500, too much for what I have going or a good deal?

5. Let me also add that a few of my accounts have some decent hills

Let me also had I have done this to supplement my full time job and plan on doing this for years to come, albeit staying small, I like to have free time to spend with my family

Any thoughts and or help would be appreciated.

Thanks

easy-lift guy
04-04-2012, 12:44 AM
I believe you will not be able to have it both ways. If you make this investment you could get done faster but since you also want to take on additional accounts you will be working the same amount of hours for the same pay or usually less after your expenses.
The law of diminishing returns will soon kick in and than the real decision has to be made. Stay small and content or go larger and jeopardize your full time job. IMHO stay small and spend the time with your family.
easy-lift guy

Orrdc
04-04-2012, 08:54 AM
Easy lift, I gotta say I agree. I have no desire to go big, I do this because I enjoy it and enjoy the extra cash to use with the family.

That being said, if I kept my current jobs and just did them faster with a wb with less physical exertion it might be a good thing. I am not looking to add a big lazer and pick up 50 accounts. I am thinking small but more effective.

MOturkey
04-04-2012, 09:11 AM
Easier is always better.

Orrdc
04-04-2012, 09:19 AM
Can't argue that, would it make a big enough difference is the question and what kind of deal should I be looking for?

easy-lift guy
04-04-2012, 09:39 AM
Easy lift, I gotta say I agree. I have no desire to go big, I do this because I enjoy it and enjoy the extra cash to use with the family.

That being said, if I kept my current jobs and just did them faster with a wb with less physical exertion it might be a good thing. I am not looking to add a big lazer and pick up 50 accounts. I am thinking small but more effective.

Understood. Do any of your accounts have any gates?, important to know when selecting deck size. For the $$ I would go with a belt driven WBM. Hydro is great, however to justify the additional expense for so few accounts to be added is not cost effective.
I can not recommend a make or model for you to choose from, guess that will be your home work assignment.
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Orrdc
04-04-2012, 10:07 AM
they do have gates which is why I was leaning towards the 36, not to mention I also agree that belt is the way to go as I just can't justify the expense of a hydro. I like that ecs controls el toros t bar.

I am thinking the smart thing to do is not rush and wait for a deal to smack me in the face. I don't think I can justify 1500 if that is 2 or 3 weeks profit
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TJSTONE
04-04-2012, 12:04 PM
36WB will cut the number of turns to less than half. I have 32 Toro T bar and a JD 48 pistol both are belt drive. I don't care for the Toro's handling as compared to to JD. The JD, for me, is easier to use. T bar or pistol? I don't care, both have their place. The belt drive is easy to maintain and that helps to control cost. As for $1500 for a mower:
1. How many years are you going to do this?
2. The mower becomes cheaper the more years you use it.
3. I look at it as paying forward, any capital investment has to be paid for, is the time saving worth it?
4. Do you think the machine will do a number of years with just PM?

IMHO I'd do it if I had the cash and the pro's out weighed the con's.

BestImpressions99
04-04-2012, 12:46 PM
You have a small mower. Keep it and buy a hydro WB from Exmark. You're being pretty particular with what you want. Not wanting Pistol Grips you're stuck with ither Exmark or Toro with their new setup for floating deck hydro WB's. Don't go with belt. You'll kick yourself later down the road. You won't regret getting Hydro as well as 48".

Set Apart Lawn Care
04-04-2012, 01:48 PM
my 2 cents on buying vs not buying would be to definately get a good 36" walk behind. Even if you never grow, you will cut hours off your day and thus increase time at home, and you have the ability to take on more if you need to. Our first commercial mower was a john deere 36" belt drive and that has been the easiest to handle. I like the T-bar from toro as well. I hated scags controls, always felt like I was wrestling the machine.

I also agree if you are part time with lawn maintenance a 5-6k hydro is a tall order. If you ever get over 40 yards I think they're worth every penny.

GrassIsGreenerLawnCare
04-04-2012, 03:04 PM
Gus is right. Although I have not really had any problems with my metro 48 belt driven, I wish I had gotten a hydro. But the cost for a hydro is considerably more, especially when starting a new biz.
For what you are doing, I dont really think you need to be that particular, and think you wouldnt have ANY problems with a belt driven WB. I would reccomend the ECS grips compared to pistols tho

I hate Toro T-bar, and wish I hadnt bought the Toro 32. I have a Gravely 36in which is one strong mower (will cut almost anything), but the pistol grips make your thumbs ache after 1 freakin lawn! Just a heavy mower. But Im glad we have it, because the Exmark cannot handle thick, long, or wet grass well at all.

Orrdc
04-04-2012, 04:49 PM
Thanks guys, we just did 8 lawns in 6 hours, avg about 35 min actually working, if we can cut that to 25 I think it's worth it.

Maybe I shouldn't be so picky about the grips. I just know I don't wanna have sore hands and I want something my wife could control if need be, any tips on this

mtmower
04-04-2012, 08:24 PM
I've run Exmark belt drive 48" and it did ok. When wet belts will slip. Hydro is nicer. Maybe hold out till you can find a good used. I'd stay with 36" for gates. I still have a 21" push (hardly ever use) my 36" hydro for gates (three yards a week), and then my big ZTRs. You won't regret the 36". Buy a good one and keep it no matter how big you may get.

I found my 36" hydro pro Encore used for $1000.00 and will always have a 36". Pistol grips are fine in my book other than catching branches or chain link when in a corner.

You may look at the Hustler Trimstar as well. A heck of a mower buy may have trouble finding one used. Take a look at their controls.

Orrdc
04-04-2012, 08:48 PM
Yea I think I'm gonna expand my horizons and just hold out for a good deal to come my way

Tofutti
04-04-2012, 08:49 PM
If you're doing most everything with a 21" push mower, then buying a 36" WB is going to make a world of difference... Both in cutting ability and speed difference ( ground travel speed AND number of passes). It's true, belt drive is not ideal, but for the number of accounts you have and esp if only a few of them have any hills to speak of, you'll be fine, and impressed. If you're a smaller person, throw a Velke/Sulky or even a ProSlide/GoSlide (http://www.novaestore.com/) on it and roll even faster.

As to the machine you're looking at ( the Metro), let me tell you, if it's "almost-new", then it's a deal ( barring any known major problems).

Fifteen-hundred dollars won't buy very much of a commercial mower these days.

Orrdc
04-04-2012, 09:45 PM
Not small, former college lineman lol. I don't care about the sulky, I like the exercise

Orrdc
04-04-2012, 09:50 PM
I've run Exmark belt drive 48" and it did ok. When wet belts will slip. Hydro is nicer. Maybe hold out till you can find a good used. I'd stay with 36" for gates. I still have a 21" push (hardly ever use) my 36" hydro for gates (three yards a week), and then my big ZTRs. You won't regret the 36". Buy a good one and keep it no matter how big you may get.

I found my 36" hydro pro Encore used for $1000.00 and will always have a 36". Pistol grips are fine in my book other than catching branches or chain link when in a corner.

You may look at the Hustler Trimstar as well. A heck of a mower buy may have trouble finding one used. Take a look at their controls.

Is encore any good, I haven't heard anything about them. I can get one pretty cheap

Orrdc
04-04-2012, 10:52 PM
Any thoughts on a 1991 scag? Older guy called me and said it was never used much just on a residence. Said he did maintence on it every year and sent me pics and I'll say It looks to be in really good shape

J & D Greens
04-05-2012, 12:13 AM
Is encore any good, I haven't heard anything about them. I can get one pretty cheap
I got a really good deal on my Encore 32" mower. (you can see it in my pic thread) the spindles were replaced with nice ones that have grease Zerk's and the motor was replaced with 16 hp. Kawasaki. It is a twin belt drive and I have had no problems on hills except when the ground is wet. (but most deck mowers will tear up the wet ground on hills were as a light 21" mower will still get it done). This season I put a new rear tire on it and will be replacing the front bushings and it is good to go.

Honestly it is nice to run the 32 on the larger accounts but, I only use my 32" mower 25% of the time (setting them up on the same day). On anything small it is probably better to use your 21" mower and get done just as fast or even faster. So if this is just a part time gig is it really worth spending the extra? I would look at all your accounts and evaluate how many you will use it on. I have to say a good used mower would be the way to go if you want to try it. I got mine for $400.00 and only had to do miner work (bushing on the left clutch) to get it going, get a catcher for it and make a bracket for it. So $70.00 for used catcher and Fab the bracket and I have been using it for 3 seasons now. I hope this helps because even though I got mine cheap it still it cost money to run all the equipment you have the more you spend and the more overhead you have just to cut 20-25 yards?

We have to be careful on what we spend. Because it is just like a new car. Buy it and drive it off the lot, you will not get that $5,000.00 back if you have to sell it. Same with every purchase we make, we have to be frugal with every penny spent because we could keep it in the bank instead.

Now that being said I struggle too. Do I buy this or that? Good luck, David

mtmower
04-05-2012, 12:15 AM
Is encore any good, I haven't heard anything about them. I can get one pretty cheap

Encore made a good product. Just as well thought out and heavy duty as anything. Mine has filtered hydro system and what looks to be about a 2 gallon reservoir, which is huge for a walk behind. Mines also a true zero turn, motor per wheel. Some mowers, Ferris for example have a single wheel motor which drives a open differential like a car would have. These are fine also. I've been told at one point Hustler may have even manufactured some of their product for a short time. They got into some problems and all but went under or were bought out. There was a lag in production, service, dealers, etc. I hear they are back up and running as about a year ago. I wouldn't be afraid of buying a used one. Especially if you can do your own work on them. A lot of the parts interchange with other brands (pump, belts, blades, cables, wheels, pulleys, etc.). When it comes down to it, the frame, deck style, and operator controls are the only major differences between mower brands, other than color and price,or when you talking new, warranty. I think they used all Kawasaki. Going on three years on a used unit and other than maintenance not one problem.

The Scag should also be a good bet. It all depends, of course, on how well they were actually taken care of. Scag may have had more than one deck option back then which you may want to do a little research on.

If you don't turn your own wrenches you may want to base your decision on which brand would have the best dealer service/parts support in your area. This can be huge.

mtmower
04-05-2012, 12:22 AM
I got a really good deal on my Encore 32" mower. (you can see it in my pic thread) the spindles were replaced with nice ones that have grease Zerk's and the motor was replaced with 16 hp. Kawasaki. It is a twin belt drive and I have had no problems on hills except when the ground is wet. (but most deck mowers will tear up the wet ground on hills were as a light 21" mower will still get it done). This season I put a new rear tire on it and will be replacing the front bushings and it is good to go.

Honestly it is nice to run the 32 on the larger accounts but, I only use my 32" mower 25% of the time (setting them up on the same day). On anything small it is probably better to use your 21" mower and get done just as fast or even faster. So if this is just a part time gig is it really worth spending the extra? I would look at all your accounts and evaluate how many you will use it on. I have to say a good used mower would be the way to go if you want to try it. I got mine for $400.00 and only had to do miner work (bushing on the left clutch) to get it going, get a catcher for it and make a bracket for it. So $70.00 for used catcher and Fab the bracket and I have been using it for 3 seasons now. I hope this helps because even though I got mine cheap it still it cost money to run all the equipment you have the more you spend and the more overhead you have just to cut 20-25 yards?

We have to be careful on what we spend. Because it is just like a new car. Buy it and drive it off the lot, you will not get that $5,000.00 back if you have to sell it. Same with every purchase we make, we have to be frugal with every penny spent because we could keep it in the bank instead.

Now that being said I struggle too. Do I buy this or that? Good luck, David


I agree with most of what David said, except on not using it as often as you think or not being faster than your 21". I have one terraced place on the mountain here that I can't even fit my 36" on, if it wasn't for that it would never come of the trailer. It would just be a backup. The additional sizes makes you more flexible, which allows you to offer more services or bid more jobs if the need ever arises. I don't pull anything off my trailer but my 60" or 66" mower, trimmer, and blower, unless there is a gate or something blocking my way to get to the property that needs mowed. If it's 10' x 10" my 60" is three swipes and done. Takes as long to back off the trailer and reload as it does to cut it. You'll love a 36" over the 21". Times that love by 10 going from a 36" to a ZTR.

I'm by know means saying buy a ZTR or anything out of your budget or need, but with the right tools you can do amazing things.

Orrdc
04-05-2012, 08:24 AM
thanks guys, all good advice. From the yards we have I would say the 36 would be used on pretty much all of them

J & D Greens
04-05-2012, 11:55 AM
I agree with most of what David said, except on not using it as often as you think or not being faster than your 21". I have one terraced place on the mountain here that I can't even fit my 36" on, if it wasn't for that it would never come of the trailer. It would just be a backup. The additional sizes makes you more flexible, which allows you to offer more services or bid more jobs if the need ever arises. I don't pull anything off my trailer but my 60" or 66" mower, trimmer, and blower, unless there is a gate or something blocking my way to get to the property that needs mowed. If it's 10' x 10" my 60" is three swipes and done. Takes as long to back off the trailer and reload as it does to cut it. You'll love a 36" over the 21". Times that love by 10 going from a 36" to a ZTR.

I'm by know means saying buy a ZTR or anything out of your budget or need, but with the right tools you can do amazing things.

Here is the thing, this guy is only going to do this as part time income and I am only using my biz to supplement my retirement, we are not doing large properties and only service 20-25 (in his case) or 35-40 (in mine). So I was just saying is it really going to be cost effective to have a 32" or 36". I can say if all my lawns were easier to mow with my 32" mower I definitely would, but most are so small and have things like elevation changes that a 32 would scalp were as I can use my 21 with out worries. I wish they made a solid in between mower 25"-28" I would consider using one full-time, but all the ones I have read review on here about seem to be flawed in some way. Were as you get any of the four major players in the deck mower walk behinds and as a solo opp. it should last 7+seasons with regular wear and tear.

For me other than a hand full the 21" mower does just fine.

I'm not saying you have a valid point in the increase in productivity and cut quality, but you do this on such a big scale (like my boss when I was 12 years old and all he used was the best) you have to use the best you can get you hands on.

What if he does increase his biz by 5 accounts to justify the new addition. Full-time job+25 lawn accounts (now I did this for 3 season with 20-25 accounts before I retired no real quality time with anyone to drained, keep in mind he has no intention of leaving his full-time job to do this full-time) depending on the 32"-36" mower to get it done in record time. Now he suffers the misfortune of a major break down on his 32'-36" mower now what, he has to cut all 25 lawns with his trusty 21" and work himself to death until he gets it back. So now we need two deck mowers just in case right? It just becomes a vicious cycle of pouring money into a Biz that is supposed to be low overhead so he has a decent return on his time.

Orrdc
04-05-2012, 12:11 PM
JD I gotta say I agree, I dont want to get into that cycle. I have a great full time job that happens to give me lots of time in the summer off which is why I can handle it. The problem as we all know is grass isn't a June-Aug job, so when I am working I dont wanna get too crazy.

From the opinions I have gathered I feel like getting a 36 would be beneficial however im not going to go out and drop 2k on one. If something comes along that I just cant pass up I may jump on it, and it may be this scag. I think I could get it for the 6-700 ballpark and it looks great in the pics. Once I go check it out and check out the guy selling it may be a deal I can't pass up.

mtmower
04-05-2012, 04:01 PM
David I get your point and agree with you. I started out part time as well with a walk behind as my first mower. I had a 21 as a back up. I guess I was just trying to get across the benefit in time savings that he's going to see, which equates to more free time for family etc. or getting more work and $s brought in in the same amount of time without taking any time from other areas. This is the only area I disagree. Maybe I misunderstood but it originally sounded as though you were saying the 36 vs the 21 wasn't going to be much of a benefit. I'm saying that it is and it just broadens his options and makes him more flexible. Another perk IMO is that it looks more professional than a 21. A small thing I know. But it sets him apart from the school boy down the street going door to door. I makes him look as if he's committing and more professional.

As I said in my prior statement, i even bought my 36" hydro used for $1000. Matter of fact bought all three of my walk behinds that I've owned I bought used. Low overhead is a good thing, getting a good deal is a good thing. It didn't seem like taking on additional customers was the goal from what I read but again it would be another option. This is a great thing. With today's market, if heaven forbid he was to loose his full time job unexpectedly, this option would look quite good. The big question is, is weather or not roughly $1000.00 for a used mower is worth the extras. I'm guessing the thread would not have been started if he didn't consider that it may be. Going a little further, if it doesn't work out after he buys it and it doesn't suit his needs, it's a good chance he could resale it and recoup most if not all he paid for it. Shoot if finds a screaming deal maybe even make a little money selling it. A good point you make is what if he decides to take on more accounts and his mower brakes down, now he's killing himself trying to keep up with his 21. This is the risk we all take, big or little. By the way I only mow 28 yards average. Another note. I didn't see if he uses or owns a trailer but make sure to figure in transportation of the mower. Your not going to pick up a 36er and stick it in your trunk like you could the 21.

Orrdc you may want to consider paying to have a used mower checked out prior to buying it buy a dealer unless you're wrench handy. This can save you some heart ache.

TJSTONE
04-06-2012, 01:28 PM
The only way to control overhead is to do as much for yourself as is possible. If you can't do your own maintenance then a used mower of any kind is a millstone and who needs that? Again IMO the only mowers that I have are wb's. The reason is time, my 32 is 2x faster than a 21. I use it on any and all small properties, sometimes it is a PIA but all of them are. I bought used belt drives because they are simpler to maintain and less expensive to repair. I do small commercial and residential up to and acre and am full time. I would love to have hydro for more speed/ less time but till I land more accounts and the right used machine,I'm fine as I am. Good Luck.

Orrdc
04-06-2012, 05:21 PM
I need some opinions on this scag. It's 36 in, it's 20 years old but in great shape. Was never used much according to the guy and it does look like it. I have pics, It ran great when I went and saw it, needs a mulching blade. Not exactly the easiest thing to get around but it worked fine. What would be a Very good price, if I'm going to buy a mower that old no matter how great of condition it's in I want to get a good deal. I was thinking maybe 650-700

Here is the link http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/grd/2940913125.html

mtmower
04-06-2012, 06:38 PM
If it's in good condition I think you have the right $s in mind. It may be missing the top shield that covers the belt. I would want one. If he doesn't have it, see how much one costs and deduct that from the asking price also. Again having it checked at a shop may be a good thing if you're not mechanically inclined. Do a compression test on the engine. Check spindles, casters, all pulleys, and wheels for excessive play and/or noise. Of course make sure all things function correctly. No cracking in deck or frame, excessive rust, etc. Good luck.

Orrdc
04-06-2012, 07:07 PM
He does have the cover, I did a quick check but not super through . I assume getting a new set of mulching blades shouldn't be a problem. How will I know what will fit. I don't need the sulky, I doubt it would do much for me anyways. Maybe 650-7 wo the sulky

mtmower
04-06-2012, 09:42 PM
Nice to hear about the cover. I wouldn't want to guess what Scag wants for a new one. Odd a guy would take a picture with parts missing from it as a sales pic.

Blades shouldn't be any problem. I would go with the factory oem high lift option (this may what it came from the dealer when new) or possibly try the Oregon G5 blade for that mower. That seems to be the blade to have. Typically a decent blade runs around $15 a piece plus shipping. In this case, times two.

Personally I would take the sulky. Esp. if it's a two wheel with an extended tongue that's rigid at the mower but flexes at the sulky end. Maybe tell him you have no need for it and see if he'd sell just the mower, but more than likely he'll want to sell it as a set. This will get him thinking about the price and make him feel like it's really not something that turns you on. He probably has no need for the sulky without the mower. It may help bring him down on the price even if you take the sulky. Look sulkies up. They're not cheep. Typically around $150 to $300 new. (to keep things in prospective you could buy a throw away 21" for what a new sulky sells for) They come in handy. If you haven't used one they're very nice on level large properties and if you don't like it you could always sell it to bring down total overhead or throw it in the garage till the day you sell the mower. It might make it more desirable/marketable to the next owner.

Orrdc
04-06-2012, 10:25 PM
Valid points, thanks man. Here is how little this one has been used, it has the original blades and they were still looking good. However they weren't mulching blades

As far as the sulky it was the one that flexes

mtmower
04-07-2012, 12:40 AM
Wow. Good to hear. Check the underside of the deck and see if there is still quite a bit of paint in tacked. That would be a good gauge unless someone had repainted it which is unlikely.

Be careful of using a true mulch blade on a side discharge. It won't hurt anything, but your QOC may suffer and/or discharge. Unless you actually install a mulch kit along with the mulch blades. The G5 is as close to a mulch blade while still being a side discharge blade.

Orrdc
04-07-2012, 12:51 AM
Thanks again mt, I am still torn about it. Just browsing cl in other cities, of course not mine, I see some other mowers I like better for not a ton more money. Just not sure if I wanna buy a 20 year old machine now matter how good of shape it's in

mtmower
04-07-2012, 01:16 AM
You have a good point. Even rubber items age when not being used. ie tires, hoses, belts, seals. The newer models may have better deck design.

If your not familiar already with it try using searchtempest.com to search.

Orrdc
04-07-2012, 01:18 AM
Yea that what I've been using,found a few I like just kinda far. But the prices aren't much different. I may just hold out, made it this far. Thanks again for all your help