View Full Version : Need info on mowers

07-16-2003, 09:04 PM
Sorry if this gets a little long.

I currently mow my 3 acre yard with a 15HP, 42" Craftsman. It's transmission and mower deck will (hopefully) finish up this mowing season, but won't make another. I'm looking into getting a new mower later this year or early next. Right now it takes me 5 - 7 hours or so just to mow due to lots of trees and other obstacles, plus the yard is pretty rough in spots so I have to keep the speed down. The yard also grows rocks and occasionally coughs up old plow points and other stuff when you least expect it. I pick up rocks and mow with the deck all the way up but do sometimes hit stuff. Its not really sloped all that much but there are some dips and ditches.

After doing some research and reading on this forum, I've pretty much decided on a commercial ztr with probably a 48" deck, due to mowing between stuff. I've got some low hanging branches so I ruled out a walk behind and I really don't think another tractor will improve things much. The front mount ztr's with flip up decks look real attractive because of the ease of changing blades, which I've had to do quite a bit of. I'm looking for something with a heavy duty mower deck, ease of maintenance, and good reliability for a lot of years, plus reasonably priced parts with good availability when things need to be replaced. I'm fairly mechanically inclined so I'll be doing my own maintenance, unless something really serious happens.

The dealers in my area are John Deere, Kubota, Grasshopper, Cub Cadet, Husqvarna, Dixon, Toro, and, I think, Woods, plus maybe a couple of others. The Exmark, Hustler, and Dixie Chopper dealers are 1 - 2 hours away or more. I'm not going to demo anything until I get the choices narrowed down a bit more and am ready to buy, but so far I'm interested in the Grasshopper 618, JD F687, and Kubota GF1800. The cost of those are more than I really had planned to pay, but I'm willing to for a quality machine and I'd rather not buy used. I'd appreciate anyone's comments on these models or suggestions on others to look at. Also, what's the best time of year to buy to get the best pricing? Please don't say now.


07-17-2003, 07:52 AM
Ann - do a search on this site, you'll find more info. on mowers than you probably want. In my opinion, if you are buying a commercial mower for residential use, the cost will be offset by the many years of service you will get. If you wait till this fall, some dealers will lower their prices a bit, but don't expect a lot of savings as the ZTR's are the hottest mowers going right now.


07-18-2003, 11:16 AM
sounds just like my yard.
I used to cut with a 42" 18hp cheapo mower for about 4 hrs, then push-mow a steep slope 30 minutes and weed-whack around trees etc. for another 30 minutes.
Cost me my whole week-end, seems like.
I ended up with a 618, I think the Woods 6182 is essentially the same. I sold my push mower since and haven't used my weed-whacker as well. The whole 3 acres take me an hour to finish. And oh boy, when I'm done it looks 10 times better than it ever looked with all the other equipment; beautiful stripes too.
The reason I chose the 618 was largely for the front mounted deck. I haven't mowed once without cleaning out the deck afterwards.
Next to easy maintenance the front mounted deck allows you to push it under fences, swingsets, bushes, spruces, etc. etc.
The way the deck is mounted to the tractor allows it to follow the dips and bumps of the lawn easily.
True, they all are expensive, but looking at the quality of construction its worth it.
There are plenty more benefits, no clumping or wind-rowing in tall grass, mowing in the rain or wet lawn, easy mulching of leaves, etc.
The best time of the year is probably towards the end, when dealers want to empty their warehouses; or early spring - when some have last years model or offer discounts on the new models.
I'd make the same choice again, I just might be tempted to go once size larger and consider a 25 hp model though. Also, if you go with a 618, opt for the 52" deck, it'll be worth it, trust me.

07-18-2003, 11:13 PM
Catcher, thanks for the info. Of the three mowers I mentioned, I like the 618 best so far. How long have you had yours and have you had any problems at all with it so far?

Rustic Goat
07-19-2003, 04:48 AM
Of the brands you have listed, near and far, I would suggest traveling to those dealers that are farther away if the closer brands mentioned are what you have to pick from.
This is just purely from a durability stand point.

07-21-2003, 09:50 AM
You're welcome.
I bought mine new in spring of 2000, so it's the third year now.
The only real problem I had was a leak where the hydraulic drive hose connects with the reservoir, the dealer was cool about giving me a new tank free of charge - that happened this spring. I also noticed that they changed the design of the tank where the leak occured.
My biggest (and probably only) complaint about this mower is its air-filter.
Which engineer is braindead enough to outfit a piece of outdoors equipment with an airfilter that small. I constantly find myself blowing it out or replacing it.
The machine works beautifully otherwise and I haven't had any other problems.
As far as Rusty Goat's comment on durability, I have no doubt that you could run it off of a small cliff and not suffer much damage (to the machine, that is - not so sure about yourself).
Have your dealer throw some Gatorz on for you if you buy it.
If you can get yourself to keep the unit clean and maintained it should last you a lifetime .........

07-24-2003, 02:59 PM
Go after the TORO. There is a dealer in Harrison (J & J ask for Jerry). The ideal unit for you is the 17h Kaw w/44" deck. This is a commercial unit 2 year warranty & they sell for around the $6000 mark. While this may sound high, for the homeowner this would propely be the last mower you buy.

07-24-2003, 03:49 PM
Well, I don't know. The last Toro I looked at had a chinsy stamped out deck. I thought it was overpriced for what it had to offer. My guess is that you are paying an excessive price for the fancy nametag (unless you can afford a Groundmaster).
Same goes for Husquarna and Cub in my humble opinion.

07-24-2003, 04:10 PM
Originally posted by Catcher
Well, I don't know. The last Toro I looked at had a chinsy stamped out deck. I thought it was overpriced for what it had to offer. My guess is that you are paying an excessive price for the fancy nametag (unless you can afford a Groundmaster).
Same goes for Husquarna and Cub in my humble opinion.

No what this is, is a Z-MASTER. chinsy stapped deck???? 9 gage steel - the same as a fabricated deck - WITH A 2 YEAR WARRANTY ON THE DECK SHELL. That ain't chinsy! And the $$ is no more than any one else of ther same caliber

07-24-2003, 06:57 PM

Thanks, for the info. I just looked on Toro's website and from what I can tell the 44" deck looks to be 12 gauge with an 11 gauge "Bull nose"? Maybe I'm reading it wrong. We've got a dealer here in Russellville (a small dealer) that reps several brands, Toro, Cub Cadet, Grasshopper. I told him what I had and he recommended the Grasshopper and priced it at less than $7000 fully loaded. What fully loaded means, I'm not real sure, I'm having trouble finding info on all their options. I took it to mean with the full flotation package, flip up deck, etc. There's always the chance he was pushing it just to sell me a more expensive mower, but I don't know for sure.

07-25-2003, 11:27 AM
after it's all said and done it still just boils down to what you like best.
I'd narrow down to one or two brands/ models and test them at home. This will allow you to see which features you really care for and how well you like driving the machines.
If you end up going with the GH I'd get the 'wide stance' dual wheel tail assembly, weights for the rear, low pressure tires.
I do not believe they sell new units without a flip-deck, but it's a no-brainer - get the flip deck.
They also have a 'horizontal roller' to help you go around trees, but I don't think it's a necessity.

07-26-2003, 10:15 AM

You were on the CONSUMER side of the Toro web site - go to the LCE to look at the product I'm talking about

07-26-2003, 10:26 PM
Redbull - I'm sorry but I'm still not finding it. I go to the LCE part of Toro's website, under Professional Contractor, click on ZMaster Z100 with 17 HP Kawi and 44" deck, click on the PDF specification file and all I'm seeing is 12 gauge deck. I haven't tried looking at the larger decks.

Catcher - That's pretty much what I was planning on doing, narrowing it down to 2 or 3 and seeing which I liked best test driving them on my yard. I've just got to figure out what those are. I don't have a trailer, but for that kind of money, I was planning (hoping) they would bring them out here, if I'm not too far away. If I go with the Grasshopper, I was planning on the wide stance kit, but how important are the weights? Also, you recommended the 52" deck, but I was a little worried about the mower being underpowered with the 18 HP and the larger deck. Is that a real concern?

07-29-2003, 05:08 PM
Naw, 52" is not going to hamper the performance. I am going up steep hills while having the deck engaged and it works just fine.
There is a kit, and of course I forgot the name of it, I think it's a traction kit - basically a linkage system which puts the weight right over the drive tires. The weights for the tail-end should come with this kit. I like having them there, sometimes the tail-end will come up when I cruise downhill, but usually the deck will support the mower and keep it from flipping. Doesn't happen often, I just think without weights it may occur more frequently.
I would not care how far the dealers are, obviously within reason since you will have to pick up odds and ends there yourself. If they have an interrest in selling a unit to you they will bring it you.
The same should apply when they need to pick it up for service. You make take that into consideration; in the event of your mower having to go to the shop you will have things like pick up/ delivery and possibly a loaner to use during that time squared away.
Dealers will give the pros preferred treatment since they need to make money with it. But usually they'll have a tractor or something for the home-owner to use.

maple city
08-11-2003, 02:29 AM
I heard that Exmark was coming out with a Zero Turn that was more geared toward homeowners. I think they termed it light commercial. May be worth taking a drive to check it out. I don't use Exmarks, so I don't know if they have a flip-up deck.

We have a Scag, but you didn't list that as a dealer close to you. Our 48" deck has a 19hp Kaw, but no flip-up deck. If you are only using it for your own home, this may not be as much of an issue to you as you think. We can run the mower up on car ramps and easily scrape the deck or change the blades. We got ours for $6300.00 which is a pretty fair price for a good quality mower. Make sure that none of your area dealers are carrying Scags. We got ours at a Toro dealer. We looked at the Toro with the 17h Kaw and 44" deck, and decided to go with the Scag.

08-11-2003, 09:46 AM
According the the website, the nearest Scag dealer is about 45 minutes away. I'll do some research and may run up there on my day off and take a look. I've done some looking and the John Deere and Kubotas are nice machines, but are probably going to be way way out of my price range. I've add the Gravely 148Z / 152Z to the list but am still leaning toward the front mount Grasshopper. I'm thinking the front mount deck would be less likely to scalp as well. Hopefully if the transmission holds I'll have a bit more time to look. I was beginning to wonder this weekend and with all the rain we've been having I've never had to mow this month and there's probably two more months to go unless winter shows up early.

08-11-2003, 09:49 AM
Sorry I meant to say I've never had to mow this much not this month. My brain stops working sometimes.