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View Full Version : Who was the first commercial walk-behind?


rnbinmemphis
06-25-2004, 04:51 PM
I currently have an Exmark Lazer but due to some commercial property with fairly steep slopes that I am taking over July 1, I am on a quest for a walk-behind. I went to visit the Scag dealer who said that Scag was the first walk-behind made and everyone copied him. Im not sure if I should believe him or not just because I had a gut feeling on how the sales guy was overall and not just because of his statement. Also, if wondering I am looking at Exmark too but am searching around simply because the service from my current dealer is less than desireable.

chuckers
06-25-2004, 05:18 PM
my grandpa has a 1986 scag so i would say scag is the first

crawdad
06-25-2004, 05:39 PM
The Gravely walk-behind tractor was way before that. Many sizes of decks out there, and with steering brakes, it was as close to zero turn as you could get for many years. Put the dual wheel kit on it, and it'll eat up hills.
I have a couple of 30 " decks, a 36, a 52, a 4 and a 5 foot sickle bar...snow plow...I could go on.
Crawdad

mkwl
06-25-2004, 05:42 PM
My father in law has a 1980 Ransomes/ Bob-Cat commercial mower so I would say they are the first.

Turfdude
06-25-2004, 06:33 PM
Commercial w/b (36/larger) = Bunton.

JPLAWNSERVICE
06-25-2004, 06:39 PM
I agree with crawdad on this one. It is definitely gravely. I think those things have been around since the 50's or 60's. It was pretty much like a walkbehind but with a lot of other attachments. They weren't a true zero turn like a hydro, but they did turn like a belt drive.

rnbinmemphis
06-25-2004, 07:08 PM
Ok, this has been bothering me so I made a few calls to a couple of people that would know. I was told that the first commercial walk-behind as we know the style today, regardless of hydro of not, was Bunton in 1954 who went to market with a 24" belt-drive walkbehind. As far as gravely, they didn't get into the ones mentioned with the different attachments until early-mid 60's. Until then, they mostly focused on tractors and motorized plows. Based on Scags website (which I don't know why I didn't look earlier) they started in 1983. Exmark's website says they started in 1982.

Itsgottobegreen
06-25-2004, 07:29 PM
Locke reel mowers. Started in 1925, first year of production 1928. The worlds first zero turn, self propelled walk behind. I have several of them, Mostly 1960's models. Seems like almost every estate or school had one at some point. I find them every where.

Then bunton.

Here is a picture of a 1929 model 70" wide triplex.

Itsgottobegreen
06-25-2004, 07:33 PM
Ok I am going to try this again.

Martino
06-25-2004, 07:36 PM
Scag had the first hydro walk. Gravely has been around a long time, but were always marketed as two wheel tractors, not commercial walk mowers.

If memory serves, F.D. Kees developed the first commercial, wide area mower in the mid 1970's in Beatrice, Nebraska.

rnbinmemphis
06-25-2004, 08:00 PM
Read the Yazoo/Kees website and yes, the said they did the 48" and 52" wide area walk-behind. However, Bunton was before that with the 36" and 52" cuts. The reason according to my source was that the 52" used the same belts and blades as a 36" walkbehind.

Locke was well known for their reel mowers, however, the problem was that it would not mow all types of grass and thus, is why the rotary mower was made. Sources say Leonard Goodall attached his wifes washing maching engine to a flat piece of steel and thus is credited with the first true rotary mower. But, other sources say that Ransomes was the first reel mower in England and was before Locke

rodfather
06-25-2004, 09:55 PM
Interesting question...but does it matter? Scag, Yazoo/Kees , and Bunton have VERY little of the WB marketplace these day...if any.

BTW, what in the world is a Bunton???

TheKingNJ
06-25-2004, 10:08 PM
Originally posted by rodfather
Interesting question...but does it matter? Scag, Yazoo/Kees , and Bunton have VERY little of the WB marketplace these day...if any.

BTW, what in the world is a Bunton???

are you saying that Scag and Bunton are not popular wb brands?

I'd say Scag is probally the biggest seller of commercial walk behind mowers. Bunton sells a bit of walk behind mowers also.

I will say I have never seen a Yazoo in my area.

Ax Man
06-25-2004, 10:55 PM
Seems like I read somewhere that Ferris was the first hydro.
I belive that locke was there with the reel, Gravely had walk mowers in the 30s...

mkwl
06-25-2004, 11:50 PM
BTW, what in the world is a Bunton??? [/B][/QUOTE]

Bunton mowers are manufactured by Jaconsen.

odin
06-25-2004, 11:57 PM
Who cares .....right rod :D

Sam-Ohio
06-26-2004, 02:18 AM
Ransomes, Sims, and Jeffries of Ipswich, England [ now called Ransommes] used to display pen and ink drawings of reel type mowers that they built in the 1740's !!!! About 30 years before the start of the Revolutionary war. So, they are older than the USA is !

These reel mowers were pulled by a single mule. The mower had a pair of wooden handles and the driver walked behind guiding and controling it and the mule, very much like a man guides a horse drawn plow. The mower had a set of iron wheels and the reel blade was gear driven off these wheels, much like the old push reel mowers that your grandpa used to push mow with back in the 1930's and 40's. The old thing looked so thick and heavy that I would guess it weighed several hundred pounds, so that is why it needed a mule to pull it. These things were used only around magnificent estates and castles of the ruling class.

Textron , who owned Jacobsen, Cushman, Easy Go, Ryan,etc. bought out Ransomes, who owned Bobcat, and Steiner about 8 years ago, so it is all U.S. owned again.

Gravely Motor Plow Co. of Dunbar, WV. started making gas powered one wheel walk behind cultivator tractors around 1917. They did attache a cutter bar mower to the model D. tractor in the 1920's, put this really was meant to mow hay with - not lawns.

Gravely made their first 2 wheel walk behind tractor [model L] in 1936. They did make 30, 40, and 50 inch rotary mowers, 75 inch triplex powered reels, 44 inch hammer knife mowers, and 48 inch to 60 inch cutter bar mowers for these model L tractors, but they didn't see these as just mowers. They veiwed them as walking tractors and had power tillage equipment, saws, pumps, sprayers, snowblowers, scoops, dozer blades etc. etc. as attachments for them.

Gravely didn't make wide dedicated pro style mowers, with pistol grip steering till around 1980.

I would agree that Bunton probably was the earliest version of a wide mower with pistol grip steering as we would recognize today.

Richard Martin
06-26-2004, 03:13 AM
Originally posted by Martino
Scag had the first hydro walk.

Ferris was building a hydro walk years before Scag.

PMLAWN
06-26-2004, 03:19 AM
Neat stuff Sam. Collect up all that stuff and you would have a great museum. How do you know all that. Do you collect.

Sam-Ohio
06-26-2004, 03:30 AM
No , I don't collect - I've just been around it so long, that I remember them all when they were new !!!!

naturescape
06-26-2004, 09:33 AM
I believe Bunton was the first large wb rotary mower. Scag had the first wb hydro.

chief5139
06-26-2004, 10:50 AM
if you need a good walk behind look at the snapper pro hydro series i like it because of the field servicable spindal, and the loop handels

kedeg
06-28-2004, 01:45 AM
Actually Bunton bought out Goodall. He designed the mower that is essentially the fixed deck WAM. Bunton's brouchure a few years ago, before textron bought them, claimed he was first and they bought it from him.
Could be wrong.

Richard Martin
06-28-2004, 05:45 AM
Originally posted by naturescape
Scag had the first wb hydro.

Ferris was building a hydro walk years before Scag was even a company.

battags
06-28-2004, 08:51 AM
http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=48072&highlight=ideal+mowers

Martino
06-28-2004, 02:32 PM
Originally posted by Richard Martin
Ferris was building a hydro walk years before Scag was even a company.

Nope, not quite.

I should have clarified that the dual hydro that is most commonly used today was first introduced by Scag. The single hydro from Ferris never really caught on in the industry, and belt drives were still almost all of the market until the dual drive was introduced.

All manufacturers of dual drive hydros still pay license fees to Dane Scag for the privilege.

Richard Martin
06-28-2004, 06:51 PM
Originally posted by Martino
Nope, not quite.

I should have clarified that the dual hydro that is most commonly used today was first introduced by Scag. The single hydro from Ferris never really caught on in the industry, and belt drives were still almost all of the market until the dual drive was introduced.

All manufacturers of dual drive hydros still pay license fees to Dane Scag for the privilege.

That doesn't change the fact that Ferris was building and selling a hydro walk before Scag was even a company.

naturescape
06-28-2004, 10:39 PM
I guess you got me on that one R.M. I stand corrected.

Martino
06-28-2004, 11:19 PM
Originally posted by Richard Martin
That doesn't change the fact that Ferris was building and selling a hydro walk before Scag was even a company.

Uh, yes it does. Scag has been around since 1983....the Ferris single hydro wasn't patented or marketed until 1987.