View Full Version : Toro Turbo Force Deck Users -- question

08-27-2004, 12:49 PM
Is the adjustable baffle feature something that you actually use, or do you just leave it wide open all the time?

I'm looking at getting one of the new Z400 series ZTRs for a large residential lawn (also looking at a JD 717A or 727A), and I am wondering whether this feature is a good reason to move up to the ProValue (Z440) model over the estate model (Z400). My dealer was telling me that almost none of his commercial cutomers using the Turbo Force deck ever adjust it. According to the dealer, the Z400 deck IS a TurboForce-style deck with a fixed baffle (it sure looks that way to me).

I know there's a number of other significant differences between the 400 and the 440, but I'm just wondering if the dealer was trying to sell me the Z400 he had on the show floor (he didn't have a 440), or whether he was just trying to save me some money.

BTW, I know the Z400 is brand new, but if anyone can compare the cut quality of the TurboForce deck and the JD 7-iron deck, I'd appreciate hearing about that too.

And yes, I will demo, demo, demo... ;>)

Thanks guys.
Rich R.

08-27-2004, 04:16 PM
I have never moved the baffle in 4 months.

08-27-2004, 05:33 PM
My experiences with a Z557 Z-Master and a Deere 7-Iron 777, both 60" decks were very good. However, in wetter, taller grass the Deere cut cleaner the first cut and had hardly ANY grass at all stuck to the underside of the deck.

The TurboForce deck did a good job but it did clump some and even at one time felt like it was going to plug off. This was with the baffle wide open.

I also did not like the roll over bar on the Toro unit (and you could not delete it from the price although it is removable once delievered from the dealer) nor did I like the feeling that I was sitting higher overall than on the Deere. And, if memory serves me correctly here, I do not think that the Toro had greaseable caster spindles - the Deere did, which was a big issue for me.

On dry grass with a fairly normal mowing height, they were pretty equal, all things considered. I just found on MY demo's that the Deere 7-Iron cut better the worse the conditions became. That's why I bought the Deere.

However - either one is an outstanding piece of equipment - enjoy your demo's and good luck.

08-27-2004, 07:19 PM
I have two 60 inch toro 's 555 and 557 .. last two or three days is the first time in the lasT month or so .Because of dry condidtions i havent adjusted the baffles much.

Last couple days it been raining like pouring piss out of a boot been wet .

I adjusted the baffles where i like them for wet conditions very little clumping discharge was even and perfect .

That is the key to this deck getting the baffles adjusted for all kinds of conditions ...and the baffles make this deck the one or two best decks on the market ...If not the best.

08-27-2004, 10:37 PM
Guys --

Thanks -- appreciate the comments.

Steve1 -- I agree with you about the rollover bar -- the Z400s have it welded to the frame, so there's not even a question of taking it off. On the other hand, I'm looking right now at a big picture of a Z400 on the front of the brochure and there appear to be grease zerks on the caster spindles. I have a big picture of the 500 series as well but they're not in the same spot, if anywhere. As to the deck, that could be because the deck is stamped, with less places for the cut grass to hide.

On the other hand, I felt like I sat slightly lower on the Z400 than the JD 717; also the Toro had more deck height settings (1/4" spacing) and I prefer the Toro controls on the side (instead of between my legs); the spindles are absolutely massive on the Toro as well, although I cant say that the are necessarily stronger than the JD. The Toro also appears to have more accessories available, at least for now.

Thanks again -- as is the case with many questions like this on this board, it will come down to a demo.


Fareway Lawncare
08-27-2004, 10:58 PM
Heard rumor that eXmark may have a deck Coming that will Allow the Baffling to Come Down to Full Mulch Position...Now that Would be Something !

John Gamba
08-28-2004, 10:25 AM
Originally posted by Fareway Lawncare
Heard rumor that eXmark may have a deck Coming that will Allow the Baffling to Come Down to Full Mulch Position...Now that Would be Something !

I think it will be on the NEW explorer.

08-28-2004, 05:26 PM
Hey RichmondR

Are you sure about the Z400 ROPS being welded to the frame? I was looking that the Z400 with the 48" and 52" deck the other day. The ROPS was bolted the frame right below the engine. My dealer said that it would bolt right off.

By-the-way, I'm in the same boat you are. I'm selling my walk behind and buying a small frame ZTR. Just tired of walking. It looks like it come down to the Z400 or the Z440. There is about an $800 difference between the Z400 and the Z440. I'm on the fence. However I heard a lot of good things about the Turbo Force Deck and this might sway my decision.

Yes your right that they baffle might never change, but it nice to know that if I would ever need to open it on close it to match conditions I can.


08-28-2004, 06:13 PM
My dealer told me once that if they look the same but have different levels, they probably have cheaper parts in the lower level of mower. Looking at the website, the 400 has smaller tires, by this might you surmise they have lesser quality hydraulic motors etc.....than the 440?
Just a guess, but maybe it will give you something else to look at.

08-28-2004, 06:23 PM
low end 400 looks like toro is positioning for high end homeowner use to me ..The ground speed should be better on all of them ...only 8.3 mph.19 horse kawi and 20 horse kohler are the only engine options.

08-28-2004, 07:10 PM
ple-1969 -- you may be right about the ROPS. It was welded to something at the bottom, but hte "something" may be bolted -- I'll look again tommorrow and talk to the dealer, but I suspect you're right.

Also, a correction -- the thing on the spindles that looks like a grease zerk in the brochure photo is actually a couple of screws, but you can grease the spindles by taking the protective caps off the top of the spindles per the owners manual (I checked).

Odin -- I agree about your conclusion. The Z400 is Toro's version of a Laser CT IMO, although you still get the Turbo Force-style deck without the adjustable baffle. I'll post more on my thought process later -- off to the theater with my wife!

Thanks again guys.


08-28-2004, 07:45 PM
What Odin says!

I find the 60'' turbo deck faultless, I will fine tune the baffle when mowing maintained jobs, to overgrown, to thick grasses, to thin, it's purpose is to allow a chocked deck for max under deck lift for finish mowing, then open it to cut long thick grass so the deck clears faster. check my website...this is why I own a 60'' turbo force deck, and this deck isn't even working hard on these jobs.

The Z400's, spoke to toro rep yesterday...these are not an extended line of the Z500 models, different deck, 7 guage, but not the same deck as a Z500, more for the homeowner, or lighter use contractor, it is cheaper, and you get a smaller lesser machine than a Z500.

Try a Z500, play with the baffle, you will be surprised what difference it makes.

If anyone ever tells you to leave it set in one position and you do a mixed bag of work, smile and walk away, if doing the same similar work all the time the baffle won't need adjusting, if you go from a maintained lawn to an overgrown vacant block or paddock you need to adjust it open, no one setting for all mowing conditions.

The baffle is not a gimmick, learn how to master this and you shouldn't need doubles either most likely.

This baffle, it is there to help you get the most out of a cutting deck, if you aren't interested in fine tuning and just want a non adjustable deck maybe look at the J.D. The turbo force deck is for those who go from fine work to jungles to spread the work scope to help you earn more, those who want to achieve that better cut and grass dispersion, this deck design is the ducks nutz in deck design, all 7 guage too. 5.5''

Check my website to see what I call a broad range of work and this explains why I like this deck.

08-29-2004, 07:50 AM
RichmondR - the Z-Trak's that I am familiar with are the mid and max frame designs. I did not demo a 717 since that size did not offer the deck size and features I wanted. Also, the height adjustment is entirely different on the mini-series (717/727 series) than the mids and max JD's.

On the mid/max series, the deck height adjustment is indeed every 1/4". The caster bearings are greasable and very massive, every bit the equal to the Toro 500 series.

As you noted, the Deere uses a stamped deck but it isn't just any ordinary stamped deck. It is extremely deep (5.75") and made of 7 gauge steel. It also has a huge discharge opening and a blade tip speed of 17,500-18,000 fpm. I can assure you that this deck will handle anything (and possibly more in wet/tall conditions) that the Toro deck can.

Seating height of the 717 vs the Z400 I can't comment on. I do know that on the 500 series versus the Z-Trak, you sit slightly lower on the Deere but I'm not sure of the precise dimension.

All the controls on the JD mid and max trak units are to the operators right. I agree with you - I do not want the controls on a panel beneath my knees.

As far as accessories go, I wasn't shopping for anything more than a ZTR with a hitch and the ability to pull a sprayer or roller.

The Toro is indeed a fine unit. I'm sure you would enjoy either one. That's the nice thing about having options.

By the way, did you look at a Hustler or a Gravely? They too have some very, very nice units in the price range you are looking at.

Good luck!

PS: Here's a pic of the deck and front caster assemblies on my 777 - as you can see, they are ultra-heavy duty.

08-29-2004, 07:56 AM
Here's a pic of the operator control panel on the Deere mid/max frame units. As you can see, it's located to the right side of the seat with the controls in easily accessible positions.

08-29-2004, 07:59 AM
Here's the deck height adjustment dial for the mid/max frame units. It is only marked every 1/2" inch but there are detents between each of the numerals for 1/4" adjustment. It cuts from 1.5" to 5" in 1/4" increments.

08-29-2004, 08:02 AM
Here's a pic of the discharge opening of the 7-Iron deck. You can see that it's enormous and the clipping residue (using the standard John Deere Highlift blades) is pretty fine.

I think this deck is very, very impressive. That's not to take one thing away from the Toro Turbo Force deck at all though. Had the local Toro dealer used a sharper pencil when he figured his quote to me, I might very well have been in Tonyr's ranks of TurboForce fans!


08-29-2004, 10:07 AM
Steve 1 –

Thanks again. I appreciate all the information and photos.

This is a very, very tough decision. I have a lot of brand loyalty to JD as I will be upgrading from my LX 178 lawn tractor that has essentially been completely trouble-free for ten years. My goal is to get the best possible cut humanly possible in the smallest amount of time possible. My application is strictly residential, 2 acres of very thick bluegrass with a number of perennial, flower and vegetable beds throughout the property. I don’t want to go beyond a small frame Z simply because it would absolutely be overkill for my application. Lawn care is not my day job (from some of my other posts, you may have noticed I’m a lawyer), but I love to cut my own grass and keep my lawn looking its best. I have seen each of the mowers I am looking at in the showroom on numerous occasions; I just have to demo them by running them around my lawn a bit.

I have looked at Hustler MiniZs, but they have less deck depth than the regular Hustler Zs, and I would think that a well-engineered deeper deck (like on the Turbo Force and 7-iron) would have advantage over a less deep deck, particularly if I mulch. Otherwise, they have a great feel and great ergonomics, not to mention a good price point.

As to the 7-iron “stamped” deck issue, I should have been clearer as “stamped” is something of a dirty word on LawnSite. I actually intended it as a positive feature as JD claims that you get the same, or greater, strength than a fabricated deck of the same thickness with closer tolerances than a fabricated deck. As you point out, this could be part of the reason behind your comments about the 7-iron deck’s ability to move grass cleanly, which makes a lot of sense. If I mulch, I assume this is a positive feature as well as there will be less places on a 7-iron deck for the grass to get stuck and make the deck less efficient. The 7-iron decks definitely have a larger opening (18”) than the Turbo Force decks (15” from back of deck to fully open baffle).

The JD mid and larger Zs have a great design. The 717A and 727A, on the other hand, IMHO, appear to have a fabulous deck hooked up to a machine that feels a bit “older” in design. I felt like I was sitting up higher relative to other brands, and even relative to the 737 sat on. The Z400 series had a bit more of a feel of being a bit lower – that translates to a more secure feeling for a “tractor jockey” like me. How this translates to my lawn remains to be seen. I will not compromise on cut quality.

Tonyr – Thanks as well. I’m glad to hear you use this feature. I did see the Z400 series right next to some 500 series units. The low end 400 series (Z400) is called an “estate model,” but my dealer told me that the deck even on that model is identical to the Turbo Force deck on the pro-oriented 400 series models (Z440 and Z450) except that it didn’t have the adjustable baffle (it also didn’t have the bull-nose bumper on the front of the deck. As to the 500 being a beefier model, it looks that way to me as well, but the 52” Turbo Force deck on the Z440 looked absolutely identical to the 52” deck on a 500 series unit, which would seem to make sense. There are a number of differences between the Z400 and Z440/450 (larger tires, different wheel motors, armrests, adjustable baffle, rear baggers, etc.).

One other factor I am considering that may be helpful to homeowners considering these units, and that’s an “exit strategy.” Lets say I move or decide I want a different unit – in my opinion, it will be easier to sell a true commercial model than an estate model as the commercial unit is more likely to have a larger resale market, whereas an estate model tractor is more of a niche product for high-end residential customers. You obviously pay for this privilege, but I’m thinking you will get most of the price difference back while enjoying the additional features. All theoretical, but I think it makes sense.

Thanks again guys.


08-30-2004, 10:40 AM
Correction on differences in the TurboForce deck between the Z400 and Z500 series. Tonyr commented that the decks were different; I thought they were the same. Tonyr is right at least as to the spindles. Per Toro website, Z400 has ball bearing spindle bearings, whereas Z500 series has roller bearings; also Z400 series has plastic belt/pulley covers vs. steel on the Z500 series. Just trivia, but I understand roller bearings can last longer.