2.5 acres with slope - ZTR question

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by sperho, Aug 12, 2006.

  1. sperho

    sperho LawnSite Member
    Posts: 30

    Background:
    I've recently purchased a home with about 2.5 acres to mow. I currently have a 33" HiVac Snapper rear engine rider that I use. If I mow the whole property at once (which I prefer to do), it takes about 4.5 hours seat time. There's a fair amount of turning on this property (not exceptionally evident in the pictures below, but...). I have a very reputable Cub Cadet dealer nearby me that I would like to support, so I'm about 90% decided on Cub Cadet. There's a Scag dealer a little further away, but their reputation isn't as clean.

    I've considered a tractor, but with as much turning as I have to do, I'm pretty confident that a ZTR is the way to go. In order of importance, my selection criteria are: (1) Shortest time to mow, but still do a quality job (not much scalping, good finish cut, etc) (2 - as important as 1, really) the ability to handle my hills (3) Good dealer support should it be necessary (4) good mulching capability. Not in the list, but I want to go commercial because I want the thing to last forever.

    Questions:
    (1) Would a 50" KHS (stamped deck "commercial" model) fit the bill on longevity? i.e. is a fabricated deck really necessary for me wanting the mower to last 'forever'. I have no plans on going commercial with it. Frankly, I'm leaning toward the M54 Tank with the fabbed deck because I think a mid-50s deck would be eek a little more time out of the job, yet still be a pretty agile machine.

    (2) Do you think a ZTR, specifically the Cub Commercial line will stick on the hills shown?

    (3) The Tank M54 would be about $7,000. I'm willing to pay this amount for a solid mower that got the job done without fuss. I realize that prices are somewhat regional, but would I be getting screwed at that price? i.e. could I go buy some Scag model that was head and shoulders better at a similar deck size for that kind of dough?

    (4) Those of you who mulch on Tanks, how do they do? Or does the deck with side discharge cut the clippings fine enough that mulching isn't really necessary. It always seems like I'm mowing when my lawn is about 5-6" tall. I like the look of a bagged lawn (little to no brown clippings lying on top of the grass after a few days of drying out), but absolutely don't want to bag!

    Thanks for your help...

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  2. MJB

    MJB LawnSite Silver Member
    from Wa
    Posts: 2,869

    If you have a good Cub Dealer then go with the Tank. One thing to consider is how bumpy is the lawn, if you can, get the suspension seat upgrade it will pay off if your in a hurry. I have only demoed a Tank 60, $8000 with the mulching kit and I think it would work fine for a homeowner. There are no hills I can see on your property that would give it much of a challenge. If you want the M54 get enough HP and the mulch kit, this will help you hide the clippings. You can always take it off and side discharge if you let it get to long or double cut it. If you have a Hustler dealer near you ask for a demo . Either way I would talk your Cub dealer into bringing it out to you to try on your property. Tell him you'll have a check waiting if you like it.
     
  3. sperho

    sperho LawnSite Member
    Posts: 30

    What would be the minimum horsepower that I would want on a 54" mulching deck?

    Thanks for the comments... My dealer did say that he would bring out mower and let me see if it would handle the hills before I bought it. If it did so to my satisfaction, only then would I be obliged to buy it
     
  4. MJB

    MJB LawnSite Silver Member
    from Wa
    Posts: 2,869

    The 60 Tank I demoed had a 27hp Kohler on it. That was plenty of power for the 60". Si I would guess 25 hp, I don't really know anything about the 54, what are your engine options? When you demo it make sure you let your grass grow out to the worst conditions you would after you buy it. This would be a good test for it.
     
  5. sperho

    sperho LawnSite Member
    Posts: 30

    With the caveat that websites can and often are incomplete, the Cub site only lists a 23HP Kawasaki twin as an engine for it. Seems underpowered to me, but what do I know?
     
  6. MJB

    MJB LawnSite Silver Member
    from Wa
    Posts: 2,869

    Oh yeah, when you demo it, if certain sections of your lawns get to long and it doesn't look as good as you like it too, raise your deck 1/4 to 1/2 inch and make a 2nd pass in the opposite direction this should take care of any extra clippings. That might not be necesary in TN because your grass is different than what we grow up here. But in case thats how we make it dissapear with the mulching decks.
     
  7. MJB

    MJB LawnSite Silver Member
    from Wa
    Posts: 2,869

    That might be enough but I would ask about other options and then demo like I said to see if you need more power.
     
  8. SOMM

    SOMM LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 426

    The grass will evict you unless you tend to that much acreage with a good used z of one of these in at least 20hp kohler or kaw: dixie chopper, grasshopper outfront or z, or hustler z in at least 50" cut, 60" is better.

    A well mantained engine even at 1500-2000 hours nets you better than half price of present retail. Be sure to have them haul it to a large scale customer's premises or at least an open field at a park for your testing prior to purchase.

    Even a good used 52" hydro wb in 17-25hp V twin (or even 16hp Briggs i/c V) with sulky or wheelplate, (like a bobcat, bunton, exmark, grasshopper, ferris, scag) would serve you well.

    Bring it by your local dealership to inquire of stocking and availibility of parts, and for the service department's opinion of good or very good condition which will affect price also.
     
  9. sperho

    sperho LawnSite Member
    Posts: 30

    Can you elaborate on why those recommendations; especially vs. the Cub Tanks?
     
  10. MJB

    MJB LawnSite Silver Member
    from Wa
    Posts: 2,869

    Many people see Cub Cadet as a lesser machine. I demoed one and thought it was fine for a homeowner or a new person who was on a tight budget, but not equivilant to Exmark or Hustler. But if you have good dealer support the Cub will do you fine and should last for yrs. Can you do better? Sure if you needed too. Hustler, Exmark,, Grasshopper, all are a step up above the Cub. But if you demo it in extreme conditions you should feel good about your purchase. Is that the only dealer close to you??
     

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