commercial mower history

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Tim Baden, Apr 26, 2002.

  1. Tim Baden

    Tim Baden LawnSite Member
    Posts: 57

    Got into a conversation about the history of commercial mowers.
    Dose anybody know how long they have been around.I am talking about at least a 30"cut or better walk behind
    and when did they come out with ZTRs?
  2. fireball

    fireball LawnSite Member
    from ne Pa
    Posts: 172

    First you have to make a choice between rotary and reel walk behind units.

    Hustler was probably the first mass produced ZTR. Cicra 1965 with model 172, 60 inch deck with 2 cyclinder wisconsin 16 hp engine. all belt drive to wheels which led to excitement plus on hills.
  3. sdwally

    sdwally LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 385

    Ransomes 19" reel mower 1832 England

    Ransomes first gas powered reel mower 1902

    ? first patent in America for
    3 & 5 gang reel mowers(tow) 1914

    Ransomes first greens reel mower "Certes" 1924

    Ransomes first electric reel mowers 1926

    ? debut of rotary mowers 1934

    Wolf-Garten debut of prototype laser mower 2001

    From memory:

    Excel(Hustler mowers) produced the tight turning radius mower based on a mechanical drive system from Heston swathers(farm haying equipment). Not many were made until hydrostats were first introduced, which made Excel a major player in rotary mowers.

    ZTRs as they are known I believe were introduced in the early nineties.
  4. hubb

    hubb LawnSite Member
    Posts: 192

    When I was fifteen which was 25 yrs ago (1977) I was working a summer job for a set of apartment complexes that used Howard Price 3 wheel mowers. They had the deck out front and just a stick to use for forward and reverse and no brakes. The steering wheel went straight down to a third wheel under your seat. I dont think they were the first to use this design though. If I remember correctly I seen a Yazoo designed almost exactly like it a few years before. It had a 2 cylinder Wisconsin motor on it also. I think it was 20 hp.

    Funny thing happened to me while on that mower. I was mowing around the pool (the grass there rarely needed mowing but we did it 3 times a week wheather it needed it or not) anyway, this fine young lady was leaving the pool area when I noticed her top in her hand and she had a towel covering her chest. Well needless to say I was steady staring when she bent down to pick up her lotion, it was all out in the open. Of course I was going about as fast as the mower could go when all of sudden a tree jumped out in front of me and I got to spend the next 2 days straightening the deck out and putting new spindles on it. :D
    I know this had nothing to do with your question, just thought I'd share a laugh.
  5. fireball

    fireball LawnSite Member
    from ne Pa
    Posts: 172

    sdwally, you got me thinking about those US patents and I'll have to do a little research. There were numerous regional manufactures of reel mowers in the late 1880's into the early 1900's. For example, the Ideal mower was manufactured on Cherry st. in Philadelphia, PA by the present day Schramm Inc. which makes the Rotadrills. They stopped making mowers when they moved to West Chester, PA in the early 1900's. Anyway, the Europeans were always ahead of us when it comes to cutting technology.

    My gut reaction would be that the present day walk behind rotary mower was created by Deveere around 1952. But it was D. Scag and Bobcat who made it user friendly what it is today. Maybe Mr. Scag will reveal to us where he got his ideas from.

    The term ZTR I think was orginally created by Dixon about the mid seventies but nobody paid much attention to it. Most of the commerical units were all outfront decks except Dixon and Dixie Chopper. With the success of the Dixie Chopper suddenly all the manufactures went to belly decks and called them ZTR's
  6. Artman

    Artman LawnSite Member
    Posts: 154

    The first zero-turning mower was the Swisher Ride King in 1954. It had the steering wheel, engine and front drive/steering tire on one column that could be turned any which way and it would and still does today do a zero degree turn.

    In 1963 a man named John Regier approached Excel industries, inc. with a twin-lever, fron-mounted, 36" offset deck lawn mower called the Hustler. Excel began manufacturing and selling the Hustler in 1964.

    In 1970 the dual-hydrostatic drive system was introduced by Hustler which is the drive system in use by nearly all zero-turn mowers today.

    In 1985 Hustler introduced the Compact 250 -- the first modern day mid-mount z-rider.
  7. Flex-Deck

    Flex-Deck LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,846

    If you are talking Commercial Mowers, I would have to think that the wider deck with multiple blades would have been their start and that would have been a Danish Patent in 1961 that invented baffles around blades that created updrafts to allow blades to mow well and discharge along the front of multiple blades to the eventual common discharge area.

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