Dylan

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by dondinct, May 17, 2004.

  1. dondinct

    dondinct LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Posts: 23

    Dylan

    I was also convinced that a ZTR was the way to go. Then I spent a lot of time looking at the different models at different price ranges. I started mowing my neighbors lawn with his small 30 inch rear rider. I did have to go into reverse more than a ztr would, but I found I could cut about 2/3 or an acre three times faster than by using a 21" mower. If you have a lot of lawn that allows you to make some long passes without turning, then a ztr will still save you time, but it may only be 20%. I do value my free time and I definetly want to get the grass cut as quickly and as nicely as possible. I can cut the 2/3 of an acre in about 45 min, and spend another 15 min with a weed wacker or 21" mower to make things look really nice (and that's with a cheesy 30" rear rider. With a 42" tractor and hydro tranny (fast forward to reverse capable), I figure I'll only spent 30 minutes each session on the tractor (compared to 2 1/4 hours for a 21" mower). Quality of cut is also very important to me, and I'm satisfied with the JD tractor cut ( one of my neighbors has one). Another personal preference is the tractor rides a lot smoother than a ztr. I also like the inexpensive bagger for the JD... It will make leave cleanup in the fall a lot less painful.

    Like lots of other people that are deciding what to get and at what price, I want something that makes work fun. I want to look forward to mowing, as opposed to looking at it as a chore. The 'cool factor' of a ztr really had me hooked, but I didn't like anything under $4000. After trying out a rider on my property a few times, I found ways to cut that didn't require a zero turrn. I found that I would only have to go into reverse on the very last few passes. The bottom line for me is a ztr may only save me 15 minutes of cut time on a saturday.... that's not worth spending $2000 extra for.

    Another plus for me is the John Deere dealer (not home depot) is the closest dealer to me. They have a huge service area and have been around for over 50 years. The sales guy gave me a tour of the facility and showed me several tractors that were in for service. The JD dealers sell the same tractors that home depot sells, but they have the advantage of being full service. I STILL love the Simplicity ztr and I'm still open to suggestions.
     
  2. DylanG

    DylanG LawnSite Member
    Posts: 23

    It sounds like you know your property and how the different equipment will handle it. I wouldn't spend $2k to save 15 minutes either. I'm having to make guesses on mine because I haven't even mowed it yet! From talking to my neighbors I think I'm looking at 2.5-3 hours with a tractor vs. 1.5 hours with a ZTR.

    I'm also more comfortable with JD and have a dealer close to my house. I wish JD made a standard ZTR for under $5k. I drove the SST and didn't care for how it operated compared to a lever controlled ZTR. But if I were thinking of something in the L series I would seriously consider the SST as a hybrid alternative. Now that they've dropped the price on the SST they are competitive with the L.

    The SST has some loyal owners. Here are a couple of sites:

    http://www.firmwareprogramming.com/

    http://groups.ahoo.com/group/John_Deere_SST_Club


    I'm about as far from an expert as you can be so I certainly won't try to give you advice. I just thought I would share what I've learned since we are making similar decisions.
     
  3. dondinct

    dondinct LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Posts: 23

    How big is the lawn portion of your property ? If people are taking 3 hours to cut it with a tractor, it must be about 4 acres of grass. The JD 118 20hp 42" cut cut at a little less than 6mph. The simplicity Z can cut at about 7mph. The bigger ztr's can cut a few mph faster than that. I've tried the Simplicity Z at 7mph (without cutting) and can tell you that on bumpy ground, it's not what I consider safe. If you do have four acres and assume a few trees and maybe some hills, I would still have a hard time believeing a ztr could cut the time in half, but i could be wrong. If you have hills, the JD 130 has a kohler command 25hp twin with a 48" cut for $2500. To be honest, I've been trying to convince myself to buy the simplicty z, but I keep coming up with the JD being almost as fast (within 30% cut time), for half the price. I bet your local JD dealer would let you try out a loaner model to cut your grass with once. Ask and see. Also, ask a ztr dealer to let you demo a unit at your house. Heck, for $4 grand an up, I expect a demo !! Your decision will be much clearer after you demo a unit or two.
     
  4. dondinct

    dondinct LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Posts: 23

    WOW
    I'm looking at the Deere web site and the SST models... still reading but these seem to be a good hybrid design at a great price !
     
  5. DylanG

    DylanG LawnSite Member
    Posts: 23

    The people I've been talking to have between 3 and 5 acres to mow. I'm going to be mowing about 3 acres plus a strip on each side of my .15 mile driveway. Maybe I'm being overly optimistic about how much time the ZTR will save me. I don't really know but I've talked to a bunch of people now and they've all given me similar advice.

    So do I spend $2500 with the risk of getting an inadequate piece of equipment (given my desire to get the job done fast) or do I spend $5000 with the risk of it being overkill? It's a hard choice. My wife is about to choke me because of how many times I've waffled on the decision. My inclination is to err on the side of overbuying instead of underbying given how valuable my weekends are to me.
     
  6. dondinct

    dondinct LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Posts: 23

    I just called the local JD dealer and asked about the SST. The sales guy told me they don't sell them because they didn't hanlde even a slight hill very well. He said JD tried to do a work around with a rear weight set and a wheel, but it still had the inherent problem. He used to stock them, but whenever anyone test drove it on the hilly are behind the dealer, they would have bad things to say about it.

    On the other note, I'm with you on 'overbuying' equipment. I'd hate to spend $2K and wish i'd spent more to get what I really want. I've been looking for about 2 months now, and I'm still not sure what I want for a yard toy !!

    One thing I've found... equipment design changes for the better over time. About 3 years ago, I bought a sweet 10hp/28" Ariens snowblower at home depot. It's a workhorse and I love it.... I thought it was the greatest... until I saw the Simplicity large blowers. They have one feature that my Ariens doesn't, and for that feature I'm probably going to sell my Ariens at a loss, and buy the simplicity. That feature is a simple little trigger that unlocks the tranny, making it easier to turn. Every dealer I went to told me that a big blower was easy to turn in the snow, but they were all talking out thier back side. A big blower is hard to turn even in snow.... My 15 yo son could not turn the unit when both wheels were locked. The Ariens 'twist and turn' differential lockout is also old school technology. I'm saying this and I love the Ariens blowers except for this feature.

    My long overdue point is this... Whatever you buy now will probably be what you think is the best choice... After cutting for two seasons, you may find that you really want something else. At that point, if you bought a quality, name brand piece of gear, you will get a fair trade in or resale value for it. Don't think that you are stuck for 20 years with a peice of gear you don't like. Of course, your wife my strangle you during this toy exchange !!!
     
  7. DylanG

    DylanG LawnSite Member
    Posts: 23

    That is what the dealers all say about the SST. On the other hand, the owner sites that I linked above say it's not a big problem.

    You make a very good point about upgrading and not being stuck with a piece of equipment. One of the salesman chuckled when I told him that I didn't think the lawn tractor with a 48" deck would be fast enough. He wasn't laughing at me but at how much people's expectations have increased. He told me that 5 years ago the ZTRs were priced out of reach of most homeowners and a JD with a 48" deck was considered a godsend compared to, say, a Craftsman with a 34" deck that the person was upgrading from.

    Maybe in 5 years we all are going to want this:

    http://www.friendlyrobotics.com/robomo.htm
     

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