eXmark FrontRunner Durability - Can it take the heat ??

Discussion in 'eXmark' started by Hushko, Jun 6, 2006.

  1. Hushko

    Hushko LawnSite Member
    Posts: 43

    I was wondering if anyone out there has had any experience with the eXmark FrontRunner. I'm curious to know if it's components are designed to withstand the rigor of day to day commecial use. For instance, I noticed that the drive motors are Hydro-Gear Planetary Reduction motors (the same as on the Navigator) as opposed to the Parker/Ross wheel motors used on the Z's. I haven't had the chance to see one in person, but during one part of eXmark's demo dvd they show the underneath of the mower and the drive motors appear to be aluminum alloy as opposed to the sandwiched steel components of the Z's drive motors. One would think that since you're pushing 5 or 6 wheels (6 on the larger models) through turf and not just 4 as with the Z's, you'd need an even more durable drive system. Any expertise on the subject would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. eXmark

    eXmark Manufacturer / Sponsor
    Posts: 4,258

    Hello Hushko,
    The planetary wheel motors were chosen for the exact reason of better control and turning accuracy. The Frontrunner has more length than a mid mount and when turning around, it wants to keep in motion sort of like a skier at the end of the rope behind a boat, as opposed to a mid mount which is shorter and returns easier into the next cutting path. The planetary wheel motors stay in a positive drive position which prevents the rear from over steering the machine (which is a problem with some of our competitors). This is why we use it on the Navigator and FrontRunner both. The wheel motors are made of STEEL components but are PLATED which make them look like aluminum.

    Planetary gear reduction has been used for years in Army tanks, 4 X 4 pickup drives (fronts) and mining industry drive trucks. Throughout the years, if someone was to tear one up, it would have been in these applications.
    http://exmark.com/frontrunner_con.htm
    Thanks Brian
     
  3. TLS

    TLS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,937

    My only concern with this unit would be the low mounted shaft pulley for the deck drive. Almost looks as though it might even scrape while driving it up a trailer ramp. Other than that (and the fact that it's a front mount) it seems like it's very well built.

    Just keep in mind, front mounts aren't for everyone. There are things a front mount can do that a ZTR cant do as well, but for maneuverability, nothing beats the compactness and zero tail-swing of a belly mount ZTR.
     
  4. Hushko

    Hushko LawnSite Member
    Posts: 43

    Thanks for your responses, guys! I'm used to mowing with my Lazer Z and am moving into the front mount arena. If for nothing else, it's the ease of maintenance with the hydraulic lift deck that got my attention. I also like the shaft drive deck. I'll be curious to see how this thing handles in comparison to my Z. In fact, my FrontRunner was just delivered only a few hours ago. Just as you mentioned, Brian, the drive motors are indeed steel and pretty rugged looking on the exterior. From their applications you described, I'd venture to say they'll be rugged internally as well. I didn't have time to mow, but my first impressions from manuevering around the yard indicate that the handling will be much like the Z with the exception of the long tail end. I'll probably wipe out a few shrubs and a/c units before I begin to remember that it's there :eek:) Like you, TLS, I'm a bit concerned about the rear pulley in terms of ground clearance. I guess I'll have to run it and see. If anyone else has experience with this unit, I'd be happy to hear.
     
  5. Hushko

    Hushko LawnSite Member
    Posts: 43

    I'm curious as to the going rate for an eXmark Sunshade for my FrontRunner mower. My dealer wants $450 for one of these. This seems awfully high to me. Anyone out there purchase one of these lately? Thanks!
     
  6. TLS

    TLS LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,937

    AKA: Tree grabber!
     
  7. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,164

    my first thought as well, keep us informed on how you like the unit and post up some pics if you can as im sure a lot of people would like to see them!
     
  8. Hushko

    Hushko LawnSite Member
    Posts: 43

    The property that I mow does't have any trees that are at a height where this would be a problem. I was thinking more in terms of protecting my bald head from the sun, actually. Of course, one could argue that a baseball cap would be much cheaper. But then again, bald guys do sometimes enjoy the freedom of not having to always wear a skull cover. :eek:)
     
  9. Hushko

    Hushko LawnSite Member
    Posts: 43

    Will do, MCWLandcsaping - if it ever stops raining here in the northeast, that is.
     
  10. Hushko

    Hushko LawnSite Member
    Posts: 43

    Well, I had a chance to put a couple of hours on my new eXmark FrontRunner this afternoon. I know that before I purchase this mower I searched all over the internet looking for discussions from people who’ve had some experience with this mower to help me make a decision. Surprisingly none was found. Whether this is a good or bad thing, I don’t know. My previous mower was a 2002 eXmark Lazer Z with a 60 deck and a 25HP Kohler. The FrontRunner I chose has the 60 inch deck and 27HP Kohler. This model came standard with bar lug rear tires and the dual tail wheel. The first thing I noticed when climbing aboard the FrontRunner for the first time was the lack of leg room for the rider, especially if you’re tall. I’m 6 feet 2 inches tall and found that I would always extend my legs, resting my feet against to the front-most ramped-up portion of the foot deck on my Z. With the FrontRunner, you need to either keep your legs bent and your feet flat on the foot deck or you could somewhat extend your legs and rest your heels against the front-most flange. Definitely not as comfortable as the Z when it comes to leg room. I also noticed that the control levers are more forward with the FrontRunner when compared to the Z. In fact, I found it necessary to loosen the two bolts and rotate the levers as far rearward as they would go in order to match the feel and ergonomic-friendly position of my Z’s handles. Otherwise, you found that you had to reach out in an awkward position that would quickly fatigue the rider, especially on bumpy terrain. The FrontRunner is also much different in terms of control in comparison to my Z. The Hydros are definitely more snappy or perhaps responsive than my midmount. I found that I had to concentrate more on controlling the mower, especially when mowing long straightaways. My Z gave me a little more freedom and moving the handles fore and aft a little, especially on uneven terrain, really had no effect when trying to mow a straight line. The FrontRunner, on the other hand, was not as forgiving in this respect and the slightest move of the handles would cause the mower to jerk and waiver off line. In fact, after a few long passes I noticed that my wife went back into the house to check the inventory of the liquor cabinet. But after a while you tend to adjust to the responsiveness of the mower and a straight line isn’t such a challenge. You do have to be especially conscious when executing a quick change in direction or when making a 180 at the end of a pass. Much like driving an old station wagon, when you make a quick turn, there’s a slight delay while the heavy tail section of the mower swings around to catch up. If you’re not careful and compensate for this by counter-steering sooner, it’s easy to over-shoot the turn. And if you have the bar lug tires you’ll be leaving considerable gouges in the turf. I did notice too that the rear casters would sometimes get confused or hung-up in instances where I had to stop, back up and change direction when mowing in and out of some small trees. It seemed the rear casters didn’t always rotate freely and perhaps because of the extra set of casters up front, the mower would sometimes bind in position. If not careful, it was easy to spin the tires in this instance and really tear up the turf. In terms of the deck, it was definitely nicer having the deck out front and since I have a lot of white pines, it was much easier to get underneath the low branches. The deck articulates more independently as opposed to my Z and I found that it followed the contour of hilly or uneven ground much better. In areas where the front wheel of my Z would leave the ground, leaving uncut areas, the FrontRunner’s deck would simply articulate and follow the contour. The shaft drive deck starts-up a lot quicker and smoother than my belt drive Z. Especially when the Z was cold, I found that I would have to feather the electric PTO on and off to get the deck spinning or else I would stall the engine. Once warm this was never a problem, but the deck start up was always jerky nonetheless. The PTO engagement is much quicker and velvety smooth on the FrontRunner – cold or warm. I also noticed that there’s definitely much less vibration with this mower. And the sound of the gear box winding down when you disengage the mower is definitely cool. The only problem I had thus far was with the parking brake. For some reason the right wheel won’t disengage and I found that I had to power the mower forward and rearward a few times in order to get it to disengage. The parking brake linkage was equally free on both sides when disengaged, so something is definitely sticking further on down the line. After the mowing was done it was nice to simply push a button and raise the deck for cleaning. It beat the heck out of jacking up the front end and lying on your back to eat mouthfuls of grass. Still, the deck accumulates a ton of grass on both the underside of the deck and on the baffles making for a lot of clean-up. I have to wonder if perhaps the new Triton deck would have helped in this respect. For the cost and newness of this mower, one would think that the Triton would have been standard issue on this unit. Nonetheless, the next time I mow I’m going to try using either a spray-on car wax or furniture wax to see if this helps reduce the amount of grass sticking to the deck. If anyone has any suggestions for this I’d be glad to try it out. Keep in mind this is just a novices review and I’ve only used this FrontRunner for a couple of hours. If there’s any interest, I’ll be sure to add more of my novice review as I put more time on this mower. Hope this helped someone out there.
     

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