Expected lifetime of equipment

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by dh500, Jul 9, 2005.

  1. dh500

    dh500 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 58

    When discussing their choice of mower, many homeowners refer to the desirability of equipment that will last a long time ("last mower I will ever have to buy....") and sometimes use this to justify buying a more expensive commercial machine.

    How rational do other lawnsite members think this is?
    How long do mower manufacturers generally provide support and spare parts for machines no longer in production?
    What is the chance that in say ten years time, your friendly local dealer will have decided to switch brands?

    My only experience with this was in connection with a 7hp Kawasaki engine which started malfunctioning intermittently and then died totally at the age of about 15 years. The dealer I had purchased the machine from no longer had the agency for the machine involved. I then went to another dealer who advertised that he was an authorised Kawasaki agent but he told me that as per their policy, Kawasaki had discontinued supporting that engine. He did however look through some old microfiches and said that he could order from Japan the part which he believed to be faulty (electronic ignition module) but that I would have to pay in advance and he would not guarantee that the part would fix the problem (or even that it would fit the engine).

    In the end I managed to buy a second hand 9hp Briggs and Stratton engine in excellent condition for around the same price (approx $400 Aus from memory) as the Kawasaki ignition module.

    I guess this is not so much of a problem for commercial operators who would have a resonable expectation of wearing their machines out before they become obsolete, but do many homeowners see it as a problem?

    How often do hydraulic transmission designs change? Do the manufacturers tend to make newer models interchangeable with older ones?

    I am not too concerned about basic mechanical components like the chassis, pivots, links, levers, bearings etc as these can usually be repaired or remade from scratch if needed.

    Just out of curiosity, what is the oldest mower that anybody (whether commercial operator or home owner) has in regular use, not just a restored "museum piece"?

  2. Cutter LLC

    Cutter LLC LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 100

    Great question!!!
  3. Stan MI

    Stan MI LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Posts: 100


    Not a direct answer to all your question but speaking as to the dealership part. I purchased a TORO ztr from the local dealer (about a mile from our house). Two years later, they don't carry or service TORO brands any more.

    I understand from a business angle why they discontinued the line but it sure is a pain for me. My closest dealer is now about 10 miles away. Not a long way but different then what my long range thought were.

  4. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    It will depend on what setup and mower you buy. If you buy an off brand that may/may not be around in a few years then chances are you may have the parts issue. If you get something from a long time company then you should be fine.

    Case 1, I have a 21" honda mower that was bought in 1981. I can still get parts for it. If the dealers don't have them in stock, they can have them within a few days.

    15 yrs old Cub Cadet, they are still around and parts are easy to get.

    Old Kohler motor parts are easy to find. Any dealer can usually order whatever you need.

    Old Kawi...well that could be a problem. They were not really widely used until more recently. If you were to buy a kawi that is widely used, they will probably be able to get parts pretty easily down the road. My 12.5 hp kawi is a very common motor. They will continue to have parts probably longer than the mower is around.

    Parts availibility down the road is going to be based on the number of potiential users a mfg will have. If you buy a mower from a new company that may not even be in existence in 3 yrs, then do you think they sold enough mowers to make anyone ever want to stock parts for them 20 yrs from now? No. The old toro mowers are still around and ticking. They sold lots and lots of them.
  5. Smalltimer1

    Smalltimer1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,223

    I have a 1965 Allis Chalmers Big Ten, unrestored with the original cast iron Briggs 10hp engine that I use almost everyday for pushing gravel and loose dirt with its 42" blade. However it's for sale now because I need something bigger, and I've been offered a trade to a '74 IH Cub Cadet 149 with hydrolift and hydrostatic drive.

    I also have a 1969 International Harvester Cub Cadet 73. I get on it, hit the switch and go. The 7hp Kohler K-161 cast iron engine was rebuilt before I bought it, but the transmission and driveline hasn't been touched. Body is in primer. I use it to pull my trailer around to where my truck can't fit.

    I've also got a 1977 John Deere 300 that I am in the process of restoring. The K-341 16hp Kohler cast iron engine is out right now being rebuilt. While it is out I plan to repaint everything and replace the bushings and bearings in the front end to get the play and shimmy out of the steering.

    My preference is John Deere, but I do like the IH built Cub Cadets. Both are very well built brands. The Cub 3 speed transmission is unbeatable as far as durability and reliability are concerned. No belts, no chains. Just a drive shaft and gears encased in a cast iron housing. John Deere has had the best hydros for a long time, since the early 70's. Very reliable and ultra durable.

    I occasionally mess with the Simplicity and Allis Chalmers lines, now being one of those times, but I do not like the drive system of the Simplicity built machines. They have a driveshaft going to a bevel gear box, which one side goes to a drive belt for the transmission and the other goes to the intermediate PTO drive. I ask myself every time I change a belt, why didn't they just make the drive shaft a little longer and scratch the BGB?


  6. Smalltimer1

    Smalltimer1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,223


    I wasn't saying Simplicity and Allis Chalmers are bad machines, they have excellent build quality. (Simplicity built both brands of garden tractors) It is just that I personally do not like their method of getting power from the engine to the ground.
  7. RedWingsDet

    RedWingsDet LawnSite Gold Member
    from Detroit
    Posts: 3,556

    im not a homeowner, but my dad has a 21 honda that he bought in 1979. he gave it to me a few years back, and I still use it a couple times a week to get in those hard to reach spots. They still have parts for it, and there are still many dealerships.

    The older equipment was built to last, the new stuff isnt. At least thats my oppinion on it. Just like new cars compared to older cars. The stuff that is built now they make so in a few years you will be coming back to get a new one or spend major $ on repairs.

    My only suggestion is to get something that will still be around for awhile, like exmark, honda, etc.

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