Finally - review of 2007 Kubota ZD331 / 72"

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by LwnmwrMan22, Jan 27, 2008.

  1. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,372

    Well, I know I promised this last fall, and as the days drift by this winter, it just hasn't gotten to the top of the to-do list yet.

    Now with the temps actually reaching 40 (maybe) after being a low of -20 here last week, the spring fever starts to churn just a little. Or is it the strep throat that I've been laid up with all week?? Oh well, who knows.

    A little background quick, since there'll be MANY new guys here that haven't read a post of mine lately, since I've pretty much been hanging out on PlowSite.

    This will be my 20th season, I'm 35, started when I was 16. I've run Toro, Ferris, Snapper and this is my 3rd Kubota ZTR. I've had a 2003 Kubota ZD28/60" and still own a 2006 Kubota ZD28/60".

    I do 95% commercial properties. Mostly banks, strip malls, gas stations. I DO however have my dad help me with mowing the local school district, roughly 50-60 acres / turf / week. He runs my 4330 Kubota with a 15' Tri-Deck, soon to be replaced with an M6040, whenever it gets shipped over from the factory. He does all the wide open areas, I get around the fencing, building, etc.

    We also do 6 parks for the local township. I target wideopen, flat properties as best as I can.

    Now..... onto the mower.

    I'll probably make the most comparisions to the Kubota ZD-28, since those are the most recent machines I've run. I would try to compare them to Ferris, but I know Ferris has redesigned some stuff since I was running them back in 2002-2004.

    Right off the bat, we did have some issues. The motor mounts for the engine weren't stiff enough, so when you'd drive over a curb at just the right angle, the fan would take out the radiator. Not good. We went through 2 radiators in the first 40 hours, then they realized what was going on. Fixed the motor mounts.

    Secondly, IMO, my 60" deck on the old style ZD28, for MY applications, is the best deck for cutting in wet turf. Again, these are MY opinions, on the properties that >I< maintain. I could do a VERY good job in the spring time / double cuts with that mower.

    I was looking at the 72", or even the 60" and thinking that the new deck under the 300 series Kubotas would be a step up, since they're .5" deeper. I've always been one to believe you need a deeper deck.

    Well, I think the 72" is just too much grass to cut when it's wet. I've never had the opportunity to try a 60" deck out, I'll have that lined up this spring to see if it's much different.

    Also, the 72" deck doesn't want to seem to pick up clumps and re-disperse them as well as the old style ProDeck 60". Albeit, it's still a HUGE step up from what I was dealing with back in the day with Ferris. However, please do not hold anything against Ferris, since it's been quite a while since I've sat on a Ferris ZTR.

    Also, we encountered a slight oil leak in the back of the engine, which reminds me, I've got to get it to the shop here before spring to get that fixed.

    Other than that, that's pretty much it as far as problems with it. I'm one that's VERY lax in preventative maintenance. I pretty much run solo, other than the work I already mentioned that my dad does for me. I run usually about 60-80 hours per week.

    The zero flat tires in the front are decent, it's nice to be able to drive over a curb going forward and not worry about breaking the bead, or catching an edge in a ditch and digging the tire into the ground because it's turned sideways on something.

    The seat is supurb. I'd put it up against anything that's on the market. Obviously it's no different that one recliner to another, you have to sit on it for yourself and adjust it to your body / driving style to decide if it feels good to you.

    The hydraulics are VERY fast. It WILL take some time to get used to turning, I don't care HOW long you've been running ZTRs. If you're on spring / early season / wet grass with this mower, 98% chance you will tear turf.

    With that said, it's my main mower and last August we had 30" of rain. We were mowing with rain suits, umbrellas, pontoons, the 26x12x12 tires on the back float very nicely.

    I believe I put 600 +/- hours on it last year. When we mow at the Sr. High for the school district, it's about 10 hours of straight wide open throttle mowing and we'd burn about 10 gallons of fuel. It came out to just over a gallon per hour. It's nice having the dual fuel tanks now too, as compared to the old ZD's, don't have to stop during the day on the large acreage to fill up.

    It's got plenty of power. Again, 31 hp diesel, you can pretty much cut anything you want. I'd like to try the same engine on a 60" deck, or even maybe drop back to a smaller ZD300 series, just to see what that deck would do, for the aforementioned reasons.

    When you get into the thick grass, as long as you have sharp blades, you don't have to slow down too much, but IMO, you do have to slow down some. Again, that extra foot of grass may not seem like a lot, but when you've got to get it all the way to the other side of the deck as well, it can build up pretty quickly, especially with early spring topgrowth, right after pre-M applications.

    Everything's easily accessible, as far as the engine compartment and hydraulic system. Again, it's new, still under warranty, so it's not like I've been into it doing an overhaul on the engine. When I had the radiator issues, dealership took care of that.

    I don't know yet if I like the foot control for the deck lift or not. Sure it's nice because it's one less thing to worry about doing with your hands, but at the same time, I carry a 5 gallon bucket between the legs for garbage, and the foot controls are seeming to get in the way. Also, the front of the mower has been stretched out just enough, where my 36" garbage grabber needs to be about a 39" garbage grabber. I think I'd much rather have a toggle control up on the control arms, which you could operate with your thumbs.

    One issue that you WILL want to make sure of, before you buy one of these mowers, ABSOLUTELY so if it's going to be your main mower and you're going to do cleanups, is to make sure you can get a bagger for it. So far, my dealer hasn't been able to find a boot to fit the end of the deck. We haven't tried the hardest, since this isn't the mower I use for cleanups, but make sure you check into it before you think you'll get one, then look for a bagger at a different place.

    The ROPS is NOT removable. The old style, you could take off 8 bolts and it could be placed in the shed. This one IS foldable, and is always folded on my mower. It's a nice "bumper" for when you're backing around trees and such, so you're not bashing in the back end of the mower.

    Once the spring growth is over, and you're just doing the weekly mowing, this mower is fast. At the school, on 3 different occasions I brought my GPS out, and each time it would read between 10.5 and 12 mph in a straight line. Now, remember, when you're going fast though, you have to slow down to turn. That's where we'd have the issue, is that the mower would want to pull turf as you were trying to slow down to turn.

    For such a large mower, it's quite manuverable. The swiveling front castors on the deck are nice compared to the fixed mounted ones on previous decks. However we did have an issue here too, where there's a spacer between the shaft on the castor, and the housing on the deck. The spacers were put in wrong, so there was no way to grease them. After about 150 hours and many times loading the castors up with WD-40 each day, I finally had enough of a rain day to pull it all apart and figure out what was going on. The sleeve had been pouned down tight against the bottom, so it was blocking the grease from getting through all the way.

    That's pretty much what I can come up with right now. If you have any other questions..... ask away.
  2. mowing grass 1111

    mowing grass 1111 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 433

    write a book next time
    how about some cliff notes!!

    DANHAUG LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    Glad to see your review of the ZD331. I am new to lawnsite, and I am not "in the business" of commercial mowing, but I do have a large area to mow. I have looked at and demo'd a ZD 331. I was quoted 13150.00 for a 2008 machine with a 72" deck. (I have 16 acres of fairly flat land so the 72" deck is good for me). I was quoted 9800 for a 2005 ZD28 with 22 hours on it. Both machines are being sold as new, and come with new warranties and equal financing options. I will not use the mower commercially, and will only put about 4 or 5 hours week on it during the mowing season, but I really want a diesel. Which way would you recommend I go?
  4. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,372

    In about 4 weeks, I can sell you a 2006 ZD28 with 600 hours on the machine, however a brand new engine out of the crate, with another 2 years warranty left on the hydros for $6,500, if you're interested.

    I can even bring it to you for $250.

    If you're not interested in that, I would go with the 2005, IMO if you're only going to use it for the 4-5 hours per week.

    If you were using it for hours upon hours upon hours (40+) per week like we do, with wide open areas to mow, then I would opt for the new hydraulics under the ZD331.

    Engine horsepower you're really not going to notice a WHOLE lot, some maybe, but not like you were comparing to a 20 hp gas.

    DANHAUG LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    Your price sounds great, but I am one of those people that spends the money for new and then sells the equipment two years later with low hours and makes someone else seem much smarter. So, knowing that I will lose some money on the mower, I think I am leaning towards your advice and buying the new but old ZD28. The dealer is sending me all of the fluids and filters for all of the annual maintenance schedule and some touch up paint for a few scratches from moving it around on the lot. It seems like this will be the best way for me to buy new and lose the least amount of money.

    I am curious though, why does your 600 hour machine have a new engine?Can you go into any details for me?
  6. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,372

    Well, let's just say I was in the middle of changing the oil, had a meeting to go to, and in the mean time my dad came over and was going to do me a favor and mow my grass. :D

    I was far enough along where I had everything cleaned up, put away, just didn't put any oil in the engine. He came over to talk, seen the mower sitting around and figured he do me a favor and mow the grass for me.

    DANHAUG LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    Sorry to hear that. At least the intention was good!!
    Is there any truth to the transmission gremlins that everyone is talking about?
  8. razor1

    razor1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,985

    If you can afford it, get the 331. My ZD had a boat load of trans problems.
  9. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,372

    There is. However, there is a hydro update that should have been done, hence the extra 2 years left on the warranty on my mower.

    Kubota fixed the hydros, then extended the warranty an extra 2 years.

    DANHAUG LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    I asked about the transmission, and he said the serial number indicated that it was not part of the problem models. I am not sure how to verify this, but the guy seems to be honest.
    What do you think?

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