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General Equipment Questions

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by LawnMowerMan2003, Mar 26, 2003.

  1. LawnMowerMan2003

    LawnMowerMan2003 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 768

    I have a few questions about equipment, due to the fact that I desperately need some new equipment this year, but don't want to get in a rush and buy the wrong equipment on my limited income. I had to just about start my business from scratch this season, and I currently have a 21" John Deere with a Kawasaki engine, but the self-propel keeps breaking, due to a hole in the aluminum deck that causes the grass to clog up and make the drive belt break. It's an old mower anyway, and not worth putting much money into more repairs. I went to Home Depot and got the only Echo trimer I could afford, which is a curved shaft and only has about 21 cc, I think, and I'm really noticing the lack of power when it comes to edging. At this point, I don't have a blower at all. So I'm wondering what I should replace first and what to replace it with? I suppose what I really need is a 36" walk behind or possibly the Great Dane Gateway (it has a section of the deck that folds up so you can get it through gates) but I can't wait till I have a few thousand to replace my current mower. I suppose I could buy a lawn boy as a temporary solution, but then how do I determine when it is worth it to purchase a walk behind? I guess I could better ask this question by asking how much time would a 36" really save me on an average yard, if the yard took about 40 minutes to mow with a 21"? And would it be better to purchase the 36" sooner or save that money for the Great Dane? And what about my line trimmer? I was satisfied in the past with my Echo, which was about 26cc, but should I go for a bigger trimmer to cut down on edging time? Any advice will be helpful here.
  2. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,028

    How many customers are you going to service? How many do you want to service? Do you have access to funds, as in borrowing money?
    A 21" WB is the slowest method to cut a lawn unless you have 3 or 4 of them mowing at the same time.
    The 36"WB has a place in the industry but mostly for small lawns or small gates.
    A 42"+ is a minimum (in my opinion) for getting close to productive but if you can swing a 52 to 62 on the properties then that is where you should be right off the bat.

    Here is an estimate of time taken at 80% efficiency for a 21 and a 36 deck
    at 2.5mph for the 21" you can mow about .42 acres per hour
    at 2.5mph for the 36" you can mow about .73 acres per hour

    The 36 will be able to go faster than that so a 36 at 4.0 mph will mow1.16 acres per hour.

    This is flat land mowing but you figure that your 21 takes 40 minutes so a 36 will do it in about 20-25. That is a rough estimate but its a place to start. Good Luck.
  3. SWD

    SWD LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 989

    As far as obtaining equipment , you have several options. Purchasing through a reputable dealer through a financing program - as long as your credit is in good enough shape. Purchasing used equipment from a local company that has just upgraded. Or finding the local JD dealer and start a lease program.
    As to what equipment you need - that is mostly due to the accounts you are maintaining. Pretty much, a 36" walk behind, a 21" trim mower, a blower and a hand held string trimmer.
    I would recommend a grass catcher on the 36"/21" to minimize cleanup of cutting debris.
    This equipment will fit on a small 5'x8' trailer and does not take a large vehicle to move.
  4. PaulJ

    PaulJ LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,776

    Some ideas

    For a blower (since you said you have none)
    look at the Weedeater featherlight. Cheapest one they make. :eek: Shouldn't be more than $70 at wal-mart. I started with one and still use it some. No real throttle control, just choke and wide open, but it sorts to slow grass of of drives and is the lightest one I have ever used. The next step up would be the weadeater with the vac attachment which might come in handy for cleanups. Echo makes some good yet somewhat inexpensive hand blowers also.

    For trimmers, Go straight shaft. I was quoted $199 for an echo 210. I have an older 2100 now (same thing) I like the light weight and 21cc is plenty for me even when edging ( I have an EDGIT on it) I will NEVER buy another curved shaft, Maybe that is what makes it hard for you to edge with yours.

    For mowers, get a commercial mower as soon as you can, It doesn't matter what size. If you get a 21" and then a larger mower later you will still need the 21" sometimes.

    Or if you can swing a 32" (48" would be better) or larger WB now then keep you JD as a backup or backyard mower . You might be able to find a good used one. Get hydro if you can it's worth the extra $$
  5. LawnMowerMan2003

    LawnMowerMan2003 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 768

    Thanks for your input. As far as the number of customers, I had to start over this season, so I only have around 5 right now, but I'm really going to hit the marketing hard while I'm slow. I would really like to reach 100 residential accounts this season. The most accounts I have had before was probably only one third of that, however, I have been able to get about 30 regular customers in 1 season, and I really think I could have done much better if I was more disciplined and organized. My financial state is probably my biggest obstacle right now; which is why I have such minimal equipment. I don't have good credit at all, so I'm assuming that would keep me frome qualifying for an equipment lease. As some of you suggested, some used equipment may be the best route to go, but it seems to be difficult to find used walk behinds around here, even though I've seen plenty of crews using them. The reason I asked about the Great Dane that folds is because I don't think anything bigger than a 36" will fit through the majority of the yards I mow. I suppose I mainly mow smaller yards because I've always used 21" mowers, but I've seen larger lawns that don't appear to have large gates larger than 40". In fact, a dealer here that sells Gravely told me the 36" won't even fit through all the gates, so they have a 32". This is why I'm considering a the Great Dane I mentioned or a Flex Deck. However, I may not generate the funds to do either one of those this year, because those would be even more difficult to find used, and either one of those options would probably be over $4000 (since the flex deck itself is $1500). Assuming I could hit my goal of 100 customers could I manage that by myself with a 36"? As far as the weedtrimmer goes, I bought the curved shaft because it was $100 at Home Depot rebuilt, and that's all the money I had at the time. I could have gone with a straight shaft Snapper for the same price, but I figured the Echo would have more power. However, I think the straight shaft has more torque, which may be why you have enough power with yours. I was wondering what the EDGIT is? I've never heard of it.
  6. TaussigLawnCare

    TaussigLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Posts: 206

    well if you have 100 customers there is no way that even one 36 in wb could handle it. You need to get 30-40 lanws MAX and then make money and get equpment because there is no way with one 21 in mower you could do that many or even a 36 in. either. Don't take on more then you can handle. I have 110 lawns right now and I can barley get them done running 2 one man crews at a time and we use mainly 44 & 36 in toros. If it rains for more then 2 days we are mowing in the rain. Better take it slow if you can get a loan and get the equpment to handle that many awesome but I don't think it possible to get 100 yards in a season with out super lowballin.
  7. LawnMowerMan2003

    LawnMowerMan2003 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 768

    Well, now that I think back on it, I've really needed help at times even with 30, so even though a 36" would speed things up I can see your point. I'm curious though. Why do you use 2 one-man crews instead of 1 two-man crew?
  8. mike9497

    mike9497 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 954

    go to the exmark website theres alot of nice used ones out there.also look in the paper or a local dealer of equipment.get away from home crapot and slowes i bought a 48 inch exmark metro for 1100 once.look at leasing to.thats what i did a few times.its a good way to go because u get a new one every 2 years or if you get out of the biz you just give it back.my friend got a 48 exmark on a lease and he only had 2 cents to rub together.well he ended up coming to work for me after to season
    working on his own.so he had one more payment in his lease of 120 i think and he dropped it off at the dealer
  9. TaussigLawnCare

    TaussigLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Posts: 206

    2 one man crews it is my personal prefernce really. The most a 2 man crew can do in a day is 20 around here but my one man crews can do 13-15 in that 2 one man crews can do 30 in a day. So I have low emplyee hours and never have guys sitting around or 2 guys I am paying to drive to the next job and so on. Seems to work out really well I am considering adding another guy so I have one 1 man and 1 two man for the big jobs but I haven't decided.
  10. PaulJ

    PaulJ LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,776

    Go to www.edgit.com check it out watch the video read about "following the edge" It is a great trimming and edging guide. I will never have another trimmer without one.

    Here os a picture of the little blower.

    we blower.jpg

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