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Going from a 21" Snapper to 36" Scag - a long rambling rant

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Damian, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. Damian

    Damian LawnSite Member
    Posts: 242

    (For the purposes of full disclosure, we only do residential lawns.)

    I've been using the 21' for a couple of decades - off and on - and am so comfortable with it it's almost second nature. Am I doing things I shouldn't be doing like wearing shorts and not wearing protective glasses, I don't know, but that's how I learned how to use it.

    I started reading the manual for the 36" and it calls for long pants and glasses. I started thinking it's just typical "cya" boilerplate until I realized the machine is much more powerful and maybe it's very practical advice. Too bad I work in Texas and fear if I wore long pants during the summer, I'd die of heatstroke before arterial bleeding by a well placed shot of debris. But I think I'm getting ahead of myself.

    I've always liked the 21" because I'm strong enough to stop it should I veg out and come close to running it off the curb or get too close to a vehicle. Certainly it's light enough to push towards a tree to get as close a cut as possbile without worrying that I'd gouge the tree. With the exception of a few sprinkler heads, I know which ones at which settings I can pass over without concern of lopping them off. If I slipped or fell, it was so simple to disengage the drive. I've never really had to worry about the mower falling on me.

    I know that the 36" WB will cut a lot more and with my back problemas that should be a no-brainer, but at the same time, a 36" can only cut that which it can get to, so too small gates rule it out. Maybe to jsut cut to the chase, there looks liek there is so much more to learn regarding how to use a 36" vs. a 21" and I don't just mean checking oil levels. And here's more disclosure: I'm not a fast learner.

    I guess the question I've had for awhile is: can I become proficient using one before I do real damage, either by way of misjudging the distance/slope and laying a fat scratch down someone's car or bending a spindle by going over a water valve cover that never gave me a problem with a 21"?

    Anyways, I've thought about posting this here for a while and figured it was time to do since we will be ramping up in the next month to start going out again.

    p.s. - have I ever mentioned that I hate change?
  2. Mike Blevins

    Mike Blevins LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,361

    The only person that knows for sure that you will be able to operate a walk-behind is you. If you do purchase a walk-behind I would recommend a hydro. Do a search on belt drives and you will understand. Better yet go to your local dealer and explain that you have no prior experience with walk-behinds. They will explain everything in great detail and show you how to operate the machines. I think if you give a walk-behind a try you will like them. It will also cut down time. Less time= more profits. And we all like that equation. You still have some time before the 08 mowing season starts. If you go ahead and purchase a walk-behind even though you say "you are a slow learner" you should have plenty of time to learn how to operate a walk-behind efficiently.

    SNAPPER MAN LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,443

    Hey man im only 14 and I have a cubcadet commercial 32" belt drive that I can handle as good if not better than most adults. It comes with practice. I was using 21's for three years and when I finally saved enough for a 32" mower the difference is amazing. They are alot easier to use than it looks. Once you get the hang of it it becomes second nature.
  4. IA_James

    IA_James LawnSite Silver Member
    from Iowa
    Posts: 2,593

    I've heard it takes about 8 hrs of time on a WB to get proficient with it, I would believe that to be true from my experience with one. You'll be able to use it immediately, but it requires practice to get truly comfortable on one. I think you'll be surprised how close you can get to stuff with one after you have some time on it, I only used my 21" for a spot that there was absolutely no way to get my WB into after I got used to it. The spot in question involved about a 40 deg. slope, a 48" wide area with only 12" of grass, and a 8'x8' area that I would have to turn around in. I could have done it, but it was less of a hassle to get the 21 out for it.

    Edit: I have a 36" Scag belt drive with Jungle Wheels 2 wheel sulky.
  5. S man

    S man LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,562

    Get a toro with t bar controls. Much easier than a pistol grip.
  6. sikagrass

    sikagrass LawnSite Member
    Posts: 238

    I promise you will learn how to use it easily.Once you quit fighting it and get your turns down you will be amazed at the productivity versus the 21.As far as cutting sprinkler heads off I set my height for St Augustine to make money, no buzz cuts from me. If its growing that fast they need to cut it more often.Although you can get close to obstacles, you wont usually get as close as a 21 but the trimmer will touch that up.Get a 32 or 33 to fit in even more gates.Hope this helps.
  7. Damian

    Damian LawnSite Member
    Posts: 242

    I should have said that we already have the scags. I've been working solo for the past few years out of the back of my truck while our other crew has been hauling the trailer and scags/hondas.

    One thing that I think I see right away is that the handles for the scags are lower than the bar for the Snapper. Is this an easy adjustment to make or am I stuck?
  8. supercuts

    supercuts LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,785

    its nearly the smallest commerical walkbehind you can get, its not a dump truck. i was able to man handle a 48" WB when i was a scrawny 145lb senior in high school. the sooner you get one and learn to use it, the quicker you will be efficient and making more $ per hour.
  9. American_Lawn

    American_Lawn LawnSite Member
    Posts: 211

    You should have seen me after I bought my first z last season. I think the thing sat in the trailer a few cuts before I started to pull it out. Yeah its a huge learning curve from a 21, but well worth it. I am alot less tired, I more than doubled my output, and I do not have to push a mower anymore.:clapping: It is well worth it, you will not regret it.
  10. Damian

    Damian LawnSite Member
    Posts: 242

    Do you find you get hit anymore from slinging rocks than with a 21"? I mean, I seldom got anything fom the 21" and had all the pieces wher3 they belonged, but occassionally, a small rock would arc its way from the right side back to my head.

    There were also times last year my back hurt so bad I could only keep one hand on the handle at a time.

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