Grass Hopper experience needed

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Robert_in_NY, May 14, 2002.

  1. I am looking for anyone with any experience with either the 600 or 700 series from Grass Hopper. I will be mowing 5.25 acres all together on 6 different properties we own and am curious if the 600 series would hold up to this amount. Does anyone have any experience with any 600's and know of any weak points. Are there anything to look for or options I am going to have to order on any of these units. I want to order it right the first time and not forget anything. The yards have a few trees but mostly buildings and sidewalks to mow around. I am looking at either a 52" or 61" deck depending on which series I go with. Any advice from any others who own one of these machines either good or bad will be helpful. Thanks.
     
  2. tranum

    tranum LawnSite Member
    Posts: 86

    robert, i have a 721d grasshopper and 2 scag ztr's. i purchased the g/h with vac system primarily for spring/fall cleanups but thought i would use it for basic mowing also. it does a great job in open, flat areas, but i find the z's to be much more efficient if "obstacles" such as trees, beds, etc are present. the z is also much more stable on hillsides. g/h makes a good product. unless you are just "set" on a front mount, take a look at the g/h mid-mount z. it's a good looking mower. i personally much prefer to operate my mid mount rather than front mount.
     
  3. What is the advantage of a mid-mount compared to a front? I have seen the mid-mounts but thought it would be easier to look in front of you to see where you are going instead of down like on a regular rider. How long have you owned the 721D and have you had any problems with it. Anything you wish they would have done differently when they built it or weak areas. Thanks for responding.
     
  4. Catcher

    Catcher LawnSite Member
    Posts: 166

    Hi Robert,
    I bought a new 618 last year. After using it for an entire season I got a pretty good feel for it.
    I am mowing about 3 acres with trees, rocks, hillsides and other obstacles etc.
    So far it has never given me any problems either mechanicaly or with the cut-quality. If I was mowing 6 or more acres I would have considered the 700 series with a larger motor & deck.
    The 18hp performs just fine, even in deep grass or when climbing the embankment. I guess another way to look at it is that it uses less gas also. I have the dual/ wide stance tailwheel assembly and the low pressure tires as well as the flip up deck as options.
    I am not sure what to tell you in regards to the mid-mounts. I am a homeowner and don't have the luxury to experiment with many different types of machines, I felt that the front mounted unit would serve my needs best. If you need to trailor it, it can flip up in under 30seconds, if you have enough room on the trailor you can leave it down.
    What I like about it is the easy maintenance aspect; it's so easy to clean it out after mowing and inspect blades etc. that I have done it after every time I used it. Also getting to the grease-zerks on top must be easier than on a mid-mount. I have a lot of evergreens, I can roll the deck under the tree or the fenceline and mow everything, even under swingsets etc. I have sold my pushmower a few weeks after I started to mow with the GH.
    I would wonder if I would want a 600 series or the next larger unit with your acreage as well, however - if your 5-6 acres are split into 5 or 6 properties, you're only cutting an acre per property?
    This would also allow the machine to cool off a bit between mowings versus running it continuously for 2-3 hours.
    The only thing I wish they would have done differently is a better system for draining the hydraulic fluid out of the pumps, you don't need to do it often but it would make it a lot easier if they had something other than the hose-clamps.
     
  5. Catcher, it sounds like the 618 is holding up quite well. My concern was that even shutting down between property's it still covers more acerage per year which means more abuse. My dealer said that the 600 series is considered the home owners series but is still better then most commercial riders on the market. I just don't want to wear it out by cutting the amount of yard I do right now and the way things have been going I have no doubt I will be mowing over 10 acres per week next year. I will talk with my dealer again and demo both the 618 and one of the 700 series to see how they handle the property. If you don't mind me asking how much did you 618 cost, my dealer is figuring around $8500 for one setup like yours without crunching any numbers yet so I would like a rough idea as to what to expect. Thanks for your response
     
  6. RayoVac

    RayoVac LawnSite Member
    Posts: 87

    Robert,

    I too just purchased a 618. I have the 9852 deck (flip-up). wide stance wheel kit, anti-scalp roller/trim kit and the mulch kit.

    I absolutely love this thing!!!! I now have about 20 hours on it... I mow just under 2 acres. I am in a very similar situation as Catcher. My brother in-law has a eXmark (midmount), and my neighbor has a Deere Garden Tractor (Hydro with 48" deck). I have used both of these to mow my property and like the 618 far better then either. In my situation the front mount deck was a huge attraction. Now after using it for 20+ hours... I am very glad I did the front deck.

    The quality of cut (even mulching) is awesome. With the wide stance kit... I am even getting some striping... I am mowing down at 2.5" (Bluegrass). I had some problems with the trim side (left side) of the deck scraping up turf at the base of trees etc. With the additional anti-scalp roller and trim roller... it no longer exhibits this problem.

    My thoughts... from the dealers I have talked to... and the amount of property you are mowing. I would certainly look toward the 700 series. The Hydro pumps are better, more ground speed, bigger deck options. As far as going with a bigger deck then a 52"... you mention multiple properties.... Just make sure a 60+ deck is going to fit everywhere. Also note the 44" and 48" decks as well as the NON Flip up decks are NOT 5.5" deep like the 98xx series decks. (9852, 9861). They are more like 4" or so.

    My 618 was a 2001 model with no hours. Before I added the options I paid $6750, the Wide Stance kit was $270, the anti-scalp was $85.00, the mulching kit was $140.00. I called a large GH dealer in Avilla, IN and got a price of $7099 on a 2002 618 with SL9852 deck. Never priced any of the 700 series.

    Hope this helps... have not had it long enough to provide you with durability statements. But given the way it appears to be built... I would say with a little TLC it should last forever.

    RayoVac
     
  7. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 4,647

    I do not have any experience with the front-deck machines to speak of, but I do own two Grasshopper midmount diesels. I have a 428D that is now on it's second season, and just today I bought a new 321D midmount. If you have a lot of trees and stuff to mow around, the midmount might be a better way to go. On rough ground though, the front deck will give a little smoother ride and a little nicer cut.:)
     
  8. Shultz

    Shultz LawnSite Member
    Posts: 83

    What dealers are in your area? If they want to sell a machine, they should let you demo it, even if you have to pay(commercial) for the day, you can see what you like/dislike. I have a 61" Scag TT with the 22 kawasaki liquid cooled and love it, and prefered the midmount mower vs the outfront, but its your preference.
     
  9. Catcher

    Catcher LawnSite Member
    Posts: 166

    Well spoken, Rayo.
    If you'll get into 10 or more acres I'd consider a step up size-wise; however - if the individual properties are still under 1 acre than a huge tractor with a massive deck may actually be cumbersome.
    If I can trust my dealer, than the pumps on the 618 are of the same quality as the 700 series. I think the warranty on them was 600 hours. The difference between the 618 is a smaller frame and smaller motor with a deck up to 52" wide. It's a tough choice, with one 10 acre parcel I'd get a large diesel unit, but with mowing smaller properties I'd consider staying with the smaller unit. Are you providing professional lawnservice? If you are using the mowers for a business I'd probably stick with the 700 series, mainly for warranty reasons.
    I believe I shelled out $7,500.- for my machine; that's incl. tax, options and different blades etc.
    Also, like Shultz mentioned, if your dealer is worth his salt he'll let you take a mid-mount and a front-mount to try out at home. Personally I am stuck on the front mounted units, but I guess there are advantages to either design. As I mentioned earlier, the maintenance aspect is a lot easier (and will probably be done more often because of it) with the front mount.
    Hope this doesn't confuse you too much.
     
  10. RayoVac

    RayoVac LawnSite Member
    Posts: 87

    Catcher... A Big DITTO on the maintenance!!! I can flip the deck up in about 30 seconds.... because of this, I find I have been cleaning it down to the shiney paint... after every use.

    Even though I am running the mulch kit... if I desired to pull it off, it would be 6 bolts... put the chute back on, away I go. If the deck was not so easy to flip-up.... I probably would never pull the mulch kit off.

    Also one other option to note.... I also got the rubber (hinged) discharge chute instead of the metal one that does not move. Although most will probably run without a chute... if you need it the rubber one is great, I can run it into stuff... no fear of damage.

    RayoVac
     

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