@home, homeowner, estate ztr acceptable?

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by SonnyRyder, Mar 25, 2005.

  1. SonnyRyder

    SonnyRyder LawnSite Member
    Posts: 16

    Hello.
    I have been planning and researching (here & there) ZTRs for the past year...mostly reading posts her at LS. I have an acre (mostly flat/rolling w/trees, beds, etc.)& may do the occassional neighbor or possibly pick up a couple properties here and there. I had previously pondered entering the lawn biz, but have reconsidered. I had been set on finding a previous year ExMark HP or even CT. Well, these are no longer in my budget (the price just keeps climbing fast on these puppies & my income is more unpredictable...also needing to find a good ole minivan to haul the 2 little girls around in. :D ), so I am looking at something a bit less expensive. Used commercial machines would be great, but they are difficult to come by and to know how they were maintained when you do see them. I believe I am interested in a homeowner/estate size model from a respected commercial manufacturer. I do not want a res. cub from say Lowe's or Tractor Supply. I liked the CT, but the local dealer has them at $5800. The other ExMark Dealer is dropping the ExMark line due to pricing and margins, replacing them with Gravely. I saw their new @home models, which look to be well constructed for a high-end homeowner/low-end commercial model. The 2148 & 2352 come with Kohler Command Engines which seem to be a good match for the deck sizes. The biggest concern I have is that the decks are shallower, though welded and very similar in shape to the commercial decks. The long-time rep. touted the standard mulching baffle system & blade tip speed as providing a cut quality comparable to the ExMark. I am a bit concerned with clumping & mow-speed. Will I really be able to mow close to the 6-7mph with a quality cut? I also liked the ease of maintenance and access to major parts/systems. They have an economy model with the 17HP Courage & single pump, but I'd prefer the heavier duty & more HP.

    After reading other threads, and looking at the Hustler site, I am interested in checking out the FastTrak also. However, I see that on the high end, you get only an 18 or 20HP with the 52 & and 16/18 with the 44. The FastTrak seems to be better built with a better looking deck & frame, but is the HP sufficient?

    I have UG sprinkling & fertilize, so it tends to grow quite fast. I realize the Gravelys @Home are new models and there may not be much experience with them. I'd like to stay around $4,000. Other factors are size to fit in 1/2 stall of garage with the usual assortment of family goods, durability, quality of cut, cut time, & ease of maintenance. I have been borrowing the out-laws 23HP Kawi 48" Husqvarna Garden Tractor for the past year, which does fine, but is not very maneuverable. I'm hoping to cut my mowing time in half. I would often have to do a 2nd pass over much of the lawn too.

    I appreciate your expertise as yet another confused homeowner who probably overanalyzes the whole process. I have some sort of sick fixation for this stuff though. ;)
     
  2. SonnyRyder

    SonnyRyder LawnSite Member
    Posts: 16

    I'm really not interested in a Walk Behind....even with a Sulky,Velke, etc. My back & joints give me too much trouble standing, bouncing around, and the grips/maneuvering don't look the easiest, so please don't take me down that road. Thanks. :D
     
  3. vtx1300

    vtx1300 LawnSite Member
    from OKC,OK
    Posts: 36

    If you've read any of my posts then you already know my story ...

    But- was in same position as you. Only wanted to spend $2500-$3000 - was looking at heavier duty homeowner models like the Ariens (gravely)...

    I think Dixon is a great mower... I can't believe I have one and a 25hp B&S engine w/a very heavy duty setup all around.

    It was between DIXON RAM and HUSTER Mini-Z for me...

    Both in the $4K range ... nothing else that I looked at compared.

    Bought the DIXON over the Huster b/c - 44" vs 42" ... 25HP vs 16 or 17HP (??) ... frame on DIXON seems a bit stouter than on Huster

    The DIXON seems very quiet to me and I liked the way the mounted their engines with the rubber deals

    hth
     
  4. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 4,666

    We sold a bunch of the @ Home machines last year. Owners are very happy with them, and not one came back for a warranty claim. They made a lot of improvements to the 2005 models, that make them an even better machine.
    I would buy one of the midsize @ Home models, so you can get the Command engine. I feel it is a lot better engine than the Courage models engines.
     
  5. SonnyRyder

    SonnyRyder LawnSite Member
    Posts: 16

    Thanks VTX & Mowing Man. I did read your posts and it does sound like some more bang for the buck with the larger engine Dixon. I had looked at the Dixon web site after that and was a bit concerned that the engine is a B&S ELS. I hear their Vanguard Engines are good, but not as sure about the ELS line. The price also jumps up as you get to the 50" deck & I prefer to stick to a 48-52" deck size. The deck does look nice and deep and sturdy. The nearest dealer is also about an hour away. I would like to get something a bit closer. It does sound like a good machine & has a good warranty. For some reason I thought you were looking at the Fasttrak instead of the Mini-Z. Maybe that was someone else. I'm not familiar with their pricing.

    Mowerman, what improvements were made over last year? On another post, someone mentioned they didn't think the baffle system looked sturdy. Is there only the 2 year warranty on the deck? I agree with you re: the Command engine. I think it is worth the additional money. When the snow finally melts and the grass starts growing, I'll have to see if I can demo one. Would you deliver a demo to Michigan so I could give it a test drive? :p
     
  6. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 4,666

    The 2005, Gravely @ Home machines have a much better hydro drive system that is smoother and quieter. They also have better steering levers, and a better parking brake. The whole machine has a two year warranty. The deck is pretty heavy built for a homeowner machine. However, these machines are not designred for daily commercial use. Let's not kid ourselves about that.
     
  7. Advance The Man

    Advance The Man LawnSite Member
    Posts: 154

    If you haven't already, check this thread out on the Ariens. I looked at it initially and liked it a lot. Ariens and Gravely at home are virtually the same and made at the same plant.

    Regarding your question on HP with the Fastrac, I have a Honda 20 hp and mow almost exclusively on St Augustine grass, which is very thick. There is no let up while cutting and I haven't had to slow down. So, I feel it's a non-issue with me. The biggest difference with the Hustler and the Ariens was the thickness of the deck, framing and the additional smoothness of the Hustler. They also have an exclusive braking system where you simply extend the 'arms' out for the brake. This is great as an emergency brake, but not so great if you are in an emergency situation and need to stop immediately. However, I do think the Gravely or Ariens are very good products and would last you a long time. Ariens has a XL line that is the same, but geared to go a little faster than there normal line.
     
  8. vtx1300

    vtx1300 LawnSite Member
    from OKC,OK
    Posts: 36

    Sonny,

    I was in same boat as AdvMan... and if I wasn't doing 3-5 acres... I probably would have gotten the Ariens Home series.

    However, I just mowed our farm house property in 1.75 hr and am extremely glad to have a larger deck (considering the Ariens I was looking at was 40" and the Hustler Mini-Z was 42" ) AND a heavier duty frame.

    So... comparing on our JD lawn tractor - 42" - it took about 2.5-3 Hrs to mow.

    I'm happy... :)
     
  9. Advance The Man

    Advance The Man LawnSite Member
    Posts: 154

    I was wrong about the Ariens XL series. Just went to my Hustler dealer who is also an Ariens dealer. They are having an anniversery party with dealer reps there. I spoke with the Ariens dealer and he said the XL series speed is 9.5 mph - 10 mph and it does have heavier duty steel that would rival the Hustler and others.
     
  10. SonnyRyder

    SonnyRyder LawnSite Member
    Posts: 16

    Well, I did some driving around today to various dealers. I did not demo, but I checked out the ExMark CT and was offered a 18Kohler holdover for $5300 out the door. I also looked at the Hustler Fastrak, & Scag Cub (same dealer), which if I could bump up another grand, the Tiger Cub looked very nice & is a full-on commercial system. I think the FastTrak is what I will end up going with. They have a holdover demo model with less than 5 hours on it that they received in September. It is a 20/52 and I can get out the door for $5,000. It also has the upgraded seat. It ends up only being a couple hundred more than the Gravely and it seems a bit sturdier than the Gravelys @home & a much better warranty than all of the others. The rep's biased opinion was that the driveline was much better than the CT also. He had sold ExMarks for years before the CT was around. It really seemed to have almost everything I'm looking for....and I was able to talk my wife into upping my budget to $5k. I don't know see many Hondas on the other manufactures machines, but I've always liked their engines. I'll probably do a little more research on the Fastrak here before I decide, but it seems to be a great fit. If you have any feedback on the Fastrak, either good or bad, let me know.
    Thanks to all for your info thus far!
     

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