lifespan of mowers and their parts

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by robby, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. robby

    robby LawnSite Member
    Posts: 89

    I often read here how important it is to find a good dealer to buy from to take care of you with repair problems. So I was wondering, on average, how often your mowers are taken in for repair, as well as how many hours you'd expect to get out of your mower before it dies. This is my fifth year on my walk behind JD 48" and its still never been in for repairs, but I'm thinking soon enough stuff will start breaking down on it. I put maybe 25 hours a week on it, so I'm estimating 2500 or so total hours. Being that I rely on just one mower and can't afford having it unavailable in the shop, I was thinking that I might be best off to buy a new mower at the end of the season. Are there many solo guys relying on just one mower? Also I was wondering how many hours I should expect to get out of my belts? Seems like I've had bad luck with belts. Sometimes they last months, other times they last a week or two before getting cuts in them. Not sure whats causing the cuts, whether its small sticks that might get in, or accumulation of grass building up around the pulleys. I usually continue to run them til they break, depending on how bad the cuts look. Usually a deep gash in the belt results in the belts breaking within the month.
     
  2. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,327

    The usage on your unit at 25 hourswk. over 5 years it is getting close to the time you would expect some problems. The engines usually won't make 3000hrs. It doesn't seem reasonable that you have that usage without any belt problems, you better replace ALL of them immediately. If it is a belt drive the transmission could be getting near problem time. I would check the spindles if they have grease certs you are probably okay if not that could be a lurking problem. You better get on/off and blade switches replaced and if you have any interlock switches you better get replacement for those. Unfortunately a lot of dealers run behind a couple weeks and it doesn't sound like you have been to a dealer so you will be at the bottom of the list. Might consider getting a back-up unit
     
  3. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,927

    I am on the eight season with my Exmark Viking, hydro, 15hp Kohler. I had an initial problem with the Kohler, within the first week or two. I took it back -- they didn't find the problem -- it was found by others. Since that date, it has never been back to the dealer. It is my only w/b. I work solo and estimate I generate 800-900 hours of use per season. I did change the engine after four seasons, replacing with an identical one. I'm hoping to have this one last until end of season this year, and that prospect is looking good as it shows no signs of deterioration.

    I have replaced spindle bearings several times, and replaced the drive tires this Spring. My major concern is the hydro pumps and wheel motors, but neither show any sign of failure. I change hydro fluid and filter in the off season. I have gotten more than two seasons from OEM belts (take-up idler for blade engagement, not electric clutch).

    The "loose" items now are ground drive controls from the pistol grips, the front caster spindles and the front caster bearings. But,they will be OK for another six months.

    I will be pleased if I can get the last half of the season from this machine, with intentions of a change next off-season (or getting out of the biz).
     
  4. fool32696

    fool32696 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 992

    I totally rely on my Gravely 250Z. When something breaks I can't mow until it's fixed. It's funny how fast you can learn to mechanic on some equipment. Hydro pump went out few weeks ago and was told it would take 3 days to get on in. With no experience pulled it out rebuilt it and mowed 15 yards the next day.
     
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    It all depends, your machine could be on the verge of falling apart or it is just as likely you have a very dependable machine.
    I have an old '95 52" proline which is VERY used (over 5k hours, newer motor and rust and cracks and everything is worn out), a '98 48" proline which is getting there (still has use to it, but has lost its ooomph - that extra bit used to make it scream, it still cuts good and has maybe another year or so). Then I just bought a new 48" proline and I think lifespan on these babies is about 7-8 years when used interchangeably:

    Personally, I like having at least 2 machines ready to go at a moments notice thou I always use 1 for a while, then after a month (or 3), switch to the other. I currently have 3 wb's but one I use for my own yard because it's retired (too many hours), still I could put it in service if push came to shove.
    So one I use, the other rests and I work on it a little bit over time or just let it rest some more. With both of them, I cut ~700 yards/year, so I guess around 350 each. 7 x 350 = ~2,500 grass cuts. Keep in mind, when I sell my old wb's they are by no means totally worthless, and are great machines for someone just starting out (it's how I started out) but for me they are worn to the point that production loss due to wear irritates me to no end, so I get a new one and sell the oldest one.

    Far as parts like belts, I run them until its broken - I used to do that preventative maintenance crap and that is a big waste of money: Replace a belt that's about to break, I found out often I can get another 50 or 100 and more cuts out of that old belt just make sure you have the replacement belt with you in the truckbox because sometimes it breaks the very next time you engage it. Every yard I can get out of the old 'about to break' belt is one more yard of wear and tear the new belt doesn't suffer and this translates into a type of profit. It's always something, and a lot of times you can still run them week after week, month after month on a bad part that can wait until end of year. Just be careful, look at it and see if other parts will become involved: Like if a pulley gets bent, will it chew up belt after belt? If so, then replace it now, otherwise it can wait.

    For repairs I couldn't agree more: Learn to do it yourself. At $50/hour and more labor even if it takes me twice as long, it's a good deal. Even with 2 and 3 mowers there comes a time when they're ALL broken and one or the other has to be fixed NOW. Nevermind the price, a lot of times the dealer in my town is backed up 2 weeks and I've waited 3 months before so the dealer is always the last resort much like with my car - I can not afford the dealership, in more ways than one.

    With 3 mowers, one usually goes to the dealer once/year when I absolutely can't take it anymore and would rather have someone else fool with it but I try and pick the Off-season (Jan-Mar is best) as prices are way better, as is service.

    With 5 years and 2500 hours, you may have some repairs coming up - If you know how to work on a car or on a computer or on a bicycle, you should have no problem - Take your time and study the problem, it's usually not that big a deal.

    Good luck.
     
  6. South Florida Lawns

    South Florida Lawns LawnSite Platinum Member
    from usa
    Posts: 4,785

    As I wrench on my own junk. I got 2 Toro Z-masters one snapper wb 32'' and a 21'' wb. If there is something that I can't figure out on it one of my 2 friends that work for Caterpillar will help out. One is a diesel engine mechanic, the other is a heavy equipment tech. Both are great help with trouble shooting. For parts I usually don't go through my dealer rather from on line places or Napa auto for belts. It sure saves me time money and I get to learn more about how mowers work.
     
  7. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,360

    How long is a matter of how well you maintain it and how you treat it. I require my machines to work very hard, but they are never abused. There is a big difference. If your motor has pretty good power then I would expect the machine to last a few more seasons. I would consider re-powering the mower if the motor is the only thing that fails.
     
  8. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,420

    Nothing lasts or stays new forever so to sum it: up get all the good out of your equipment by adhering to these three words.... maintenance, maintenance, maintenance. :waving:

    -Geoff
     

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