New here & have ? on ZTR

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by CoyteePrince, Aug 30, 2003.

  1. CoyteePrince

    CoyteePrince LawnSite Member
    from 37742
    Posts: 19

    Hi, am new to this site, was referred here by someone at

    I'm NOT trolling and am not trying to start any kind of brand war or other, but I have some questions and was told this site was a good one.

    I live on a non-working farm, roughly 250 acres. Roughly 50/50 woods/fields. There are 3 houses, each let's say, 1 acre yard. Father in law & Uncle in law are both in 80's though get around.

    Father in Law (FIL) has arthritic hips and can't straddle his riding mower, so he rides it side saddle and quite frankly, makes me nervous as all get out. (We are in East Tennessee in some rolling hills, but NOT mountains).

    I realized a ztr would be PERFECT for him, so I've been trying to get educated on them.

    Personally, I prefer a diesel because the other equipment here is diesel and this way I can keep all same. Also, my understanding is diesel has more power than same rated gasoline engine.

    I've looked at most of the local brands, Scag, Kubota, Deere, Exmark, Grasshopper, Country Cutter? lol, and a couple others. I'm sure they will ALL cut the yards fine.

    however, I have been told by all the salesmen that they can also be used to cut some of the fields (reasonably smooth, but NOT golf course smooth). THAT appeals a great deal to me. So, it MIGHT be used as a mild duty "bush hog".

    The Scag dealer looked me straight in the eye and said his 61" deck, liquid cooled Kawasaki motor buggie will out cut, out turn and flat out perform ANY diesel. The Kubota dealer says "get him to bring his title, may the best machine win and the winner gets the others title". (sigh).

    With my FIL's arthritic hips, I DO think that those 2 brands (Scag, Kubota) would be the easiest decks for him to walk up on, so I'm sort of partial to those machines. Since I'm preferenced to Diesel, I'm skewed towards the Kubota.

    I KNOW that the diesel will WAY outlast the gasoline engine, I KNOW it costs more, yada yada yada. I'm a diesel head :D and if I'm going to spend for the Scag unit, I have NO problems spending a bit more for the diesel... ALSO, the Kubota has the hydraulic assisted deck. (another issue with FIL's legs).


    Both salesmen poo poo the others machines, which I expect. What I DO NOT expect, is for the gasoline engine to outperform the diesel WHEN UNDER LOAD.

    What's up?

    If I were buying YOU the machine as a gift... which would you prefer and why?


    If you took both machines & set them on a hill with tall grass & cut up the hill, which one would outmuscle the other?

    I'm NOT to the point yet of having them do a shootout here on the farm, but I'm not against that idea when the time comes. :cool:

    Any thoughts/input/wisdom is greatly appreciated.

  2. thebruken

    thebruken LawnSite Member
    from KY
    Posts: 11

    I have the Kubota ZD21 Pro w/60" deck. I too wanted a water cooled diesel engine. I liked the other brands( Scag,Great Dane,Exmark,Toro,John Deere,Cub Commercial,Ferris, and Hustler) also but with the financing that Kubota had(3 years,no interest or the 5 year@2.99 interest) it made the Kubota easier to purchase. There are 2 large horse farms in the area that are using the Kubotas to mow their fields. My friend has the Zd28 with the 72" stamped deck and cuts approximately 8 acres(his front yard with large pond) each week. I chose the Pro deck because I liked the design better. I cut 2 acres each week and I cut 4 acres of field every two weeks. It will cut high growth down very well at the higher cut settings. It is no bush hog though. It has plenty of power for me. The engine will slow a little when trying to mow fast up my steep long hill I have in the back of my field but it keeps on going and has not slowed enough to make a differance in the cut of the grass on the hill. I believe the Zd28 with the 60" deck would be the best choice but was higher than I wanted to give. I like the shaft drive to the mower deck and the hydraulic lift. I believe the drive system will be trouble free since it is basically the same as they have been using on their hydrostatic drive tractors. I am very pleased with my Kubota.
  3. CoyteePrince

    CoyteePrince LawnSite Member
    from 37742
    Posts: 19

    Thank you Thebruken, that is some of what I wanted to hear. are you familiar with the gas engines? do you think (or know) if your machine will out perform them, keep up with them, or lag them?

    I am not in a race with cutting, I'm just trying to boil out all the sales "bs" and make any decisions on FACTS, not a salesmans sales pitch, or what he happens to have in stock. The Scag is avaialble in diesel, but he had none in stock. Was that a sales pitch to sell me what was in stock, or was it factual? (that the gas outperforms the diesel).

    To tell you something else the same guy said, he told me the Scag liquid cooled Kawasaki unit (dont recall the HP) was rated at "X" HP "at the blade tip", rather than others being rated at the crank.

    I looked at him and said, then you are not using apples to apples. I said that if the Kaw has (let's say) 31 hp at blade tip and the Kubota has 31 gross hp, say 27 net at blade tip, then it's not a fair comparison, maybe I ought to compare with the Kubota 28 hp... he DID change the subject. I was made a bit nervous with his angle there. It seems to me, more likely they all are listing either gross hp, or "pto" hp, but NOT "blade tip" hp.

    I do not know though.... that is why I'm here asking

  4. thebruken

    thebruken LawnSite Member
    from KY
    Posts: 11

    I have never heard of blade tip horsepower. Their is blade tip speed that is good to compare, but as for horsepower it should be what the engine is outputting to the crank. I have not seen to many other Z's with the diesel engine except for an exmark with the Daihatsu 31hp diesel I believe. It sat higher off the ground than the Kubota and it put the power to the deck via belts. I liked the build of the Kubota better. I have actually used a Toro with 52" deck and a 20hp Kohler and a Great Dane with 61" deck and a 25hp Kawaski. They both did very well and I liked them both. I like the construction of the Kubota better and it did not seem to work as hard cutting the thicker grasses such as over the septic system or the higher growth that I have in my field when I let it grow more than two weeks. My friend had the Toro and my cousin has the Great Dane. The 25hp Kawasaki is a quieter running engine than the Kohler on the Toro but is louder than the Kubota diesel. I wanted a mower that was going to be hopefully the last one I need to buy. I think the Kubota diesel is the way to go for the longevity. I believe the Kubota's blade tip speed is listed on their web site at around 15,000fpm? It is comparable to the others out there. Some people on this forum state that there is a speed up kit you can get for the Zd28 but my dealer did not know of this. The pro deck throws the grass out very well and cuts the clippings to a very small size.
  5. pinnacle

    pinnacle LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 791

    Have a look at SCAG's "Saber tooth tiger"
    31hp Briggs n Straton/Daihatsu liquid cooled 3cyl turbo diesel
    Power out to ying yang.

    The cutter decks drive shaft driven.big plus in my eyes. (no belt slippage in the really thick wet stuff, no belts to break, gets the power down to the cutter deck better than belts)

    But saying this I have no experience with Kubota. You should demo them both. Make a list of what you want out ya mower and see which best suits your needs.
  6. Royalslover

    Royalslover LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 382

    I don't know too much about the Kubota but I do have a Turf Tiger and it would work as a suedo brushog. If you get one make sure it has the advantage deck. Speaking purely engines, I would take a Kubota- gas or diesel- every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I have a 21 hp gas with 2700 hours and I haven't touched the engine other to adjust the valves and they were barely out of adjustment.
  7. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    One of our sponsers, Gravely also has a 31 hp diesel unit that can be had in a 260Z 60" or a 272Z 72". Both of these also have the benefit of the hydralic deck lift. In addition they come standard with a suspension seat which really helps absorb the bumps. This is an option you really should consider on anything you buy.

    Also if you like the Kubota diesels like I do, one can be had on a 321D (21hp) or a 428D (28 hp) Grasshopper M1 series. They do not have the hydralic deck lift but they still may be worth a look. Here they are a bit more affordable than the Kubota ZD21 or ZD28.
  8. No matter how they comare today, the diesel will outlast the gas the gas motor by two to one.
    I use Shell Rotella synthetic diesel oil in my engines.

    I'd get the pro deck on the Kubota because of the long life expectancy of the unit.
    I always thought the stamped deck was Kubota's weakest point.

    I also think your Scag dealer is FOS. Though I think Scag builds a durable machine. They are the only manufacturer to have roller bearings in the spindles other than Toro.

    I just don't know about that Briggs & Stratton diesel. It just seems like a countradiction in terms. Like "gun safety" or "military intelligence".
  9. CoyteePrince

    CoyteePrince LawnSite Member
    from 37742
    Posts: 19

    Thanks all, for the comments. My brain is still trying to take all this in.

    Pinnacle: The dealer didn't have the diesel unit on hand to show me. Given he had it available, would be a more expensive purchase, I found it interesting he was poo poo'ing even THAT machine in favor of his (in stock) water cooled Kawasaki unit. With the season nearing end, I'm forced to wonder if he's more interested in clearing floor space, than selling "the right tool". This is the same salesman that told me the Scag was rated at "X" hp "at the bladetip" and that "none of the other manufacturers did that" Something about that just didn't sit with me.

    When I was waiting at the Kubota dealer, I did talk to another customer who said they owned a John Deere unit (gas). He said it cut faster, better than any other (gas) unit he'd been on. He said the reason the gas units cut better than diesel, is they are usually operating at a higher RPM, where as the diesel units make most of their torque at a lower RPM.

    I hadn't thought of that angle, but that DID seem reasonable to me.

    I still have the gut feel that if you head UP a hill, long grass, that a diesel unit will 'muscle through' it better/faster than a gas unit. Maybe the gas unit will smoke the diesel (speed) on a golf course?

    That's what I'm trying to ascertain here... if you have two 31 hp units (diesel/gas) side by side, give each one 2 different but equal jobs to cut, a 5 acre "lawn", and a 5 acre "field"... which one will get done faster?

    Will it be an even enough match such that it's an irrelevant question?

    The Scag dealer (with the H2O cooled Kawa) said on his 6 acre field, he'd get done "X" minutes faster with the gas over the diesel EVERY TIME. I do not recall size of the field, I do not recall the time savings, but I THINK he said about an hour faster.

    Since I have 150 acres that are a CANADATE to be cut, the faster time intrigues me. I really dont see using it for all that though. I still need to get a 15 foot rotary cutter (which means a new tractor also to pull it).

    Anyway, sry if I rambled

    Thanks for any more thoughts

  10. CoyteePrince

    CoyteePrince LawnSite Member
    from 37742
    Posts: 19

    Another thought...

    This is me being anal, but I'm a stickler sometimes on "sales pitches".

    the Scag website says the Turf Tiger is a drive shaft driven deck.

    "Driveshaft driven cutter deck eliminates belt slip and provides increased reliability and longevity compared to a belt drive system."

    Yet when I physically opened the back of the unit, I saw a drive BELT at the crank side of the engine (or what ever the back is) that then connected to a shaft, that then connected with MORE belts on the actual blades.

    What's up with that?

    I looked on the Kubota, and it seems to be in fact, a shaft, similar to a PTO, driven off the engine all the way to the deck assembly and then had the similar belts to the blades.

    My anal'ness says that's a crock with Scag claiming a shaft drive just by having a shaft in the food chain of parts, where as the Kubota is all "gear driven" to the point of the deck assembly.

    I don't CARE if a machine has a belt drive, but I DO care if they have a belt driving pushing a shaft, and then telling me it's a shaft drive.

    I can see inherent benefits of both systems, so the actual engineering doesn't bother me, the sales pitch does though.



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