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New Member looking for a New Mower

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Gizmo_019, Jul 12, 2005.

  1. Gizmo_019

    Gizmo_019 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 104

    Hey Guys! I'm Chris and I do alittle yard mowing. I am still in school, so I'm not real big into it. I have 10 accounts, which consist of 2 churches, 2 cemeteries and 6 houses. I average about 17 hours a week mowing. The deal is, I'm riding a 5 year old Crapsman non zero turn with a 19.5 Hp Briggs and a 42" cut, and it is falling apart on me.

    I've been researching on the internet about ZTRs. I really want a commercial grade mower because my yard is 4 acres itself, plus my accounts. The deal is I don't want to go over a 44" cut, because my yards are smaller and the cemeteries are older and the stones are not spaced evenly and a 48" ( non zero turn ) is a real pain to get around in the tighter spots.

    My neighbor, who used to have the same accounts, ( I took them over full time this year, worked for him for 5 years prior ) had a Cub Cadet non zero turn, non commercial with a 14 Hp Kohler and a 38" cut that has well over 1,500 hours ( meter broke on 550 hrs on the 2nd roll around on it and it is 10 years old with no major problems and it still runs today. Well 3 years ago he purchased a Gravely Zero-Turn, non commercial mower with a 17.5 Hp Briggs and a 40" cut. It is on it's 3rd year and it is starting to show it's signs of wear and the Briggs seems like it has no power anymore. I also know a guy that has a commercial Gravely Zero-Turn with a 23 or 25 Hp Kawasaki and a 60" Cut that has about 1,000 hours on it and he has had zero problems out of it.

    I have come up with this list of mowers.

    Residential Grade
    Country Clipper Jazee One - Kohler 17Hp, 42" Cut ~
    Cub Cadet Z-Force 44 - Kohler 20Hp, 44" Cut
    Dixon SpeedZTR 44 - Honda 16Hp, 44" Cut
    Snapper FastCut - Kohler 18Hp, 44" Cut

    Commercial Grade
    Dixon Ram 44 Mag - Kawasaki 19Hp, 44" Cut
    Gravely PM 44Z - Kawasaki 17Hp, 44" Cut ~
    Hustler Mini Z - Kawasaki 23Hp, 44" Cut
    Hustler Super Mini Z - Kawasaki 23Hp, 44" Cut
    Scag Z-Cat - Kawasaki KAI 19Hp, 42" Cut
    Toro Z100 - Kawasaki 19Hp, 44" Cut

    I am debating whether to go ahead and spend the little extra for commercial grade or just get a residential one. The reason for my choices are as follows:

    1.Country Clipper, looks good, never heard much about it, but I like the way the deck flips up for maintenance.
    2. Cub Cadet, heard they are great mowers, been on my neighbors alot and like it, seem well built and well priced.
    3. Dixon, seem like good mowers, there is a guy around here with one that is 15+ years old and still going
    4. Snapper, my gmaw had one for over 10- years, still got it, but the 11 Hp Briggs has an oil seal gone but that is all that is wrong with it, 33" cut single blade, cut 4 acres regularly for 12 years before the seal went, but the mower itself is still in good shape.
    5. Gravely, heard the commercial grade mowers were good, seem good priced and low maintenance as long as they don't have a Briggs engine.
    6. Hustler, heard they were good, don't know much about them but seem dependable
    7. Scag, read reviews, never seen one in person, seem to be one of the best
    8. Toro, never seen one in person, but they make good push mowers so they should be good.

    Sorry for being so long-winded but I am really trying to find the best bang for the buck, and I want one that will last a long time with regular maintenance. Next year I am planning on taking on 5 more accounts, that will be not so much that I cannot keep up during the school months. Thx for anyones opinions and suggestions on these mowers. Right now I am saving up and trying to get a good down payment to go towards a mower and I plan to buy between Chirstmas and Feburary of '06. But I am lookin early because this Crapsman is going downhill quick.
  2. prostriper

    prostriper LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 336

    You first want to pick a mower that is popular in your area. This will make it easier to get parts when things do break. On the list you have I would go with the Hustler Super Mini Z. They have a top speed of 13-15 mph and from what I've heard there fairly priced. I'm not positive on that, the closest hustler dealer to me is almost 70 miles away from me. There Top Speed can't be used in all situations, but it will add up ijn areas where it can be used.

    I would also look into Exmark. I've used them for 4 years now and they are an almost flawless machine.
  3. Mack77

    Mack77 LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 208

    Just make sure a reliable dealer is nearby or close to where you live. Customer service and a reliable dealer is worth a few extra bucks for a more costly machine than a less expensive mower with bad service IMO.

    Good luck!
  4. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    OK, I can relate well with you over my years of experience. I think the most important thing I can tell you is this.... the zero turn rider has amazing manuverablity. Add zero turning and suddenly the machine is soooo much smaller when you get used to operating it.

    So I suggest you cut yourself some lengths of pvc, wooden dowel, or whatever. Something light. Cut them in the following lengths....


    An extra inch being added to each cutting width. Then test these out in your tight clearance areas and keep track of what won't go where. Then make a smart and reasonable decision as to what is the best size to get to handle the majority of the work the quickest. You may even be able to nurse the lawn tractor along several more years if it's only used to hit the narrowest of spots.

    I suggest this to you because in this business, there is no replacement for displacement (HP & Torque) and extra cutting width. The ability to cut fast and clean increases your profit potential.

    Oh, and as far as the graveyards go, you'd be suprised what you can wiggle-n-slip in and out and get with a zero turn that you can't get to or get as easily with a non-zero turn.
  5. Gizmo_019

    Gizmo_019 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 104

    Thx for the replies guys. I did some more searching and ruled the Toro and Country Clipper out because the dealerships were more than 75 miles away. I have honestly never heard of Exmark mowers ;) But the Exmark, Dixon, and Snapper Dealership is all one place about 24 miles away ( that's close, I live in a podunk town ) I am planning to go test ride all these at some point before I make my final decision and purchase.

    Envy, that is a good idea. I will do that before I go back down to the cemeteries and I will even do it in some yards in tight spots. I have mowed with my neighbors Gravely some, but I am nowhere near used to it. I know there is ALOT less weedeating to do when I used to weedeat when he mowed. I ( with help ) mowed the biggest cemetery last weekend. It took 10 hours with 2 people, 1 on a mower and 1 on a weedeater. We finished at the same time, but I did alot more weedeatin' than I normally would do if it were my neighbor on his Zero-Turn.

    I don't want to go with a 60" deck because my trailer that I am going use is only 6'x9', it has 4 ft. sides and a ramp/tailgate, single axle and it is a really good mower trailer. Right now I am making the tailgate taller because the incline is too steep for the Crapsman to go up and I am reflooring it. So right now I'm using my 4'x8' tilting 4wheeler trailer.

    Thx for adivse and suggestions :D
  6. bantam

    bantam LawnSite Member
    from iowa
    Posts: 76


    If by chance you do reconsider the Country Clipper, (dealerships are regularly spreading). I would not recommend the Jazee One for your application. I would at least go up to the Jazee Two class of mower, at a minimum. If cost doesn't hold you back an even better fit for the work you are going to do would be the Country Clipper Charger series of mower. It is commercial grade and still utilizes the flip-up deck feature.

    No matter what brand you decide on you will be disappointed with almost anybodies residential grade unit. The accounts you have described seem reasonbly substantial for a res. unit. (then again $$ to step up might be an issue for you????)
  7. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,587

    but if you are cutting commercially, you better have, or get insurance and licences.... i got checked last saturday.......

    stay away from the toro time saver, the 400 is 48 inch higher end estate model very well built, only diffference in that and the next step up that IS commercial is the deck turbo suction system thingy hahahaha ( forggot what it really is) frame casters and kohler engine the same...
  8. Gizmo_019

    Gizmo_019 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 104

    bantam, that's my delimma. I don't know if a residential grade mwoer will do what I need to do with it without falling apart, or should I spend the extra $$ and ge tthe commercial. My goal is that I want to get one that I can have paid for in 1 mowing season, which limits me to the $3,500-$4,000 range.

    I saw a Country Clipper on ebay the other day and it looked so cool with the deck that flips up and such. But I have a feeling that will be way out of my range.

    daveintoledo, I am not really cutting "commercially". I don't have any business accounts or anything like that. I don't advertise. Around this part of the country, there are not too many commercial mowers, I can only think of 2 off hand within 25 miles. My neighbor I worked for was never insured or licensed, he had a full time job and mowed on the side for extra $$. Who would I get checked by if it came down to it? I just know if I bust a stained glass window at a church or run over a footmarker in a cemetery it's all on me.
  9. bantam

    bantam LawnSite Member
    from iowa
    Posts: 76

    Yes, that is a dilema (thought it might be)!!

    Some of the upper end residential stuff might possibly get you close to the price (but still probably just a little more than you have budgeted). That is why I suggested the Jazee Two mower as a minimum, Although it is a high end residential unit, I have heard of "Mom & Pop" commercial people using it with success.

    Have you tried to find or considered a good used commercial unit? Probably not, because you said "...Around this part of the country, there are not too many commercial mowers...". Just an idea maybe you could find something used that still has several years of life left???
  10. txlawnking

    txlawnking LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,905

    Gizmo, Bad Boy mowers are built somehwere in Ar. and you can buy them direct from the factory. I demoed one last year, and was pretty impressed with it. Do an online search, or do a search here on Lawnsite, you'll find plenty on them.. And they have a LOT of features for the $$$

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