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Overhaulin' the Toro 21

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Envy Lawn Service, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    OK, I have this Toro Commercial 21" with the 5hp Suzuki 2 cycle...

    As previously mentioned, I have always hated this mower.
    I got a lemon no doubt because the multitude seems to love them.

    But for me, this mower has been totally worthless for anything aside from bagging normal growth. Even then, it's never been a mower I wanted to personally operate because the drive has always locked up instead of drifting into neutral. So that means the rear of the machine has to be lifted and the mower wrestled around to manuver it.

    The mower doesn't mulch for crap either. It has always just loaded up and bogged down. So it has spent a lot of time 'riding the pine' as a second string mower... even second to the likes of a Murray pusher. Really, the only time I personally bring if off the bench much is for steep places and island strips where the BBC really comes in handy.

    So, I guess you could say all I really like about it is the Suzuki engine, BBC and the handle.
    I like the Suzuki because it can be ran on inclines without damage and it's really reliable.
    The handle is Honda-like which I find comfortable.
    The BBC is just really handy.

    As for the rest of the machine, I feel it is trash. At the present time,the paint is peeling and the drive is jammed up, which leaves it stuck in neutral. The shift lockup is possibly from my lack of use. So when I really got in a pinch a while back I brought it out as a pusher. Then half way through a lawn the BBC went out on me. So it's been sitting ever since.

    At this point, I'd like to have the Suzuki back in the field because I now have a crap load more trimming to do and I'm suffering a little string trimmer burnout. So I'm trying to decide rather to attempt to resurrect this Toro into the machine that is loved by so many.... or rather to look into transferring the Suzuki to another machine somehow.

    So what do you guys think?
    I'm not sure what to do.
    Heck I'm not even sure what my options really are...
  2. S man

    S man LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,562

    That's funny because I was never really found of using one of those for a lawn service. Mulched alright some of the time and the drive was strange. The engine was where it was at though.

    I thought the deck would be great for mulching it being a toro recycler. :dizzy: That's what gets me.

    But anyway it should be put back into service or if it's that bad try to sell it to someone who likes toro decks and needs parts.

    As for the engine I've heard of a guy on a garden website that put a suzuki on a snapper deck. I'll see if I can get his email on how to do it.
  3. S man

    S man LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,562

  4. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Thanks S Man,

    Yep, that's my engine, but mine has a larger tank.
    Anyways, atleast I know there is another option for this engine besides on the Toro.
    Ideally, I'd like to build my own from scratch but I don't have the time right now.

    But yeah, I've never liked the drive on the Toro at all. The only good part about it is that it's rear-drive. I never though it had just the right speed in any gear. But the fact that it was always locking up in turns instead of free wheeling was what really burnt me. You literally have to shift it to neutral, otherwise it will not free wheel at all. What a pain.

    The mulching ability has always sucked as well. That's the part that really concerns me about both the Suzuki engine itself and overhauling the Toro. Some claim this combo works well. But it never has for me. So that leads me to wonder if something is wrong? Or if the Toro deck just sucks for mulching? Or if the 5hp Suzuki just doesn't make the torque to have the balls for mulching?

    It's hard for me to know because I haven't ever used another Toro with the Suzuki.

    However, I guess that guy could help me answer some of those questions....
    Thanks again!
  5. Eddie B

    Eddie B LawnSite Senior Member
    from gone
    Posts: 859

    There's a trick to that drive problem you are having. Maybe you need to loosen the drive bar cable to make this work for you, I dunno. When entering a turn or reversing the mower, let off the drive bar to the point to where it no longer pulls the mower forward. Allow the mower to roll forward a bit before you make your turn or go in reverse. This completely dis-engages the self-propell and creates a "neutral" until you squeeze the bar again.
  6. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,923

    I have the same mower and have never had a problem with the transmission. And, I believe many others on LS have that mower and I don't recall reading similar problems. You must have something wrong with the transmission or the mechanism in the drive wheels. There is no reason for the wheels to be locking up.

    You did not mention any remedial work you have done to correct the problem. Have you just "lived with it" in this state of improper behavior? I'm sure somebody can spend a short time with it, find the problem, get it solved, and make it work as intended. This sounds like it should be an easy problem to fix -- either of the two choices I mentioned above.

    As far as other characteristices, I agree it isn't a very good mulcher. Nor, it is a very good bagger for damp/wet grass. However, I made some changes that helped. First, take out the kicker plates. For bagging, I bought a hi-lift blade to replace the OEM blade. This was discussed in other threads. Another user suggested the blade number, I bought it, and found it works much better for bagging. The cutting edge iss quite short, but the finish result is very good. I take out the blade accelerator plate too.

    For mulching, I use an Atomic blade, with the accelerator plate. The blade has low lift, so doesn't leave as finished cut as the hi-lift blade when bagging. No, it won't mulch heavy clippings.

    Bottom line: The OEM blade is intended to work for both bagging and mulching. It does both moderately well. By using a different blade for bagging, the mower is a much better bagger. And, by using a different blade for mulching, the mower is a much better mulcher.
  7. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062


    Yes I realize the drive issue I'm having is not the 'norm' and that many love these machines a lot. If I didn't realize this, I would have absolutely ZERO interest in trying to resurect this machine.

    I feel the same way as in I do not think the drive should lock up like it does. Some attempts at "remedial" work have been attempted in the shop. But I grew weary of the trial and error headaches and just gave up on it ever getting fixed. So the bottom line is that I have never turned the first bolt on it yet.... but it's painfully obvious if it's ever actually going to be fixed, I'm going to have to be the one doing the "fixing" in this case.

    Basically I haven't done anything to it yet. But I did turn the first bolt on it just before dark. Basically all I managed was removing the BBC cover. I wanted to get that off so I could see if I could pinpoint the problem with that next chance I get.

    So now I guess I need to start figuring out how all this stuff is supposed to work, what the problems are and how to fix them.

    So far, all of the BBC stuff appears to work. The BBC belt looks OK as well. Bbut it obviously does not have enough tension on the belt.... which would explain why it will engage the blade, but it slows to a stop in grass. So now I gotta figure out if the belt is streched out and if not, then why is there not enough tension...
  8. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    Well... I finally fiddle-farted around with the Toro a little bit more.

    Mine has the big gas tank. So I had to remove a few things and then it in order to access the BBC mechanism from topside. Frankly, from all appearances, the BBC appears to have never been touched for any sort of adjustment.

    So shame on those who have worked on it... and I guess shame on me for never doing a post-inspection after them and never noticing this myself. Frankly, I now have to wonder if it has EVER been in proper adjustment at any time. Maybe this is some of the reason I've always felt it was sorta whimpy, and to the point of having no balls when trying to mulch. It's strongly possible that it was do to this mis-adjustment plainly and simply allowing the blade speed to slow from slippage under load.

    Anyways, to point out what I said before... "it's painfully obvious if it's ever actually going to be fixed, I'm going to have to be the one doing the "fixing" in this case." So I made the adjustment myself and brought it within specs. It seems to have good tension on the belt. But it will be hard to know until I actually try it. So it's a relief to know the BBC seems to be OK otherwise.
  9. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062


    Should I bother with replacing the belt although all seems OK?
    I've considered it since I already have it opened up.

    Second, what should I be looking for with my drive issues???
    Gear selector hang-up...
    Drive lock in neutral...
  10. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    OK, took care of the shift selector hang up.
    It's back to shifting just as stiff as it ever did :p

    But the drive lockup... well that's something I just can't seem to do much of anything with. So long as it is in gear, it will not roll backwards. The right wheel will roll a little ways, but that's it. The left will not move any at all.

    What do I need to check?

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