Purchasing stump grinder. Need recommendations

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Mowingman, Feb 11, 2006.

  1. BravesFan

    BravesFan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233

    Be sure to check out Vermeers SC 252. A great all around grinder. Fits through gatesand plenty of power for the job. I've grinded hundreds of stumps with it. It even handles the large, overturned "rootballs" with ease.
  2. godzilla

    godzilla LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 401

    The 252 or other ~20 hp gas machines are too small and underpowered IMO. If I was you I'd want to look at the 352 or other small diesel powered machine. The 60TX is $40,000 and the RG50 is probably a little less, but not much. The 352 should be able to do what you need in halfway descent time, and be semi affordable.
  3. BravesFan

    BravesFan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233

    After the hurricane here in Virginia 2003, I'd say I grinded more rootball stumps than anyone in the state....12 hour days for months. I ran a stump grinding business exclusively for 2 years.

    Don't listen to people telling you to buy these big machines. I can't begin to tell you how much work I got because other people only had larger machines that couldn't get inside 36 in. gates. Also, people with nice lawns don't want a tow behind rig making tire tracks.

    The 252, at 25 horses, is NOT underpowered. With regular maintenance and sharp teeth...it's a monster.

    I never liked the 352. It only has slightly more horsepower and is quite "bulky". You'll have a hard time seeing what you're grinding.
  4. BravesFan

    BravesFan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233


    These are EXTREMELY dangerous machines. You'll find yourself getting too comfortable with them. They can quickly rip off an arm or leg....even my weak lil 252 ;-)

    Stop grinding if the customer, kids, neighbors, etc. are in a near vicinity.
  5. BravesFan

    BravesFan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233

    Again, the Vermeer 252 is an "all purpose" grinder. Not only can it get in the fences, but many times it can get to angles where bigger grinders can't.

    I had 5 tree companies that were sending me work constantly...because I could fill that niche. They already had the big machine, but it wasn't practical for them on many jobs.

    You'll also get lots of work where people have about 100 saplings in their wooded back yard...each stump about 3 inches. Try moving around a 50hp plus rig back there!

    With the 252, you can sweep across the stump once, and it's gone.

    I won't beat a dead horse, but don't get a big machine! Fill the niche!
  6. BravesFan

    BravesFan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233

    one more thing...

    Invest in a big chainsaw! Get youself the biggest Stihl chainsaw you can find and a 36" blade. Cut the stump off AS CLOSE to the ground as you can...without hitting any dirt!

    Nothing worse than having 3 foot of trunk...on a 3 foot wide stump.
    You'll end up leaving a pile of woodchips that is likely taller than you are.

    Remember, you're there to grind the stump...NOT THE TREE!

  7. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 4,662

    All these replies have been very helpful. I am only going to do this part time, so will not be investing in a big diesel machine. From what I have read here and other places, I believe I will be looking at machines that have 25-35HP, are self propelled, have hydraulic control for the cutter head, and will fit through a 36" gate.
    A friend of mine, who operates a tree trimming/removal service, will send me all of his work, as he would rather just do the tree cutting. I have used him for years as a subcontractor, as I never have never done my own tree work.
    He will price the work, then I will go do it for him. If I can not get to it right away, he will rent the machine from me. I already have insurance that covers renting out equipment, and he is highly experienced at this. Currently, he has about a 40 minute drive each way to get a rental stump grinder.
    With me doing what I can on the side, and him renting my machine from time to time, I think I can justify a machine. I will also be picking up other work on my own from a newspaper ad I will run.
    Now, just need to look at some machines, and see if I can possibly find a nice used one. Looks like Vermeer and Rayco will be my top choices.
    Has anyone got any experience with the Carlton machines? THey seem to be a little less expensive overall.
  8. BravesFan

    BravesFan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233

    Don't mess with the Carlton or Rayco...go with the self propelleed Vermeer SC252. They should be about 12K new...and a nice used one at about half or slightly more. Keep an eye on ebay.

    A buddy of mine bought the 25 horse Rayco. I can tell you right now...He could NEVER keep up with me using that machine. We did LOTS of large jobs together...and I ALWAYS ended up doing the majority of the work. He's probably reading this post right now and shaking his head in agreement.

    I would rag on him and say that my technique was simply better...but he always felt his machine gave him a disadvantage.

    When comparing the 252 to the equivalent Rayco, The design of the teeth seem to be more aggressive on the 252. We would joke that his Rayco had "baby teeth" and my 252 had piranah teeth.

    Speaking of teeth, the 252 has pockets that hold the teeth. On the Rayco, it's all one piece...the teeth are built into the pockets. It's more expensive to replace those teeth/pocket combos.....right much more actually. It's rare when you have to replace the pockets on the Vermeer...only the teeth themselves.

    The only thing I liked better about the Rayco was the 4 wheels vs. the Vermeer's 3. The Vermeer can get unstable if grinding on unlevel surfaces..i.e. a hill. I've turned it over 2 or 3 times...and it's a HEAVY sucker to pick back up. I would keep a wench in my truck for those unfortunate days.

    Bottom line though...just have to be careful.

    One last point...customer service. Ask any stumpgrinder...you will soon become a master mechanic when it comes to working on your machine. Changing teeth, tightening belts, changing oil, etc. When you need parts or service, you need a company who will bend over backwards to support you...and that's what I've always gotten from Vermeer.

    Every time I had a problem with my machine, they would start working on it within 5 minutes of getting there. It was as if they would start raising the garage door when they saw me coming. I never had to leave it overnight or get any sort of hassle. They look out for their contractors.

    I'm pretty passionate when it comes to Vermeer.

  9. ssr123

    ssr123 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 1

    Anyone have a recomended place to get rayco teeth sharpened or replaced
  10. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,889

    I bought a green wheel from Bailey's and sharpen my own on my grinder.
    well worth the investment, what type teeth do you have, pocket teeth or super teeth? pocket teeth are cheap to just replace, super teeth are too damn expensive to go without sharpening a few times before replacing.
    and I disagree with Braves fan, my rayco is a wood eating machine with its new Honda motor and a good set of teeth.

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