THE T3000 review

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Rayholio, Jul 2, 2009.

  1. Rayholio

    Rayholio LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,461

    Ok.. It’s time for the T3k Review. If you don’t care about my personal experiences.. skip to the next post where it says ‘the bad’ and ‘the good’ I've also underlined some of the more important parts for those who don't want to read a novel. it’ll save ya a lot of time! I was a lot more detailed with this review than with the Z #1 because TurfCo bob REQUESTED the review, and #2 I realized how much people are appreciating my opinion. And Thank You.

    I didn’t make it to 50 hours.. I was about 5 hours short. At hour 45 the spray system failed, and we were unable to determine why.. more on that later..

    I hated the machine for my 1st hour, and after 5 I liked it. After 20 I loved it.. After 40 I had a love/hate relationship with it..

    In that first hour, I looked over the machine, and gave It a test spin around my lawn. And of course talked to bob a lot about it. But I wasn’t convinced.. Even after seeing the machine and driving it, I had a problem with the lack of ZTR, and the thing was just SO simple, I couldn’t understand what made it worth the price.. a single spray tip.. 5 mph top speed.. It didn’t LOOK well built. I kept thinking.. ‘John Deere lawn tractor with a hopper.” How could it be worth a damn?

    I did my 1st and smallest lawn with it the next day.. It wasn’t a pleasant experience learning to drive, and spray all at once.. Only one job that day.. The next day I put it thru a full day’s work.. Which brought me to hour 5 or so.. Not many hills in these 1st lawns, but after learning the method for steering, spraying, and controlling speed all at once, the machine seemed a lot more forgiving, and productive than I ever expected. By day 4, I was in TOTAL control of the machine, and I was not a limitation on it’s productivity.

    The biggest strong point of the T3K lays in the fact that these first few days taught me almost all I needed to know about the machine. The T3000 is as simple in operation as it is in features. ‘Advanced techniques’ play very little role with the T3k. The machine has one speed, 2 spreader width settings, and 2 matched spray width settings (+an edging spray tip) and that’s about it..

    After 20 hours, I had gotten it on major hills, and it pwned them all. Yes… pwned. It was THAT good. I’ve never seen a machine stick to the side of a hill at full speed like this one. This caused the LOVE for the machine that I was feeling..

    At 40 hours, it was beginning to get old.. not the operation of the T3000.. The maintenance. The thing was suffering failures too often for me.. more on that later too..

    All in All, After hot days, rainy days, Wet lawns, hilly lawns, big lawns and small lawns, I feel that I have a great idea of what the T3k can, and can’t do. As mentioned before, the learning curve was minimal with this machine.. and as a result, the things that were problems for me on that 1st job are still sometimes problems for me today. I’ll break it down as best I can.

    The Steering Wheel
    It is very hard not to compare a new machine like the t3000 to older machines that we have used. And so the 1st thing that stands out with this machine is the steering wheel.. I remember thinking that steering wheels are for home owners. But my friends, I’m here to tell you that THIS steering wheel blows MOST ZTRs out of the water. Slightly more than a half turn from center is a full turn. The motion is liquid and smooth, and I have yet to find a way to tear the turf while turning at any speed or on any hill.. It works pretty much as advertized, with the exception that it helps to carry some fert in the hopper, because @ full speed, the front tires are a little too light to ‘dig in’ and get the tightest possible turn. You should always pay attention to your pass width. This system does not replace paying attention. Sometimes a turn on pavement will be tighter, or a turn on a hill will be wider.. FYI.

    But what about the tight areas? Between the house and the fence, etc? Well, in the rare occasion that I’ve had to do a 3 point turn, it was unbelievably fast to do so.. and again, with no danger of damaged turf. The MAIN problem with tight areas is the lack of reverse speed.. which brings me to..

    The Throttle, and Speed control
    Engine speed is factory set up to run at operational speed, or idle. That’s it. Why? By design because EVERYTHING is belt driven. Slower engine, slower pumps, spreaders ect. This is to keep them calibrated.

    So when you operate the machine, you kick the throttle up to full, and go.. Not that it matters much.. but you may have to hunch over a bit to manipulate the throttle as it is about 3 ft off the ground on the back of the machine.

    Your ground speed is controlled with one lever which is accessible from either side of the steering wheel. It operates like a ZTR.. The further forward you push it, the faster you go.. pull backwards for reverse. Top forward speed is supposedly 5 mph (I didn’t have time to verify that w/ GPS) . Reverse speed is a weak point in the design of this machine. I don’t know WHY it’s limited to about half (or a little less) of the forward speed, but it is.. and it’s an annoyance.

    There is a yellow, plastic foot pedal for the right foot, which when pressed, it locks in whatever speed you’re going, so that you can remove your hands from the speed control. Without this foot pedal, the machine would be almost unusable, because it requires two hands to steer and spray. But this foot pedal is NOT a speed control… It is a speed lock.

    The REAL problem with the speed control is that it requires a hand to modify it.. You cannot steer, and adjust speed with the same hand. THIS is the mother of all problems with the T3000. I have ran into trees, sprayed fences, and flowers, drove over a bed, and MANY TIMES had to go back and restart a pass because I wasn’t able to get my spray started in time… All because there is no way to change Spray, Steering, and Throttle all at once. In the end though, this problem would not keep me away from the T3k.

    The Spray System
    The T3000 has a belt driven pump, connected to one 10 ft fan tip, one trim fan, and the coiled hose and wand. Each of these are engaged with the 3toggle levers on the control board. Of course you have a trigger on the wand itself. They’re fed via two 8 gallon tanks. The tanks are separate, on either side of the machine, and only connected via a hose right in the middle of the tanks.. Each tank has its own feed, and agitation, which seem to work well, although I have had instances when one tank will empty before the other.. Probably due to iron sludge in one of the lines, or agitation tips. Also there is no way to carry 2 different chemicals.. With only 16 gallons of capacity, it’s almost a non issue. 16 gallons will treat 64,000 sq ft @ ¼ gallon per 1k

    The single 10ft fan is AWESOME. This nozzle makes your spray very much like granular apps.. It has a soft curve which feathers out on the edges. This removes hard striping on lawns when a product is over sprayed, or undersprayed.. like granular, any burning will feather out. And depending on what you’re spraying, and where, it eliminates a TON of turning, as opposed to a boom system. It also saves you time when entering back lawns over a boom system. Because the nozzle is very low on the machine, to reduce drift, and right in the middle of the T3k, the fan pattern is almost invisible, so you need to always be aware of where your spraying, and when. You can lower the pressure and spray 6 ft passes with ease.

    The Trim fan is also AWESOME. It is designed to spray from outer edge of the left tire, to the right tire, and then feather out about 2-3 ft to the right beyond that. It does so without any pressure adjustments what so ever (when operating at 10 ft pass width on the main nozzle). My only concern with this is that it is very hard to drive right on the edge of where you want to spray.. I feel that the trim nozzle should shoot beyond the left tire a little more.. This probably can be adjusted. It also shoots RIGHT in front of the front tires, whereas the main spray is about 4-5 ft in front of the machine.

    The Spray wand is abysmal. It doesn’t have a home. It flops around while you drive. (Bob says they’re going to give it a home soon) It has a coiled hose that is often in the way, and pulls on the over pressurized wand itself, so it’s hard to operate it with good accuracy. The coil loosened enough in 35 hours that it was constantly falling off the machine, and dragging the wand under the tire.. Eventually the hose fell into a hydrostat cooling fan, and got cut up.. And finally the fact that this machine doesn’t have a hose reel for the wand is probably the biggest disappointment of the whole package. I personally have had back lawns where the machine couldn’t fit (by about 2 inches) and had to pull a hose from my truck to do about 1000 sq ft.. A machine in this price range NEEDs a hose reel.

    Spreading Dry Product
    The T3k is as straight forward as you would expect in this category. There are two settings on the control panel for 6 ft and 10 ft. (Same as spray) the deflector is accessible Low from the control panel, and works extremely well. but is sometimes a pain to use due to it requiring me to hunch over while driving. The spreader trap door controls are among the best I’ve used.. it’s a substantial throttle yoke like control on the right side of the dash, which is liquid smooth and light to the touch. It has a 2nd setting, and adjustment for 6 ft, so that after you dial it in, you can very easily switch between 10ft and 6 ft passes. The only issue with the spreader system is the 10ft max.. While this is matched with the liquid, AND the turning radius.. My push spreader will throw further than that.. just sayin’..

    The Fertilizer tray is lacking something.. Supposedly, it will hold three fert bags stacked on end.. I never got a chance to try it.. but it looks like it would be a hassle at best, and a failure at worst.. The tray does comfortably hold one bag with ease for a fact. This tray seems like wasted space.. perhaps a good place for an aux. tank, or taller, more rigid fert tray.

    Engine/ Drive Train/ Chassis.. Engineering!
    The T3000 Is not a tank. It is a lawn tractor. It’s not built out of high grade stainless steel, and some parts look as if they would be prone to damage, or rust with normal use. as a result, It’s a very light machine.. Unloaded it’s only 500lb. And the paint seems good. Maybe even powder coated.. I don’t know. I’ve been parking it outside, and there are some rusty parts in the undercarriage. Bearings, joints, and other things I’d rather not see rust on.. but the frame looked pretty well rust free other than some iron staining.

    It has a great front bumper, which is low and should protect from most impacts. The machine seems to have a pretty low center of gravity. The foot pad is set very low on the machine and does a better than average job of absorbing impact.. It has a squishy non-slip material on it. The machine has looks that are appealing to the customer.. We may want a machine that looks like the Delorean from back to the future.. but the customer doesn’t want to see you on a machine at all.. The equivalent of a ‘smart car’ would be their choice. The t3k Is much less intimidating..
    The engine seems to have been selected wisely. It’s slightly over powered for the machine, (supposedly even bigger on the 09 machines) and thus runs at a comfortable noise level, and doesn’t fluctuate much in RPM under load. It is fuel efficient. The onboard tank is about 2 gallons, and that will easily get you thru a day.. However the tank is hidden inside the machine, and the goose neck, curvy filling spout makes it impossible to judge how much gas you have left.

    The belt driven system seems functional enough. Belts are easy repairs if THEY ever break, and the pumps are easy to change.. However… because everything is located under the chassis, if you have a leaky pump, you’ll never know it, until it’s too late. I had a pump explode on me and I finished the lawn, leaving 1 ft wide swaths of death thru it, never knowing that I had a ‘leak’ until the job was done. Also, your chem. Filter is down there.. pretty bad place for it.

    I have no complaints about the hydrostat. It climbs curbs with ease, and has plenty of power.

    The Lack of electronics
    The absence of electronics simplifies the design, eliminates the possibility of electrical component failure, which usually equates to a wait for parts to be mailed to you.. No electronics also helps with corrosion and rust resistance. This is all very logical, and is very true… but is it worth it? This is something that may be up to the user… For me, I would love to have an electric start. I would also prefer an electric pump. The belt driven pump is fine, but an electric pump could be mounted in plain sight, and could be turned on and off by switch, Foot, or otherwise.. Thus eliminating my control limitations, and frustrations.. I would even do this if it meant adding 200lb to the machine. Call me crazy, but I’d also like access to a 12v fuse box.. to hook up anything from a speedometer, to a radio, to headlights. Also, if you have a belt problem, you not only lose your spray pump, but also your spreader..

    Hills are the bane of Lawn application machines. Some tip on hills.. Some Ski down hills… Some skid on the turns.. Some just can’t handle a hill.. and as much as it surprised me, I have yet to find a single hill that was a serious issue for the T3K. It has been able to go on any hill in my customer list. It didn’t get close to tipping, it didn’t ski down a single hill, nor has it done any wheelies. I had 2 minor problems in my demo.. when turning up hill at the end of a pass, my front wheels skidded, resulting in a very wide turn, and I drove UP hill into a tree as a result of not being able to drop the throttle fast enough. The 2nd problem was on a VERY steep hill, and on an inside turn, the machine ‘crab walked’ very slightly in about a 4 foot section laying a small patch. (I had watched the customer turn off the sprinkler on this hill, and decided to apply on it ‘for science’ LOL) The hill was measured at 30 degrees, and for the sake of argument, the Z slid right down this hill the 2 dry times I applied to it, and left a gouge. It’s the outside turn on the hill that kills the Z.

    Let me clarify. I am saving the majority comparisons for my next thread, but this machine does not need locking front wheels, it has a low center of gravity, and despite its narrow stance, it is very sure footed on the SIDE of hills, as well as going UP hill, and DOWN hill. While going up a steep hill, you can expect a 50% loss in steering ability. (with an empty hopper) and a very slight decrease in speed. The added load on the engine also lowers RPMs and thus pump speed.. but only VERY slightly It’s not a problem. While going down a steep hill, steering ability actually becomes more sensitive. The machine goes very slightly faster, and the rpms stay the same.. so its best to be ready to slow down a bit when applying down hill to keep in calibration. The machine is able to do full speed turns on the side of almost all hills.

    If you’re comparing this machine to a Z, you will want to wait for my videos, which will make clear everything. This will be included in the Z vs T3k thread which I will be posting soon. I did not get a chance to take all of the videos and photos that I wanted, because bob was in a hurry to get the T3000 back to the lab for dissection.. but I have a few.

    I want you to know that I’m under NO illusions. ALL machines have failures. My Z was delivered with tips that didn’t spray at all.. And this T3k IS an ’08 demo. (NOT what you would recieve if you ordered today) Bob told me that many things about the belt system have been changed, that they’re working on the spray wand, they’re using a different centrificle in the pump now.. etc, etc. The machine had about 7 machine hours when I got it.. Bob tells me that he suspects that might be wrong, because he’s loaned it to others for a week or more…. All I can go by is what I see on the dash.. to me, this was a new machine.

    After running a high rate of ferromec iron and vessel thru the machine for a week, (20 hours) I blew a pump. I stopped using ferromec, and waited a few days for the parts. The hose wand coil loosened and fell into the engine compartment where it got chewed up by an open fan, (40 hours) later that same day, I couldn’t get the engine to start.. The same nightmare I had when thinking about the pull start was a reality.. Pulling and pulling on it for 30 minutes, while another 30 minutes from the shop. Apparently there’s some kind of idler spring that gets stuck.. so after bob called me back, I tapped it loose, and it started right up.(2 work hours lost) Then I pulled up to a job about 5 engine hours later and the pump had stopped pressurizing. I inspected the undercarriage to find very loose belts, and figured that was the problem. The Belt to the pump was tightened (by bob) an the pump still didn’t work.. AND the spreader propeller didn’t have enough grip on its belt to get it moving.. Even after adjusting THAT belt ALL THE WAY as tight as it would go.. it still wouldn’t move. (bob said this design was different on the ’09)

    So.. in the end, I sent a dirty and broken machine back to TurfCo with the sentiment that if they are looking for a beta tester.. I’m their man.. I can break anything.

    The last week really crushed my impressions about the T3000. I loved the operation of it. It was so damn simple. Get on it, and go. Hills, no problem.. a few bugs, but overall I was READY TO BUY. But…. In the last 10 hours I realized that the T3000 is too new for me to buy.. I HATE down time, even more that I hate skiing down hills. And I won’t have a machine that’s not reliable.

    I’m quite sure that many of you T3K buffs out there are not having trouble with your machines.. but let me tell ya.. I can break ANYTHING.. except for my Kimber 1911.. It ALWAYS works.. everything else, I’ve broken at least once. That’s why I excused the 1st couple failures.. but it just got to be too much.

    -more in next post-
  2. Rayholio

    Rayholio LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,461

    The Bad: (a recap + more)
    I know that this has been a fairly positive review of the T3k so far.. Especially coming from me.. but it’s not perfect by any means.. Here’s some you already read about, and some you haven’t..
    The Throttle needs to be higher, It is dang near impossible to steer, adjust speed, and manipulate spray / spread controls simultaneously. The drive tires inexplicably stop working in some severe bumpy situations, causing an instant, and jarring Stop, followed by an instant and throwing Start, without warning. The tanks have two separate, small opening which BOTH need attention when filling. The single nozzle has a spray pattern that is hard to see. On rare occasions one tank will empty before the other. There is no way to use two chemicals at one time, despite 2 tanks. There is no speedometer. You must trust that you’re always going the correct speed. Top speed is 5mph, Backup speed is considerably less. Only two width settings on the sprayer and spreader, Maximum spread width is 10 ft. There is no electric start. There are no electrical components at all. Pumps, and filters are located in positions where you cannot monitor them, or access them ‘on the fly’ There is NO hose reel option, and the included spray wand is terrible, it has its own full sized manifold lever, which is unneeded, and gets in the way.. and the wand is left flopping around in the un-ideal fert tray. The front wheels slide around some turns without extra weight on the front. The machine I got was prone to failure, including loose belts, open fan in the engine compartment in a position where stuff can fall into it like the coiled hose of the spray wand. Pump failed twice on me. Pull start adds slight fatigue. Maintenance / repairs are a pain because everything in underneath. There is only one T3000. No options, no different models to suit your taste. The price is $1000 more than a similar Z, which APPEARS to have more costly construction. (probably a side effect of having a john deere tractor frame and parts) The manual is delivered on CD Rom, instead of hard copy.

    The Good
    You’ve heard all this before.. but just in case you haven’t..
    This is THE machine for fleets, EASY operation, no frills. It’s great on hills. The single fan tip emulates the spreader, in both width setting and the pattern. Spreads and sprays simultaneously with very little special calibration. The steering wheel edges with more precision than ZTR, and the edging spray fan is a big help. Steering wheel makes lining up passes a lot easier. The control cluster is laid out intelligently, and includes an easily available and highly functional spreader deflector. The Spreader activation lever is the best I’ve ever manipulated. No electronics to fail. The pull start is one of the easier ones I’ve used.

    Bottom line
    This machine accomplishes what it was set out to do. Replace the PermaGreen, and Nip at the tail of Z. It is a fleet machine. There’s a reason Tru-green is not buying Zs at anywhere near the rate that they’re buying T3ks.. Its because of ease of operation. Put a TG employee on a machine with 1000s of possibilities in calibration, and operation, and watch the circus. The T3000 is fool proof. If you’re an owner operator, who wants the ability to calibrate your machine 10 different ways, this machine is not for you. If you have an employee, who happens to make mistakes from time to time.. This machine is perfect for you. If you have a lot of properties that are more than an acre and a half, I would recommend something bigger.. If you have average lawns around 10-30K each.. this machine is great. If you have a lot of hills, I think this machine is the way to go. If you have no hills, I think I’d go with a machine with a longer track record.
    Which brings me to my final thought; I’m more forgiving about the T3000 flaws than I am with other machines, because it’s Brand new. TurfCo quite literally hasn’t had time to tweak the machine perfectly, or work out all of the bugs. Despite that, it’s a fine machine.. and going into ’09 an ’10 it’s going to be one to watch, because once they do get everything just right, you may be looking at other machines thinking THEY’RE the under dogs.

    For me.. I WANT a t3k.. I’ve got to be convinced that the bugs are worked out 1st. and I’m willing to wait for the performance enhancements like hose reels, and a better throttle control.
    In the mean time, I’ve ordered wider, flatter tires for my Z, several different flow nozzles, and all the parts to put a single T3000 style flood nozzle on my Z.. that’ll have to do for now.

    I’m putting together the Z vs T3k videos now.. Since I no longer have the T3K, production won’t take all that long.

    Got anything you want me to comment on? Just let me know.. I'm sure I left something out!

    Have a great 4th!:usflag:
  3. Real Green

    Real Green LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 389

    I think that's a great review Ray. Thanks for your time, effort, and hard work! You get one T3000 owner's stamp of approval. :)
  4. lawnsofsnh

    lawnsofsnh LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50


    I'm confused...The good points you state "easy operation" then you go on to say in the bad points that " it is dang near impossible to steer, adjust speed and manipulate spray/spread controls simultaneously"

    If you train your employees well and spend time with them on the Z then there are no problems. I have six employees all of whom use the z-sprays with no down time and production numbers that will blow away a T3000.
  5. Rayholio

    Rayholio LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,461

    Thanks Real Green! I really do appricate that.


    Yes, it is impossible to MANIPULATE all of those things at once.. that would take 3 hands.. It is fairly easy however, to learn the proper technique that allows you to (90% of the time) not NEED to manipulate all three of those controls at once.

    The key is the speed lock foot pedal. which does 'enough' as long as you're not in extremely tight areas, or trying to edge in inconsistantly sized areas with the spray wand...

    About the Z vs T.. That's comin'.. but IF you're comparing the T3000 to a Z that is in a different class... or maybe even same class on perfectly flat and open terrain, I'd have to agree with you... But Jr vs T3k, the T3k will probably win with MY customer list.. just my (now educated) opinion.
  6. a plus bob

    a plus bob LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 1,160

    You need to change the name of this thread to WHY DOES MY T3000 NEED A HOSE REEL ? :laugh::laugh: Good review Ray .
  7. grassman177

    grassman177 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,795

    superior review. thanks much and it also reminds me why i will never own one of those and went with zsprays. sure all machines haved pro and con, but we found one that had more pros than cons for o9ur needs. i would give anything to you to review as thorough as you test things. maybe that should be your calling instead of lawn care!!!!
  8. Young Bros

    Young Bros LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 660

    Good review Ray. I hope when we have money for an upgraded ride on, there are some improvementrs to the young T3000.

    CHARLES CUE LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,093

    Hey great review cant wait for your video and all the fire thats coming your way some times thats the best part keep it up
    Charles Cue
  10. EVM

    EVM LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 371

    Nice review, my Z will be on its way soon. How are you going about changing tips on your Z with tips from the TS? What is the process?

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