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Thinking of upgrading to a commercial w/b

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by stryper, Apr 16, 2005.

  1. stryper

    stryper LawnSite Member
    from IL
    Posts: 132

    I've got an acre+ to cut with some fairly substantial slopes, otherwise I would be thinking about a Z-turn.

    So my first question is: gear or hydro? My understanding is that a hydro is safer on slopes, as a gear drive can get away from you. Also, hydros are easier to reverse, while gears require some manhandling?

    Second: fixed or floating? I've got some bumpy areas to deal with, and I'm thinking a floating deck might be a better choice. Fixed have more of a tendency to scalp?

    I'm leaning heavily toward Exmark, so it kinda comes down to either a Metro or Turf Tracer, and I want to know whats best for my application. Money is a factor, but not the most important one. Primarily I'm interested in safety and quality of cut.

  2. wjb123

    wjb123 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    I was in the exact same situation last year.

    1.3 acres & very hilly

    I had the exmark dealer bring over a Lazer CT (zero turn) and a Turf Tracer (walk behind) to try out on my slopes. The CT slid all over the place and nearly crashed into the creek at the bottom of the hill.

    I had no choice but to go with the walk behind.

    My yard has lots of high and low spots, so I knew that I wanted to get a floating deck. The only other consideration was gear vs. hydro. After reading a lot of other posts about walk behinds on hills, I decided to pony up the $$$ for the hydro. I love it. The hills are no problem and I use reverse all the time. I can't imagine being without it. If the money isn't a problem, I would suggest you get the TT.
  3. MetroBoy

    MetroBoy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    stryper, I also have 1.3 acres (1.3363 to be precise) and very hilly. I bought a Metro 36 (gear-driven) three years ago and have been quite happy with it. Only once was I concerned for safety -- mower facing uphill and coming back on me with a four-foot drop and a rocky creek bed behind me -- but that was a rookie mistake in the first year. (I tried to rely on the brakes instead of driving out of it.) A hydro would be nice but the gear-drive is a good $1000 cheaper.

    I cut a different direction each week and have no problem with the slopes at any angle. My next-door neighbor flipped his riding mower down the hill the first year he had it. I've been cutting his back yard ever since.

    Keep your belts tight, think about what you're doing, and you'll be OK.
  4. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,036

    take a look at this mower, www.betteroutdoorproducts.com

    I have one and am extremely satisfied with it. holds hills very well. the mower is very short front to back, so I think the scalping would be very minimal if any. btw, I would not get the fox. get either the regular quick 36 or the super duty.
  5. MetroBoy

    MetroBoy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    I checked out the "Quick 36" on the Better Products web site. It does look very interesting. A hydro for less than the cost of a gear-drive. The three-blade set-up makes it very short front to back. And it weighs 130 lbs. less than my Metro.

    I'm not sure about the Briggs engine, but for homeowner use it might be fine. And I'm curious about the “single-drive hydro”. It's not a true zero-turn mower apparently (but then I rarely make true zero turns to avoid scuffing). If I were in the market now, I'd give this thing a close look.
  6. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,036

    I have never once wanted to do a zero turn with the quick 36. if I do that, I'm right back on the pass that I just mowed. when the briggs engine goes out on mine, I'm going to put a kawasaki in. gary is looking at getting a 15 kohler on there, but we'll see.
  7. bobcat175

    bobcat175 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 377

    be careful with a single hydro. I also have a good hill and I originally bought a Ferris SD which was a single hydro. It would not go up the hill. Major slipping issues as well as tracking issues cutting the hill sideways. Ended up returning it and buying my current 48" Bobcat hydro. Dual hydros is the only way. Single hydros are only trying to save $$$ to push guys on the belt/hydro fence. IMHO that is....

    It's not so much the fact of doing a true zero turn (you would be cutting the same line if you did) it comes down to maneuverability of the machine. Try them out it's the only way you'll really know.
  8. David Grass

    David Grass LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 485

    The safest mower ever made for hills is the Toro T bar belt drive. With one hand on the mower, you can stop both wheels in their tracks. I can put a Toro T bar BELT drive where NO ONE ELSE could put ANY OTHER MOWER. The 44 deck would be great too.
  9. David Grass

    David Grass LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 485

    PS I use a Hustler WB 54 now, my 1988 Toro is dead out back, but I still look out there at her, and know that that was the safest mower, and the BEST ON STEEP hills than anything out there.
  10. MetroBoy

    MetroBoy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    OK, I'll bite. TCLawn says, if he does a zero turn, "I'm right back on the pass that I just mowed", and bobcat175 says, "you would be cutting the same line if you did (a zero turn)."

    Maybe I'm missing something. The turning radius of a mower is measured by the arc described by the inside wheel when turning 180 degrees. Isn't that correct? When John Deere says its lawn tractor has a turning radius of 18", that means the inside wheel describes an arc of 18 inches when the tractor is turned. The outside wheel describes an arc of 18" + (2 * the wheel base). So with a lawn tractor, you have to adjust for that 18" if you want to cut the next row.

    With a ZTR or a zero-turn WB, there is a minimum turning radius of zero. That means the inside tire stays put, while the outside wheel describes an arc of (2 * wheel base). But while it is "staying put", the inside tire pivots, and this can cause what's called "turf scuffing". So ZTR drivers frequently do quick little three point turns to avoid this. (This is one of the nice points about a hydro, because it goes into reverse so easily and naturally.)

    In order to turn 180 degrees and recut the same row (as TClawn and bobcat175 suggest) you'd have to actually have a negative turning radius-- that is, the inside tire would somehow have to be shifted over by the distance of the wheel base.

    Do I miss something? Do you mean, you will _overlap_ the same row you just cut, because the cutting deck is wider than the wheelbase? (Not really the case with a 36.)

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