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Walkbehind for very hilly yard

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by alegerlotz, Jun 3, 2004.

  1. alegerlotz

    alegerlotz LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    I've just moved into a new home and love everything about it, including the look of the yard. The problem I've run into, however, is that there are some hills lawn that are over 30 degrees (and one that is about 40 degrees).

    I currently have a 1997 Toro 267H Garden Tractor with a 38" deck that is like new, but isn't built for taking on these hills.

    I'm considering replacing the tractor with a commercial type walk behind, either 36 or 48".

    I've looked at a Ferris Industries and a Yazoo Kees machines. Both of these are in the $3500 - $4000 neighborhood. The prices alone don't bother me that much given the fact that to pay a service would cost about $325/month, so in two seasons the mower will be paid for. The problem that I have dropping this kind of money, however, is that I can't find a place that rents this style mower so I can try it first. I don't want to make a purchase only to find that the mower really doesn't handle my situation much better than the tractor does.

    So, my questions... Is a walk behind like this suitable for hills this steep?

    Are these brand mowers overpriced for what they are, or does their quality and durability warrant the cost?

    BTW: I don't think that the service would be over charging me, its just that I actually enjoy doing yard work as well as the fact that I'll save money in the long run, even if I buy a comercial grade piece of equipment.

  2. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    Find a dealer in your area that sells comercial walks and ask if you can demo one for a day. They may or may not do it for a homeowner but they do it all the time for commercial cutters.

    A walk behind will definitely do better than your rider,and I would go with a 48",but that depends on how big your property is.

    One other thing,the 3500-4000 pricing is a bit steep,look at belt drive machines and hydro machines before deciding.A belt drive is less expensive but not quite as easy to manuver as a hydro.
  3. DylanG

    DylanG LawnSite Member
    Posts: 23

    Did you measure the slope or are you guessing? The reason I ask is because most people overestimate the degree of slope if they aren't experienced in doing so.

    For example, ever stand at the top of a black diamond rated ski slope and look down? If you are inexperienced it feels like it's practically straight down but it's typically only 30-35%.
  4. alegerlotz

    alegerlotz LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    Thanks for the information.

    I've been looking at Hydro machines, 48" deck. I did some additional reading in the commercial forum to see what the pros are saying durability wise, price wise, etc...

    I stopped at a local dealer last night who is familiar with the rider that I have now and suggested that I try attacking the machine at a 45 angle before buying a walk behind. He said that that works for him on his property.

    I made an attempt with a protractor to estimate the hill slopes and I really think that one of them is *at least* 30 degrees. Its tough to know for sure though.

    I'll try what the salesman suggested tomorrow and see if I'm able to do it.

    Otherwise, I might punt for the season and get a service to cut it and look for either a year end closeout or a good used machine through a weekly local classifieds magazine... I checked a back issue and there were quite a few name brand machines available for sale. I was surprised by the number that had a rebuilt engine, however. If properly maintained, commercial use or not, I wouldn't think that one of these Kohler or Kawasaki 17+ HP would require a rebuild.
  5. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    new motors on commercial machines are not uncommon,the motor usually goes before the rest of the machine if they are maintaned well.But it is still a lot of hours before a rebuild or new motor. For a homeowner you would never have to worry about it unless you buy a machine that already has high hours on the motor. Good luck.
  6. deerslayer

    deerslayer LawnSite Member
    Posts: 14

    I would definatley advise finding a dealer that will let you demo one in your yard if at all possible. I just bought an Exmark Metro 48" walk behind for my hilly yard. I have hills that are at least 40' but thankfully not all are. The Exmark cuts beatifully. However, on hills is leaves alot to be desired. If you walk it, it will do alright, you just have to pay close attention to what you are doing. I have a one-wheel velke on mine and it got scary :eek: going down a few hills that were probably about 20-30' slope. Part of my problem is I am learning how to control the mower. This my first commercial walk behind and there is definately a learning curve. My funds were limited so this was the best machine I could buy for what I could spend (about 2500). If you can spend more, I am told that the hydros do much better on hills. Another advantage to the hydros is they typically have larger drive tires that I think would also help on hills. Good Luck.
  7. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    velke's are not meant for hills.
    You should be walking it.
  8. deerslayer

    deerslayer LawnSite Member
    Posts: 14

    I know that is what the manufacturer tells you, but how do you really know until you try :D. The manufacturer of my old mower said not to mow across hills, only up and down but it would have taken me all day to mow if I went straight up and down. I rode on the fender alot but it got the job done. I will say that on the steep parts in my yard, the velke isn't being used and I am sure that this is safer for me than the riding I was doing.
    I do appreciate you looking out for me and I will try to be safe.
  9. Garden Panzer

    Garden Panzer Banned
    from Seattle
    Posts: 313

    I surf steep wet hills on sulkys, even with a belt drive-too. Ever put pine tar on pullys in the Fall?
    BTW Ferris makes one hell of a machine!

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