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What's with mower deck sizes?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by brucec32, Mar 9, 2004.

  1. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    I'm curious how the traditional 36/48 deck sizes became the norm , on walk-behinds especially. The gates I see out there are often sized exactly that way. 36 and 48 inches. And in many cases the mower barely won't fit through the opening, since landscaping often prevents tricks and gymnastics to squeeze them through and the slightly wider overall width of the mower means you're about an inch too wide.

    I would think that mowers sized just a little under these would be more accessable through gates while retaining for all practical purposes identical mowing speed. It might also give you a little more effective "power" since your engine is pushing blades over a little less cutting area.

    Toro, Husqvarna, Gravely, and perhaps some others seem to have recognized this with their 42 and 44" decks. But other big players don't. Exmark sells a Lazer Z with a 44" deck but no wb.

    Also, isn't 48" close enough to 52" anyway?

    My current mower search has been frustrated by the fact that no mower mfg. seems to be able to put it all together (deck width, steering system, adequate engine power, cut quality, etc). They all seem to be missing at least one important feature I need.


    Hustler hydro wb and super wb: 48" is too wide for most gates, 37" is too narrow for the price, and 37" means no 3' gates so sacrificing productivity in deck width comes with no advantages in accessability. No way on that. A major part of my need for a wb in the first place is to get where my 48" lazer won't, which means gated back yards. Also on the expensive side, even with discounts.

    Exmark Turf Tracer HP: ECS steering has its fans, but I don't want to be using my grip strength that much, engaging neutral locks, and moving a speed control lever back and forth to change speed in differing situations. And again 36 too small, 48 too big. Though i would settle for 36" deck.

    Gravely Prosteer H: Promising steering system, decent power, good reports on cut quality, and they make a 44" deck, good price. But alas, for some strange reason they don't make the hydro in a 44" deck size. Doop! Won't custom fit a 44" either. I checked.

    Husqvarna Hydro wb: Comes in 42" deck size. Great. Good balance of accessability and productivity when used in wider areas. Innovative deck height control. Problems are the squeeze to slow steering that I found awkward, somewhat higher price, and a severe lack of dealers in my area. Also somewhat unproven.

    Toro hydro wb: I actually had one of these. 44" deck size is great for me, but T bar hydro is jumpy and not precise. Older models had traction problems but the 44" "classic" deck should solve that. Then they go and put only a 15hp Kohler single on it, which is just plain underpowered, especially for mulching. I bogged on heavy grass with my previous unit even discharging.

    Wright Stander 42". Right deck size. Easy steering. Fun to use, good maneuverability. Good fat tires for traction. Decent power options. Fixed deck is a negative but I could live with it. Mortal flaw is the lack of a true mulching kit with baffles for each blade. I want to mulch heavily landscaped small lots and it just won't do to leave windrows or clumps. Also more expensive than wb's even though I can't see why based on what goes into the thing. Similar hydros, cheaper deck design, etc. Also, not as useful for those near-vertical spots where wb's are often used.

    Great Dane super surfer: Again, 36" and 48" deck sizes only, no serious commitment to mulching technology, quality concerns (paint, belts, dealer service, etc), and like the 36" stander it may be too much weight on too little drive tire.

    Bunton hydro wb: Steering system seems my style, but deck sizes are wrong, dealer network is sparse here, and I don't want to buy anything I can't sell later if I don't like it.
  2. Andyinchville

    Andyinchville LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 270


    Just so you know, alot of "bigger" mowers and fit through a "smaller" opening gate...
    Just have to angle it and finesse it in....
    Of course the size differential can't be extreme but you'd be surprised what can be made to squeese through.

  3. bastalker

    bastalker LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 965

    Its a Florida thing.

    Half the country dont have to deal with gates..... I dont. Thus the 60" decks......
  4. Soupy

    Soupy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,125

    Most people around here put larger gates on when they install a new fence. We still have a lot of older homes with the smaller gates. I don't mow then unless they add a larger gate. I have one customer that is having a larger gate installed this week.

    When I decided to stop using a smaller mower. I offered to pay 1/2 for all my current customers (I only had 3 with small gates) to enlarge their gate. I made the money back with production and the fact I didn't have money invested in smaller equipment.

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