Why do I need a hydro walkbehind?!?!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by 2k1yzfr1, Sep 23, 2004.

  1. 2k1yzfr1

    2k1yzfr1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 539

    I've been mowing with belt drive 36" mowers for the past 5 years, but keep reading on here and everyone makes it sound like hydros are a gift from god. I've never seen the point in spending $4000 on something I am going to walkbehind when a $2500 belt drive does great. In my eyes if I am going to spend $4000-5000 on a mower I would spend a couple grand more and get one with a nice seat with arm rests.
    A few weeks ago I got the chance to try out a older 48" scag ultimate hydro and absolutely hated it. The hydros were really jumpy and just felt really "different" compared to my other mowers. I'm assuming not all hydros are like this from all the post on here talking about how great a hydro walk behind is. In the smaller 48" and less sized mowers what is the advantage of a hydro?? I've never had to use reverse just because of how light a 36" mower is and being 6'4" 250 I don't have a problem manuvering the mower around.
    Anyways I went to my dealer today thinking about getting rid of my 36" side discharge scag and replacing it with a 44" mower of some sort. Since I have a 52" Z500 as my main mower I don't think I want to spend another 5000-6000 on a 44" Z, so that leaves me with a Gravely belt drive fixed deck for about $2500 or a toro sfs floating belt for $3500. The easy height of cut adjustment of the floater doesn't matter since we cut at 3" or 3.25".

    Alright now that all these thoughts that have been going through my head are out in the open what do y'all think I should do??
  2. MJLsLawnCareNmoreLLC

    MJLsLawnCareNmoreLLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 841

    Belt drive WB's are all Ive ever used. I cant imagine spending the extra money for something that works so well with just belts. I agree it can be hard to pull a belt drive 48" WB sometimes, but its not impossible. Getting anything under a 48" WB with a hydro would be over doing it. A big downside to belt drives that I see a lot of guys complain about is no true reverse. Well I have a 95' 48" Exmark Viking that has a 5 speed trans with a reverse geare. Mind you that the vikings are like the cadilac of exmark wb's, buy its almost 10 years old. My 36" JD is so easy to pull backwards that I would use that vs. a reverse gear. Another downside is guys say "Its a pain to back a WB off a trailer without reverse" I just squeeze the brake levers to the point that it puts the mower in neutral and pull it off the trailer then start it. My Viking with the Reverse gear, I do the same only I put it in the nuetral gear and pull. I can see the advantage of hyrdo wb's in larger mowers but anything over 48"-52" I would get a ztr or a stander.
  3. MTR

    MTR LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 1,280

    Ah...you already have 52" Z 500 as your main...so for fact finding, stop using your Z for a week or two, instead cutting your acounts , all of them with your 36" belt, pretending you don't have a Z, then you will find true answer!
    I bet you sweat your butt out real good, like cutting 40 accounts with a 36" belt...by yourself. I hang my gloves on this one...:))
  4. ScCo

    ScCo LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 251

    I have one spot in particular that I can think of that is just about 40" wide, and about 50ft. long. It is a spot between a shop building and a fence that is inside a backyard that I have to use my 36" dual hydro on. At the end of that piece of turf you run into the other side of the fence which means you have to back out the same tracks that you came in through. The dual hydro is nice in situations like that.

    Otherwise I'd have to mow the rest of that are with the 36", go back to the trailer to get the 21" running, then go back to the uncut area, cut it, and back to the trailer again to put up the 21". Needless to say, time is saved and money is made with the dual hydro 36".

    I have more than just that one instance where it is handy, but that is the worst of them.

    Can you do without a dual hydro....of course you can.

    I don't want to do without one though
  5. Big Wes

    Big Wes LawnSite Member
    Posts: 247

    If you use a Velke, the Hydro would be the better choice. Over the years I've found that Velke's are hard on the peerless tranny's especially if you have some body weight on you. i.e. 200+ lbs. I think the Hydro will hold up much better for that type of application. JMHO :)
  6. LCME

    LCME LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 430

    The lawn surface should dictate the mower you use. If you're cutting flat, smooth, straight, dry lawns then belt should be fine. If you're mowing uneven, twisted, hilly, wet and many obstacles to go around then hydro is the way to go. Hydro, floating deck and sulky worth every penny. My 2 cents. Good luck, LCME :drinkup:
  7. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Posts: 3,010

    this seems like reasonable advice. I don't do a velke so I dunno.

  8. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Posts: 3,010

    this comment makes no sense to me as I see things. sorry. hydro MAY BE the way to go but not for the reasons listed.

    the only thing I can't do with my belt drive that a hydro should be able to do is go in to instant reverse and back up hills in reverse and possibly pull a velke/sulky.

    wet conditions like dewey grass or light rain makes the belts on my unit grabby and pulls even better.

  9. 2k1yzfr1

    2k1yzfr1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 539

    I guess hydros are great on a walkbehind when used in wet hilly conditions unlike anything we have here in Texas. 90% of my yards are flat as a pancake and I've never had any problem with my belt slipping even after a 3" rain, wadding through ankle deep water. I can see if I had a 48" floater or a 52" mower where the extra 200-300 lbs would make throwing the mower around a little more of a chore, but I just can't see why someone would spend $4500 on a 36" floating deck hydro. Seems to me if you are scalping yards around here with a 36" you need to find another means of income. The ability to adjust the deck from 1.5" to 4" doesn't matter, since all of my St Augustine is cut at 3.25 and my bermuda and crap yards are cut at 3"

    Between the 2500 fixed 44 gravely and the 3500 44 floating toro which would you choose?? Both have the same 15 kawasaki.
  10. RobH

    RobH LawnSite Member
    Posts: 142

    I've used belt all my life as well. However, this year I upgraded to a 48" Scag Hydro w/b. I wouldn't go back to belt. I think it is worth every penny.

    I definitely noticed at first that the machine seemed a lot more jumpy. This is because I am used to squeezing the levers on a belt drive to get it to turn. On a hydro it is a much softer squeeze or feathering of the grips. It took me a while to get used to this. It takes so much less of a squeeze to get the machine to turn left or right. They say it is a tougher adjustment to get used to a hydro when you are so used to belt drive machines. Guys that start off on a hydro usually have an easier time steering.

    As far as reverse goes, having instant reverse is a nice feature. Incline/declines or just cutting in/around stuff it is nice to have the machine doing all the work for you. It bascially cuts down on fatigue. Maybe not so much on a 36" belt drive for it is a lighter machine than a 48" belt drive.

    However, over the long haul, most guys hear will say go hydro or would if they could.

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