ZD-331 Review

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by sricks, Jan 27, 2007.

  1. sricks

    sricks LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 16

    Got to use the ZD-331 for about 2 hrs yesterday evening. As promissed here are my initial thoughts:

    First, let me say that there are few if any simularities between the 300 series and the original ZD series. Looks like Kubota basically started from scratch. New frame, new deck design, new seat and controls. If you see one side by side with the older series, you will really be shocked. The 300 series is not an "upgrade", it is a new product. Not sure how long they will continue to sell the original ZD series, but it now strikes me a a "homeowner" product while the 300 series is the true "commercial" series.

    The frame is higher off the ground to accomodate the extra inch in deck height. It also has a slightly higher level of ground clearance when the deck is fully lifted. But the ROP folds lower so I don't think there is a net change in tree clearence.

    While on deck lifting, the controls now reside on the floor with separate pedals for down and up. Lift speed borders on being "instant". It is many times faster than the original series. Same anti-scalp rollors so no change there. The deck seems to clear grass much faster. This is due to the wider chute area and a changed baffling system. I have not tried it in thick wet grass since most of what I was cutting was dead grass with some rye grass and clover mixed in. Cut is impressive with the new higher tip speed, but can't really evaluate without the thick wet grass we'll get later in the spring. i really like the mid deck access plate, now those u-joints will get grease on schedule. A remote fuel shut valve is also there as well.

    The parking brake is now pedal acutated with a floor lock. Much better and easier to operate. The old system was cumbersome. Overall the floor deck is a little wider and has less slope up front, but enough to plant your feet against when going downhill.

    The seat is a big improvement. Much more cushion and a better suspension that pivots foward as it moves down. This give the effect of cushioning the bounce better. It is an attempt to imitate the "active" seat suspension as found in my larger row crop tractors. It works well and is a big improvement.

    The remaining controls like throttle, PTO and guages reside on the right panel that is moved forward relative to the older series. No more having to look back. A sensor light tells you when the slave tank is empty and then the fuel gauge indicates the remaining level in the main tank.

    The engine seem quieter and of course more powerfull but it should with 10 more cubic inches. I also felt like it had better torque, but here again, spring grass will tell. It has a heavy duty air cleaner about twice as large as the original series and has a vacuum gauge indicator to give you a quick visual review of status. Nice clean compartment with a much larger radiator and radiator grill that folds back with the hood. This will make it much easier and faster to clean. A larger hydro fluid cooler is also obvious.

    Now for the transmission. This is what drove me to trade in the first place. I was on my second and did not want to get hit with an 2K invoice out of warranty. The transmission is totally different and physically much larger while keeping some of the original design concepts. External charge pump makes all the difference and the lack of one on the original (besides some machining issues) was one of the major reasons for the problems in the old series (besides it being too small). The transmission is amazingly quiet. No more loud hum or grind. It is almost silent.

    The controling is also different. Not sure what they changed, but it feels like the actuation speed shifts as you move the handles forward. When going slow, more movement is required but a you increase speed, less movement makes bigger changes. This has the effect of giving you better control when manuvering but when you want to speed up, no problem. I tended to tear up less grass while manuvering in tight spaces and did not get "jerked" around. Basically, I felt like I had better control with the new system. As I said, I don't now what they changed in the controls but I think it is a big improvement over the old series and the other brands I tried prior to sticking with Kubota.

    If anyone else has one yet I would be interested in your thoughts. These are just my initial impressions. Obviously the proof will be in the long term performance.


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