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2nd Cut with new Z purchase - review

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Mr.Ziffel, Feb 1, 2001.

  1. Mr.Ziffel

    Mr.Ziffel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 291

    I've been cutting 4-6 acres for the past two years with a John Deere F935 72" front mower and wanted to improve the quality of cut and up my speed. I narrowed the choice to Toro, Lazer, Scag, Ferris - had to be 60" with max HP, not Kohler. The reason for my narrow choices is lack of dealers nearby, although I traveled 65 miles north and almost 90 south to check out other machines [There's only water to the west and trees for 3 hours east]. The Ferris dealer seemed fine but machine is not available yet. The Toro and Exmark are from the same dealer, who prefers the Toro deck for discharge in our wet conditions, but I chose the Lazer for its heavier appearing deck and the opinion that it is better for mulching and collection with the UltraVac, if desired later.

    I had the Scag and Exmark dealers bring their machines out within 2 hours of each other and cut one half of my biggest field with each. The Scag started and ran fine. Deck {60" Advantage}height adjustment seemed difficult-I had a hard time seeing what hole the pin went into to change it, although I liked the detent lock feature on the pin. My foot felt awkward when lifting it. When I put in the pto clutch [at half throttle], the whole machine seemed to shudder and then the deck let out a tremendous rattling, shaking shreik from the deck belt/gearbox area. The belts were clearly visible from my seat but I never got around to asking if the cover was missing, but I was always aware of the gearbox and belts and the noise they were making. This was a first cut of October seeded perennial rye which was about 6-8" and wet. It seemed to cut and discharge fairly evenly, although when I got down and looked closely, there were uneven areas and clumps every couple of passes.

    Scag had Kawasaki LC 27HP enginge which backfired and died with a loud pop when I forgot to take brake off before closing handles and when I tripped seat safety. It was placed on rear of machine just like it came out of the box with standard air cleaner and vertical radiator with removable clean-off screen behind seat. This machine although built very heavy, just seemed to have a lot of parts and complicated construction. I don't remember access for oil change, but the engine was not enclosed.

    My overall impression after the test cut was 'well it cut the grass', in other words it was OK but didn't impress me. I could also never and still don't understand the supposed superiority of the gear box pointed out by the dealer. It was noisy and I figured there are belts on either side of it so what's the advantage?

    The Lazer Z 60" 27LC arrived an hour later. It seemed to be a simpler machine with fewer parts--less cluttered. The hand operated height adjustment is easy for me to use--I still haven't seen the foot lift option. The Kawasaki engine is enclosed in a sleek fiberglas cowling behind the seat with a 'wavy' screen on top to catch clippings/dust, etc. and opens easily by releasing two rubber straps. I really liked the canister air filter and the fact that the plugs are very easy to reach [have to take air filter out for the left side one]. Oil change is through a valve which is easily reached on the side and by attaching a short piece of tubing to it no oil will drip down side of machine.

    Engine started and idled smoothly and stopped with a mild pop when I checked safeties. The sound of the machine was very different from the Scag when I dropped in the clutch at 1/2 throttle and then revved it up. It sounded like a jet! As I began cutting the second half, I realized that the grass was even taller [9-11"] on the side I was cutting first as it's along a lower spot which holds moisture. Well, I ran through this section about 200' long and clippings just shot 10' out enveloped in a cloud of spray! The mower was throwing out a rooster tail of spray along with the clippings as it moved through the wet grass. The cut was smooth and even, although there were clumps which fell off the deck after a few passes.

    Both decks cut better than my JD, but the Exmark's was smoother, even in the heavier stuff. Mechanically the Exmark appeared to be more 'engineered', very well thought out, but not overbuilt. Frame, seat, engine,deck all seem very solid and well assembled. The sound of the blades cutting was much more reassuring than the Scag--I was always afraid something would shake loose on it.

    I bought the Lazer. The standard seat is very comfortable even on my roughest area so I won't be getting the suspension seat. I've had no problems lifting the deck by hand but if I find I need to do it more often I can add it easily. I just completed 7.5 hours on the machine and will be changing the oil/filter tomorrow on the initial break-in. Today I used double blades-gators on top, hilift on bottom. I also used some MoDeck which I had bought last year and never really tried out. The cuttings still built up on the deck and fell out occasionally [it's always wet here] but I was able to scrape the deck clean easily with my hand, apparently because of the spray.

    Sorry this is so long, but I hope someone looking to buy a new mower can benefit from this as I have done from so many of your posts. The main advice I will give is to make them demonstrate the mower at a place of your choosing and compare them side by side if possible. Ironically, the Scag dealer is a social acquaintance of mine and I've had good dealings with him in the past and would have no hesitation about buying from him. The Lazer dealer and I had a problem a couple of years ago and he really worked hard at earning my trust again [but not until he knew I was in the market for this machine] and gave me a very competitive price. I've had good reports on his service from other users--there's a half dozen guys with these machines within a mile of me. Good luck to you. Will M.
  2. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    Gee, I just wish you could have demo'd a Chopper. Then the rest of the world would really know!

    Good luck with the Lazer. I have an older Scag that shakes a little when I engage the electric clutch. It has never given me any problems, smooths right out once you shoot the gas to it.

    Between the 2 I feel like you got the better machine.
  3. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
    Messages: 4,830

    You guys cutting grass make me want to cry. All I see out in my back yard is snow and more coming. 2 more months before we even think about cutting grass. Oh well, it will be cloudy tomorrow so the ground hog won't see his shadow which means an early spring. :D
  4. GreenQuest Lawn

    GreenQuest Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 822

    i have mowed with lazers for years (8 at a previous employer) and bought a 60" when i started my own business. the main problem i've seen with them is the ability (in the wrong hands) to throw clippings all over everything. Ive seen guys throw clippings 7 feet high on buildings. and i think if you close your eyes after engaging those blades you would swear you were flying one! Great product. One note change the hydro fluid filter more than recommended (i think it says 250 hrs or yearly) i had a problem with mine bogging down when in not so heavy grass. only about 150 hrs since last filter change. not wanting to overlook a stupid problem, i changed the filter (before i took it in). problem solved.
  5. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    Congratulations, Mr Ziffel. And welcome to the world of Exmark. Oh, how I envy you to be out cutting grass. Why can't someone invent or design a game for Sony or Nintendo having to do with mowing. Even virtual reality would be cool! :)
  6. Greenkeepers

    Greenkeepers LawnSite Senior Member
    from NE Ohio
    Messages: 695

    Congrats Mr. Ziffel-

    Got to love the Lazers!!!!! Grass, hmmmmm it that the green stuff under all the snow on the ground. Lucky man..

    Good luck w/ the lazer.
  7. jaybee

    jaybee LawnSite Member
    Messages: 128

    Buying another Lazer was a no brainer for me. I get my 27hp next month and then I get to look at it for a month in my garage. Thanks for the thorough evaluation of the two products. My Exmark dealer is so small that there is no such thing as a demo.
  8. Mr.Ziffel

    Mr.Ziffel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 291

    Thanks for the replies so far. Homer and Eric, I would definitely have demo'd the Chopper but the closest dealer is over 4 hours away. Jaybee, my dealer is very small and didn't have a demo either, but after I talked to the factory the distributor arranged to have one sent up. That was another factor in Exmark's favor--I had spent about 3o minutes on the phone with a factory engineer getting some technical info and I told him I was frustrated in trying to see and ride one of these mowers - he got ahold of the right people who made it happen. I've since talked to them in depth about an OCDC and they were very responsive. Will
  9. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    The factory rep I know has been great also. He was a big reason I bought the Z. I know I can count on exmark to help if needed.

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