Advice with choosing a walk behind

jay_b

LawnSite Member
Location
Southern Ohio
I'm a homeowner looking for my next mower. I have a yard that's about 6/10 acre. My lawn is a mix of fescue and bluegrass (Ohio). Currently using an old 21 inch lawn boy. I'd like to upgrade to something larger to reduce mowing time. I was looking at something 30 to 36 inches (primarily to preserve garage space, and figured that could navigate beds a little easier)

Here's what I'm looking to get out of it.
1) faster mowing time
2) I'd prefer to mulch and still get a decent cut. Assuming I can get a mow in faster, I don't mind mowing twice a week during spring / fall growing seasons, or double cutting to clean up any clumps.
3) Something reliable and that I can maintain myself. I don't mind changing filters, oil, sharpening blades, etc, as long as it's not a huge ordeal.

I was looking at something like
- Ferris FW15 (Also looked at the Scag SFC30, but ruled that out after reading reviews)
- 36 hydro walk behinds (not brand partial, but was looking at the Scag SWZT, Ferris Fw25 or similar)
- open to other suggestions

Here's some of the questions I have
1) Is there that much of a difference between say an FW15 and a dual hydro in terms of cut and speed?
2) How would maintenance compare on a dual hydro compared to say an FW15?

My preference now is slightly toward a 36 dual hydro (assuming I can find one at a decent price), but wasn't sure if that was total overkill for my scenario.

Any advice / suggestions are appreciated.
 

Freaky Fido

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Northeast USA
I'm a homeowner looking for my next mower. I have a yard that's about 6/10 acre. My lawn is a mix of fescue and bluegrass (Ohio). Currently using an old 21 inch lawn boy. I'd like to upgrade to something larger to reduce mowing time. I was looking at something 30 to 36 inches (primarily to preserve garage space, and figured that could navigate beds a little easier)

Here's what I'm looking to get out of it.
1) faster mowing time
2) I'd prefer to mulch and still get a decent cut. Assuming I can get a mow in faster, I don't mind mowing twice a week during spring / fall growing seasons, or double cutting to clean up any clumps.
3) Something reliable and that I can maintain myself. I don't mind changing filters, oil, sharpening blades, etc, as long as it's not a huge ordeal.

I was looking at something like
- Ferris FW15 (Also looked at the Scag SFC30, but ruled that out after reading reviews)
- 36 hydro walk behinds (not brand partial, but was looking at the Scag SWZT, Ferris Fw25 or similar)
- open to other suggestions

Here's some of the questions I have
1) Is there that much of a difference between say an FW15 and a dual hydro in terms of cut and speed?
2) How would maintenance compare on a dual hydro compared to say an FW15?

My preference now is slightly toward a 36 dual hydro (assuming I can find one at a decent price), but wasn't sure if that was total overkill for my scenario.

Any advice / suggestions are appreciated.
Disclaimer - I've never run or researched any of those mowers - too small for my needs and not brands I've owned.

I'm in my 20th season running a 48 inch Exmark hydro walk-behind (usage is mixed with zero-turn riding machines).

With a dual hydro their is no muscling of the machine at all (unless you're on extreme slopes). They're very easy to operate and productive. You will have to muscle the FW15 around and it could get tiresome. There's also belt drive machines in the 32 and 36 inch range but they lack a true reverse do aren't as maneuverable.as a hydro machine. Still pretty nice if you haven't been spoiled by hydro machines, lol.

You can often find used machines in that size range, both belt driven and hydro with low hours. Some were owned by professionals who found they just don't use them enough or no longer need them as well as from homeowner's like yourself.

Personally I'm partial to Exmark walk-behind mowers but price could be an issue. What's your budget anyway?
 

Youngandfree

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
VA
I'd avoid belt drives. Don't get pistol grips either. I hear complaints of the scag hydro WB having stiff controls causing hand fatigue I've never used one, but have considered it and it is a factor to me.

What is your budget? Snapper Pro WB is made by Ferris and is solid and a bit cheaper. Maybe a used 36" stand on mower depending on your lawn layout. You'd have it done in 30 minutes or less.

The one of the Toro 30" push gets good marks. @Hurryupelectric can chime in on those.
 

Hurryupelectric

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Charleston
I run the toro turfmaster (one of the 30” mowers), occasionally. I normally wouldn’t recommend it for mulching but if you’re seriously mowing twice a week, eh, mayyyybbbee. Definitely not in the spring and honestly, I wouldn’t even have it on my trailer if not for crazy small gates. They’re cumbersome and will become annoying after a while. Let’s go with probably not the mower for an all season mulcher. The Turfmaster is the commercial timemaster, which is lighter and probably much easier to maneuver. It still might not perform well in your spring growth, again depending on mowing intervals. I wouldn’t gamble on the 30” models without a very specific need like small gates. People love them and hate them.
what about a prosumer ztr? I don’t have any input on those but if you’re talking fw15 a well built semi commercial might be the hot ticket. You can bag leave in the fall, have plenty of power for mulching and be quick like a bunny mowing. Just a thought I’m interested in the prosumer suggestions as I would like to recommend one to a friend who dabbles in the business. I’m also curious about prosumer walk behinds, I don’t know if that’s a thing. Bradley mowers has some supposedly great mowers on the cheap-ish.
 

sagesove

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
on this rock
You will have to muscle the FW15 around and it could get tiresome.

@jay_b

Please throw out this posters advice on the FW15. He said he has never run one OR even researched it.

We run 4 FW15's every day. The machine, in our opinion, was engineered to be the best at side discharging. That is the scenario we use them in. It definitely can mulch although it is never quite a perfect cut. No mower leaves a 100% table top cut, especially while mulching. The other plus is that the FW15 is not hard to use at all. Unless your property is all hills, and generally steep ones, the Ferris works just fine. The FW15 is by far easier to run than our commercial Honda 21 inch HRC216's. Caster wheel fronts for the win on the FW15. I think the FW15 could even excel more at mulching if manufacturers would hurry up and make better mulching blades for it.

Have your Ferris dealer contact the Ferris district rep and they can get a product specialist to bring you a demo Ferris FW15 to run on your lawn. Great way to check out a mower before you purchase.
Also the FW15 is pretty easy to do all your own maintenance on.

On another note, I would also not hesistate to purchase an FW25 either. They are great machines overall.(you could also demo one of them as well.)
 
OP
J

jay_b

LawnSite Member
Location
Southern Ohio
Thanks all - this is all good information.
I'll try and field some of the questions.

For budget, would like to keep around 4K, maybe 4.5K. I intend for this to last a good 15 - 20 years, especially if it's only used on a residential basis.

I had looked at some of the prosumer (that's a nice term) ztr.
I hadn't seriously looked at those. I thought a walk might be able to get up to beds and under tress a little bit easier. Plus have a couple of spots where there's a bit of a steeper grade. (it's just around one side of the house and for about 6-8 feet where the land was graded around the house). I have no doubt it could be mowed with a ztr with the right technique.

I haven't actually seen an FW15 in person yet. Planning on running over this week to check it out.

@sagesove - with your experience on the FW15, how does the mowing time compare with something like an FW25 over a residential yard in the half acre ballpark?
 

Cdub2

LawnSite Member
Location
Ohio
@jay_b I'm just north of Cincy and have had a 32" single-hydro walk-behind (Better Outdoor Products) for my ~1/2 acre lot for about 15 years. I can mow my yard which has a decent amount of trees, other landscaping, and a fence in about 45min if I'm hustling.

I love it! I can't see ever going back to a smaller mower (I was using a 21" Toro) with a lot my size , and for as much as I have to back up, Hydro is the way to go if your budget allows it. In fact, my next one will have dual-hydro and may be a 36".

Because BOP is out of business, I'm having a hard time finding parts and I thought I was going to have to buy something new last year, but a fellow forum member had some spare parts for me. I was considering the FW15 as a suitable replacement.

FWIW, after a few years I decided to give up mulching until after the wet spring months and so I just spread the clippings, no bagging, and the results are still excellent. I do use high lift blades.

In ~15 years, I've only put on about ~500 hours, mostly mowing my yard and a couple of neighbors'. Guys here can easily put on that many hours in 1 season. My mower starts in 1 pull and after a quick washing would look almost brand new. If my experience is any indicator, you could easily get 15-20 years out your mower.

On this thread there's a picture of the 36" version of what I have, except mine has the Briggs engine.
 

Freaky Fido

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Northeast USA
@jay_b

Please throw out this posters advice on the FW15. He said he has never run one OR even researched it.

We run 4 FW15's every day. The machine, in our opinion, was engineered to be the best at side discharging. That is the scenario we use them in. It definitely can mulch although it is never quite a perfect cut. No mower leaves a 100% table top cut, especially while mulching. The other plus is that the FW15 is not hard to use at all. Unless your property is all hills, and generally steep ones, the Ferris works just fine. The FW15 is by far easier to run than our commercial Honda 21 inch HRC216's. Caster wheel fronts for the win on the FW15. I think the FW15 could even excel more at mulching if manufacturers would hurry up and make better mulching blades for it.

Have your Ferris dealer contact the Ferris district rep and they can get a product specialist to bring you a demo Ferris FW15 to run on your lawn. Great way to check out a mower before you purchase.
Also the FW15 is pretty easy to do all your own maintenance on.

On another note, I would also not hesistate to purchase an FW25 either. They are great machines overall.(you could also demo one of them as well.)
I can live with that. That's why I was sure to put a disclaimer right up front. :)
 

Valk

LawnSite Platinum Member
Location
KS
My Ferris FW15's quality of cut improved once I removed the removable baffle at the rear of the chute. Fwiw, I got the go-ahead from the Ferris support/tech guys prior to doing this.

Recently, I purchased a second FW15 and can say my first one w/ over 800 hours on it is just as solid feeling as this new one.

IFF purchasing an FW15, do yourself a favor and order a Drainzit.com HON1420-C.DRA oil drain tube kit to install AFTER draining out the break-in oil at ~20 hours. This will make future oil changes a >SNAP< w/ no messy cleanup.
 

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