Best mower for my application?

dominatordon

LawnSite Member
Location
Tulsa, OK
I am just a homeowner with a lot of questions before I buy a NEW mower. I have been lurking for some time trying to learn as much as I could, and am now ready to ask some specific questions. Sorry I'm not a pro like you guys and I hope all ya'll don't hate me too much for asking. So here goes. I live outside Tulsa, OK on 5.5 acres of which I currently mow about 2.5 acres. Next year I will probably mow the other 3 acres about 3-4 times a season. The grass is indestructible Oklahoma pasture grass that grows very fast in the spring wet season and slows down a lot in the later summer season. I don't actually like mowing grass very much, so when I do I want to blast through it as fast as possible. I don't mow short grass, so its usually at least 6''-12" before I mow. I don't mow when it's wet. I mow mainly in self defense to keep the number of bloodsuckers within reason and to not look too bad for my neighborhood. I don't mulch or bag and am not real concerned about what you guys call "cut quality". My current slow mower setup (see sig) produces a "cut quality" that you guys would probably classify as "pitiful to disgusting". What I want is "speed of cut". My current rig takes 4-5 hrs to mow and another 3-4 hrs on the weed eater and blower. The yard is non-smooth with ditches, creeks, pond, trees, hills, moles, hardscape, railroad tie terraces, gravel and cement driveways, rocks, tree roots, approx 500' x 250' almost flat wide open ground, etc. I am 63 years old and want this NEW mower to be the last mower I ever have to buy. I can afford most anything I consider "within reason" which stops around $12K. I happen to be a mechanical engineer and have built race cars for at least 50 years, so I know some about engines, hydraulics, belts, pulleys, bearings, frames, and such. I have read a lot about the various ZTR mowers on the web and have looked at Dixie Choppers, EXmark, Bobcat, Husqvarna, and John Deere mowers. Around here in Tulsa, all the big name brand dealers are within 1/2 hr drive. I plan on looking at many other brands before I spend that much money? The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know. Here are some of the major questions I have that I hope some of you very experienced experts would help me with. I think for me "best" means: most reliable, fastest cut speed, most stable/controllable/smooth riding,and best "cut quality", pretty much in that order. Thanks a lot.

1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a front mount deck (such as a Grasshopper front mount) vs. a midmount deck?

2. What are adv/disadv of a rear discharge vs. side discharge deck? Who makes the best type of each?

3. Does more weight (i.e. 1250lbs vs. 1750lbs) help or hurt performance, maneuverability, and traction? What about on hills?

4. What is the "best" brand of engine to get? Is EFI worth getting?

5. I have fairly steep hills in my backyard. Should I get the "bar/lug" type tires? Can they be driven properly and not tear up turf very much? Or will the normal "turf" tires work just fine? Like I said, Oklahoma pasture grass is indestructible, so I'm not too concerned about tearing it up a little for the sake of safety.

6. What I think I want is: Commercial/Industrial quality, 60" deck, at least 27 HP (I think I want more), at least 12 mph speed (I think I want more speed for when grass is drier/shorter), at least 18000 fpm blade tip speed. Is this reasonable or is there a better combination? I prefer quality and reliability over price.

7. Why are Hustlers generally heavier than other brands? Does the extra weight make them better?

8. What are the adv/disadv of the integrated pump/motor/transaxel vs. the separate pump and motor setup? Which would be "best" for my application?

9. Do I need/want high lift blades for my application? How much more fuel do they use?

10. I've noticed Scag does not publish blade tip speeds in their spec sheets for Cheetah and Turf Tiger. Why is this? What are they? I assume that more tip speed is better. Is this correct? Is there much overall real world cutting speed between say 18000 fpm and 19000 fpm?

11. I have been intrigued by info on Scag Cheetah, Hustler Super Z and Super Z HD, and Dixie Chopper Classic and Xcaliber. Of all the mowers out there, which one is the "best" for me for my application? Which one would you spend your own money on for my application?

Thanks very much for any info and opinions you want to share.

Don :usflag:
 

AMC32

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Lincolnton, NC
I'll try to answer some of these as best I can but some I don't really know the answers to

1. Advantages are easier blae changing/ deck cleaning, can get under trees easier and I think they typically scalp a little bit less. Disadvantages are they're longer, more expensive, less common and probably have a little bit more of a learning curve.

2. Rear discharge is great for that bush hogged look. Really only good for frequent cutting when taking off very little grass or for when looks don't matter at all and keeping grass from shooting on everything. Side discharge is best IMO. There is no such thing as best more so just works best for you. Typically JD 7 Iron, Scag Velocity + and Gravely X Factor are at the top. Ferris/ Snapper Pro ICD is also up there.

3. More weight is good for performance on hills and better traction. Maneuverability just takes some getting used to because if you aren't careful it will tear things up. Definitely feel a lot safer with the heavier mower on hills.

4. Again personal preference. I like Kohler but Vanguard is becoming the new favorite but is only available on Snapper Pro and Ferris if I recall correctly. For regular cutting EFI is worth it. For your needs go carbeurated for the consistent power and heavier cutting conditions. As a homeowner the fuel savings wouldn't make a huge difference to you.

5. You can but are not needed. I plan to get some when my current tires go bad. Traction going downhill will pretty much always be bad. They can be driven to not tear up turf, just takes practice. Turf tires do fine for the most part.

6. In reality you'll never mow at top speed so it doesn't matter. You'll beat yourself to death if you do. 8-10 mph is probably the fastest you'd ever want to mow if that. Most mow around 5 or 6 or so. The more horse power the better.

7. Heavier components. Some people might say so but I'm not really familiar with them

8. No idea. I have Hydro gear 5400 transaxles and love em. Not a single problem out of them. Those are most likely what will be on the mower you buy or a similar version

9. Yes, high lift blades are awesome. Cut better and throws the clippings farther. They don't use enough more for you to notice a difference as a home owner

10. I don't know. Probably just a way to get you to call and ask or visit a dealer. Blade tip speed too fast can be bad for cut but I believe most brands are in the same ball park

11. I would probably choose the Scag out of the ones you've listed. I would take a look at John Deere and Gravely too. The Proturn 260 should fit the bill for what you want. If you want to save a lot of money and still get a good mower then check out Snapper Pro. They are a Ferris without the suspension and a whole lot cheaper.

Demo any mower you're interested in if you can to find out what is best for you
 

j4c11

LawnSite Member
The Kubota BX series are about as good as it gets when it comes to build quality and reliability. My boss mowed down 2 foot grass with his, he said it didn't skip a beat.
 

HEMTT

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Snohomish, WA
Don,

I have about twice the grass you do, both finished and pasture type grasses. I also don't want spend too much time doing it. As an FAA licensed aircraft mechanic, I really appreciated the Hustler Hyperdrive. Robust engineering, huge capacity pumps, large 3 gallon reservoir, hot oil shuttle, large remote oil cooler, rigid lines for all high pressure hoses and the best warranty. Is the V4 deck the best? Probably not, but it does a good job and is very well built. With the wavy mulching blades and mulching kit the deck make extremely fine mulch. I do pull the mulching plug and go to high lift blades for my occasional pasture mowing. Did I mention the $1200 seat on the HD? Unless you take one for a test drive, you have no idea what fast mowing is! I get 6 acres mowed in less than 2 hours and much less than that after I get the moles dead and bumpy areas flattened. Parts of my grass are just too bumpy for high speed mowing.

Stuart
 

GoPappy

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Dallas, Texas
A couple of other advantages of the Grasshopper front mount decks are that they ride better than a typical midpoint ZTR and you also have the option of buying additional attachments for it. For example, they have an aerator attachment that reportedly works great, and they have a blower attachment. The Turbine Blower looks amazing.

In my opinion, the advantages listed by AMC32 are the most important. I love being able to raise the deck, clean it and change blades quickly and easily without having to jack up the mower and crawl around on my back. And being able to mow under trees, fences, bushes and other obstructions, or to hang the front of the deck out over a small gully, really reduces trimming time.
 

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