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Best w/b mower set up for a one man operation...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by JonM, Jan 7, 2006.

  1. JonM

    JonM LawnSite Member
    Messages: 46

    With 2005 now behind me, I can honestly say that I have learned so much from trial and error. My Exmark Metro 36 with Grass Gobbler has served me very well, but I feel that with a more efficient set up so I can do more with less effort. After all, time is money... right?

    My current accounts range in size from 4,000 to 36,000 square feet, with most on the smaller side. For 2006, I am planning on obtaining more smaller high-end full service accounts.

    I was thinking a walk behind mower, 48 to 54 inch cut, hydro, full floating deck, and powerful enough to pull a velke (I only weigh 170lb). It is between Exmark, Scag, and John Deere... all 3 dealers are nearby and have great product support. I would prefer either a Kawi or Honda engine on the mower. I want to get the most out of the machine... it would be used for spring and fall clean ups, both picking up thatch from dethatching the lawns, and also for picking up leaves in the fall. I don't really want to empty a side catcher every couple minutes, so I was thinking of getting a TracVac 470. Due to bed layout, side discharging isn't really an option. I also realize height comes into play, but I figure being 6'3" and standing on the velke, I can get away with it. I would use the Trac Vac for clean ups and during the prime of the growing season, and then use a side catcher once it slows down. I'm sure someone will mention a ZTR, but due to the layout, hills, and property size, a w/b is really my only option.

    I plan to keep the cost of this set up below $8,000 and believe it to be fairly feasible. As far as my core unit, the important things I am looking for are cut quality, durability, stripe, ease of maintenance, and longevity. I'm trying to find a mower to do it all (eliminate the need almost entirely for a 21" and to sell my Metro). It seems as though each has its' own high and low points, so I am looking for the input from those with more experience than myself, I am always eager to learn.

    I ask you to post your comments, experiences, and both positive and negative input on the topic. Constructive criticism is always welcome... I feel as though this seems like a good set up for me, but I could be wrong. I don't want this to turn into a "mower x is better than mower y" session. I hope to get feedback on both my mower choices and the effectiveness of the TracVacs with leaves and thatch. Even feel free to post a picture or two... "a picture is worth a thousand words... right? I have done some research on this before, but haven't found anything specifically regarding this issue.

    I apologize for being so lengthy, but I wanted to give a complete background before I posted. I think this is a worthy post of some good veteran input, so post away! Thank you in advance... JonM :)
  2. Duck Dodger

    Duck Dodger LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 347

    I would get an Exmark turf tracer 52'. I never bagged with that machine but it will knock out some grass.
  3. Thirdpete

    Thirdpete LawnSite Member
    from Chicago
    Messages: 236

    I would say, for a WB, get a 48 and a 32, either bobcat or scag. You can get a hydro 48 and a belt 32, i believe, for under 8 thousand. the 48 is big enough for smaller yards without looking obnoxious or being too big to use and is just fine for bigger lawns. the 32 will fit into 99 percent of gates, is good to use at gas stations and other places like that where the parkways are full of trees, street lights, etc. overall, i would say these two mowers would be the best way to go.
  4. greengiant9963

    greengiant9963 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 762

    All three mowers are good products. You might try a demo model with each and see which one works the best for you. You mentioned that I ZTR would not work in your situation but what about a stand on mower. Where I lived that is what everyone is switching over to it seems. They don't take up much trailer space and save alot of time over a walkbehind.
  5. JonM

    JonM LawnSite Member
    Messages: 46

    Thank you to those who responded to my post. I was hoping that with all the landscapers on the site I would have gotten more feedback than I did... anyway, I plan on demoing the 3 w/b mowers and then a stander to see how each one works in my situation. If anyone has anything else to add, please do so...
  6. jtkplc

    jtkplc LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,656

    Definetly give a Stander a try. You can get one for under $8,000. The only walkbehind I would ever own would be 32-36 for gated back yards and such. Any larger deck size and I would get a 52" Stander, they will go just about anywhere. I don't know what your accounts look like, if they are hilly or not, but from my experience, Standers are awesome. You'll have to use your own judgement to see how they would compare to a walkbehind on your accounts. You can accomplish much more with a 52" Stander than you could with a 52" walkbehind. All I can say is demo one and see what you think.
  7. beautifullawns

    beautifullawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 313

    I like the Bobcat mowers, i have a 36" with velke and it pulls me fine (325lbs).
    It stripes amazingly, and i haven't had a problem yet in the 2 years i have had it.
  8. Doc Pete

    Doc Pete LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,469

    If you are FT, you need at least 2 mowers. You must have a good backup. Myself, I have a dedicated WB, size 48”, and dedicated rider 54" (WB with bullrider setup for 10 mph). Both are hydro so you can mow in the damp/wet/rain if needed.
    Actually, I have 4 machines, but I’ve been in business 20 years.
    Belts can slip with little wetness, or can grab too much from the same amount of wetness.
    If this is your job, the right equipment makes all the difference and is the only thing that “money” can make easier.

    my mower.jpg

    BESTYARDS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 26

    Doc, good looking trio of HUSTLERS. Are you solo?

    Bob H
  10. Something D

    Something D LawnSite Member
    from East TN
    Messages: 133

    I am solo with a SCAG 48 Hydro. I love it. I do have a 21 in Honda as well.

    I have not had any problems out of the Scag. Easy to maintain and cuts great.

    The only suggestion I would have is base your decision on dealer support.

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