Buying used equipment

Double D

LawnSite Member
Memphis, TN
I am going to look at a 37" Toro wb with flaoting deck Fri. afternoon. The unit has a 12.5hp Kaw, and the owner tells me the unit has around 175 hrs. I started in the business this summer, and am fairly 'green' when it comes to the equipment. If anyone would give me some pointers on what to look for when checking out a used mower, I would forever be in your debt. The guy selling the unit is also a part-timer, and is says he is selling the unit to buy an Exmark ZTR (says he also has an Exmark 36" wb and loves it). What would be a fair price for the unit, and what are some of the 'traps' to look for. He says I can have the unit checked out at my shop (I don't have a shop) if I like.
thank you in advance---
Double D

Richard Martin

LawnSite Fanatic
Greenville, NC
Some of the things you might want to check are:

1: Lift the front of the mower up and see if there is an excessive amount of play in the yokes and front caster wheels. The yoke is the part that holds the wheels and allows them to rotate 360 degrees.

2: While you have the front of the mower up remove the blade belt and engage the blade PTO. Lay under the deck and grab ahold of the end of the blade (it will have 2 blades, do them one at a time). Now push up and down on the end of the blade and see if there is any play. On a mower with 175 hours there should be only a tiny bit of play.

3: Put the blade belt back on and put the mower back down.

3: Now lift the rear of the mower so the back tires are off of the ground. Rotate the rear tires and see if they stick anywhere. They should not. Rotate the tires again and watch the pulleys. They should be straight and true as should the brake drum.

4: Grab ahold of each tire and rock them up and down. There should be no play where the wheel and the axle meet but a small amount where the axle goes through the frame is allowed.

5: Look under the mower and check for oil leaks and condition of pulleys.

6: Put the mower back down.

7: Engage the parking brakes. Grab ahold of the jack-shaft and see if there is any play in either the jack-shaft or transmission. The jack-shaft is the rod that comes out of the side of the transmission. There should be no play here.

8: Check the clutch pulley. It is the one that pushes down on the drive belts and makes the mower go. A small bit of rocking is allowed but play is not.

9: Do the obvious, check the oil, look at the air cleaner, look for oil leaks (the 12.5 is famous for base gasket oil leaks), check the condition of the belts etc.

10: Start the mower up. It should start within 4 pulls. See if the transmission is making any clicking sounds. It should not.

11: Shift the transmission between gears. Is it nice and smooth? It should be.

12: Engage the blades and see if there is a great deal of vibration. A little is allowed, a lot is not.

13: Take the mower out for a test cut and see if you like it.

14: Pay the man!

Double D

LawnSite Member
Memphis, TN
Richard, you are 'da man', just what I was hoping to get. I have printed out your list, and will be ready to put the mower through it's paces. Thanks again
ps what would be a fair price
Double D
I don't have personal exp. with the 37" deck but from what others have said it is not good.

There was a nearly new 37" recycler deck only on e bay that was at a reserve of $300 that did not get even a $10 bid.

It is suppossed to mulch, side discharge and bag but does not "cut" it.

If you are going to buy a a toro belt drive the 52" and then the 44" deck models with twin cyl. engines are the ones to consider.

Old single clyinder 'beaters' can be had for $500 but expect to put another $500 to make it dependable.
Richard I find deals like DD got all the time.

In the winter I found a 52" toro belt 16 hp twin Kohler with a beat up bagging kit and a nearly new toro standard
sit down sulky (now out of production) for $700.
It came with a set on new drive belts, a new set hi lift of blades, and the starter motor was just replaced (they are $150).

It needed about $200 worth of new parts ($100 was for the deck guards that were missing). Since it had well worn original toro drive tires I guess it has only 500-600 hours usage.

Buying these old machines is not for everybody. This machine was missing a gasket for the carb float bowl and was leaking fuel on hills. I also installed a new voltage regulator and pto switch. It takes a while sometime to correct the gremlins of an abusive past.

[Edited by lawrence stone on 11-03-2000 at 02:15 PM]