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Commercial 30 or 36 Walk-Behind

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing Equipment' started by JonesLawnCareWV, May 9, 2014.

  1. JonesLawnCareWV

    JonesLawnCareWV LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 266

    Exmark Commercial 30 or Exmark Walk-behind?

    Got approved for the GE Capital Credit Card through Exmark's site, to my surprise. I don't have much of a credit history as I have only one other Credit Card in my name, and currently no other bills aside from my car insurance and my business insurance. I applied because I'm looking to get a commercial mower and get away from my homeowner gear that is being bogged down a lot by this quick spring growth.

    The new mower I'm looking for will be my main mower, and ran somewhere around 15-20 hours a week in the spring time, likely to slack back a bit once the summer heat slows things down.

    I know the Exmark 30's have had good and bad reviews, and seem to be hit-or-miss on transmission problems. The local Exmark dealer said he sells at least 2 a week (this season) and sold probably 50 of them last season, and has yet to have purchasers return them for repair service due to the transmission. He claimed the only service he has done to these models is the typical maintenance and occasional repairs due to abuse or misuse. I also know that the Commercial 30 is jack-of-three, master of none type of mower. I'm definitely looking for a mower that can perform all three: bag, mulch, discharge; and provide a nice finished cut in all three situations. I do have a concern about the 30" with regard to the single speed transmission. Wondering how sore my hands will be after a few hours of only partially pulling the transmission lever, rather than pulling it all the way and having to run behind the mower. From what I understand, it holds itself on moderate slopes pretty well. Any serious slopes I would be using my current 22" on anyways, as it could climb the rockies as long as I could keep up with it.

    My only real consideration of Walk-Behinds would be the 36" Turf Tracer Hyrdo S-Series with Floating deck. First off, I don't want a fixed deck WB if I'm purchasing it brand new. I also don't want a belt drive; I have FAR too many yards that would require reverse upon reverse, and I don't want to have to deal with gear-switching all day long. Also, I quesetion how many of my back yards I would be able to use the walkbehind in. I have no doubt the 30" would fit all my back gates, but the 36" would be questionable on many. And honestly, the 36" wouldn't fit several spots in a few of the yards, so a trim mower will still have to be used.

    Also, $5,000 is my cap, and I don't know that I can get the 36 TT Hydro/Floating Deck for that price. From what I've read, they're closer to 6k.

    I'm ultimately leaning towards the Commercial 30, but wanted to hear some other opinions on my situation.
  2. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,506

    Two different mowers for two different uses.

    A 36 hydro can't compare to a push mower in no way shape or form

    Belts aren't that bad. Nor is a fixed deck for 36. So look at the metro with hydro
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. Blanks landscaping

    Blanks landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 52

    32 will fit through any gate 36 won't fit through them all. Most gates in my area my mower just fits through and I have a 32 metro. I don't think you need a floating deck on a mower that size.
  4. echo

    echo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,696

    36 hydro. You'll make up the price difference with efficiency in a week...but I dont take work a 36 cant get to unless it pays extremely well with a 21. Wouldn't own a belt drive. Its way too much like work, especially if you have hilly lawns. Also wouldnt consider a disposable 30...unless if/when they get all the kinks worked out.
    Posted via Mobile Device
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
  5. mwalz

    mwalz LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,178

    I have a Toro 36" belt drive, similar to exmark, and it's awesome. 36" can't compare to a 30" especially with a sulky. I would go for the 36".
  6. OakNut

    OakNut LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,104

    Here's what I did after mowing my first season with a 21" Toro Super Recycler.

    I bought a 36" Ferris dual hydro. I installed a mulch kit on it almost immediately.
    (also, I have no experience with a 30" mower, but I DO want one to add to the arsenal)

    All the tough guys will tell you you don't need a hydro and that "you don't need to back up". None of them have ever cut one of my lawns. I need to back up all the time. Even if I didn't, why would I want to PULL a mower backwards when I can gently squeeze the levers an eighth of an inch and back that MOFO up as fast, or as slow as I so choose?
    Buy what you want though - that's what I did. I took all the info I could find on the pros/cons of hydro vs belt and decided that EASE OF USE trumps every other consideration. You may feel otherwise - no big deal - we're all different.

    Some random thoughts on MY purchase 36" walk behind...

    The best thing about the walk behind was that it will DEVOUR grass that a 21" mower would choke on.
    It's faster than a "push mower" in both ground speed and width of cut.
    It's built to last.
    It allows me access to back yards with gates.
    It will get you chicks. Well, I can't guarantee it, but I DID once have a girl say "I LIKE your big mower", with a mischievous grin, so...

    All of my lawns are on the small side as a result of having started out using a 21" mower. I couldn't initially use my 36" mower on just about ANY of them using the side discharge because I was blowing clippings EVERYWHERE they SHOULDN'T be. No matter what direction I pointed it, I had crap going where it shouldn't be - the mowing areas were just not large enough to side discharge.

    For lawns with lots of irregular humps and dips, and banks, and twists and turns, the larger deck (even if it's just a 36) creates a challenge to prevent scalping. I'm in western PA, so there are hills EVERYWHERE and most lawns are NOT smooth.

    After installing the mulch kit, it's almost useless in heavy, spring growth - the grass just clumps and makes a mess because it's trying to mulch too much grass. It's not like you can just "switch" to a bagger either- the mulch baffles are bolted on, so if the grass is too high to mulch, I need to drag out the 21" mower and bag it.

    Lawns that get soft when wet can be problematic for a heavy mower.

    30"? 36"? Ultimately, it depends on the lawns you cut/intend to cut.

    Ideally we would all have a variety of mowers at our disposal for any given situation, but when you're starting out, you sort of tend to try and get something that can be versatile.
    My 36" walk behind is PERFECT for some of my lawns and it SUCKS for others.
    I'm pretty sure the same could be said for any mower including the 30" mower that I plan to eventually get just to give me another tool to use.

    Good luck in whatever you choose!
  7. JonesLawnCareWV

    JonesLawnCareWV LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 266

    My concerns with a fixed deck walk-behind is that most of my lawns, and lawns in general in my area, are unlevel and often have high spots/low spots. I don't like the idea of a fixed deck as I will likely be leaving scalped spots in many locations. Belt drive is non-negotiable. I've used a belt-drive Ferris and hated the way it worked. I've also used a Comfort Control DD (hydro) and absolutely loved the simplicity in mowing and not having to change gears all the time. The metro is the one with the "reverse assist" and single hydro, correct? Lot of effort in turning and reverse, no? If I'm going to be investing a few thousand in a walk behind, it better turn and reverse on its own power, and preferably require no gear shifting. I thought about the Viking, but I'm still not completely sure about the fixed deck and scalping. Another issue with a walk-behind is that my trailer does not have a ramp gate. I will have to build or purchase ramps for now to get a walk-behind in and out of my current trailer until an upgrade can be done. With the commercial 30, I could push down on the handle to prop the front wheels up to the back of the trailer, then pick the back up to slide it further into the trailer (this is what I'm doing with my current 21" and 22".)

    Do fixed decks really scalp as much as I've read about, or are those claims over exaggerated?

    Anyone have a roundabout idea of what a 36" Viking runs? Dealer won't be open until Monday.

    Perhaps Monday I'll just make a trip to the dealer and see if I can't demo my options. I'd really love a walk-behind because it would drastically open the possible properties I could maintain. However, I still question how many properties I could actually use it on.
  8. JonesLawnCareWV

    JonesLawnCareWV LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 266

    Thanks for the info. I've admired your setup for awhile; love the 36wb w/ the SR4 backup/trim mower and the small trailer and such. Mainly because thats what I've been wanting for some time now. I'm in the Charleston area of WV. Mountains and valleys everywhere. Maybe 1/4 of my lawns are on flat ground rather than a hillside (some gentle, some steep). Of that 1/4, probably only 1/2 of those are smooth and have no high/low spots. Thats why I'm so concerned about scalping with a fixed deck. I also don't like the thoughts of having a bolted on mulch kit that can't be changed. But a side-bagger on a WB would really hinder where I can mow. I have several yards that have a passage down the side of the house to get to the back yard that a 36" would barely fit. Toss a bagger on there and I can't go anywhere. Same with side discharge: it would be everywhere.

    The 30 seems to be the best fit as of right now, as I don't have a many lawns big enough to justify a 36" wb. The Efficiency increase would be nice, but I don't know how much time a 36wb would save when having to cut around a lot of things; compared to a 30" that I could whip in and out of just about anywhere.
  9. echo

    echo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,696

    All our mowers excluding the 21 have mulch kits and a bagger setup but no discharge cover installed. I fabricate a cover with very thin steel sheeting that can be removed or installed in seconds with wing nuts or a pin. If the grass is too high the cover comes off and the bagger goes on in seconds. Unless the gate is too small or the hill is extreme I've yet to find a place a 36 hydro can't go. Throw a velke on and bigger lawns can be done with good efficiency.
    Posted via Mobile Device
    Last edited: May 9, 2014
  10. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,736

    You're saying you don't want a fixed deck mower, except that's exactly what a 30" mower is.
    so for 6" more of mower deck, SUDDENLY there is some huge need for a floating deck because the fix deck is so inferior?

    That's just lawn site weirdness you've been reading, echoing in your head.
    IF you want a floating deck, then a 30" isn't even an option.

    You don't want to go back and forth, back and forth with a mower?
    What do you think the 30" will be doing? IS there some amazing auto reverse on them?

    You are trying to compare a 22 pistol to a 12 gauge shotgun here, and then pissing all over a 20 gauge shotgun, because it's not good enough, compared to the 12 gauge, but you might buy the .22……
    This whole line of thinking doesn't compute.

    A fixed deck, belt drive pistol grip walk behind, will beat the ever living pants off any 30" you ever buy.

    If you want a great "main line" mower, go get a 36" ferris DD… (NOT the hydro cut)…. you might pay more than 5k, but if you're getting a loan, is there REALLY than much difference in payments between 5k and 5.7k?

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