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comparing zero turns

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by eddiep, Sep 8, 2001.

  1. eddiep

    eddiep LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    We're moving into a place with 3.26 acres; gently rolling, with a spaced-out collection of trees (no low-hanging branches). I'd love some advice on what kind of mower to get.

    MOWER 1: The guy who lives there now has a 60" Keyes ZD max (or something like that) with 60 hours on it, says he'll sell it for $5000. We've talked to a couple dealers around here who say Keyes is terrible, and they won't even work on them.

    MOWER 2: Just checked out a Dixon 4516 with a 50" deck, which I like. I can get it new for $4500 from a local dealer who's very enthusiastic about them (he and his staff own them personally).

    MOWER 3: ???

    I like the idea of a ZTR, and I also want to be able to get the job done in something like 1 1/2 hours. BUT we're on a budget. I've read a lot of good stuff about Toro (among others), but I haven't heard anything specific about these brands. Any thoughts?
  2. edward hedrick

    edward hedrick LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 871

    hOW ABOUT A Gravely 260Z was quoted 6600 for new machine.
    I own a scag Sthm or 3 wheel 60 " This may be a an alternatiive
    to a Z.
  3. fivestarlawnken

    fivestarlawnken LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 438

    If i'm not wrong, I think exmark makes the kees not completly sure.Have you thought about a used ztr mower.It might be a good alt. since this for the home.I guess in the end, demo out every mower poss. then make a choice.Good luck.Also check out the SEARCH BUTTON also.:D
  4. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    Of choices #1 and #2 I would take the Keyes any day over the Dixon.

    Exmark makes the toro Z's and toro puts their deck on it. I run eXmark's and love them. Awesome machine and great factory support. The post about a used ZTR would probably be the best bet. Some others here can probably tell you more about the Keyes than I can. I would suggest you find a used eXmark, Toro, Dixie Chopper, Grasshopper, etc. Since the end of the season is comming up, you might find a good price in the local paper.
  5. Larry Davis

    Larry Davis LawnSite Member
    Messages: 116

    You are on the right track with seriously considering a ZTR. We have 3 1/2 park-like acres that must be kept looking very good and, in the growing season, this requires twice a week mowing. I was using a top brand lawn tractor with a 48" deck and would take me about 5 to 6 hours. About a month ago we bought an eXmark Lazer HP ZTR with a 48" deck and, even though I am still not really good with it (takes a while learning how to properly handle a ZTR), I have already knocked off about 2 hours on my mowing time. If you are planning on living there for years, you will regret it if you do not spend the big bucks for a top quality, commercial grade machine. I did not know anything about ZTR's. So, I took one work day and went looking for commercial lawn companies working to see exactly what they were using. In two hours I found and stopped to talk to 5 companies. Not one of them had a lawn tractor in their arsenal of mowing machinery. 4 of them had nothing but eXmark ZTR's and 1 had nothing but Dixie Choppers. These are both high quality, commercial grade cutting machines designed to give 100's if not 1000's of hours of trouble free running. These two manufactures do not even make units designed for home owner use. I chose the eXmark because our little town has a large dealer and the closest Dixie dealer is about 1 1/2 hours away. If you follow this advice, only talk to commercial outfits that look like they can afford to buy whatever machines they want, not some guy who may be just trying to pick up a few extra bucks on the weekend. Good luck and will be interested in hearing what you end up with.
  6. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
    Messages: 4,830

    Good advice Larry.

    You are right about the commercial mowers lasting several thousand hours. With a 60" ZTR, you can mow that 3.5 acres in an hour once you get used to it. You could mow your lawn twice a week for the rest of your life and not put on as many hours as I have on my oldest Dixie Chopper. Not that you need to mow twice a week, but I'm using this as an example.
  7. Larry Davis

    Larry Davis LawnSite Member
    Messages: 116

    You are right Eric. After just a month, I wish I had gone with a 52" or even 60". Maybe next time.

    HOWARD JONES LawnSite Member
    Messages: 233

    Please read the commercial post "how long to service 1 acre" - commercial cutters vary in their speed, anywhere from 1 acre/hr to over 3 ac/hr. I imagine the lot conditions are the biggest factor, although some machines and operators may be a little better. I just don't want you to buy a 6, 8, even 10 thousand dollar machine and be disappointed that it may take you 3 hr rather than the 1 1/2 you hoped for. Larry Davis' reply was excellent, showing before and after times for two different machines - my results were more dramatic because I went from a bottom of the line 48" mower (10 hours for 5 acres) to a Toro 62" Zmaster (now less than 4 hrs). Comparison of the Exmark and Toro: from other posts, close examination, etc, I believe the frames are almost identical but they have dramatically different decks - Toro's SFS system is designed to get grass in and out fast, grass does not go from one blade to another - this is fast but leaves rather large clippings. Exmark passes the grass from one blade to another and probably chops it up better. The spindles are totally different, also, with Toro using a greasable, tapered roller bearing setup while Exmark uses a sealed ball bearing unit. On the 62" unit, the Toro also has a rather sharp corner on the left side of the deck which I have had some problems gouging on uneven contours - but am getting better and have added the deck lift assist pedal, which is really helping.
    The Exmark also has one or two engine choices not available on Toro (like a 23 hp Kawasaki air cooled on the 60") So, it sounds like you have a catch 22; ultimate speed and quality, or stick to the budget - you really have to nail down the budget for better advice from us.
  9. eddiep

    eddiep LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Thanks all for some excellent feedback. For what it's worth, I've been told Kees (I think I spelled it wrong the first time) got bought by Yazoo, which got bought by Husqvarna, and they're not making Kees anymore. I also found the acres-per-hour table on exmark's site a while back; that's been GREAT information.

    More information: I looked into Toro, and got quoted $6000 for a 44" Z100. The dealer claims you can mow at 9+ mph, but the Toro website lists a top speed of 8.1 mph. Either way, I think it could get the job done really nicely. (Of course they don't list an MSRP on the Toro website so I don't have much to bargain with.) Gotta talk to the mrs. to finalize the budget, but I think we can swing this.

    Another question here: is there a time trade-off, where if I didn't plan to have it for more than 3 yrs or so, I might be better off going with a less expensive and less durable mower? Or are less durable mowers typically fragile from the very start? This is probably tough to answer exactly, but any thoughts would be much appreciated.

    HOWARD JONES LawnSite Member
    Messages: 233

    I paid $7060 for a 25 hp 62" Toro, this dealer was well below most and he priced the 44" smallest engine at $5400, so I think the $6000 quote is close. If you truly expect to stay 3 years or less, a top-line homeowner may do "OK" but will take twice as much time and the thinner blades will probably require more sharpening and replacements. I totally wore out 3 sets of Murray blades in one year, looks like one set of Toros will last the season (with sharpening several times). Even on a great commercial mower, you may see quite a loss on resale - anyone out there had to sell one with low hours?

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