Deere 717A vs Scag Tiger Cub or Ferris IS1500

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by jims56, Jan 18, 2007.

  1. jims56

    jims56 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Hi fellas, I will be purchasing a ZTR for the upcoming season and was wondering how you readers felt about the 3 machines that I'm considering to buy. I don't have alot of customers as of yet ,but hope to get 1 or so commericial sites this spring,so the need for a large ZTR is not there yet. I researched the Ferris IS1500 48",Scag Tiger Cub 48" 19 Kaw and the JD Z717A 19 Kaw. All 3 machines are similar in engine size and price in Upstate NY is somewhat close. The Ferris went up drastically from last year, so it is very close to the JD and Scag. Scag being the most expensive of the 3. Not being very mechanicaly inclined I will base my decision on what I read and on how well the mower will get serviced. JD & Scag are both at the same dealership which is close by(5 min) Ferris is 15 min away. I'm leaning very heavily towards the Z717A. I was really impressed with the 7 Iron Deck system and of course the quality that JD has always had. I will appreciate ALL input on this thread and just wanted to say that starting a Lawn Care business is more difficult than alot of people know. The business is very competitive now. I passed out nearly 75 flyers last year in my track and got 2 contracts. Thanks again for any input and have a great day! Jimh
  2. Smitty58

    Smitty58 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 531

    I owned a Ferris 1500 ,bought it new and sold it with under 100 hrs. It handled good and the suspension is nice but hated the way it cut. Did not stripe well and seemed to have to double cut alot with it. We went with all Scag stuff and love them. We don't have a z now just w/b's ,but will buy a Scag z as soon as needed. Also changing the oil on the Ferris is a nightmare so check that out. I don't know anything about the JD but there seems to be a decent following on here for them. At least in my area if you look at the big commercial guys it seems most of them run Scag because of their toughness and quality. Good luck, if at all possible I would demo any you are considering buying.
  3. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,940

    Last year at this time, and for a couple of months later, I considered nearly the same issue. Actually, I had looked at the Ferris the year before at a trade show and felt it was not a candidate for me (it looked not as well built, and I wondered about the quality of cut with the mowing deck). Last Winter (late Feb), I went to a trade show and had an open mind. My candidates there were Hustler and Scag, JD had no presence except golf course equipment.

    The folks in the Hustler booths discouraged me from working with them -- they did a poor job ("... put your cell phones in the trash barrel before entering the trade show area, fellas ..."). Also, the shallow deck made me wonder about the quality of cut, especially in Spring with heavy growth, wet and sappy cool weather grasses. As a machine, I thought it was a good piece of equipment.

    The Scag folks did a great job in their booth, built my interest for the Tiger Cub. Afterwards, I learned the same dealer sold Scag and Hustler. I was invited to an open house.

    Meanwhile in the back of my mind was the JD. I had looked at them in the showroom in the last season. Also, I had read so many threads about 48" ZTR mowers on LS, and JD with 7 Iron deck rarely got any negative comments, especially with regard to the mowing deck.

    I went to the Scag/Hustler open house, and had an opportunity to make good side-by-side comparisons. After a lengthy review, I eliminated the Hustler from the picture.

    Now, my choice came down to JD 717A or the Scag Tiger Cub. Oh yes, I have been a very happy Exmark user for nine seasons, a 36" w/b mower that has been great. I was very put off by the Exmark folks at the trade show, and discarded the Exmark at the show.

    I was sure that any of those I considered, however remotely (JD 717A, Scag Tiger Cub, Hustler, Exmark, Ferris) could do the job I needed done. But, a decision has to be made. The other issue was dealership.

    The Scag/Hustler dealer really impressed me. They only deal with commercial lawn maintenance equipment, as well as golf course equipment. I felt they could do a great job in support, and I really liked the man who I met at the show and discussed the mowers at the open house. However, the dealership is about 90 minutes from my house.

    On the other hand, the JD dealer is only about 30 minutes away, and they sell very little equipment to commercial grass cutters. They primarily sell ag equipment in the JD line. I have done business with them in the past for other JD equipment I maintain for homeowners, and have always been pleased.

    In the end, I really wanted to try out the 7 Iron II deck. All others are manufactured deck, theirs is stamped. It had an appeal to me as being a good deck for the kind of mowing I will encounter.

    I delayed until mid-May, 6 weeks after the season began. By that time, I knew my customer base was stable, and I knew which properties I could mow with the ZTR, or so I though I knew. I work solo, working about 45 properties, from 10K to nearly 2 acres. I bought the JD 717A, and was able to use it on about half the properties (gates, terrain, size). I only generated about 250 hours for half the properties with a good part of the season already done.

    I couldn't be more pleased with my choice. I have only encountered one little problem. Other than that, it has been trouble free. It is every bit the machine I expected in terms of equipment. However, it performs better than expected on quality of cut. It is superb on the properties I mow with it.

    I found myself not using it much after October 15, when leaf season began. I do not have a bagger. Also, I do not have any mulching capability. My Exmark w/b has been very useful in mulching and disposing of leaves. Next season, I will do something to make more use of the JD 717A during leaf season.

    I am sure that either of the three machines you listed will do a fine job for you. I hope my experiences will help you make your decision. Feel free to PM me for questions, or pics.
  4. jkingrph

    jkingrph LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 812

    I recently purchased a Scag Wildcat because 1 price was lower than similar JD and 2, dealer is 35 miles closer. After six months of use, I am impressed with the Scag. I have an older ,2000 model JD lx 277, which was their best grade lawn tractor, which I have decided to keep as a backup. I now have the deck torn down to repaint, refurbish, ect and did notice some significant corrosion in the three spindle housings. Acutally there are a couple of small holes corroded all the way through the mounting area, luckily not into the acutal bearing area,so am treating and painting them. This unit has been well maintained and looks almost new and has always been stored in an encolsed shed, heated in cold weather.

    The spindles and housings on the Scag are much heavier and from looks should be more durable. Only time will tell.
  5. Willofalltrades

    Willofalltrades LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,000

    The Scag looks like a solid machine. I was looking at them last year before I bought my Walker. I would have to say it looked more productive and durable than the Ferris and John Deere. One book I read suggested you make dealers give you quotes on the same mowers and let them know you are bidding around so that they try to get your business with a lower price. I've never done it but I figure its worth a shot.

    Do you have a Wright dealer near you? I would suggest a Wright Stander. I don't own one. Yet I haven't heard one negative thing about them (I have been researching them because I am looking to purchase one hopefully in spring). You can get a 52" 19hp mower for $6000. Plus, these machines offer you the ability to grow. They are productive on all types of properties. The 48" mower you are looking at gets to be a little small when you pick up the larger props. Yet, its your call...

    One thing to remember and everybody can agree with this: DEMO the equipment on grass (not in the parking lot). This will give you a better feel for which mower is best for you.
  6. jims56

    jims56 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    I want to "thank all" who have replied to my thread. I have taken ALL replies into consideration and will ponder some more along with trying to GRIND down the dealers a little more on price. First off, I wanted to the explain the main purpose of the ZTR for my small business. Currently my Lawn Care Service is quite small. I want to try and stay in my housing track of about 100 homes that have mid sized lots ( about 1/2 acre ) so I don't have a need for a larger ZTR. I hope to be able to get around 10 homes from the track. I have put in bids on 2 pieces of commercial property and thats why I'm looking into a newer machine. Currently I'm running a a 46" JD LT and a 33" Troy built WB. I'd like to pick up a Scag or Deere 36" to 48" WB too, but feel that will come next year. I'll let you all know what the final decision is on the ZTR. Thanks again jimh
  7. grass_cuttin_fool

    grass_cuttin_fool LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,526

    I looked at both the Jd and Scag. I opted for the Scag, it had a lil bit more leg room Im 6' 1'' and I liked the foot rest better

  8. jims56

    jims56 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    I agree about with you about the foot rest being more comfortable on the Scag,but given everything else I think that I will buying the JD. I really like that 7-Iron II deck.....hard to tell up North in the snow
  9. robbo521

    robbo521 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 601

    got my JD 717A in Nov. last year just in time to hit the leafs.have not had but one yard to cut with grass after getting it,and then it didnt need it.i have the mulch kit on mine and that baby will make dust out of them leafs.i just cant wait till i can find some grass.thought about getting in the field next to me to see what it would do but has been to wet and cold.

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