Equipment Advice - Semi Experienced.

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Lakeview, May 15, 2003.

  1. Lakeview

    Lakeview LawnSite Member
    Messages: 63

    I am just starting out. I used to cut grass as a teenager (mid to late 1980's) when the sight of a work crews, trailers and ztr mowers were not a common occurence in my home town. I also have a little over two years experience on a nine hole golf course and was an assistant greens keeper for 1 1/2 of those years.

    I would like some comments and advice on the following equipment information i have aquired.

    Concerning riding mowers:
    I have the understanding that with proper on time maintenance a commercial mower should last approximately 8 to 10 years. This information came from several lawncare professionals who had employed several work crews so i am assuming the equipment they were refering to was operated by several different individuals over that 8 to 10 year period.
    If one piece of equipment is operated by one or two (equipment conscious) individuals over the 8 to 10 year period as opposed to numerous operators it should be expected to last longer. I wonder how much longer.

    Considering the aforementioned information (concerning the 8 to 10 years) would the equipment most likely have been a diesel or a gasoline engine.

    Shouldnt a diesel engine be expected to have an approximately 45% longer mechanical lifespan than a gasoline engine.

    Would it be practical to spend up to approximately 40% to 45% of the original equipment cost in repairs before considering the purchase of a new piece of equipment.

    Concerning walk behind mowers:
    Providing proper on time maintenance is performed shouldnt an individual be able to replace the original engine once on a walk behind before the other parts of the mower are worn out beyond repair.

    Would it be practical to spend up to approximately 40% to 45% of the original equipment cost before considering the purchase of a new walk behind.

    JUST IN CASE IVE FORGOTTEN OR MISSED SOMETHING what are the pro's and con's of diesel verses gasoline in lawn equipment.
  2. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Messages: 833

    10 years on a rider is good for an expected life. Also consider within those 10 years newer more productive equip will interest you regardless of the condition of the current mower.

    Good analysis of the repair ratio. But again most get replaced due to stepping into a bigger mower, or more efficient one.

    W/B are you talking w/b like 48" or 21" trim?

    The price of engines is so low now there is a legitimate arguement of "forget the PM, it will cost less to just buy a new one." Much more so in smaller ticket items like a 21" or power tools. Think of the cost of changing oil, plugs, and filter on a regular basis NOT the cost of materials but the cost of the time.
    6hp b&s Q are sellling for less than $100 on ebay.

    A new Kohler 25hp for $800 or 25 hours of service time?

    Diesels ... Fumes making you have a headache. Breathing it for 6 hours a day would sucK!
  3. Lakeview

    Lakeview LawnSite Member
    Messages: 63

    In reference to the 8 to 10 year period of usage. I was more or less concerned with being able to use my initial mowers as a back up units in case an unexpected problem should occur during the use of a newer model.

    In reference to a walk behind i was talking about a 48 in cut and yes i will be performing routine maintenance on it.
    With a 21 in. cut i will stick to a walmart special ( i actually found a murray with a cast iron head a few years ago) no more than it should be used. I consider they are pretty much a disposable item.
  4. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Messages: 833

    So you already have some years of use on the existing mowers and are looking to be able to keep them as back-ups for X# of years going forward?

    A new mower with a good dealer support should get you through most anything.

    OR if the current one is still running good use it. No need for a new one right away. Have the replacement picked out and plan for getting it right away if need be, but still.... try to keep the initial capital outlay to a minimum until you have the accounts to support more mowers.

    A rider (or w/b w/ sulky) and a trim mower is more than sufficient for one person. IF someone knew the size of properties they were going to market TO (yes market to rather than get what comes along) a solo op could do well by with just a trimmer and ONE mower. Either small for sm res, or BIG for open space.

    Murray disposable? YES they definitely are. BUT a good commercial 21" will last you very long time. I still have my first one bought in 1983. Several engines later and I've replaced the wheels but otherwise it original (about 10 years of HEAVY use).

    IF you think you don't need a good commercial 21" then you probably don't even need a 21" at all. Seriously, if you are just opening up a property in a few corners and such, that can be done with a trimmer and a little extra string.
    No need to be packing a crappy Murray just to mow for 2 minutes on a property.

    If you have residentials with nice front lawns go for a quality commericial 21"

    Here's my 3 piece rule, as in 3 primary pieces of equip for solo operators

    Small Propeties 5K
    Trimmer and 21"( x two)

    Medium Properties 5-20K
    Trimmer & 21" & 48"

    Large Properties 20K+
    Trimmer & 21" & Rider 48"+

    Blower + Edger for everyone
  5. Lakeview

    Lakeview LawnSite Member
    Messages: 63

    Green In Idaho commented:
    "If you have residentials with nice front lawns go for a quality commercial 21".

    I overlooked that aspect concerning the 21".
    I have a well developed eye for detail resulting from the the golf course experience. I now know i would have quickly realized if i use a nice machine to get the majority of the front lawn and end up using the murray 21" to finish it would look bad due to the contrast of the performance of finer machine versus the cheaper machine.

    Most of the people i mowed for as a teen didnt care what their yard looked like just so it was mowed. They did not know know what fertilizer or anyhting else similar to that was and if you would have suggested it they would have surely assumed the heat was getting to you. To be honest i have very limited experience on residential properties which have been sodded and or are routinely fertilized or aeriated. Thak you for that information and shedding some light into a otherwise dim area.

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