Euipment upgrades

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by BOTURF, Dec 4, 2003.


    BOTURF LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 316

    I was just sitting here pondering since most of us have more time on our hands now that the season is over. Back when i first started this biz full time 10 years ago and went to commercial grade euipment , i thought i was on top of the world with 1 belt drive 14 horse scag w/b,( this was after running a tractor for a few years now i think back to then what a nightmnare on production ) i think back then that was about the biggest engine you could get on a walk now 14 horse isnt anything and we are are striving for bigger engines to give us the boost we need in productivity . As time has marched on so has my euipment as i went to Scag hydros with a 17 horse kawi ( i have or had 2 of them always need a back up ) and this year i have moved up more with a 24 horse honda TIGER CUB and who knows as what the next couple of years will bring as far as euipment size , is this what most of you have done ? upgrade slowly ? or have you went the biggest or best right off top ?
  2. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Messages: 10,812

    When my accounts got bigger so didn't my equipment. I think the biggest mistake made by lcos is when they get bigger accounts they still try and use the smaller mowers.
  3. Mu first couple of years I had stuff like Snapper skiff, Wheel Horse 42" and a used Bunton 36" WB.

    That wasn't getting it so I talked to my (then) father-in-law. He worked for the city of Springfield, cuttin' grass.

    He recommended the Toro Groundsmaster 72" like the City owned. He'd run it and liked it.

    I found a used one. It was a lot better quality. Put me in the next size catagory too. That was back in the '70's

    Around 1990 I leased a 12' bat wing Alamo. It's like a ZTR with wings. I tried a Toro 580-D 16' but couldn't afford it.

    Then I bought a used Howard Price HP180 15'cut.

    A couple of years ago I got a used Toro 580-D 16' cut.

    So I'm still moving up, but I am still not up to what my father-in-law operated. It was a 24' Jacobsen gang reel mower. he mowed 120 acres by himself every week until he retired.

    I'm 56 years old and still looking for "bigger and better".

  4. jaybird

    jaybird LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 272

    im 53 and still buying trading and so forth, have heavy duty woods type bush-hog with 47 horse john-deere now had to get a tree-cutter for a 3 year contract need more horse power tractor have one rented now mite purchase it if they will let me we are suppose to slow down one day
  5. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    Remember the garden trac. bolens ,wheel horse they all had the "big" 10 hp kohlers the 12hp was reserved for the really big stuff and cost a fortune some of those machines were almost $12-1,500 with the deck. Oh yea I did move up now I git me a 14hp. LOL

  6. Sam-Ohio

    Sam-Ohio LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 304

    You youngsters don't remember when a pro only ran a 2 wheel Gravely, with a steerable sulky, and a 75 inch triple reel mower that could fold up the outer two and go through a 36" gate. These tractors had an earth shaking 6.5 hp engine !

    The sulky steered its rear wheels and the hitch was made so the sulky staid straight in line [didn't swing] so it made the same semi zero turns that a machine like a Scag STHM makes. With a 75 inch wide mower on the front, it was able to turn about in one swing and head back the other way.

    The 3 reel mower heads were POWERED off the front pto, so the mower blades maintained full speed in corners or turns [unlike wheel driven reels]. Since reel mowers always have a full width rollers, these babies striped like champs.
    In fact its the superb look to a manicured lawn on the great old estates that these Gravelys produced - that we are still trying to get back to on our modern Z mowers.

    Since the reels sheered the grass blades instead of whipping it off, as rotaries do, and since the clippings were dropped full rear width instead of windrowed out a side chute, and the 3 mower heads had full flexability to precisly follow the ground contours [no scalping at all] these old units set a standard of precision and beauty of cut that is not obtainable with todays rotary equipment. Only the triplex reels from Toro, or Jacobsen or Ransomme that are used around golf course mowing can do this high quality cutting today.

    Another machine that real professionals used was the mowers from Locke and DeVere co. They mowed perfectly - but they couln't climb the least bit of a hill. The Gravely could drop the sulky and if you were running dual drive wheels, you could mow a 45 deg. side hill with it.

    That's what I remember from 50 years ago. All the estates, institutions, and true proffessional mowers wouldn't be caught dead with anything less in those days.
  7. Lbilawncare

    Lbilawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,119

    We started out with the 14hp Kohlers on our Toro belt drives 10 years ago. We now use the 15hp Kohlers, I can't tell much difference. We will be going from 28efi to 32hp Generacs this year, the torque curve makes the difference there.
  8. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    you talking about those sulkys that had the cable run to the bottom of them so when the machine turned it automaticly turn the sulky with it?

  9. Sam-Ohio

    Sam-Ohio LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 304

    Well they did have cable that controled the steering of the sulky wheels. The wheels and axel on the Gravely sulky steered , just like the rear wheels on a forklift do all the steering, or many mowers have steerable REAR wheels.

    The Gravely sulky I'm talking about had a steering wheel on the sulky and the sulky DID NOT pivot like a simple trailing sulky does. Its hitch was 2 arms with shoulder bolts that held the sulky straight behind the 2 wheel tractor, when you turned the steering wheel, the tractor steered like a Yazoo or a Scag STHM or a Steiner 230 [rear wheel steering]

    Anyway , can you remember back when you were a kid, how these were the main mower of choice for the consumate proffessional ?
  10. Randy Scott

    Randy Scott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,915

    That's what I did. If you are in business and committed to it, why use non-productive junk.

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