Fixed or Floating

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by jeda, Mar 5, 2003.

  1. jeda

    jeda LawnSite Member
    from ky
    Messages: 6

    Hello All , New to the biz and have a question. I'am looking to start with residential property and plan on buying an exmark 36" hydro w/b. My question is--Do I buy a fixed deck or floating deck. Does one perform better, last longer, or cut better, etc., than the other? Basically why do you chose one over the other?

    Thanks in advance for any help !

  2. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    I've always used floating decks, but just got a Toro fixed deck that's sitting in the garage, needing to be set up. I bet it mows nicely. We'll see.

    1. Floaters are easier to adjust, usually using pins. With a fixed deck you have to use various combinations of the front caster spacers, spindle spacers, and even moving the rear axle.

    2. Floaters "float" over undulations and contours and should give a better cut because of that. But on a small deck size, the front wheels are close together enough to avoid most scalping, and it may not even have any anti-scalp wheels, so the benefit is minor.

    3. Floaters cost a little more.

    4. Some say the lighter fixed deck can have problems bouncing or popping up when towing a sulky.
  3. MTR

    MTR LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 1,280

    I guess you must be talking the good and bad of Viking and TTHP, don't you?
    Well, to be honest, a 36" deck is not necessary to be a floater cause it barely scalps except you cut a super hilly with so much undulation all over, even the floating one still scalps, so it is really up to your navigating skill. I don't have scalping issue with my fixed metro at all, and it pulls sulky very well without jerking up the front like people said. Again, it is how you release the drive lever...let it go smoothly. As far as changing height, it is very easy to change height on fixed deck, once you are used to ...bam, just like that (do you really change height every lawn?)
    Just starting out, you should be concerned on budget, and the fixed deck is much more suitable especially a 36", but it is up to you, cause it is your business. I would save that dollar for the Z later cause that is what you should be spending on, productivity is totally different from a 36".
  4. Haley Lawn Care

    Haley Lawn Care LawnSite Member
    from NC
    Messages: 119

    I have both types. I first started out with a toro 36 floater. Does a real nice job. When i bought new mowers they were fixed decks. One thing-the floaters will cost more because of the material used to build them. But if you have uneven turf they are great to use. If your yards are sorta flat you can get a good job from a fixed deck. They stripe good to. However the floaters are easy to adjust the height. The fixed decks can sometimes be hard to do on the spot. The floaters can be adjusted whenever you want- like yard to yard if needed.


    BRIAN GALLO LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    I have both type decks also. The biggest advantage to the "floating" deck would be the height adjustability. True you can move axles and blade spacers for a wide range of heights on a fixed deck, but on the yard you will usually only be moving the front castor spacers for any adjustment. This works ok, but really only gives a minor angular adjustment either up or down, plus your hands get all greasy. The floating decks raise or lower the entire deck level, and to me make a more noticable difference in cut height when adjusted. The best thing for me about a floater is the ability to raise the deck high if you have to go over a lawn twice to break up any clumps.
  6. I agree with most guys that say the best thing about a floating deck is its ease of height adjustment. You can quickly go from really low to really high. Which is most often used getting on and off the trailer. Fixed decks aren’t that slow, if you’re only changing the spacers on the front castors, but the range is limited.

    I had the preconception that a “floating” deck was much less apt to scalp. However, I’ve tried mowers from 32” to 61” of the same make and size, on the same lawns, with the only difference being a fixed versus a floating deck. For what ever reason, I found the fixed decks MUCH less likely to scalp.

    Of course any mower will scalp under the right circumstances. And any operator not paying attention is going gouge in places. But I was surprised to find out that even when I was paying attention, trying to do a good job on difficult spots, the floaters tended to dig in where the fixed decks were just easier to control. Even the floating decks with “anti-scalping” rollers set to the right height.

    I’m sure many will testify to a different experience. But I know that I wanted to believe the floating decks would produce a better cut, yet they did not. If you get the chance, do some testing before you commit.
  7. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    Even eXmark will tell you the design of a 36" will rarely scalp. I doubt I would ever consider a floating 36". Just can't see how to justify the cost.
  8. johnhenry

    johnhenry LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 488

    It all depends on what you are mowing.If you have lots of flat land I would go with the fixed deck.The problem with the wb from exmark is unless you are willing to spend high dollar for the tracer.You cant have the hydro & the floating deck.Like Hoss said the exmark has a really good deck and the upgrade is costly.I would rather have the hydro than the floating deck if i was looking at exmark.
  9. Gravely_Man

    Gravely_Man LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,075

    I am not saying don't go for it but…..a 36" deck is so small I would only go for a fixed deck and save the money. Bigger then 36" then yes a floating deck is great.

  10. germann

    germann LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 268

    In my opinion, If you are going to buy a commercial mower, get a hydro with a floating deck. We have had both kinds of walk behinds, and the belt drive fixed decks are defintley not worth the price break.

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