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Fuel Consumption

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by BeautifulBlooms, Dec 7, 2007.

  1. BeautifulBlooms

    BeautifulBlooms LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 613

    Anyone ever figure out your engines fuel consumption over an entire year? I am wondering what the average might be per hour to add that in as a straight cost per hour to the customer (simply included in my hourly rate).

    I am unsure if fuel consumption can change from a brand new mower to one that has 1200-1500 hours on it, or does the engine continue to operate on a similar efficiency for its entire life.

    My specific mower and engine I have is a Ferris IS1500Z with a 25hp Kawasaki, I have not been grinding and bagging leaves this year but next year I will. How will that affect my fuel usage with the extra processes and workload? This year I put 52 hours on my machine (I know guys thats not a lot of hours, but understand I only had 6 accounts and my own lawn, and I am a full fledged landscape company who just started this year in the lawn maintenance) and I have a pretty accurate log of 60 gallons of fuel used.

    Anyone with a similar mower and engine or the exact one?
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    The 25hp Kawasaki is rated at 2 gph, heavy loads may consume more fuel but not so much per hour than it takes longer to get done.
    I suppose if it stayed bogged down it might consume more, but I wouldn't test it like that, at least not for fuel consumption.
    Charge a little more when it gets like that is my answer, this however is the least of the reasons for it.

    As for a thousand or more hours, fuel consumption can change but it all depends, one thing I don't think they ever consume less.
    Likely you would be experiencing other problems if fuel consumption changes.
    If you notice nothing else wrong, usually it is an indication the engine needs some kind of maintenance or repair.
  3. Budget

    Budget LawnSite Senior Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 368

    I have that very same unit. I figured about 1.3 gallons a hour in normal mowing conditions, but like topsite said when you bogging the machine down on high grass or leaves it runs closer to 2 gallons a hour.
  4. BeautifulBlooms

    BeautifulBlooms LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 613

    Thanks guys that helps. I think I will just include 1.5 gallons per hour for my mowing and figure it at somewhere between $3 and $3.50 per gallon and add that onto my normal hourly rate (which is based on all the other overhead).

    Budget how many hours do you have on your machine, do you have any kind of tracking for equipment maintenance and repair costs?

    How would you guys factor in time for repair work to equipment. For instance if I had to pay a mechanic to work on this machine they arent generating and money from sales they are only working on equipment. Do I just figure an estimate of how much time and parts will go into a machine over its life and add that in? Up until now maintenance on equipment hasnt been to much but as our fleet grows more time is going to be spent on reapir work and no more money is being generated. Any thoughts?
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    No, well, you can't get paid as much as the mechanic, at least not at first, probably not ever. What I mean is, take myself, I get to do it when I want, at my leisure, and from home: I don't have a store rent to cover, etc, etc.
    But, I DO get paid for it, and you should, too.
    You HAVE to get paid, if for no other reason than one day you will have to take it to a shop and pay them, so...
    This comes into play with your hourly rate.

    So you want to boil things down to a system, it will vary mostly on your machines, your own skills, and parts availability and price.

    Now I'll tell you how I do things, you decide for yourself, just FIY:
    What kills me isn't the parts, most of them are cheap, what kills me is the labor.
    Doesn't matter if it's just a $1 spark plug, by the time I get the wrench and run back and forth to the tool box and replace it, we're talking 4-5 minutes.
    So now figure how much I could've made working on someone's yard, that stupid dollar plug just costed me more like 3 dollars.
    Oil changes are worse, we're talking 15-20 minutes at least, even blade sharpening and changing we're talking 3 minutes total.
    All I'm saying is the labor all adds up to hours and hours.

    Down time, however, is by far the worst.
    Nothing eats more time than a mid-job break down.

    So for myself I use ALL high performance stuff, the best.
    Synthetic oil = No seized engines, less level checks, once / season changes.
    Premium namebrand fuel = less fuel related garbage, it runs better, longer.
    2x platinum plugs = Twice the time interval between changes.

    So that with high performance parts I have not only less down time, but less frequent maintenance spells.
    If the $1 plug now costs me $3 but I only get to replace it once instead of twice, I might still spend $6 once instead of $3 twice, but it's worth the trade off, and I honestly believe in the long run I actually get off cheaper.
    Then I replace the cheapest stuff once / year no questions asked, more so if I know it likes to wear out from time to time.
    All those dime a dozen parts, if you notice something that aggravates you throughout the year, that might be something to fix between seasons whether it needs it or not, but it takes time to figure out what things these are, they vary from one machine to the next.

    Now I do a lot of things once / season.
    I order parts in bulk (usually $1,000 worth), this lasts me a long time.
    Then, once / season I change oil and filter (these I buy 3-4 at a time too), spark plugs (every single one), air filters (by all of them I mean truck and car too), and on the mowers:
    Front caster bushings, velke hitch and trailing arm bushings, belt pivot idler bushing (all the bushings, those brass things).
    Rubber grommets on the handles.
    ALL inline fuel filters (except the cars).
    Replace any deck knobs, anything else that's broken.

    That's it, I do a TON of pre-season work, right before I know a machine is about to get going, I do everything to it that it needs done. Yup, oil and filter, air filter, plug, fuel filter, for starters, and then I go over the entire machine.
    Then, I run it the whole season: Check the oil once / month or so, put gas in it, change blades daily, ensure it's got a clean pre-cleaner, grease the zerks but that's about it for the entire year.
    Very little gets done throughout the year beyond that, I do keep rubber grommets in the truck as they like to break often.

    This makes things very efficient, and that helps with my hourly rate for maintenance.
  6. grass disaster

    grass disaster LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,754

    what do you do with the tires? mine seem to always be leaking. just slow leaks mostly. seems i'm constantly adding a little air.
  7. ranger350

    ranger350 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 108

    if the overall condition of the tires are still good, put a tube in them.
  8. grass disaster

    grass disaster LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,754

    I never really liked tubes. if i get a nail hole while out mowing. i have to take the whole tire apart.
  9. bblawncare

    bblawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 129

    Have you ever used "slime" or similar product. This stuff fills all the little holes and I rarely have trouble. I keep a bottle in my van because occasionally I will get a flat and it's usually because my sealer is gone from filling all the holes. I add some more and its good to go again for months. And I mow all year down here. Also, have you checked the valve stems? I keep extra stems in the van also as those have gone bad from time to time. For the big holes I have a plug kit.
  10. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    Gravely 260 with a 25 Kawasaki here. Averages around 1.3 GPH, so I figure $4 per hour, at current prices.

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