Going from hydro walk behind to belt drive??

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by pj550v12, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. pj550v12

    pj550v12 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 302

    So when I first started out we started with a belt drive, 48inch Lesco walk behind. Got the job done, but was my primary mower, so tall lawns and wet lawns that had to be cut would need to be done with the belt drive and nightmares of slipping belts and using all my might to pull the mower back when I reached an obstacle still haunt me.

    We switched to a hydro which was a slice of heaven and I swore I'd never go back, here in lies my problem.... The hydro machine has lasted 8 years, and its time for a new motor, but I don't know if I'm putting lipstick on a pig at this point and am thinking of just getting a new walk behind. These days however the walk behind only sees 10-15 hours of work a week, if that since most of what we do can be done with our ride on, and the savings of $2000 over a hydro machine is pretty tempting especially since I'll likely never even use the machine, my guys will.

    So I guess my question is, will I regret making the switch back to belt drive? Or have they come a long way in the past 10-15 years? Guys that use them regularly, any thing I should know? Can you put sulkys on them? Are they capable of hills? Any opinions would be awesome, thanks in advance!
  2. CreativeLawncareSolutions

    CreativeLawncareSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,017

    8-10 years and you didn't save a $2000 difference? No offense, but c'mon man. C'mon. Really?
  3. dieselss

    dieselss LawnSite Silver Member
    from NWI....
    Messages: 2,088

    Why not just put a motor in it and be done?
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  4. xstatikplus

    xstatikplus LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 299

    The $2000 means nothing on savings but can be huge in loses. Think about it this way....even if are never use the thing yourself and you only pay a guy $10/hr and he can mow everything the WB will touch in the week 3hrs/week faster with a hydro. Wage savings on WB mower if you go with hydro will cover the price difference in 2 years. And what did your last one run good for? 15 yrs and you've been making due with it for 3? That isn't even taking into account your guy won't be as fatigued from pulling the belt WB back and will make him that much more productive due to more energy in reserves when doing other tasks. Over a 10 yr gap the difference between hydro over belt the wage savings alone would buy you a whole new hydro mower. Think about it.
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  5. gebby

    gebby LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 712

    Do what I did. Ditch the customers that you used the walk behind on. Take that 15 hours a week and use it somewhere else. That will save you and make you more all the way around. I hauled my walk behind on the trailer for 3 years to only use it on a couple of hills. Took it off the trailer to set on the pad for another year or so. Honed my skills with the Zero Turn and the string trimmer. Happy to say, no more walk behind. SOLD.
  6. pj550v12

    pj550v12 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 302

    The hydro is a much better, more efficient machine, no doubt. My question was because of the fact that at this point the walk behind is a supplemental machine only being used 10-15 hours per week, and I was curious if the people who are still using both, thought the savings of the belt drive was worth it or not. Trust me, I can do all the math of salary/time saved etc etc, but I haven't used a belt drive in years so that was my main question. It seems as though some of you are leaning towards just sticking with a hydro machine.

    And a new engine is $1500, and even after that the rest of the machine is almost 10 years old so part of my wants to invest the money in a new machine.
  7. CreativeLawncareSolutions

    CreativeLawncareSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,017

    I can buy a used hydro 60 inch Exmark all day for 2 grand in Ohio.
  8. gebby

    gebby LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 712

    Yes. I do believe that you will regret going back to a belt drive walk behind. Yes with the right piece you can put a sulky on one. Yes you can do hills with one. To my knowledge, they are still reverse assist. In other words, put in reverse and pull. What I would do when I had mine was just waste time and energy going in a small circle to get that one spot.
  9. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,099

    the problem here is the disparity between an owner operator 'saving' time and being more efficient with a machine, and giving the same machine to an employee and getting no measurable difference to show for it.

    The employee will use the machine to make more time for texting, or checking Facebook, the owner will not see anything like the savings he himself will get from the investment.

    IF it were me, I'd put a new engine on the hydro…it's the cheapest option.

    If you are worried about the machine as a whole, buy a belt drive.

    I wouldn't spend extra money so the the hired help can get more FaceTime in with his hunnie while he's on the clock.
  10. LibertyFarmLandscaping

    LibertyFarmLandscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NE TX
    Messages: 1,091

    What brand of hydro are you pricing?
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