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Help me find a better mower!


LawnSite Member
I live on 3/4 acre and mow everything that isn't paved or have the house sitting on it. To get into my front yard I have to go through a 48" gate. I have a few trees and curved paths that I need to mow around.

I have been VERY unhappy with the two mowers I've owned. The first was an MTD 42" cut with (I think) a 14hp Briggs. The second, and current mower is a John Deere STX 38 with a 12.5hp Kohler. I haven't had any problems with the Kohler engine, and very few with the Briggs for that matter. Unfortunately neither mower mowed very well. With the Deere, I can bag grass at a slow, but nearly tolerable pace if it isn't wet or too high. As I mow only weekly, and we've had plenty of rain, is is usually too high. When the grass gets too high, I have to side discharge, which leaves a horrible mess. Even after double and triple cutting, the yard looks bad. It also ends up taking me a couple hours. I tried mulching, and found that it was all but useless. If the grass was much over 1/2" higher than the blade height, I had to go at the slowest speed (REALLY SLOW!), cut about 1/2 the width of my deck, then end up with some (too many) clumps anyway. If the grass gets tall, it is much worse. Also, the Deere has been eating deck drive belts lately...

What I want:
Ideal: Something that can do a decent mulching job when the grass is dry, and only a little long. I'd like to be able to do it at a decent pace (walking pace or better...).

Good: Something that will let me side discharge at a good clip and not leave a horrible looking lawn. I'm not a perfectionist, but don't like rows of grass all over or really thick visible covering of mowed grass.

I looked at the Mini FasTracks in 36" and 42" decks and have a couple questions.
1) Will they do what I want? (the biggie!)

2) Do they (especially the 42") have enough horsepower for tall, fast growing Bermuda (with taller Fescue in the shade)?

3) Is mulching even a viable option? (with these, or even with another machine...)

4) I am looking pretty seriously at the 36" machine. I think it would make getting into some of the tighter areas easy, and may allow me to mow areas I've had to push-mow before. I noticed that the 16hp Honda engine is much ($500 or so) more expensive than the 15hp Kohler - what makes it $500 better?

5) I'm very curious about the big blade/small blade combination on the 36" FasTrack. Is there a reason you didn't go with two 18" blades?

I'd like to get something that will do the job well enough to keep my aggravation level in check. I'd rather spend a bit more up front than (as usual) spend years kicking myself for not getting enough mower.

Thanks very much for your help. Any recommendations, explanations, or "reality checks" will be very much appreciated.

Oklahoma City


LawnSite Fanatic
Syracuse, NY
1) Yes.
2) Yes, the 16/36 will do what you want, ground speed and frequency of cutting is a factor here.
3) Yes, as with # 2, speed, height of grass and moisture content will all affect your results.
4) The 36 is a very popular unit, and the Honda engine option is also, it is worth 500 more due to it being full commercial engine, it is also a V-Twin overhead valve / cam engine, compared to a residential grade single cylinder Kohler.
Both are good engines, the Honda is just a better engine and is quieter.
5) The design is for blade overlap and for overall length of the mower.
It works great, this mower has been out for 3 years and we don't have any cut issues, it is also the same design on our commercial Mini Z and it works great there also.

I would suggest you look closely at anything you buy and drive them and demo them, you will see why the Hustler comes to the top of the list 99% of the time.


LawnSite Member
I have had my 36" Mini Fastrak since the first of the season and could not be happier. It leaves an excellent cut on my bermuda and rye-fescue mix. I bought the 36" for the same reason. It is very maneuverable in tight areas and has eliminated some of the areas I used a 21" on. Excellent machine!!
Where are you looking to purchase yours from? I bought mine from Mikes Lawn Equipment in Harrah. Excellent dealer.


LawnSite Member
Thanks for your input - I like to hear good things about prospective purchases!

I live pretty close to Smith Farm and Garden in Okc. They've treated me pretty well over the years. Unless I hear of someone else making heck-of-a-deals, I'd be unlikely to buy a Hustler elsewhere.



LawnSite Member
Savannah GA
I have a 36 inch MFT with the Honda engine. It will certainly do the job you want. Get the blow-out kit with the mulching kit - you will probably need it. The advantage of the 36 inch is that it will get through your gate easily. With the side disharge chute down, and even more so if you attach a bagger, you may have a tight fit with a 42 inch. However, the 42 inch has one advantage to consider - it is a little easier to trim with it if you have to mow alongside a kerb. The 36 inch mower is directly flush with the wheels which doesn't leave much margin for error. The extra 6 inches of the 42 inch stick out further than the wheels, giving you a bit more safety margin.


LawnSite Member
cantonment, fl
if it fits through the gate, i would go with the 42". the deck overhang is much better (further out) to reduce your trimming time. my neighbor has the same lot setup as i do, i love to start about 15 minutes later than he does, finish mowing, clean up and be sipping on a pina colada when he pulls into his shed.


LawnSite Member
Tulsa, Oklahoma
We have a Smith Farm & Garden in Tulsa...they seem very knowledgeable and helpful...but I got better prices from small-town dealers. Steve's Tractor in Muskogee and the Tractor Yard in Coweta.

For anyone in the Tulsa metro area, I would GREATLY recommend Tractor Yard in Coweta. They delivered by 48" FasTrak today. He picked it up from the OKC warehouse this morning, so I got a fresh one.

Steve is the sales contact at Tractor Yard, and Chris does the maintenance on the Hustlers.

Everyone (including Smith Farm and Garden) was quoting me $4995 as their best price on the 48" FasTrak with a 19hp Kawasaki. Tractor Yard sold one to me for $4731 (which included installation of an hour meter), and they filled it up with gas and delivered it for free.

I will say that I know Smith's would have you fixed very quickly if you needed service.

By the way, my new FasTrak is exceptional!