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Homeowner ZTR

Discussion in 'Tractors' started by dahammer, Sep 11, 2005.

  1. dahammer

    dahammer LawnSite Member
    Messages: 227

    I'm in the market for a ZTR and wanted to get a little input from you guys. I'm a homeowner with 2 yards to keep mowed, mine and my mother-in-law's. My yard is approximately 4 acres, relatively flat with a dip here and there, but a tad ruff in places. It use to be a hay field, if that helps. My mother-in-law's yard is approximately 2 acres and hilly but doesn't have anything I'd classify as steep.

    What I want is a ZTR that can handle both and last me a long time, but I don't expect it to last a lifetime. I want one that will give a good cut, but don't require a golf course quality cut. I'd also like to have one that will accept a bagger, as I may add one a year or so down the road. I'd like a bagger mainly for picking up leaves and I occassionally allow the grass to get a tad too deep and the wife screams about the way the clippings on top make the yard look. I'm leaning towards a 48" or 52" deck.

    I have several different ones to choose from in the area. They are:

    Grasshopper (full service shop, also a Snapper & Husqvarna dealer but doesn't stock their ZTR)
    ExMark (full service shop)
    John Deere (full service shop)
    Ferris (full service shop)
    Cub Cadet (Lowes, TSC, & etc, ie no service)

    There may be others I'm not aware of as well. I have a good long-time relationship with the mechanic at the Grasshopper dealer. He claims the grasshopper rides a whole lot better than the ExMark his competitor sales, BTW. :) The other dealers I have never dealt with but I hear good things about the Exmark dealer in general.

    My main question is this. Are the commercial grade ZTRs worth the extra cost as opposed to something like the Cub Cadet which is about 1/2 the cost of the others?

    I'm having a hard time justifing a $7500+ lawn mower, but at the same time I don't want a piece of junk that will be in the shop more than in the yard. There is an MTD plant close by, I don't think that plant makes the Cub Cadet ZTRs, but from what I hear the quality of their mowers in general is in question. For the past 15 years I've ran a RER Snapper, which is still going strong even though it's on it's 3rd engine. But it since I bought this 4 acre lot it is just too small for it, so I'm looking for something bigger.

    Is there a good ZTR out there to be had for in the $5000 range that meets these qualifications? Everything I've looked at has been $7000 and up, except the Cub Cadets which are $2999 at Lowes. My pick of the bunch is the Ferris IS1500Z with a 52" deck. But the salesman will probably need a crowbar to pry all that $$$ out of my hand. :)
  2. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 852

    Doing 6 acres really rules out a residential unit in my opinion. Most residential ZTR's not only have residential quality engines that don't last long, but they also have integrated drive units that are only rated for 800 hours.

    There are two types of integrated drives, all made by Hydrogear. The EZT has very small shafts and is EXTRA flimsy. The IZT unit is built tougher but still is only rated for 800 hours.

    If I were you I would not settle for anything that does not have a commercial rated engine and individual pumps and motors.

    If there is a Bad Boy dealer in your area, you should look at the Bad Boy Pup model. It lists for under $6000 and could probably be had for just a little over $5K. It is VERY tough built, easy maintenance access and a GREAT company behind it. They are a great value if there is a dealer in your area. You can find out at www.badboymowers.com. No, I don't work for Bad Boy. I just like their products and their great way of doing business.

    Good luck,
  3. dahammer

    dahammer LawnSite Member
    Messages: 227

    Ok, thanks for your input. You echo'ed what my gut has been telling me on the commercial vs homeowner debate.

    As to a Bad Boy dealer in my area, according to their website, there is one approx. 40 miles from me. It's listed as a "Saw Shop" so I'd think they'd be a full service dealer. I'm in that area often, so I'll go by and check them out.

    There are so many different modules from so many different manufactors it's hard to keep it all straight.

    Couple other questions. I've noticed some manufactors offer both a horizontal shaft engine and a vertical one. Is there any advantage/disadvantage there? And on the ExMarks, they list the drive system as follows:

    Lazer Z HP:
    Two Hydro-Gear 10cc/rev variable displacement pumps powering two high-torque Parker/Ross TL0240 wheel motors with 1.25" (3.18 cm) diameter tapered shafts

    Lazer Z CT:
    Two Hydro-Gear 10cc/rev variable displacement pumps powering two high-torque Hydro-Gear (Danfoss) wheel motors with 1.0" (2.54 cm) diameter tapered shafts.

    Lazer Z:
    Two Hydro-Gear 12cc/rev pumps with integral SCR (System Check Relief) valves, powering two high torque Parker/Ross TL0240 wheel motors with 1.25" (3.18 cm) diameter tapered shafts

    I persume non of these are what you're calling intergrated are they? And that the Parker/Ross wheel motors are the more desirable ones.
  4. Travis Followell

    Travis Followell LawnSite Silver Member
    from KY
    Messages: 2,206

    The two machines that I would recommend are Bad Boy and Ferris. Bad Boy's are built tough and are priced very reasonably with good people behind it. The Ferris IS 1500 is built a little lighter than the Bad Boy's but they are still full commercial machines and the suspension will really help out on the rough ground. Either mower would be an excellent choice. The Grasshoppers are nice machines also. Stay away from the Cub Cadet because its a residential machine and wouldn't last a year mowing all that ground and stay away from the husqvarna machines also. Poorly designed, Poorly built, and a company that absolutely 100% does not stand behind their product. The Exmarks are good too but just way overpriced in my opinion.

    About the wheel motors. None of the Exmarks you listed has integrated drives. Exmark doesn't use them on any of their machines. Hydro Gear pumps are the most widely used pump and Parker wheel motors are the most widely used motor however Bad Boy chooses to use Hydro gear wheel motors also. These are all good.
  5. theplayer

    theplayer LawnSite Member
    from ri
    Messages: 13

    I bought A ferris IZ 1500 this Spring, 48 inch deck 21 Kawasaki...could not be happier. The front and rear shocks do make a difference. Cost was only $5,400...
  6. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 852


    I have never considered there to be an advantage one way or the other with a horizontal versus vertical shaft engine. I saw a post not too long ago where someone was claiming that a horizontal shaft engine was much longer lived.

    I really don't know where they are coming from with that statement. Maybe there are some horizontal shaft engines that are built differently for some reason. It seems that in larger engines the only horizontal shaft engines are like the big Vanguard and other premium engines. Maybe that is what the poster was talking about. Still there are lots of good vertical shaft engines as well. Just like anything else there are good and bad of everything.

    As far as horizontal shaft on a ZTR mower goes, the only one that I have looked at closely is the Bad Boy AOS and diesel models. What I liked about them was the access to the pump built. I'll bet I could change one in ten minutes.

    As others were pointing out, the Ferris is definitely worth looking at. My local Ferris dealer only had one mower and it was an IS1000 with a Kawasaki. It was a nice mower and the price wasn't out of line. The only thing that kept me from pursuing it further was the dealer. Whatever you get, make sure the dealer is good to work with and stands behind their products. The dealer should be considered almost as much as the mower itself IMHO.

    Good luck with your decision,
  7. dahammer

    dahammer LawnSite Member
    Messages: 227

    Ok thanks for the help guys. I was talking with a co-worker today and as it turns out his brother owns a Scag/Cub Cadet dealership in a town about 40 miles from me. To hear him talk he can get me a super deal on a Scag, especially since the end of the season is near. So I've been looking at them on Scag's website and I like the specs on the Wildcat so I'm going to go check one out soon.

    I also took ride on an ExMark Lazer Z today and liked it very well. I was amazed out how easily it handled and how responsive it was. And even though I'd been told (by the Grasshopper dealer) that they rode ruff, I found it very comfortable. Of course anything is surely an improvement when you're use to sitting on a 15 year Snapper. :)
  8. nhlakes

    nhlakes LawnSite Member
    from nh
    Messages: 23

    While shopping around, keep a close eye on the classified boards here. Occasionally you'll see commercial z's that were $7-8K a new a year or so ago, with very low hours, available for under $5K.
  9. iluvscag

    iluvscag LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 743

    Scag is a very good machine. :)
  10. dahammer

    dahammer LawnSite Member
    Messages: 227


    I checked out the scags over the weekend and I must say I was impressed. They look very well engineered and very heavy duty. I didn't get a chance to demo one because it was raining, but the dealer told me to come back and he'd would let me cut with one if I wanted. I like them better than anything I've seen thus far. He also had a full line of Ferris and Snapper ZTRs. Neither of which I liked as well as the Scags. Albeit the Ferris' are HUGE!

    Anyway, I'm torn between the full size Tiger and the Wildcat. I want a 52" deck, which both models offer. The Tiger is obviously a way heavier built machine. Double tube frame vs single, 27hp Kohler vs 25hp Kawasaki, 16cc pumps vs 10cc pumps, 9 anti-scalp wheels (7 postitions) vs 4 anti-scalp wheels (4 postitions), shaft driven deck vs belt driven and etc. He quoted me $7700 for the Wildcat and $8200 for Tiger. My main concern with the Tiger is the shaft drive and since I see you own a few of them, can you answer a couple questions?

    It would be more costly to repair than a belt and pulleys, but my guess is it will outlast the belt-pulley setup 10 to 1, so I doubt that's an issue long term. Your thoughts?

    What about the cut quality of the shaft driven Tiger? Is it as good as it's little brother?

    What is the blade tip speed on the Tigers? I assume it's somewhat less than the WIldcat due to the gearbox-shaft setup, even though it has an additional 2hp. I bet it losses more than that in the gearbox.

    Anyway, the Tiger just seems more like a minature bushhog than a mower, not that that's a bad thing. But I doubt I'd ever even come close to taxing it in tall grass/weeds, so I'm thinking it's probably overkill.

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