I have a JX85 and a JX75, neither has gone down in 2 years of use. Not even a belt. I know of 4 LCO's locally that use them and have had NO problems from them. My question is.... are you using them yourself or is your crew using them? Either way they should not go down that much. I am a maintenance freak, I adjust the belt tensions, for the transmission and clutch about twice a year. I have hrs meters on both of them for maintenance frequency. I would be curious to know exactly what has gone wrong with your Deere's so that I could look closely at mine to see if I will have the same problems.
I use my mower myself , so damage was due to me not a crew member .
I have had to change two wheel assemblies and countless wheel bolts. I keep a box of them in the truck. The plastic piece that runs the transmission broke in pieces . Hmmm .. that reminds me to pick up another spare. Drive gears on axles several times . Drive belts several times , but thats just normal wear . I have had cable ends break off as well. The good part is the Kawasaki motor is solid as a rock.
Honda 216! Yes Nice mower. One draw back that I have found since I purchased mine earlier this year is the weight. Look at the 215 you will save a little bit in weight and money. Built like a brick turd house though. Love it. Get the mulch kit with it. Excelent even in wet grass. I waxed my underside and so far have very little grass stick to it even when wet, this is after 2 months of use. Plan on cleaning it up again and waxing before rains really hit so that I can save some time in scrapping and try to keep from hearing that god awful sound we all hate.
Good luck in your decision.
My HRC's don't mulch too well in wet grass, although it was SUPER wet. I'm going to try the wax...what kind do you use (ski wax???)...where can I get it.
They are awesome mowers other than that though!
We have always used Commercial Hondas. Last year, due to an auto accident, we lost 2 of them at once. While we were waiting for the other person's insurance to buy us new ones, we rented two of the commercial hydro JD's. That was about 2 weeks. When we got our Hondas back, my guys were never happier! They hated the JDs. I don't know about reliability. All I know is my guys (who mow almost 100 lawns weekly) really prefer the Hondas.
I just use the Kohler monitors. Not sure which model they are. They have a ground and the little red wire that goes around the spark plug wire. Simple. Get you one, it is much better to be correct than to guess when things need to be tended to.
Let it Grow-
I use just auto wax. I tell you the key is to do it when you buy it brand new Never cut grass condition. Wax every little part underneath and try to wipe it all off.
If using it for the first time try to clean the deck as good as possible so you get good wax to metal coverage. Might need to wax a couple of times to remove all grass residue.
I have to admit I have not found a mower that doesn't cake a little with this but it helps dramatically.
The wetter the grass the more you will have problems with any mower but i can assure you this, my neighbor has a husqvarna z turn (home owner bought commercial mower with a little coaxing) and told him to wax. He mows on tuesday rain or shine at 800 am. His lower end floods (2-3"standing water) and he mows right through it. He is lounny (sp) about his lawn and doesn't want any blade to go uncut spring through winter on a weekly basis. Any ways He has had no problem with clumping regardless of how wet it is.
Good luck. and experiment with different waxes. I thing I used turtle wax cause it was cheap.