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How important is blade tip speed?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by abospaum, Oct 8, 2003.

  1. abospaum

    abospaum LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    I'm the owner of 2 acres with not a lot of time to cut the grass. My neighbor with a similar piece of property was able to get someone to mow his lawn for $65/week. I would rather put that money into a faster mower.

    One of my local dealers carries the Fastrak. I am concerned that the blade tip speed of <16,000 fpm along with a max speed of 7MPH might not save me that much time versus my current lawn tractor.

    A friend of mine bought a Fastrak last summer when they were on special for $4700 for the 20hp Honda & 52" deck. They like it but I am curious how much more I could get for another $1000.

    I don't like the Exmark CT with only a 48" deck and 1 cylinder engine.

    Other considerations:
    Toro Z100 (19hp or 23hp KAW & 52" deck)
    Ferris IZ1000 (21hp KAW & 48"deck)
    Scag Tiger Cub (19hp KAW & 48"deck)
    Cub Tank (19hp KAW 48"deck)
    Lesco Z-Two (only $6199 for 23hp KAW & 54" deck)

    Also any comments on the Ariens Zoom 2252. This is a residential machine with a 22hp B&S (2 cylinder), 52" fabricated deck (12 ga. with 7 guage reinforcements) in the low $4K.

    It is mandatory that I'm under $6K. I would prefer to be in the low $5K range.

    Of these machines the Fastrak has the slowest blade speed. How much of a factor should that play in my purchase.
  2. awm

    awm LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,354

    blade tip speed is important but relative to type blade used ,deck design. to much blade speed in the wrong conditions can actually hurt cut quality...properly sharpened blades is of course necessary.
    i suspect that the machines u are looking at will really be great, for what u need,as long as u do good maintenance..
    also id go with the blade the machine is sold with,,especially on consumer models.. after all they probably did a little homework as to what cuts best with their machine.good luck
  3. Doc Pete

    Doc Pete LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,469

    IMO, blade speed is not as important as vacuum (sail). Case in point. All machines cut better with doubles, but the cut you see is done by only one setup of blades, since the other set is 1/4" higher. Furthermore, once you are spinning at 16,000 fpm, what's another few 1,000.
    So, I believe pulling up the grass and cutting it off straight is more important than a few 1,000 fpm. Oh yeah, increasing fpm increases the vacuum (kinda catch 22)........ Just my opinion. I think we can use much bigger sails on the blades......
  4. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Messages: 3,010

    awm--can you develop this thought a little more?

    I don't know what conditions you are talking about.


  5. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    Did you check price of a eXmark Lazer HP? It would have the bigger twin engine. Look into a eXmark Turf Tracer hydro floating deck walk behind with ECS controls, electric start twin cylinder engine and a TrimmerTrap Bull Rider sulky or a ProSlide sulky would compare with a rider. I have a 52" 17hp Turf Tracer HP twin Kaw rope start with ProSlide sulky and am very happy with it. My yard is 2.1 hilly acres and I can mow it all at full speed in one hour exactly. The full size TT is .6 mph faster than my TTHP so you gain alittle there and you could get a 60" one and do it in 40-45 minutes I would guess. The Proslide stripes good and rides smooth and lets you walk when you want/need to just by stepping off. The Bull Rider makes it like a stand on rider by never stepping off and being able to reverse and steer without jacknifing. The two sulkies are about the same price, in the $350 range. Also check out a Hustler Super walk behind with one of those two sulkies. Any of these setups would be under $6,000 normally and they're really cool, fun and fast plus do an excellent job.

    52" do about 2-2.25 acre/hr.
    60" do about same amount in 45 minutes or so.

    eXmark Turf Tracer does 6.8mph
    Hustler super w/b does 8mph I beleive.

    Walk behind with sulky is usually cheaper, always easier on lawn and won't take much longer than a rider really. Plus the ride is smoother IMO and you can put the deck under trees, bushes, etc. like you cannot do with a rider and visibility is great.

    Just some thoughts...
  6. GeorgiaGrassMan

    GeorgiaGrassMan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 147

    When you consider the inital costs plus operating, upkeep and cost-of-money costs (6K up front versus $65.00 paid out weekly), $65.00 per week seems like a heck of a deal. I know I wouldn't do 2 acres for that, but if you have someone who will, I would carefully consider that option - especially since you mentioned that your time is valuable to you. If you just enjoy doing it, that's different, but every mower that you mentioned is serious overkill for doing 2 acres a week. Of the ones you mentioned, the Fastrak is what I would recommend since you don't like the Lazer CT which would be my first choice for a homeowner mowing 2 acres a week.
  7. abospaum

    abospaum LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    Thanks for your replies.

    With regards to $65/week is the lowest of 10 guys that my neighbor had bid. This price is for mowing only and no trimming or picking up of clippings.

    A summer like this one that we had on the east coast has meant about 28 weeks of mowing.

    So figure $2000/year. If I buy a mower that will last 10 years or so it will be paid off in 3 years plus some additional each year for upkeep.

    If I could mow my lawn in an hour it would be easy to do when I get home from work. Right now I can only do it on weekends because of the time commitment.
  8. ALVW

    ALVW LawnSite Member
    Messages: 23

    I cut 1.5 acres in New York State with a JD LX279 with the 48C deck. Takes about 1.5 hrs. only because i have the bagger attachment and have to dump about 10 times per cut. Great cut as long as I keep the blades sharpened and as they say, "Nothing runs like a Deere". Going on 5 years and the machine has more than paid for itself. My neighbors pay $75 each per cut X 28 per year X 5 = $10,500. My purchase price was $5900. It is also a tractor and not just a mower so I get a lot of use out of it. If you have the time to cut and willingness to cut than I say go for your own. One more thing. If I ever want to sell and upgrade I could still probably get $3,000 - $4,000.
  9. abospaum

    abospaum LawnSite Member
    Messages: 22

    JD LX579 w/ 48" deck MSRP is only $5199. This machine only goes 5.5 MPH and has a 20" turning radius. For you to get 1.5 acres done in an hour and a half is pretty good. I assume that you are pretty flat and don't have a lot of trees or obstacles.

    Why would I ever spend $5K on this machine though. Hustler Fastrac with a 48" deck is only about $4200-$4400. It has a faster speed, a more durable deck and frame, zero turn radius, etc.

    While the Deere is made for attachments and hauling as well this particular model is only 17hp which isn't that much. I would be better off just getting a cheap tractor with a lot of hp or individual pieces of equipment such as a snowblower.

    Also can any lawn tractor compare with a zrt mower? You have big front tires below a heavy engine weighing done the grass even before you get the chance to cut it. Does your JD strip?
  10. RichmondR

    RichmondR LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    I use a JD LX 178 (15hp LC) with a 38" deck and am thinking of getting a commercial ZTR as well for speed and cut quality -- using the same sort of "payback analysis" you did, and thinking about the blade speed issue, too. One of the issues you start running into with the ZTRs, as compared to the tractors, is that the accessories can get quite expensive. For instance, if you would ever want to add a rear bagger, at the current time I dont know that you can get even get a factory bagger on the Fastrack, but its a common option on the JD tractors. If you spend the extra money on a MiniZ (or Lazer HP or Tiger Cub), you then have to pay an extra 2-3 K for a rear bagger. Closing in on 10K.

    On the other hand ... I wonder whether, if you are going to get a ZTR, its best to get a genuine commercial one for resale value. Obviously, the commercial machines will have the highest blade speeds, which take care of that issue. Using your numbers, in 10 years you will only put about 280 - 350 hours on the machine, which is next to nothing for a commercial user, and your used ZTR should command a good premium should you ever sell it. My point simply is that you shouldn't't forget resale/residual value, and a well maintained. low hour commercial unit from a respected brand should have the best resale value. I think this is also supported by the rate of price increases in commercial equipment versus residential equipment.

    On the other hand, this could all just be me creating a rationalization for spending a ton of money on something that is simply way cooler than just "another" JD tractor (smile) -- kinda like the guy that gets the Ferrari in a neighborhood filled with MBs and Lexuses. :>)

    Good luck with your decision.

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