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is a floating deck and hydro important

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by BRAD2723, Mar 30, 2004.

  1. BRAD2723

    BRAD2723 LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 17

    I have looked at both floating decks and fixed and have mixed opinions from sales reps. I have also looked at hydo and belt drives. I am thinking of using a 48 in deck in either a toro or scag.
    i am just starting out, I would appreciate any opinions. Im not really set on brand. Any help is appreciated
  2. grass_cuttin_fool

    grass_cuttin_fool LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,526

    I can speaK from experience unless you are mowing flat and even ground go with the floating deck. The fixed deck will tend to scalp the turf on dips and uneven ground. I own both scag and toro and I like the t-bar controls on the toro over the pistol grip controls, MY best advice is to try out both machines and see which machine you like best. the scag and toro and both mow and stripe great, just my 2 cents worth
  3. grass_cuttin_fool

    grass_cuttin_fool LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,526

    I forgot to answer on the hydro,both of my mowers are gear drive. A hydro unit will have a reverse on it, the gear drive has a reverse that you have to assist with. In other words you have to muscle the machine to back it up with almost no help from the mower with a gear drive. And on a hill the gear drive has a tendency to free wheel or run a way with you going down hill as where the hydro will hold itself at a constant speed going down hill. I hope this explains it good enuff, if not other guys on here are better at wording and explaining things and welcome to lawnsite
  4. YardMeister

    YardMeister LawnSite Member
    Messages: 56

    Just thought that I'd add to the thread. The first commercial mower I bought was a Howard Price 36" gear driven fixed deck. When it was new and being broke-in, as-well-as my learning how to use it, I thought that I had to really use some muscle on it. I did. But... as it broke-in, and I got more experience, things got a lot easier. 90% of my contracts involve properties with hills, big hills. At first, I was scared to use it on the hills. Took too much effort to control it. Now the controls are broken in to just needing finger-tip type 1/4" squeezes on the controls to steer it, and full hand squeezes to apply breaks hard. I have gotten use to that middle ground where squeezing disengages the drives, so the machine can be pulled backward when needed. Those times when I actually need reverse, the Howard Price has a "Positive" reverse. It actually has enough power to back me and the sulky up, going up hill or up the trailer ramp. I can steer it in reverse and everything. This strong reverse and the grease-able 1" thick spindles are a couple of the reasons I went with HP. Lots of people will bad mouth the company over a period when there was a problem getting parts. Now days, things are better. I can go to our local dealer and buy anything for the mower. I assume that other brands of gear driven mowers will break-in and have similar controls. I also have a rider used for leaf removal and large jobs. My favorite is the gear driven walk-behind though. I usually keep the sulky in the up position and walk behind the machine. I seem to enjoy it more. When I'm mulching leaves or cutting a large area of boring flat land, I'll pull the sulky down and ride it, but usually it rides. I have the two wheel sulky where the wheels swivel.

    Sorry for going on so much. Basically I wanted to give my experience with a gear-drive machine. I think that they are very good machines, and give a very good cut. They get easier to use, with experience. They seem to be built like tanks too. Tough!

    Good luck.
  5. charlies

    charlies LawnSite Senior Member
    from earth
    Messages: 587

    if you can afford it, get the hydro and floating deck, you'll never regret it. it may cost a little more to maintain over the cousre of it's life, but it is well worth it in my opinion. we have both kinds, and our 32" exmark metro is very nice. but i'll take the hydro's any day.
  6. J.Gordon

    J.Gordon LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 674

    I know that I wouldn’t trade my floating deck hydro for any belt drive fixed deck walk-behind out there period. The floating deck is a lot faster to change the height on, which is a big plus. But adds to the price. The Hydro’s give you a true reverse and take a lot less effort to operate. I have a Hustler SWB and it’s so easy to operate and fast. On the downside they cost a lot more.
    On a smaller walk-behind it wouldn’t bother me as much getting the gear drive because I wouldn’t be using it as much, and its a lot easier to manhandle than an 750lb. SWB.
    I would still prefer the floating deck though, because I change my mowing heights frequently. If the money weren’t an issue I would opt for the Floating Deck Hydro and not look back. If it is an issue get what you can afford and upgrade when you can afford it. You never know you might like the fixed deck gear drive. Between the two choices you have I would get the T-bar over the pistol grips. If you have a Hustler dealer around you need to check out their H-bar. A lot of the companies are putting better controls on their walk-behinds so check them all out. Make sure you demo the machines, and make sure your dealer will be there if you need them! Good luck!

  7. raintreelawns

    raintreelawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    I'm just starting as well and after much deliberation and DEMOing I decided on the Hustler WB Hydro 48" floating deck. All I have to say is WOW!

    My recommendation id demo every model you can get your hands on...
  8. BRAD2723

    BRAD2723 LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Messages: 17

    Thanks for all your help, I am learning more and more

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    I have a Metro HP 48. The deck is easy to change deck height on which is nice, I have not used a fixed deck so I can not compare but I would think the float would help. The mower is a belt drive and does not go backwards! I am so sorry that I did not get a hydro. It over runs going down hill. It will turn downhill going sideways across a hill. I see that you are from IN. so this might not be a problem for you. What might be a problem even on the flats is turning around to do the next pass. All you can do is slow down or stop a tire to turn, so you have to be very careful that you do not tear up the grass when turning. It would be very helpful to reverse one side to help line up for the next pass. If time is not important to you or will not be as you grow than this does not matter, but if you want to make profit than try to swing the Hydro. For my lots a 36" hydro would be a lot more productive than a belt 48". In a 36" deck you may not need a floating deck and than the price should not be to far apart. Remember, Price and Cost are 2 very different things. The price of my mower was less but it is costing me a lot more. My best advice---TEST DRIVE--TEST DRIVE---TEST DRIVE--. go on a rainy day and try them, RUN THEM ON HILLS!!. Make them go backwards on the lawn not just the parking lot. Drive one into a gully and try to get it out. Most all the units out there will last a long time so be sure what you get you will be happy using and will be most productive for you. By the way, besides the hydro issue I love my Exmark and really like the ECS controls. Sorry for a long answer but thought a litte (OK a lot) explanation would be helpful. Good luck with your business.
  10. charlies

    charlies LawnSite Senior Member
    from earth
    Messages: 587

    or drive one in a nearby pond and let the dealer get it out! i can think of a few dealers i would like to do this to! really, if you played it off well, what could they do?

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