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Is a Hydro really worth it??

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by ple_1969, Oct 7, 2002.

  1. ple_1969

    ple_1969 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 204

    I am looking to buy either an Exmark 48” Metro HP or the 48” Turf Tracer HP for non commercial use on 1.24 acres. I have performed a search and from what I read it makes me feel that a hydro is the way to go, but I am confused. Now, I am a homeowner that will only be cutting my lawn once a week and have no intentions of using it commercially or in the rain. I have read that belt slippage, tearing turf and backing up with the belt drive is a problem. Now with the hydro, the costs to buy and to replace parts are the major issue. My question to you, for my needs, would the extra $1900 be worth it for the hydro or will the belt drive be more that adequate?

  2. KLMlawn

    KLMlawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 443

    For homeowner use, a hydro is not necessary. If anything, it would be a hydro that would tear at the turf - in the hands of an inexperienced operator (and even sometimes experienced, just can't help it) before a belt drive would.
    You have the right idea with Exmark, and depending on what your preference is, it would be worth getting the mulching kit for it as well, they work great. Of course a catcher is always good to have on hand too.
    As far as maintenance, you will probably have much less repair issues with the hydro, by design - less stuff to break and go wrong, but not worth the extra investment for home use. Your belts, tentioners, and everthing that a belt machine has that a hydro doesn't will last a long time with just a 1x a week cutting regeim. You might have to replace the belts because of dry rot more than wear and tear. Just make sure you sharpen your blades frequently - most important thing. For most homeowners, every 8-10 weeks is good and your lawn will like you more for it :D
  3. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Keep in mind that my experience with belt drives is limited, I used older Scags and Buntons back in the mid 80's when I lived with some landscapers and have used by uncle's 48 belt drive J. Deere. I currently have a 48 Turf Tracer HP for commercial use and wouldn't consider trading it for a belt drive.

    With that said, I think that the Metro would probably suit your needs fine. If you're a homeowner, you probably wouldn't be cutting in the rain like some of the pros do (belt slippage issue) and any increase in productivity from using a hydro probably wouldn't save you all that much more time. It depends a lot on what your lawn is like. Lot's of obstacles and hills would tend to sway toward the hydro. As far as reverse, you can always alter your property a bit to minimize the need for reverse.

    If money is no object, I say go with the hydro. If it is, go with the belt drive. Either one is a big step above a lawn tractor. You might even want to consider a fixed deck rather than a floating deck model, since you probably won't be changing the cutting height much (one reason many choose the floating deck) and operated with care, a 48 doesn't have a great tendency to scalp, unless you're cutting low. That also depends on how uneven your ground is though, of course.

    The best bet is to demo both and then you can make a more educated decision.

  4. HarryD

    HarryD LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,068

    i say go with the hydro for a little more cash ya get a much better mower IMO . you could get the sterable sulky to go with it , or a stand on velke . also i would go with the 52" Exmark with the mulch kit . even though this is gunna be used for your home why not get the best and have a lawn that looks like a pro mows it . ;)

    i myself just picked up a 52" Exmark turf tracer hydro with a 23HP kawasaki got the 2001 power unit with pistle grip controls and a 2002 52" deck for $5,300.00 . i would go now and see what your local dealer has available before winter . you will get a much better deal now plus they have the no money down no payment till april and march financing . mow now pay later .
  5. bubble boy

    bubble boy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    save the $2000, get the belt. then treat yourself to a sulky.
  6. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Messages: 1,540

    My vote goes to the HYDRO for the following reasons:

    1) Easier to use/manuever. No gears to bang...especially reverse.

    2) Better machine.

    3) Less prone to breakage due to lack of trans/gears and extra belts.

    4) Lower mantainance issues.

    5) Higher re-sell value!

    Well worth the extra money...in my humble opinion.
  7. scott's turf

    scott's turf LawnSite Senior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 949

    Let's face it, the guy is going to use this thing 1X per week. Maybe 35 hrs per year. What is going to wear out on a belt drive with that little use? I had one for years and it didn't give me all that much trouble. For a home owner they don't need the fastest machine or the ability to mow wet grass. Most of the time they can wait. Save yourself lots of money and get a belt drive. It will probably last you forever. Get a sulky for a couple of hundred and you will be fine. Now if you have money to burn why not get a 60 lazer and ride!
  8. ple_1969

    ple_1969 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 204

    Thank you to everyone that has replied to my question. However, it seem that the response is sort of spit between getting the hydro or the belt drive. Here is another question for you. The reason why I am getting a professional mower is for the quality of cut that the mower produces. I am a fanatic about my lawn and I have read posts that the belt drive will rip or divot the grass on the inside wheel while turning. This is something that I do not want. Since the hydro is a true “zero-turn” this will not happen because the inside wheel can be put into reverse. For you guys that run the belt, have you experienced the divots in the grass while turning? Can this be avoided?

  9. scott's turf

    scott's turf LawnSite Senior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 949

    It has to do mostly with the experience of the operator and less of the type machine. I had run belt drive for years and now own a hyrdo lazer. I have run it for a few months and feel very comfortable on it but I find that due to the larger tires and sudden acceleration and deccelation I chew up the grass more. you never truely zero turn. If you did then you would be facing the path that you just cut. It is more like a three point turn. With a belt drive machine I would mow the border twice around shooting the grass towards the center and then start the stripes. THis would give me plenty of room to do a 180 turn without scuffing the lawn. You never want to lock up one tie completely and rotate around it. The inside wheel should follow a tear shape trajectory.
  10. SIG

    SIG LawnSite Member
    Messages: 188

    Any mower will divot the turf if you turn too fast. Anytime one wheel stops you are going to skin up the turf. It is more a product of operating it properly. I think a belt drive would do less damage, personally. Sig

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