Mower daily upkeep- help me experts!!!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Rich1101, Oct 22, 2010.

  1. Rich1101

    Rich1101 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    I would really appreciate expert help here.

    I am very handy, but in no way a mechanic. I am not in the "business", either. I have a couple of acre property that I intend to mow myself, and I am in the market for a used walk behind (hydro), or ride on (tiger cub, lazer Z). I was thinking of an exmark turf tracer/ scag.

    I think I will probably put less than 50 hours per YEAR on the machine.

    I want to take the machine out of my garage once each week, mow, for about an hour, and then put it away.

    Here is my question: I want to get a machine with somewhere around 300-500 hours. Am I setting myself up for a huge headache? I see that these are quite complicated machines there is hydro fluid, belts to tension, spots to grease, blades to sharpen etc. I would have no problem doing those things myself, but I dont think I will know what to do with nobody to teach me. I dont have the money for a new machine, so I cannot do that.

    do most of you guys tinker with the mower daily? if I picked up a machine with 1000 hours is that a guarantee that I will be forever fixing /maintaining it? keep in mind, I dont even have a trailer to get the thing to the shop! I want something as easy to keep running as humanly possible.

    Suggestions please????? new mower and bite the bullet???? less than XXX hours before the shi_ hits the fan???? what can you tell me, please


    Thanks in advance

  2. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,268

    The main things that you are going to want to be easy are things like changing the oil, greasing and changing out belts. If you are tinkering with your machine every day to make it run without problems, there is something wrong. You should not have to be doing repairs on it regularly.

    At the beginning of my day when I'm mowing (before I even start the engine) I'll check the oil level and make sure that the air filter is still okay, I'll glance at the tires to ensure no flats and check the hydro level (which for me is just a glance at the tank since mine is transparent).

    As far as the maintenance I do, I change the engine oil every 50 hours. I change out the air filters as needed. I grease components every 50 hours (per my owner's manual). I change the blades on the mower every 10-15 hours, at that same time I clean under the mowing deck and just do a visual inspection of the deck belt. I also use my leaf blower and blow off the mower at the end of every day so it gets put away clean. There are a few little things like changing the spark plugs and fuel filter, which I do annually.

    I do bring in my mower to the dealer for hydraulic service (which hasn't been done yet as my mower is too new) and engine repair (again my mower hasn't needed any repair).

    You don't have to be a mechanic to own one of these mowers. I really am not that mechanically inclined, I can do the general maintenance stuff but thats about it. But my machine stays in great shape both cosmetically and mechanically.

    As far as buying a mower, the 300-500 hour range you mentioned is not a bad range. These mowers will last 2000+ hours with proper maintenance. You can buy new, which makes it nice since you'll know the whole history of the mower but buying a mower with 300-500 hours on it will save you thousands. I would shy away from mowers with over 1500 hours if you aren't mechanically inclined. You best bet, is to stay with mowers with under 500 hours.
  3. W.L.M.

    W.L.M. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    A commercial mower with 300-500 hours is still going to have alot of life left. One with 1000 is going to be nickel and diming you on parts and upkeep. There is nothing really complicated on these mowers the owners manual tells you all the regular maintenance that needs done (which is all simple by the way). The biggest pain in the butt is changing the blades out. For a homeowner like yourself just cutting your own lawn i would guess you could possibly go a month or two before the blades will need sharpened so that shouldn't be a problem. For you I would say change the oil and filter once a year, change the airfilter twice a year, and grease 3 times a year, and change the blades monthly. With your useage the hydro oil is rarely going to need changing.
  4. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,256

    I agree, I have a Turf Tracer, its a great machine. I've had it for a couple of years now and put about 10 hours a week on it. It had 1835 hours on it when the engine went out. It took me an hour and half to swap engines and was cutting again. This mower is easy to work on and there is plenty of room on its frame. The only other repair I've done is replace the right spindle assembly and replace an anti scalp wheel. There are 4 grease points on the whole machine that only require it every 50 hours, so I just hit them when I change the oil. I will sharpen the blades every 25 hours and change the outer air filter as needed. If you were to find a used TT with 500 hours or less and took care of it, it should last 20 years.:walking::walking:

    BTW: Get yourself a sulky, beats the crap out of walking.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Probably my primary complaint about homeowners using commercial machines is they fail to grease the zerk points often and liberally,
    my secondary complaint would be about how they sharpen the blades and fail to keep up with the stuff that wears however the
    greasing is by far the more serious as everything else can be attributed to inexperience and as a rule is inexpensive to fix,
    but as for daily..?

    Yes, they do require a LOT more maintenance than a regular mower, that much I'll give.
    But it's one thing if you start a mower at 9am and run it non-stop until 5p, at that point your machine would need maintenance.

    But two acres is hardly 2-3 hours of use, generally I let mine go 8 hours between spells,
    to keep track I usually do mine every tank full of gas (which is about every 8 hours).
    So you can probably mow your yard twice before it needs fuel, at which point I would re-grease ALL zerk points
    and remove and sharpen and re-install all the blades.
    Then, add fuel, fill her up.

    Beyond that whatever you buy you'll still need the owner's manual, once you
    have this you read it, then you do what it says.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2010
  6. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    The condition of used mowers is highly dependant on how it is has been treated. Outward appearance only goes so far in determining how it has been maintained. Like Dr. House says "Everybody lies".

    There is nothing wrong with buying a mower that has 500 or even 1,000 hours on it. If properly maintained and not abused a mower with 1,000 hours on it has a whole lot of hours left in it. In the case of a quality ZTR you can easily expect to get another thousand, maybe 2,000 out of it.

    Your best bet for finding a mower that you know has been well cared for is this. Find a homeowner that has all of his receipts from where he took the mower to the dealer for everything. An older solo op. LCO is also a good choice. I'd tend to stay away from mowers that have had muiple operators using it. When the cat's away the mice will play. In other words, when the boss isn't looking is a good time to see if we can pull wheelies. You Tube has video to prove this.
  7. Rich1101

    Rich1101 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    thanks so much for the advice--- keep it coming--- ps what is a ZERK POINT?
  8. malinois1

    malinois1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 63

    The place where you hook up the grease gun! :laugh::waving:
  9. Littleriver1

    Littleriver1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 811

    I think the best thing you could do is clean the thing off after each use. just blowing the grass off and cleaning the deck will make a big difference. if you get a lot of water on the electrical parts while cleaning will cause a lot of problems. some one once told me that clean will cover over a lot of mistakes. Keeping it clean will help on the resale years from now.
  10. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    I sold my first Z, a 2002 Gravely 250 to a friend of mine with about 700 hours. He is still running it, with about 1200 hours, but has had to replace a starter, one spindle, and has had some electrical problems. I sold my second, a 2007 Gravely 260 with 930 hours to my daughter and her husband last fall. They mow about 1 1/2 hours a week. Only issue they had all this summer was it wouldn't start. Turned out to be just the safety switch on the parking brake wasn't making contact. My daughter fixed that herself.

    By the way, the older Gravely's only have ONE grease zerk. The newer ones, none. With your situation, change the oil once a season, at the end, make sure you keep Sta-Bil in the gas all the time (because it will take you all summer to use full tanks), store it in the dry, and you should have minimal problems.

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