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Mower Recommendations for Home Owner

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Jackinkc, May 5, 2013.

  1. Valk

    Valk LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,711

    Some prefer pistol grips, some don't...same with ECS.

    Your quality of cut will go through the roof. If you're wanting to mulch, I'll recommend doing it in the Summer and Fall using a full mulch kit. Lush Spring growth is a tall task to make disappear...this is where side-discharging will be preferable. Personally, I side-discharge all year with the exception of November's leaves - which I mulch.
  2. crazyson2001

    crazyson2001 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    Thanks for the info. The more I read about these, the more I am convinced to get a used commercial unit like you say. I've been into a couple mower shops to browse and they all try to steer me towards the Toro Timemaster. I have read some very mixed reviews on it which makes me nervous.

    So if both machines have been maintained well, it sounds like the slightly older machine with the hydro would be preferable to a slightly newer belt drive.

    What should I be looking for when I inspect a potential purchase? What are the signs that a mower is in good shape vs one that has been beat up?
  3. macgyver_GA

    macgyver_GA LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 826

    A belt drive machine will still go in reverse, just not as quickly and easily as a hydro. My old snapper pro belt drive would reverse just fine. You just had to stop the machine, lock one of the hand brakes, pull the gear selector back to reverse, then release the hand brakes to back up. With my new(er) hydro machine, I just pull backwards on the controls if I want to back up.
  4. Valk

    Valk LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,711

    Are you buying from a dealer or the original owner? Not sure what it would cost or how convenient it would be to have 'someone in the know' to look it over for you...akin to having a mechanic examine a used car before purchase king of thing.
  5. crazyson2001

    crazyson2001 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 8

    I would be purchasing from the original owner. Not a dealer.

    I'm not sure who I would have look at it, but that is something to consider.

    The appearance is clean and well taken care of. And it seems to run well. I guess I should check the spindles to see if they are loose, and look at the condition of the belts, air filter, etc?
  6. Valk

    Valk LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,711

    I've never bought a used piece of lawn equip, so take this fwiw.

    While a bit of a pain, examining the spindles is best done with the blade-belt off...then wiggled from underneath. They will also free-spin (smoothly) with the belt removed.

    Does it start easily? Electric or pull-start, listen to everything while the engine is running...engage the blades checking for mysterious sounds. Check the end of the dipstick. If adequate servicing was performed, then it should be pretty clean. Of course, it could have been cleaned/wiped off ahead of time...but this can be a decent 'tell'.

    There are quite a few threads around here on what to look for. The above items are just a few.

    Personally, I would also consider the level of rapport with the owner. Ask lots of questions about how it was used, what yr purchased, original owner (was break-in oil changed on time?), any issues, what parts may have been replaced, hydro fluid replaced(???), battery (IFF electric start), air cleaner condition, etc... You want to feel/get a sense it was taken care of.
  7. dareo

    dareo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    Time master has been good to me. I run no ethanol, synthetic oil, keep the deck clean, and its been enough power. Sometimes i have to walk a little slower, or even double cut. But when it cuts 30" of grass per pass its still a huge time saver. Mine sips gas, and is faster than my old snapper 28" riding mower. The snapper had lots of power for tall grass but the turn radius made it take significantly longer. I mow every week and my timemaster gets it done fast. I can do my personal home so quickly, that i often will mow twice per week just for the fun/exercise.

    You can get one at home depot and if you hate it, take it back.

    It's not better than a really good 32" or 36" walk behind but its $1000 brand new, light weight, fuel efficient. If i side discharge it can handle longer grass. It's not a strong bagger. Its really a mulcher from the ground up. I'd probably sell mine and upgrade to a new model if they had a bit more power, but i'm happy so far.
  8. jod78

    jod78 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 51

    Toro's two HD commercial 21" mowers are great and built like tanks. Excellent mulchers. I bought model 22195 (Honda powered) for $1150 brand new. The Kawasaki 22197 is $1050 new I believe and more powerful than the Honda. I considered the $1000 30" unit they sell, and yeah I'm sure it'll save you some time over the 21" models, but I opted for the commercial 21" because Im just a sucker for extremely well built equipment. The 30" Timemaster will probably hold up just fine for homeowner use and the full blown commercial unit might be overkill for my application, but nonetheless the Timemaster is still fairly cheap looking to me. Go look at one of the models I mentioned above...it's night and day difference over the Timemaster in terms of build quality.
  9. dareo

    dareo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    The downside to commercial models is the added weight. I've had good success with just being careful with home owner models and enjoying the lighter weight. The timemaster can be tossed around like a 21 but it cuts huge area.

    They do make the commercial version of the 30" now, Toro Turfmaster and the Exmark 30. They weigh 35 more lbs and cost about $800 more.

    Similar comparisons can be made on the 21s. The home owner 20382 with Honda engine is nice, and only 79 lbs, for about $550. I don't doubt the build quality of your HD model, but it is 29lbs heavier and 2x the price.

    To me, every pound is more work i have to do on my lawn, and the 5 others i do every week, getting it in the truck, ect. So to enjoy the time value of money today and have a lighter mower usually works out better for me. If i get a new mower every 5-10 years its not so bad, cause i spent half in the first place. Plus its fun getting a new mower. I'd be bored to spend decades with the same one.

    My old homeowner toro 22" took 7 years of this 6 lawns a week use and still works to this day, but i gave it away to a family member since it can't cut 30" at once. I had to mow a vacant lot of tall weeds with it a few times a year. I expected that lot of weeds to kill the Toro but it pulled through. Thankfully it has a house on it now and i don't have to mow the weeds anymore.

    The quality difference on commercial is pretty big. I have a commercial Snapper from 1993 that has a tighter handle setup than my Time master and still operates flawlessly. But its only a 21" so i only use it to Hi-Vac stuff or if i need more exercise.

    Hopefully this sheds some light on the home owner vs commercial mower debate.

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