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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Guys! I'm Chris and I do alittle yard mowing. I am still in school, so I'm not real big into it. I have 10 accounts, which consist of 2 churches, 2 cemeteries and 6 houses. I average about 17 hours a week mowing. The deal is, I'm riding a 5 year old Crapsman non zero turn with a 19.5 Hp Briggs and a 42" cut, and it is falling apart on me.

I've been researching on the internet about ZTRs. I really want a commercial grade mower because my yard is 4 acres itself, plus my accounts. The deal is I don't want to go over a 44" cut, because my yards are smaller and the cemeteries are older and the stones are not spaced evenly and a 48" ( non zero turn ) is a real pain to get around in the tighter spots.

My neighbor, who used to have the same accounts, ( I took them over full time this year, worked for him for 5 years prior ) had a Cub Cadet non zero turn, non commercial with a 14 Hp Kohler and a 38" cut that has well over 1,500 hours ( meter broke on 550 hrs on the 2nd roll around on it and it is 10 years old with no major problems and it still runs today. Well 3 years ago he purchased a Gravely Zero-Turn, non commercial mower with a 17.5 Hp Briggs and a 40" cut. It is on it's 3rd year and it is starting to show it's signs of wear and the Briggs seems like it has no power anymore. I also know a guy that has a commercial Gravely Zero-Turn with a 23 or 25 Hp Kawasaki and a 60" Cut that has about 1,000 hours on it and he has had zero problems out of it.

I have come up with this list of mowers.

Residential Grade
Country Clipper Jazee One - Kohler 17Hp, 42" Cut ~
Cub Cadet Z-Force 44 - Kohler 20Hp, 44" Cut
Dixon SpeedZTR 44 - Honda 16Hp, 44" Cut
Snapper FastCut - Kohler 18Hp, 44" Cut


Commercial Grade
Dixon Ram 44 Mag - Kawasaki 19Hp, 44" Cut
Gravely PM 44Z - Kawasaki 17Hp, 44" Cut ~
Hustler Mini Z - Kawasaki 23Hp, 44" Cut
Hustler Super Mini Z - Kawasaki 23Hp, 44" Cut
Scag Z-Cat - Kawasaki KAI 19Hp, 42" Cut
Toro Z100 - Kawasaki 19Hp, 44" Cut

I am debating whether to go ahead and spend the little extra for commercial grade or just get a residential one. The reason for my choices are as follows:

1.Country Clipper, looks good, never heard much about it, but I like the way the deck flips up for maintenance.
2. Cub Cadet, heard they are great mowers, been on my neighbors alot and like it, seem well built and well priced.
3. Dixon, seem like good mowers, there is a guy around here with one that is 15+ years old and still going
4. Snapper, my gmaw had one for over 10- years, still got it, but the 11 Hp Briggs has an oil seal gone but that is all that is wrong with it, 33" cut single blade, cut 4 acres regularly for 12 years before the seal went, but the mower itself is still in good shape.
5. Gravely, heard the commercial grade mowers were good, seem good priced and low maintenance as long as they don't have a Briggs engine.
6. Hustler, heard they were good, don't know much about them but seem dependable
7. Scag, read reviews, never seen one in person, seem to be one of the best
8. Toro, never seen one in person, but they make good push mowers so they should be good.


Sorry for being so long-winded but I am really trying to find the best bang for the buck, and I want one that will last a long time with regular maintenance. Next year I am planning on taking on 5 more accounts, that will be not so much that I cannot keep up during the school months. Thx for anyones opinions and suggestions on these mowers. Right now I am saving up and trying to get a good down payment to go towards a mower and I plan to buy between Chirstmas and Feburary of '06. But I am lookin early because this Crapsman is going downhill quick.
 

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You first want to pick a mower that is popular in your area. This will make it easier to get parts when things do break. On the list you have I would go with the Hustler Super Mini Z. They have a top speed of 13-15 mph and from what I've heard there fairly priced. I'm not positive on that, the closest hustler dealer to me is almost 70 miles away from me. There Top Speed can't be used in all situations, but it will add up ijn areas where it can be used.

I would also look into Exmark. I've used them for 4 years now and they are an almost flawless machine.
 

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Just make sure a reliable dealer is nearby or close to where you live. Customer service and a reliable dealer is worth a few extra bucks for a more costly machine than a less expensive mower with bad service IMO.

Good luck!
 

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OK, I can relate well with you over my years of experience. I think the most important thing I can tell you is this.... the zero turn rider has amazing manuverablity. Add zero turning and suddenly the machine is soooo much smaller when you get used to operating it.

So I suggest you cut yourself some lengths of pvc, wooden dowel, or whatever. Something light. Cut them in the following lengths....

45"
49"
53"
55"
61"
62"

An extra inch being added to each cutting width. Then test these out in your tight clearance areas and keep track of what won't go where. Then make a smart and reasonable decision as to what is the best size to get to handle the majority of the work the quickest. You may even be able to nurse the lawn tractor along several more years if it's only used to hit the narrowest of spots.

I suggest this to you because in this business, there is no replacement for displacement (HP & Torque) and extra cutting width. The ability to cut fast and clean increases your profit potential.

Oh, and as far as the graveyards go, you'd be suprised what you can wiggle-n-slip in and out and get with a zero turn that you can't get to or get as easily with a non-zero turn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thx for the replies guys. I did some more searching and ruled the Toro and Country Clipper out because the dealerships were more than 75 miles away. I have honestly never heard of Exmark mowers ;) But the Exmark, Dixon, and Snapper Dealership is all one place about 24 miles away ( that's close, I live in a podunk town ) I am planning to go test ride all these at some point before I make my final decision and purchase.

Envy, that is a good idea. I will do that before I go back down to the cemeteries and I will even do it in some yards in tight spots. I have mowed with my neighbors Gravely some, but I am nowhere near used to it. I know there is ALOT less weedeating to do when I used to weedeat when he mowed. I ( with help ) mowed the biggest cemetery last weekend. It took 10 hours with 2 people, 1 on a mower and 1 on a weedeater. We finished at the same time, but I did alot more weedeatin' than I normally would do if it were my neighbor on his Zero-Turn.

I don't want to go with a 60" deck because my trailer that I am going use is only 6'x9', it has 4 ft. sides and a ramp/tailgate, single axle and it is a really good mower trailer. Right now I am making the tailgate taller because the incline is too steep for the Crapsman to go up and I am reflooring it. So right now I'm using my 4'x8' tilting 4wheeler trailer.

Thx for adivse and suggestions :D
 

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Gizmo,

If by chance you do reconsider the Country Clipper, (dealerships are regularly spreading). I would not recommend the Jazee One for your application. I would at least go up to the Jazee Two class of mower, at a minimum. If cost doesn't hold you back an even better fit for the work you are going to do would be the Country Clipper Charger series of mower. It is commercial grade and still utilizes the flip-up deck feature.

No matter what brand you decide on you will be disappointed with almost anybodies residential grade unit. The accounts you have described seem reasonbly substantial for a res. unit. (then again $$ to step up might be an issue for you????)
 

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but if you are cutting commercially, you better have, or get insurance and licences.... i got checked last saturday.......

stay away from the toro time saver, the 400 is 48 inch higher end estate model very well built, only diffference in that and the next step up that IS commercial is the deck turbo suction system thingy hahahaha ( forggot what it really is) frame casters and kohler engine the same...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
bantam, that's my delimma. I don't know if a residential grade mwoer will do what I need to do with it without falling apart, or should I spend the extra $$ and ge tthe commercial. My goal is that I want to get one that I can have paid for in 1 mowing season, which limits me to the $3,500-$4,000 range.

I saw a Country Clipper on ebay the other day and it looked so cool with the deck that flips up and such. But I have a feeling that will be way out of my range.

daveintoledo, I am not really cutting "commercially". I don't have any business accounts or anything like that. I don't advertise. Around this part of the country, there are not too many commercial mowers, I can only think of 2 off hand within 25 miles. My neighbor I worked for was never insured or licensed, he had a full time job and mowed on the side for extra $$. Who would I get checked by if it came down to it? I just know if I bust a stained glass window at a church or run over a footmarker in a cemetery it's all on me.
 

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Yes, that is a dilema (thought it might be)!!

Some of the upper end residential stuff might possibly get you close to the price (but still probably just a little more than you have budgeted). That is why I suggested the Jazee Two mower as a minimum, Although it is a high end residential unit, I have heard of "Mom & Pop" commercial people using it with success.

Have you tried to find or considered a good used commercial unit? Probably not, because you said "...Around this part of the country, there are not too many commercial mowers...". Just an idea maybe you could find something used that still has several years of life left???
 

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Gizmo, Bad Boy mowers are built somehwere in Ar. and you can buy them direct from the factory. I demoed one last year, and was pretty impressed with it. Do an online search, or do a search here on Lawnsite, you'll find plenty on them.. And they have a LOT of features for the $$$
 

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daveintoledo, I am not really cutting "commercially". I don't have any business accounts or anything like that. I don't advertise. Around this part of the country, there are not too many commercial mowers, I can only think of 2 off hand within 25 miles. My neighbor I worked for was never insured or licensed, he had a full time job and mowed on the side for extra $$. Who would I get checked by if it came down to it? I just know if I bust a stained glass window at a church or run over a footmarker in a cemetery it's all on me.[/QUOTE]

a rock flies up, hits a car, he freaks , goes out of control hits a kid on a bike and kills him... your fault

rock flies up takes out a passerbyes eye, , your fault, your parents will get sued and lose everthing they have......

accidently hit a gas pipe, the church burns down your fault.... you better reconsider and i dont know about there but i live in a very small town and was checked out by osha on the job, they even checked my seatbelt tightness with a piece of pvc between me and the belt.... it happens.... if you are gong to do this do it right or leave it to the professionals....
 

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txlawnking said:
Gizmo, Bad Boy mowers are built somehwere in Ar. and you can buy them direct from the factory. I demoed one last year, and was pretty impressed with it. Do an online search, or do a search here on Lawnsite, you'll find plenty on them.. And they have a LOT of features for the $$$
Good info there... I forgot about Bad Boy being built there.
It's a LOT of mower for the money.
 

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I've seen those dixon residentials cut and they don't do the best job. Mainly the commercial mowers will be the best bet because they have a better waranty and will last longer. Residential stuff breaks easier and the waranty is very short.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The BBs look really nice, nearest dealer isa bout 60 miles away. Made in Batesville, about a 5 hour drive maybe alittle more. I will have to check into these more. They have a 36" cut then it jumps to a 48" in the Mini Z category, I still have to do Envy's little trick to see what will fit where and what won't before I decide for sure on deck size.

bantam, I can actually probably go alittle more on the mower than $4,000, but in that range I would be able to pay it off before one season is up, and that is my goal. I know of 3 ppl that do some serious mowing, one guy has 4 diesel Kubota ZTRs, another has 2 Areins ZTRs one with a leaf colletor on it, and the other uses either Great Dane's, Hustler's, Cub Cadet's, or Gravely's, not sure as he has a dealership too and he uses whatever is the latest and greatest. I have not really looked into used mowers, because when these people use up a mowe they use it up, the guy with the diesel Kubotas had a regular John Deere rider that was 2 years old when he got rid of it and all 3 spindles were bad on the deck and it smoked pretty bad, he is HARD on stuff, I should know, he is my ex-stepdad! He is the one that ragged the Crapsman out that I am mowing with currently, it's been thrown off the trailer 3 times that I know of, all spindles replaced, new engine pulleys, new trans pulley, new starter, new flywheel, new tie rods for the steering, new front hubs, and new ignition ( quit firing ).

daveintoledo, I have never sen an OSHA inspector around here, my town is about 1,500-2,000 people. There is a guy that has over 40 accounts and he isn't insured or lisenced. I'ts not really a big deal around here, my mom is an insurance agent and she told me that the banks, nursing home's and such like you to be bonded but they know hardly anyone is so they are lenient about it. I am not planning on doing a nursing home or bank anytime soon anyway. I am not doubting you or anything but I just don't see OHSA around here anywhere.

S man, I havn't even thought of the warranties being better on commercial than residential, thanks for reminding me. Dixon's arn't that popular around here anyway, haven't seen but just afew.


Thanks
 

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One thing you need to consider is the fact that a Z will cut your mowing time considerably, allowing you to expand your income with the same number of hours invested, if you choose to do so. Adding a few accounts would quite possibly bring in enough additional income so as to pay for a commercial grade mower in one season.

A friend of mine recently purchased a Bad Boy mower (residential use). They do seem to be well built, but are a bare bones mower, in my opinion, and have left off all the frills just to get the price as low as possible. For example, the eletric deck lift is great, but does not have a "stop" for the thing to ride against. Even if there is no eventual problem with this slipping, which I think there eventually would be, every time you adjust the height for any reason, such as to go over an obstacle (something I do many times a day with my Gravely hydraulic deck lift), you have to stop the mower and reset the deck to the correct height before continuing. I say stop, because the deck height indicator is on the side of the mower just in front of the rear tire, and you have to turn and look to the side to see it. It doesn't even have a valve to select one gas tank or the other, but draws on both at the same time, a sure-fire setup to let you run out of gas at the wrong time, or in the wrong place.

I agree that going with a commercial grade mower is the best solution, if you can swing it at all. Gravely recently had a promotion with six months finanancing same as cash, balance at 1.9%. I'm sure other companies have similar programs. Buying one in the spring, would allow you to pay all you could during the peak cutting season, then make small payments over the winter on any balance that was left. Just a suggestion, and another option for you. Good luck. Neill
 

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MOturkey said:
One thing you need to consider is the fact that a Z will cut your mowing time considerably, allowing you to expand your income with the same number of hours invested, if you choose to do so. Adding a few accounts would quite possibly bring in enough additional income so as to pay for a commercial grade mower in one season.

I agree that going with a commercial grade mower is the best solution, if you can swing it at all. Gravely recently had a promotion with six months finanancing same as cash, balance at 1.9%. I'm sure other companies have similar programs. Buying one in the spring, would allow you to pay all you could during the peak cutting season, then make small payments over the winter on any balance that was left. Just a suggestion, and another option for you. Good luck. Neill
Can't comment much more than I already have on the Bad Boy. This guy knows a great deal more about them than I do. But I do however agree with the rest of what he is saying.

I see from your profile that you are 17 and I'm not sure how the credit laws work in your state. But in any event, even if you have to wait to turn 18 over the winter and get some co-signer help in the spring... a mower would sure make a great first purchase to build your credit.

You could have someone help you on one of those great finance deals that many companies have to offer in the spring. Stuff like he just said with 0% for 6 months and 1.9% thereafter with a 2% (of the original balance) minimum payment. The payments would be really low, so you could double-up during the in-season and then slack off and pay the minimum payments out of your savings over the winter months.

This would be a sure-fire way to get what you need and establish some good credit history at the same time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
MOturkey & Envy, thanks again on the suggestions/advise.

I turn 18 this November, and my mom and/or dad have agreed to cosign on a loan since it is an "investment", not like a 4wheeler or a truck or something that I can't make money with or get my money back out of it.

I really appreciate all you guys suggestions and advise.

I am starting to save for a good down payment on a mower. Here is what I do with my money. Example I get a check for $30, I put $15 into a savings account to go towards a new mower, $7.50 in a checking account that I use for mowing only expenses ( gas, string, oil ,blades, filters etc. ), and $7,.50 spending money.

My neighbor offered to let me use his Zero-Turn mower some so I could get used to how they work and get familiar with what you can and cannot do with them. I think I am going to take him up on that offer.

Thanks again.
 

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I know what its like try to work and also go to school you need to find something with a good price that is well built some thing that will make its money back quick and has a good realsale value for when your ready to upgrade. The best one i have found and i ride them all is the snapper fastback it has a 7 ga steel frame welded and commercial grade kohler command engine, a pivioting front axel for a smooth ride hydro gear wheel pumps and motoe the same on that are on jd's dixie chopper and the snapper pro units, easy to use will handel to about 20 yards a week but if your in school you won't have a lot of time of more than that if you want a life. it has a 7 mph speed and the highest blade speed alowed by law and 7 mph might sound slow but ask any proffesional you can't use a mower that does 14 mph and hope to stay on or mow straight unless its a golf course. and this is realy a get your feet wet mower get one for a year or 2 try it out and if you still want to mow full time trade it in you will still get your money back out of it. and upgrade that way if you don't want to mow your out the minimum amout of money you can sell it or let your parents buy it to do there yard. just one little piece of advise from some one who knows DO NOT BUY A CUB CADET!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I work in a shop who does thier warrenty work and we do more cub warrenty than any other manufacture and they are just built cheap but i'll get off my soap box and let some one else type hope i helped
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
chief, I know the Snappers are good. I started mowing on a '92 model of the "Forrest Gump" mower as a call it. It is a rear engine 12.5 hp Briggs with a single blade 33" cut. I tried so hard when I was younger to tear it up and it lived until about 4 years ago when the bottom oil seal went, but it still mows it just leaks oil like crazy and kills the grass in the process. I am going to take it to the lawn mower man sometime so he can work on it, I would fix it but I don't have a puller to get the pulley off the bottom to pul lthe motor.

Thats what mom said she would like to do if I got out of mowing, is buy whatever I end up getting to use in our yard, but it will be used in our yard anyway because I mow the yard here too, just don't get paid for it. Parents are divorced, dad uses a New Holland Tractor with a 3 blade 60" finish mower on his yard, it sounds like a helicopter when you get that thing wound up.

That's one thing I've wondered about a ZTR, can you actually mow and cut good at 7, 10 or even 14 MPH? Because I know on moost convential mowers, they don't cut for crap at their top speed, like our Crapsman. But it seems liek when I used to mwo with the Snapper I could run it in 4th or 5th gear and it would cut pretty nice.

On the Cub Cadets, do you mainly work o nthe residential stuff, or the commercial stuff? I know some people that swear by them. If they are anything like the original Cub Cadets made by International they should be bullet proof. We have a '49 Farmall Cub Tractor that my gpaw restored that gets it's fair share of mowing duties and it is pretty reliable.

Thnks for the advise.
 
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