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New Mower or Not?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MOturkey, Jun 13, 2004.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    Ultimately, when to trade is a personal opinion, but I'd like to hear what some of you who have been in the business for some time think.

    I'm a part-timer, looking to build my business to a low-level full time by retirement in, hopefully, four years. I have a Gravely 250Z which is a 2002 model. I bought the machine in 2003 as a leftover in early April. I am presently mowing about 10 hours a week, and hope to double my business next season. That is probably about all I can handle solo with my regular job.
    I will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 hours on my mower at the end of this season, and the commercial 2 year warranty will be out next April, at the start of the mowing season. I am seriously considering trying to buy another mower, probably a leftover, this winter to replace this mower. I will more than likely go to a 60 inch deck, as I have figured out that the places the more compact 50 ( they now have gone to a 52) saves me time are far fewer than the time saved with the bigger deck when mowing large areas.

    A tidbit of information here, also. I'm not all that mechanically inclined, and do not enjoy working on equipment. I do my routine maintenance, but anything major will be done in the shop at $42 an hour. Buying a new mower will give me two more years of expense free operation, repairs wise.

    Also, I will probably try and sell my old mower privately as I already know of a couple of homeowners who might be interested. If I can't, of course, I could always trade.

    Now, to my questions. Am I an idiot for trading a mower with only 300 hours on it, or would it be a good move to do so while the mower is still in excellent condition? Also, what percentage of new price should I expect to get out of a 3 year old mower with 300 hours on it? (excellent condition, oil and filter change ever 50 hours, synthetic oil) The mower has a 23 horse Kawasaki.

    Just curious as to your opinions. Thanks Neill
  2. Mark McC

    Mark McC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,565

    I don't know about anyone else, but 300 hours doesn't sound like much to me. My guess is that depreciation is still a bigger factor than your trade-in or sale value.

    I'd be inclined to run it for one more season anyway. If you're going to go full-time at some point, it may even behoove you to keep this gravely on hand as a back-up machine. I understand that you don't want down-time for your major mower, but 300 hours is nothing. Most hydro drives are good for a lot more than that before they go south on you.

    Ten hours a week for 35 weeks equals 350 hours, so you're still well under 1,000 by the end of this season. Kawasaki engine should be good for a lot longer than that.

    I would keep it.
  3. C4chris70

    C4chris70 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 501

    Three hundred hours is very little for a commercial machine. I would run it until you approach 1000 hours. I found that today's machines are very reliable for the most part up to the 1000 hour mark. After that you may begin to experience problems with the hydro system, which could be very costly.
  4. DennisF

    DennisF LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 1,381

    I wouldn't do away with what you have at this point. That mower will last a long time (2500+ hours) if well cared for before needing any major overhaul work. If you trade it now or try to sell it you'll take a beating financially.

    If you think that you'll feel more comfortable with a new unit then do buy a top of the line mower (Hustler, Exmark, etc) and you'll have a mower that can not be beat in terms of longevity and quality of cut. If you decide to buy new, make sure you get plenty of HP if you get a 60 inch deck. I would get at least 25 HP and 27 would be better. The higher HP motors will consume more fuel, but the mower will perform better over the long haul with more HP and torque. I've used many brands of Z mowers in the past and I recently purchased (last Fall) a Hustler Z 23/52 and I absolutely love the machine. I can't say enough good things about it. Exmark also makes an excellent machine so you may want to demo one of those should you decide to buy new.

    One last thing. You might not be mechanically inclined but I would buy a service manual for the mower that you use and try to perform as many repairs on the mower that you can. These Z mowers are not all that complicated and most people can learn to to do most repairs themselves and save a lot of money. Good luck!

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