Old Bunton for sale - Should I buy?

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Budman, Mar 28, 2002.

  1. Budman

    Budman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65

    Howdy all!

    First of all, let me say as a new poster that this is an excellent board! Great source of information! I have already leaned a lot just by doing a few searches.

    First, before I ask my question, I want to offer a little pertinent background info. I am a homeowner, so please excuse any ignorance displayed about commercial mowing equipment. :) I have about an acre of grass to cut - fairly level, but with quite a few trees and other obstacles like fences, walkways, etc. I have started searching for a good used mower to cut this with. Since we just moved and have a kid on the way in July :eek: I have to watch what I spend. Like most homeowners, I started out with the intention of getting a used rider, something like a Craftsman or a Murray. After talking to some folks who mow commercially, I realized that I can probably get the job done a lot faster with a decent commercial-grade walk behind. Which brings me to my question:

    I recently came across an old (about 12 years) Bunton - not sure of the model, but it is a 36" hydro with a 16HP Briggs Vanguard. It belongs to a friend's employer - he is the maintenance man for a local hospital, and he mowed their property with it. It is a little rough - belts on the deck are fried, and it hasn't been run in probably a year. Probably needs all of the basic maintenance in addition to the belts. We tried to start it, but were unable to get it to catch (pull start). Might need a carb kit - and I'm sure the gas in it was junk. His boss is offering it to me for $400, and he says that he will knock off whatever it takes to get it serviceable, within reason. I assume that to mean up to $150 or $200. Sounds like a decent enough deal, but a couple of repair shops have advised me against it. They said that these old Bunton's are getting hard to find parts for - kind of like fixing up an old car, they say. What are your opinions on this mower? I have always thought that Bunton was pretty well-regarded. Is tehre anything that I need to watch out for regarding Buntons or Briggs Vanguards?

    Also, I am going to try to look at a 7-8 year old Exmark 48" belt drive, 17HP (I think) Kaw. The guy is asking $700, says it need belts. This also sounds like a pretty good deal, if I can get to it. Maybe I should buy both! :D

    Thanks in advance for any help you all can provide!!
  2. heybruck34

    heybruck34 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 300

    I had a similar question when I was looking to buy a walk-behind. The main thing I was told when I asked for advice on Lawnsite was to look for a dealer that sold parts for your machine. Also make sure that dealer was close enough to you since you'll most likely be visiting the shop often.

    One question- Will you be doing the work yourself or paying a dealer?

    My advice would be stay away from hydro if you are just a homeowner. You don't need that reliability and overkill. You won't be mowing in the rain like the pros since it's just your home yard. From what I've read that is the main advantage.
    However, go to www.j-thomas.com and see if you want to pay for hydro parts. Let me tell you- THEY AIN"T CHEAP. By the time you pay for new pumps and wheel motors you may be in the $800 range. And even without these parts- the repair bills can REALLY add up- pulleys, belts, bearings, handles, carb kits, etc.

    Before you buy the Bunton- I would reccomend you go and rebuild the carb. Make sure the engine will run first and then think about buying it. If you don't buy it, your friend still wins cause his engine runs and you win cause you still have your $400. This way you can see if the drive system works. The last thing you want is to buy the machine and then find out that the hydro system is junk after you get the engine running.

    So- look at a parts list and see if you are willing to pay for some of the more expensive parts. You can really run up a bill on a $400 Bunton to over $700 for an eXmark that only needs belts.

    Budman-I hope this helps. I actually looked at a Bunton hydro but decided against it since the motor did not run and I could not evaluate the hydro system without it running. The cost of possible repairs REALLY scared me. I got a SCAG belt drive and LOVE it. All W/B's are pretty much built like tanks and will probably outlast US since they are built for much more than home use which is what I use mine for also.!

    Feel free to email me with any questions!

  3. Budman

    Budman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65


    Thanks for the reply.

    I got the Bunton running this week. Had to clean out the gas tank and replace the fuel filter and line - had some sediment in it. It runs pretty good, hydro seems to be OK, but needs some adjustment - tracks off to the left slightly.

    The big issue that I have discovered is the deck. The right side pulley is off its keyway and spinning free of the hub. It is also riding too low, which explains why the belts are so fried. The left side hub is way too tight - looks like the bearings are partially siezed. I called the local Bunton dealer, and he made it sound like the parts alone would cost $200 - $300. Sounded way high to me. Anyone know how much a hub assembly should cost?

    So, once again, I'm trying to decide if it's work spending $400 on this one and then doing the repair work to get it serviceable. My time is in pretty short supply these days.

    Might have to look at the Exmark again. It ran OK, but also needed belts and the center hub was loose. He offered to knock a couple hundred off the price.

    Question - are belt drives more difficult to manuever, about the same, or less difficult than hydros? I have a bunch of trees to mow around. Which setup would be better for me? Would I save much mowing time with a 48" versus a 36"?

    Thanks for all the help!
  4. creative concepts

    creative concepts LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69


    I would stay away from the bunton mower because of its age. As far as a hydro verses a belt drive or gear drive is all dependent on what you intentions are. The hydros are a little more difficult to get used to in the beginning then the gear or belt drives. However, the hydro will cut and move easier if the grass is even a little bit wet. The belt drive and gear drive mowers move just as well in dry conditions without the added benefit of the reverse feature(if you squeeze the hydro handles all the way in, it will go in reverse). What I mean is if you have a dew on the turf or a light mist, it will affect the belt drive mower but not the hydro. If I understand correctly, it is only going to be used on your house so my suggestion would be to stay away from the hydro due to maintenance costs associated with it. You should be able to find a used 36" walkbehind for between $800-$1,500 depending on the year( new ones are about $2,600). I hope this info helps in your decision.

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