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Questions on Upgrading Equipment

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by melvern, Jun 29, 2005.

  1. melvern

    melvern LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Starting out in S. Florida & looking at upgrading my homowner grade equipment. After a couple months I have a dozen accounts - small residential - and mow all. I also do maintenance on several and have done smaller landscape jobs. I envision going to about 25 accounts with a split of mowing/maintenance for dependable cash flow and also landscaping. I will be picking up a commercial job and hopefully some larger lots which will require a larger mower.

    I worked as a groundskeeper several years ago, but the equipment was Smithsonian quality then. I would appreciate comments if this makes sense for my situation currently and would allow for some growth...

    Blower - looking at a Redmax backpack - maybe the 5000 or 4401. Is the 7001 total overkill?

    Trimmer - looked at a Shindy 261T and a Redmax ( 2400S or 2600S) but the dealer said the Shindy had fewer repair problems. Anyone familiar enough with the 4C Shindy to make a recommendation. I currently have an Echo split boom which I plan to use as an edger and back up.

    Walk Behind - I'm looking at a 36" because it will fit through the gates around here. All these are fixed/gear driven I think. I've seen and priced a few at local dealers:

    JD - approx $2300

    Exmark - I think the price was $2100

    Toro - $2500

    I've had a hard time locating used ones, but I found a 2 yr (commercial use) Encore for $1500, and a dealer said he expected to get a 1 yr old Husky trade in (used for residential) for $1700. I'm a little leary buying used since I'm not knowledgeable about the equipment and probably wouldn't recognize any problems...

    I already have some hand problems so was leaning toward the Exmark with ECS or the Toro.
  2. ToroLandscaper

    ToroLandscaper LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,177

    I would go with a redmax bp blower probablly the 7001 becouse you will be happier with it in the long run on the trimmer im not real sure and on the mower do with a Toro with Tbar but i think you will really regret if you get a fixed deck i no some one who got a hydro fixed deck and has regreted it from day one so if i were you i would go with a floating deck belt drive for sure.

    Stay away from husky and also dont buy something that has been used commercially becouse NORMALLY people dont sell stuff if its still got a lot of life in it or if they like it so stay away from used stuff.
  3. tnturbo

    tnturbo LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    I would suggest trying out the walkbehinds you are considering to make sure you like the controls and feel of the machine. I've had the Exmark and the John Deere before. Both were good machines.
  4. redoak77

    redoak77 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 291

    you cant go wrong with any of those mowers. Find out what dealer will give u best support because that will make a big difference in the long run.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I can't talk about 2-cyclers because I use Echo/Stihl exclusively but here's my experience with Wb's:

    (proline = toro)

    I bought TWO VERY used 52" proline sfs (floatdeck) Wb's starting out, $1500 for both with velke and bagger. They cost me time in lost production not so much because of break-down (that too) but more so because they were worn out and slow and sluggish, but that is also because of the floating deck, the machines weigh near 500 lbs and is more moving parts. Still I am glad I bought them because since I got two I always had a backup and NEVER was out of work due to down-time. Far as repairs, the new ones break too and the old ones allowed me to learn how to fix them myself FAST (over time) and this is a big bonus. Operating a Wb is not as easy as it looks, you will run a Wb into a concrete ditch or a tree and you'll be glad when you do it with an old machine. Now the 52" *NEVER* fits through single gates, there HAS to be a double gate for fenced in backyards. Also, that deck thing is HUGE.

    The 2nd year I stumbled into a used 48" fixed-deck proline for 1000 bucks, 5 years old also with velke and bagger. This one came with the 15hp Kohler and this baby was b-b-b-b-bad. The mower weighs 300lbs and is ultra-light. With a 5-speed transmission, this machine was capable of 5+ mph speeds, I was in heaven, the 4-speed sfs 52" could hardly get 3-4 mph.

    I ran the 48" for 2 years almost full time, only using the 52"s to give the 48" a break and I found out things:
    There is not much difference between a 48" and a 52" but 4 inches of cut per pass is 4 inches per pass: Go with a 44" and suddenly there is an 8 inch gap every pass and this adds up: I would NEVER buy a mower smaller than 44" and the 48" is the ONLY fixed deck mower on the market (44 and 52 are both sfs). The 48" fits through about HALF of all single gates: If it's a 4-foot gate, your chances are good, but on a 3-footer you are done. I suppose a 44" would fit more 4-foot gates but even the 36" will not fit through all 3-foot gates and there simply are not that many.
    See here's the thing:
    6 passes with a 48" is 288 inches minus overlap (4-6 inches) = ~250 inches or 20 feet of grass cut and lets say I am done.
    The SAME amount of grass cut with a 36" minus overlap of 3-4 inches = 9 passes, and that's 33% more time spent cutting. The 48" is done sooner. Every 10 minutes with the 48" equals 15 minutes for the 36", every 4 inches down in size equals another minute or two - You can charge by the hour but you have to charge what the yard is WORTH - If it takes you longer because your mower is smaller and you charge more than I would, then I will get the job. If you charge the same, then you earn less per hour.

    Far as brand, I will never buy anything except Toro because the T-bar rules, your arms are never too tired to weedeat (come to think of it, maybe that's why some LCO's weedeat first then cut). Yes you can cut 10+ yards/day with a different smaller mower but you work harder, longer hours for the same money. I'll pay the extra for a Toro and really, what's $2800 for a brand-new 48" - The new one I bought runs 6+ mph and oh yes, the fixed deck has higher blade-tip speed. But if YOU buy brand-new you will need to know how to adjust it - If you know nothing about these machines, you will be bringing it back to the dealer / fixing it yourself before the month is over - They do NOT come ready-to-go, you will NOT be able to cut grass with it in top gear: Buy a used one and learn why first.

    Find used ones on ebay all day long.
  6. iluvscag

    iluvscag LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 743

    Nice Post. :waving:

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