T3k Vs Z review

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Rayholio, Jul 21, 2009.

  1. Rayholio

    Rayholio LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,461

    Sorry this is late.. Fungus, and Yellow Nutsedge buried me the last couple weeks.. I had promised a video review... but I regret that my video footage is very limited.. Because of the failure with the T3000 in the last week I had it, I couldn't do many of the videos I was wanting to.. My recorded footage consists of an extremely messy video of me riding the T3000 on my worst slope, from the drivers view.. The tilt testing, and some bad cuts of 180 degree turning ect. If you have a camera, and a T3000, I wouldn't mind being sent footage to back up, or debunk what I'm saying in this post... hopefully, I'll be able to put together a good video in time..

    At any rate.. T3000 Vs Z-spray

    Please note that I've not been able to test the whole Z line.. Only the JR, and the JR w/ Intermediate tires (which is close to the only difference between the two anyhow) This is fine, as the most similar machine to the T3k is the Jr.. Or arguably the smaller Jr36..

    Both machines were 'reviewed' at 50 hours.. and this is based on my observations during that time.. I HAVE run my Z about 10-15 additional hours with the wider tires.. I felt this was necessary because the Z with Jr tires had such abysmal HILL performance that it needed a handicap..

    For details on each machine, please see the reviews..
    This comparison will call out winners when able, but on many things, the two machines are just different..

    Appearance: The T3K is more customer and fleet friendly, The Pro's will love the no non-sense appearance of the Z

    Z: Industrial, large, and 'tank like' with all stainless construction, and nothing hidden, or shrouded.
    T3K: Friendly, compact, and polished with its plastic coverings and painted column

    Maintenance: Z is a little better here

    Z: Everything is oversized, and easy to access with more ground clearance than the T3K for ease of access to under body parts. No shrouds and most things can be maintained while sitting or standing. the industrial design, and shiny parts are difficult to keep looking clean.

    T3K: Shrouds to remove, and having most vital parts in the undercarriage means you'll be spending time on your back. The T3k is easier to keep looking clean for customers..

    Initial Impressions: The Z gave me a better impression on 1st sight.

    Z: I thought it was much bigger than I had imagined. but it looked like it could handle whatever I threw at it..

    T3K: It didn't look durable, and the Steering wheel turned me off..

    Steering: T3K wins hands down. There are just too many variables in ZTR design for calibrated spraying around beds, and tire damage to turf is unforgivable in OUR line of work.

    Z: ZTR controls are easy to manipulate, but have a learning curve. Especially on hills. With practice, you will be able to steer with accuracy, and control motion with one hand. The Z is a skid steer. The drive wheels will move at different speeds and directions at times to turn based on your input. This skid type steering is notorious for tearing turf.. Especially on hills, in wet areas, and with inexperienced operators.. The problem is slightly less with intermediate tires. The Skid steer ZTR platform also has a tendency to lose speed when turning, or adjusting heading..

    T3K: Steering is intuitive, and nearly impossible to cause damage at any experience level. It is essentially equally effortless on hills which require slight full speed turns.. The T3k uses a tractor drive, and Steering wheels, so speed is constant.

    Speed: They're just different

    Z: top speed; 8mph or so.. GPS Speedometer included for calibration.

    T3K: top speed; 5mph. The machine is 'capable' of more.. but TurfCo designed it to always run calibrated for spraying, and spreading at top speed. The limitation is not as bad as you imagine.

    Acceleration: The Z wins here

    Z: You are in complete control of acceleration simply by having your hands on the control handles. Forward, reverse.. Doesn’t matter.. One trained hand can do it all.

    T3K: Speed controls are not available without dedicating a hand to it. The foot pedal speed lock is a great fix, but cannot be used to ADJUST speed.. Only maintain it.

    Reverse: The Z wins

    Z: Fast reverse, as before, all with one hand.

    T3K: Slower reverse speed.. Maybe 1/3rd as fast? Using the same speed control.. The foot pedal WILL work on reverse as well.

    180 degree turns: In live testing, I found that this is too close to call.. They’re just different. I personally prefer the Z.. But that's preference.

    Z: 180 degree turns with very little radius (not true ZTR due to the drive wheels being in the back). A 180 degree turn requires a stop, then one wheel forward, one wheel reverse... then another stop, then both wheels forward. It is very difficult to make a 180 degree turn with a heavy ZTR like this in any other way without damaging the turf. 180 degree 9+ foot radius turns (as lining up for the next pass) are typically effortless.. Unless you're on a hill.

    T3K: Your turning radius is wider than the Z, but not that much more. a 3 point turn for 180 degrees is extremely fast.. almost as fast as the Z. and harmless to the turf. 180 degrees 9 ft wide or more is effortless. Be careful, especially on hills for full speed turns that are too wide to line up for the next pass.

    Ride Quality: The T3K wins here pretty easily via the ft platform

    Z: A metal vented platform, which sits on top of 4 over sized rubber feet. It's slippery when wet, or on a steep hill.. The foot stand places your knees too close to the machine, and bumps hurt the legs and feet.. some bumps are magnified by way of the rubber feet, and you will lose contact with the foot platform.. 1st week out, my employee was thrown completely off the Z, and landed a few feet away.. scary. The rigid Z frame emphasizes bumps.

    T3K A thin metal platform suspended on a pivot point, and covered in a very thick rubber matt (like what cashiers stand on in Wal-Mart) It's stupidly simple, and works GREAT. Bumps are not damaging.. you knees sit further from the machine, and the platform is closer to the ground, allowing better hill performance as well. The Tractor frame of the T3K has a pivoting front axle.. Makes most bumps easier.

    Spreading: The Z spray wins with me.. Although some users may prefer the ease of the T3K spreader.

    Z: Although more difficult to calibrate, and keep in calibration (due to speed variables) The fact that the Z is CAPABLE of spreading 5 ft to 25 ft makes it the winner right off the bat, due to time savings.. I run mine at 15ft or so.. The Deflector lacks something, and short folks may need to get off the machine to engage it.

    T3K: Usually calibrated from the factory. It only has 2 width settings 6ft and 10ft. At full speed, the spreader is effortless to use, and is impossible to screw up. It also matches the spray width of the machine, and the deflector can be accessed by anyone without having to stop the machine.

    Spraying: I thought the T3K was better. The Zs four tips can make it more accurate though. and in the hose wand challenge, the Z decimated the T3K

    Z: 8 feet wide.. 4 tips spraying almost straight down gives laser like accuracy, and reduces drift. That's also the problem. Any damaging over spraying will be obvious with sharp edges, and very little feathering. The booms can get in the way.
    However the Spray wand with hose reel is a MUST HAVE.

    T3K: 1 wide angle spray tip, which can be used at 6 ft or 10 foot, and 1 narrow, accurate 'edging' tip which probably covers 4 ft.. Giving the accuracy around beds, and the larger feathering tip does not show over spraying very bad at all.. It also emulates the pattern of the spreader. Very nice. There are no redeeming qualities in the hose wand, other than it's MUCH better than nothing. On the bright side, I found that I didn't have to use it as much due to the machine getting thru gates so easily.

    Hills: The T3K wins here.. a point of much debate.

    Z: even with intermediate tires, sliding down hills CAN happen.. The machine is 3 times as heavy as the T3K, and I've had it fish tail down a hill before with the casters locked. Granted the turf was slightly moist.. Much more common is having it 'nose dive' down hills. and if this happens, Control of the ZTR tires does nothing other than tear turf as you slide. The Z (especially with intermediate tires) is sure footed enough on moderate hills WITH PRACTICE. just keep it off the side of 25 degree or greater slopes. It can CLIMB nearly any hill.. just can't go down the side of them safely.

    T3K: I've yet to find a hill that this machine can't tackle.. 30 degrees is not a problem.. Nose dives and fish tails do not happen.. The machine has a lower center of gravity, weighs a lot less, and has the weight better balanced. Sorry.. It's just the truth.. It can also climb any hill straight up, and turning on the sides of very steep hills is also a possibility.. All of this with very little experience required.

    Transport: T3k Wins

    Z: You'll need a trailer, or a ramp.. The machine weighs 1500 lbs.. that's almost a pallet of fert... so it also lowers your capacity. On the bright side, I've found loading and unloading onto a tilt trailer VERY fast.. probably faster than the T3K even. Very few viable tie down points.

    T3k: 500lb unloaded weight.. same as 10 bags of fert.. Carry it on a carry rack, or however you want.. It is not as large of a machine, and won't monopolize your space like the Z will.. I would still like more tie downs... but at lease the T3K HAS tie down points..

    Curb Hopping: T3K is less violent, and just as capable.. as the Z...
    Price/ Value: I feel like I get more bang for the buck with the Z.. they'll both pay for themselves quickly though.

    Size: The T3k is smaller than any LT rich offering that I've seen.. It weighs a third as much as my Jr, Is about the same length.. Not as tall, and is much narrower.. Add the intermediate tires to the Z, and it's not going in anything other than a drive gate..

    Support: Both excellent.

    Companies: Both have great American companies.

    Durability: Most problems I had with the T3K were my fault.. mixing 2 gallons of ferromec per 17 gallon fill... bottom line, although to my eye, the Z SEEMS more durable, I haven’t used EITHER machine long enough to answer this question beyond the shadow of a doubt.. in 50 hours, they both performed well enough in this category.

    Customization: The Z wins here.. Of course they've been in the business forever..

    Fleet potential: The T3K is by far a better machine for employees and fleets.. As a owner, I'm not worried about the Ride-on related phone calls I'm going to get from my 10 hour T3K operator.. whereas I'm always worried when I send out my guy on the Z if there are any hills, and there's also the fear of miscalibration.. I can't get the guys to leave the throttle, and cruise controls alone on my Z.. It's not an option with the T3K

    Small properties 3k-15k: T3K all the way.. it's got the perfect size and potential for these..

    Medium Properties 15k-25k Tossup.. Both machines will be great.. the question here is back gate size.. the T3K will get in any gate I've found.

    Large Properties 25K+ The Z excels here... mainly due to the granular abilities... Liquid is a tossup.. until you look in a different class like a Z MAX.. which again, is apples and oranges when compared with the T3K

    Engine: No real difference.

    Drive Train: They're about the same, other than ZTR control Vs strait drive.. SOMETIMES the t3k differential will give hiccup in traction.. nothing major.

    So Who's the winner? I guess that depends on what's important to you.. I already own a Z.. and it's beginning to look like I'm just gonna have to stick with it a while.. but if the T3K adds a hose reel, works out a better throttle system, and adds greater spread width, it would be a REALLY easy win for turf-co. As it is, I think the answer lies in what kinda hills you have.. and how many.

    What else you wanna know??
  2. Josh.S

    Josh.S LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,085

  3. Grandview

    Grandview LawnSite Gold Member
    from WI
    Messages: 3,251

    Ray, I think that was a pretty good review. I do not agree with everything you said but you only have 50 hours and its a Junior. For me the T3000's limited speed and spread width take it out of consideration. I think the Z wins with the engine. We will see how long the T3000 holds up with its engine. It is a lot smaller.
  4. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Messages: 6,163

    Nice reveiw Rayholio.

    I drove the T yesterday at the Indy show. I thought of you because even though I had ran it before...it made me very uncomfortable. Just because it was the "new feeling". I think all machines take time to get a feel for what they can do.

    After I ran the T...I went over and jumped on the Z and even thought they are both good machines...the Z felt like home! :)

    Nothing better then the feeling of a Z sitting under ya!~

    As we have always said and agree...to each his own!

    I would have liked to see you touch on price vs value. I think the T is priced out of the ballpark and should be closer to the PG. They would be much more competitive if they were $1500 less or so. JMO...but they are priced almost with the Z Max!

  5. Josh.S

    Josh.S LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,085


    And when you are talking about the longevity of the machine the T does not have grease zyrcs in places I think it should.

    Also the frame of the T is not even stainless steal. The hopper mount is, but not by the front tires and such.

    I think it would be a nice machine but I just don't understand how a smaller engine, belt drive, pull start machine that is not even stainless costs so much more.
  6. Grandview

    Grandview LawnSite Gold Member
    from WI
    Messages: 3,251

    I see an economics lesson is needed here. The T3000 is priced to maximize Turfco profits. They are charging what they can get. They are no different than any other company.
  7. Josh.S

    Josh.S LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,085

    Not that this really matters, but here is the weight of each machine (max to jr 36) from the L.T. Rich website.

  8. Rayholio

    Rayholio LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,461

    Yep.. I GROSSLY mistated the weight of the Z.. I probably did the same with the T3k.. I have no problem lifting the front of it up without assistance... I don't have ANY idea where I got 1500 lb.. Pulled it from a faulty memory.. LOL Sorry :(

    As far as economics, and cost Vs Value, Either machine will pay for itself in a year pretty easily.. In my situtaltion, Either machine costs about the same as the TAXES for me to have another employee.. Yes... one is cheaper than the other.. but the fact is that these ride ons could be 10k or 15k each, and would still be cost justifiable.

    The T3K I used had grease certs on the front casters, and all MAJOR parts. There were a couple pullys I had questions about.. but those are factory packed.. and sealed.

    Y'know many of the industrial bearing supply companys provide grease certs to make the customer happy, but what the customer ends up doing is over greasing the bearings, popping the seal, and destroying the bearings by allowing dirt to get in.. I wouldn't hold that against the T3K until a couple years have past, and then we can see what happens.. That said, the T3K is only a couple years old, and probably does have a few bugs to work out. They seem VERY willing to accept that fact, and will likely not leave you high and dry.

    About the frame construction on the T3k... the T3K uses steel sandwiched inside of a non-rusting metal.. (I don't remember the details, however bob explained it to me.. ) Mine didn't rust, and it was outside stored most of the time during the rainy season. I personally would buy with confidence that the frame isn't going to rust.

    Sorry about the weight thing again.. I feel pretty bad about that.. no way to edit it now..
  9. rcreech

    rcreech Sponsor
    Male, from OHIO
    Messages: 6,163

    Turf Hokie,

    I thought the weights were way off...but wasn't sure do didn't want to comment. Was thinking my Z Int was around 1000 loaded but couldn't remember!


    I understand what you are saying...but at the beginning I was going to be a proud owner of a T-3000.

    Then...once I started looking at the Z in comparison to the T, I totally changed my mind because of the value.

    Now looking back I really do feel that there is MUCH more value with the Z for my operation. From capacity to effeciency (due to multiple tanks etc.)

    Same thing in the tractor market. If the "off brands" are about the same price or just a little less then then a Deere or Kubota it is a very easy decision to make!!!!!!!

    Maybe it doesn't make sense...but it does to me!

    My point is...I KNOW they could sell a lot more machines if they were priced more reasonably, but for the dollar I just don't see it being the best long term decision!

    Not picking a fight, but why pay more for a new machine that hasn't yet proven itself over the long haul.

  10. turfcobob

    turfcobob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 878


    The " A Frame " and main frame is stainless. The front bumper, axle and front tire spindles are not. But they are SOLID STEEL, powder coat paint and then rhino hide covered. Without paint it would take a lifetime to rust through 1.5 inches of SOLID STEEL.

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