Tips for using 36" belt drive

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing Equipment' started by mwalz, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. mwalz

    mwalz LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,179

    So this will be my first year with my Toro 36" belt drive. I've used it on my lawn but not anyone else's yet. I went around and picked up my leaves with it and the bagger on it the other day....and i managed to put some pretty good ruts when i turned. Yes the ground was a little damp but i didn't think it was that bad. I never had any problem last year when i cut my grass with at the end of the season. But the ground was rock hard.

    So any advise on using a 36" belt on a small yard where i will have to turn sharp? I didn't buy as hydro because i don't have the money for one. Just would like some overall tips for using one. Maybe suggestions of how i should use it. I have a sulky on it as well which makes for a lot faster cutting.

    My next mower purchase will be probably a 42" hydro maybe. But that will not be for a while.
  2. WenzelOSLLC

    WenzelOSLLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 709

    I don't think hydro vs belt should affect anything when turning. Just make sure to do either 3- (or more) point turns or teardrop turns whenever possible. It greatly reduces or eliminates the ruts from turning.
  3. unkownfl

    unkownfl LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,837

    Most likely you turn to the right so make your perimeter passes probably 3 passes around. Now on your back to back turns turn slightly to the left about 30 degrees and then feather to the right to come about.
    BTW watch your hands if you have pistol grips. I see guy rip their knuckles on fences and walls every summer.
  4. STLTurfmanagement

    STLTurfmanagement LawnSite Member
    Messages: 51

    If you take that sulky off you won't rut things up as much. usually when our properties are wet we pull the sulkys off. not to mention you eliminate that imperfection in your stripe when you take the sulky off and honestly get a better cut.
  5. mwalz

    mwalz LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,179

    It's the t-bar steering but if i was close to a fence i would probably make 2 passes in front of it just to be safe. Most of my yards have them, thanks for the tip, and if i do end up cutting when it's wet i will take the sulky off if it isn't a huge property, something like maybe a half acre or smaller.
  6. STLTurfmanagement

    STLTurfmanagement LawnSite Member
    Messages: 51

    honestly with those belt drives as soon as they belts get wet they tend to slip, that's one of the benefits of a hydrostatic transmission. I would watch craigslist, and see what you can pick up used to get you by. My first mower was a 20 year old ferris 48'' belt drive, and after that went to a dual hydro 48 that was 4 years old that I found for a good price..once you go hydro, you never go back
  7. mwalz

    mwalz LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,179

    I've watched some videos on YouTube of people operating hydros, the ease of maneuverability is awesome, but for now, i still gotta buy a trailer this year, and few other big expenses to get started for 2014. Hopefully next year i can get a hydo.
  8. JimsLocalLawn

    JimsLocalLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 903

    It's more of a matter of adjustments. You need to adjust it so you find "neutral" which is the fine point of where the machine isn't moving foward and the brakes are not engaged yet.

    Belt drives are tricky - most think you let the machine do the work....nope that's a hydro.

    You need to manually pull them towards you in a turn. It seems tiring at first - but after a while it becomes second nature. Also neither a hydro or belt walk behind are zero turns! Both will tear up a lawn real fast if trying to do a zero turn with either of them. To turn you go right, then pull back, then right again and you should be in the lane where you need to be. A hydro has instant reverse and a belt needs pulled back, but once you get the hang of it you can do it so fast most people won't notice your doing it.

    Notice how the guy in this video pulls back ever so slightly? It's hard to see, but that keeps the wheel moving, and when the wheel is moving it won't tear up turf.

    Really the difference in the guys who hate belt drives and the guys who love them... is the difference that some know how to make the proper adjustments and others do not. Should be nearly effortless operation once you get the hang of it, reguardless of what you read all over these forums.
  9. balms

    balms LawnSite Member
    Messages: 101

    My WB's are all belt drive, but I do use my son's Viking occasionally. I have to admit the fully powered reverse on the hydro is nice. That being said, I do prefer belt drives for their simplicity and lighter weight.

    As mentioned before as you refine your technique, 3 point turns are not difficult, you start to execute them without thought. With the properties that I service I can usually make 3 out of 4 turns by turning up slope and let gravity provide the reversing power when rolling backward. Just feather the controls to control the speed and direction. Even on the flat properties I don't find having to tug a bit to back up that big of a deal. Just my 2 cents on what works for me, maybe give you some added insight, good luck.
  10. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,099

    when you come to the end of a turn, you feather the pistol grips
    don't brake, just mid way.
    this will cause the drive belts to slip.
    then feather to a forward turn slightly
    feather to neutral again, pull back wards toward you and away from the turn, then feather back into the turn.

    this will make a three point turn with a belt drive walk behind when done correctly.

    Unless you have a tbar, then there is no feathering, just pull back on the red stationary bar on the corner where you want to make the turn.
    this causes a tight three point.

    T bar belt drive is amazing for this, once you learn how to do it right.

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