Trying to talk myself into buying a 32"/36" Metro.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by DLS1, Jul 17, 2002.

  1. DLS1

    DLS1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,618

    I am seriously thinking about getting a 36" Metro (belt) with ECS controls (after doing a search about it on this site) but being a conservative money spending guy would probably wait until the fall hoping someone is going out of business and get a good price on a low hours model. Or may have to buy a new one. I see Harrisonville Tractor Company (suburb of Kanas City) on their web site has it with 15 hp Kohler for $2,299 or 13 hp with Kaw. engine for for $2,399. Which is better to buy?

    Since I am part-time starting this year and have only used 21" Toro pro-line and Sears 44" rider I am not familar with use of heavy walkbehinds. I have a few questions for you 32"/36" metro users. I have not demo one yet.

    If you have gone from 21" to the Metro-ECS belt....
    1. How much harder is it to manhandle?
    2. How hard is it to go in reverse? Is there some type of reverse assist or do you mostly manhandle it.
    3. I don't want to go hydro since I can't justify it. I can barely justify the Metro. Do you have much problem with belts (i.e. stretching, slipping with light rain)?
    4. Did customers mind much going from 21" to heavy 36" mower.
    5. How ling did it take you to get use to the ECS controls and working a 36" versus a 21".

    Basically I am trying to talk myself even more into buying one when you all tell me its like using a 21". haha

    :p :p
  2. ScotLawn

    ScotLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 309

    i have a pistol grip metro 48" and trust me your customers won't mind the mower. it will leave the grass smoother with less chance of missed grass due to tire tracks from a 21. I went from 21's to a honda 36" and loved it. cut was better, faster, more productive. your customers should start to really like the finished product.

    I haven't used the ECS but from what i hear it takes some getting used to but it would be about the same as going from 21's to pistol grips if you have never used them. Don't plan on using the mower on a customers yard the first day you get it. practice at least for a hour or so on your own yard.

    As far as engine. i have a 15hp kohler on my 48" deck and wish it was more. on a 32/36 either will power it. some say kaw motors are underrated on power. either one will be fine. I am having problems with pan gaskets on my kohler leaking oil very slowly. Just only noticing a wet spot on the side that dust collects on. Get a mulch kit and a sulky and increase your quality and production.

    on the reverse issue. the metro's only have a reverse assist. and trust me it ain't much. with a sulky on the mower don't plan on using it much. as far as belt slippage. no big deal for me so far.

  3. greenman

    greenman LawnSite Addict
    Messages: 1,405

    I bought my Metro about a month ago. $2299, 15 hp Kohler, same as your price. I got the sulky and mulch kit, after tax and all, $3000 and some odd cents. I went from the 21inch to the Metro w/ ECS handles. Take about a day to get where you are comfortable with it. I love mine. Quality of the cut is so much better than the 21". Looks professional. I have used mine in the rain, when the grass was real wet, never had a problem. Listen to this... I trimmed some shrubs the other day, blew the beds out onto the lawn( sticks, twigs, leaves,and whatever else) and mulched over it a couple of times just to see what would happen. They disappeared! Mulched everything up into tiny clippings! It looked like I had just vacuumed everything up. I was really impressed, I was not expecting that kind of performance.
  4. Doogiegh

    Doogiegh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 871

    I picked up a 32" Metro 12.5 Kawi, pistol grip machine brand new this past April. I also am just starting out, first year, and I was going to use a 21" Toro personal pace and a 30 inch John Deere Rider. Well, being the rider can't zero turn, I think the tightest it got was like either 7 or 14 inches.... I had to go to a commercial level Walk-behind.

    I spent hours, if not the equivalent of DAYS on here reading, searching and comparing notes on all kinds of stuff. Went to my local deal, who sells Exmark and bought the 32". Price was right around $2199 and I picked up a pro-slide (duraslide) instead of a wheeled sulky.

    I absolutly love the machine 100%. First off, if you go with a 32, you will get into every single back yard you will ever come across gated. And it's 50% faster than your 21. If you go to a 36, you may not get into every single backyard, I know I have 2 or 3 customers where the 32 is a tight fit believe it or not, must be a 33" gate and remember a 32 is really like 32.5 inches, a 36 is like 36.7 inches...

    I've found my 12.5 Kawi gear drive to have more power than I could of even hoped for. Everyone is right when they say to take a day or two to practice first. Worst thing would be to plow into someones house siding or an air conditioner unit or drive into an in-ground pool cause your a virgin on the mower control.

    But once you get used to it, it's awesome.

    THere are 5 forward speeds, so start off in "1". You'll feel like you're helping grandma to the bathroom without her walker, cause it's so slow you can shuffle your feet. But you still get to learn how to turn left or right. It's just like a bike, whereas there are 2 levers. Grab the right lever, that will stop the right wheel. With the right wheel stopped, the left wheel will keep going, which will turn the entire mower to the right.. Release the right lever and boom, you're back to going straight. Grab and hold both levers tight and you're totally stopped, just like on a 10 speed bicycle. Or as you're going forward, you can feather in and out one of the levers and you'll really get some good control manuevers going.

    Speed 3 is good, 4 is quick and 5 is literally a jog, I think it's like 5 or 6 MPH.. So don't go in 5 unless you are standing on a sulky or willing to jog! It really is that quick, no kidding.

    First times out, I was cutting my customers in speed 2 and the "open stretches" in 3. Now I cut almost everything constantly in 4, as 5 even with a duralide/sulky is just too quick and bouncy I feel to be giving a good cut.

    The side discharge method is terrific, the bagger is great, I have a grass gobbler all metal bagger and it holds like 3.3 bushels which isn't bad. I also added on a mulching kit for like $120 and I haven't taken it off since June when I put it on brand new. I don't know when I will take it off.

    I also tried double blades, they work and the mower has enough power to spin them, but the blade combo *I* was using caused a TON of dust, especially in this drought like weather right now.. I may give doubles a try again when it comes time to be shedding leaves.

    Now my duraslide is like a tractor-trailer mud-flap, so it is pulling all my body weight on the mat that is smooth. I believe that takes some extra "horsepower" to get going compared to a person standing on what is basically an attached unicycle, without the seat. <G> So I changed a gear leverage position on my mower up 1 so that my mower put more pressure on the belts for even more forward traction than factory stock. That works terrific for me. Factory setting is A, mine is in hole "b" and there is still a hole "c" but I have no idea who would want to use that. You'd be doing wheelies all over the place constantly with that kind of belt to drive wheel power transfer.

    Roughly 2 weeks ago, my mower wasn't taking off from a stop as powerfully as it used to, and it had a bum of a time with me on the proslide going up any kind of incline at all, I'm talking like a 2 degree hill here and we're not moving.

    I did a search here, and found that my drive belt had stretched due to being brand new, I made what was literally a 10 second adjustment once I found the right socket-wrench size, and I'm as good as new.

    I'm learning on here so much, so quickly, that I hope to one day use the 32 as my "backup" mower and use a 52 or 60 ZTR as my primary.. And not even put the 21 on the trailer. <G>

    I have had many properties now that I used to take the 21" mower to cause I wasn't good enough to get the 32 into that nitch of a spot at the time. I now can get the 32 into that area, and whatever I do miss, I find it to be much quicker to simply weed-wack any missed grass up real close to a house, etc, then it is to put the 32 away, get and start the 21, cut the stupid 1.5 inch swath of grass, put the 21 away, get the trimmer, etc...

    The mower itself weighs somewhere around 450 pounds, but when it is turned on and in gear, it is not a problem to move at all. Even turned off you can push it around. But I do drive it turned on (blades off) up the trailer ramp to put it away. This is not a mower that I would want to have to pick up to put into the back of a pickup truck, even with ramps. I CAN get it onto the trailer turned off, so it is mobile, it's just alot more physical work than needed when it is so easy to put it in gear and go up the ramp. <G>

    No customer has ever complained about the size or weight of the mower at all. Most of them like that I am using commercial equipment on their property and not a craftsman that they probably have in the shed anyway.. After all, why pay you $$ if they got the same home-owners grade mower in the shed, they just don't feel like doing it.. They much prefer getting a commercial quality of cut.

    And I've attached a picture of one of the lawns that I currently do, this was cut by ME, with a 32" Exmark as described above.

    I don't know if your 21 you're using now stripes like this though. <G>

    Good luck, let us know how you do.

  5. greenman

    greenman LawnSite Addict
    Messages: 1,405

    Mine is the 36" Metro. Down here its hard to get stripes to stand out well because of the type of grasses, unless its Zoysia. Zoysia stripes pretty well. Bermuda and St.Augustine stripe but not, but not that definite.
    doogiegh, you must be a pretty good size fella to load that manually. I never tried it with mine but I don't think I could unless I get a good start to get it up the ramp.
  6. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    Our area has a special on the 36" metro with 13 kohler for $1999.

    The reverse assist you will only use if your in a small decline. Other than that you squeeze to neutral position and just pull back. Its pretty simple.

    It will not take you very long to master using the mower. It cuts smoother than a 21". The wider any deck the smoother the lawn will look.

    Belt being wet have never been a problem.

    Using a sulky will make the trans belt stretch quicker, so that is the problem Doogieh was having. Its pretty common.

    I love the metro. Can't beat it for the price. Especially my price. :)
  7. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    Hey Doogiegh, think you may be drawing to the one side there LOL. Stripes are great in that pic, that's with the proslide right? I'm thinking about making a proslide or sulky for my exmark 32" thats just been given to me to put back together LOL. I'd like the proslide for stripes and seems like a smoother ride? But maneuverability doesn't sound as good as a sulky as I've heard you need to dismount and let the spring pull it up when you turn around? Then step back on it when you get done? That's awkward. I would like it for the stripes but I can do other things to get them, seems like a sulky would be better?
    On a 32" mower, is a fixed sulky with swivel wheels better or a pivoting sulky with rigid wheels? Especially on hills or tight maneuvering.
  8. Doogiegh

    Doogiegh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 871

    1) Greenman - Well, I'm definatly not "big", 6'2", 185 lbs. But I do have alot of leg strenght. Been bicycling since I was little. Personal best so far is High Point, NJ (top of NJ) to the bottom - Cape May (bottom of NJ), on bike, in 1 day. It's about 210 miles and takes about 17 hours total, 14 hours pedaling, to do. So if you wanna kick or leg squat, heheheh. But if it's punching, then I'm pretty much beat. <G>

    2) As 65Hoss said, yep, I stretched my transmission belt, but it's only a belt, and they said the new belts DO stretch.. So I made the adjustment, and it's fine. If it slows down again, I'll adjust it again... no biggie.

    3)Bushhog - Well, I do have to step off on most 180 degree turns, but it's pretty much a smooth move, especially since the plate moves up out of the way completly.. So it's not a real problem. I've never used a wheel-velky, just the pro-slide. The pro-slide I compare to a tractor trailer mud flap, so of course with your body weight on it, the stripes are outrageous. I see no need for a chain kit, a roller or any of that stuff when I have a 180 pound body sliding over the grass, smoothly. I'm not gonna attach 180 lbs of chain or put a roller on with that much downward tension on it, that's for sure.. And I don't know if I'd necessarily want to run over someones foot with the proslide (with the blades off of course), cause it'd be just like me stepping on your foot and smooshing it.... I find the proslide to be a combination of like skateboarding, surfboarding and roller skating, all kinda in one. It is very relaxing though and smooth, I don't find any knee or leg/back problems with it, so that's cool too.

    And I think my stripes looked crooked, but I don't think they really were, here's another pic of the same lawn on the same day, different angle, to compare..


  9. Doogiegh

    Doogiegh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 871

    So, did you get the new 36" Exmark?

  10. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    Your solution for the shrub clippings was a good one. I discovered that a while back, except bagging instead of mulching. Now that I have a mulching kit for my Lazer Z, I will try that.

    It's dozens of little time savers like this that make this business much more profitable than doing things in a very conventional way. Over the years, I've found I'm probably 75% more productive as when I started. I see a lot of guys driving around in junk pickups with worn out pistol grip walk behind mowers, year after year. And by the time they're 50, they have nothing and are getting too old to do the work. There should be more emphasis in lawn publications on teaching good techniques and sharing "tricks of the trade". All I see are cheesy articles on how to motivate employees and sell customers with flash and butt-smooching. I've found the best customer retention tool to be a good job done at a fair price, reliably.

    So when someone says they try to charge $48/man hour and another only $25, keep in mind that some companies are simply more productive than others.

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