Walk Behing Mowers???

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by JW1, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. JW1

    JW1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Pardon me for my ignorance as I'm am very new to this business and just getting my feet wet but here is the question. I have read a lot of posts about walk behind mowers that are 36 in. or so. I have only 8 residential clients at the time and use my good old 21 in. Craftsman. Okay, stop your laughing. It is all I have at the time. I keep the blade sharpened and do a good job. If I can expand, I could see the day when a larger swath would certainly save time. Is this feasible for residential lawns and how do these mowers operate? I understand them to be the same as I have but just larger to save time. Please enlighten me. Thank you. Jim
  2. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,036

    ok, here is the run down on walkbehind mowers.

    there are 3 types of drive systems.

    1. belt (cheapest, and most labor intensive to operate)
    2. single hydro. (about the same price as a belt drive, maybe $300 more, but you don't have to shift like you do on a belt drive, and you have instant reverse). I personally own a quick 36, and love it. much better than a belt, but you don't have the fingertip control like you do with a dual hydro.
    btw, "hydro" means that the mower uses hydraulic pumps and wheel motors to mover you forward and backwards. this is the simplest system to learn.

    3. dual hydro. this means that the mower uses two hydraulic pumps, and usually has to levers. when you push one forward, the wheel on that side moves forward, when you move it backward, that wheel moves backward. it is a very good system, and is allows you to turn with in your own width, when you have one wheel going backward, and one wheel going forward. it also lets you control the mower with your finger tips. these are the easiest to operate, but cost about $2,000 more than a belt drive. all Zero turn mowers that you see will be a dual hydro.

    now there are two different types of deck attachments for the walkbehinds.

    1. a "fixed" deck. this mean that the deck is bolted on to the main mower frame, and cannot "float" up or down like a "floating deck" (see 2.) will. these are usually the cheapest to buy, and are fine for any size under 48" over that, I would recomend a floating deck.

    2. a "floating" deck is usually suspended by chains from a frame that is over top, this makes height adjustment a lot quicker than with a fixed deck, where the deck may have to be unbolted, of loosened from the frame and raised.

    having the deck suspended by chains let it move opwards over mounds so that when you hit a bump, is doesn't scalp the grass like you will with a fixed deck.

    a floating setup usually runs $300 more than a fixed deck, and is a good idea from the 48" on up.
  3. MV Property Care

    MV Property Care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 169

    excellent post TC. JW1 you might want to visit the QUICK 36 website. Theres is a link at the top of the page.

    MV quick 36 owner
  4. Microbe

    Microbe LawnSite Member
    Messages: 172

    JW1, how large are the lawns that you are cutting? When purchasing a piece of equipment like a 36 in mower, you have to take into account (storage), (trailer), or a way that you can get it to your customers houses. Also, with a large mower like a 36 inch, it will take some getting used to and is not a piece of cake to operate especially on small lawns or lawns that are under 2000 feet. I bought the "belt" drive mower by Lesco for my first one. Very easy to operate and as far as being laborsome, picking up a shovel is more laborsome than switching gears. Money is of the importance, don't go crazy with a hydro mower unless you make a lot of money and can afford a toy like that.
    I still for some reason on some lawns have problems with turning back the direct way I came. It seems when I do this that I "sometimes," leave divots on the lawn. Practice on your crappiest lawn first, then go up.
  5. METRO 36

    METRO 36 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 324

    you only have 8 account's im assuming you have a supplemental income job ,retiriment or just started on your own.And it sound's like your trying to justify takeing the plunge (spending the money for a walk behind).Number one quiestion is it worth it? how long are you planning to be in business?Do you have a trailer to haul the mower? Or ramp's to load it in your truck,which if never done but i hear it can be a pain.does't do any good to buy it if you cant haul it. The question's could go one for ever. but if you have 8 account's and you get 8 more next yearlook at like this.Just for example say it take's 1hour per lawn in now some are proabaly a lot quicker, but this is just an example. Okay let's say 25.00 apiece if you do 2 a day after work that's 200.00 a week or one eight hour day (saturday) which isn't bad at all.If you had a walk behind it would cut the time in half. One hour a day after work four day's a week or one 4 hour day (saturday) it's still 200.00.Say next year you have 16 account's same average (time and price wise)With your pushmower 16hour a week 400.00 dollar's, walk behind 8hour's aweek still 400.00 dollar's.So you would be makeing the same money in half the time.IF you average 25.00 an hour 8day=200.00x5=1000.00 a week with a push mower. With a walk behind your not going to double your weekely average once you get over say 30 account's unless all your accont's are in one area.Cuz then you have to start figureing in all you drive time.Unless you make those 8hr day's 10hr day's. although even at a 25% increase that would still be1000.00 in something like three and a half day's. will a walk behind pay for it self,make you more money,and make your life easier. survey say's yes it will........
  6. TClawn

    TClawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,036

    oh yeah, one more thing, the tighter your layouts are, the more reason to get a dual or single hydro machine. it give you a lot more control than a belt will.

    what they are saying about transportation is right. but I suspect you already have a truck, to haul your craftsman around with. so all you would need are ramps. you can get away with 10" wide boards with a "ramp kit" that they sell at lowes for about $40. whatever you do, don't buy steel ramps. you will regret it. they are strong, and do their job great, but they are HEAVY. I wish I had done with aluminum now.
  7. creeksidelc

    creeksidelc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 39

    Metro is right about the time savings. If you want to try to grow I would certainly go with the WB. I started a few years ago with a 21inch in my neighborhood my 8th grade year. It was all I could do to keep up. When I got a walk behind and a trailer I doubled my clients, and thus doubled my money in the same amount of time. I myself use a Toro Proline blet driven
    36in. Floating deck. I love it, and it cuts wonderful, but does take a little getting used to. I had a fixed deck, but hated it because of poor cut quality. I would suggest an older Proline, which you can probably find for about $800.00 If you get more clients it will pay for itself real quick. Good luck with whatever you decide.
  8. JW1

    JW1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    I have learned so much here from true professionals. This is a better education than going and talking with the guys who sell this equipment. Much appreciated. I have a van with a little trailer. I think I'll expand a little while I look for a good second hand one to start. I just wasn't sure if the big walkbehinds did a nice job on small residential lawns but it appears they cut just as nice; just save a lot of time. Thanks again. Say, has anyone bought stuff on ebay at all. I looked at a few things but some of it was rental stuff so I was a little hesitant. Jim
  9. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,716

    i also recommend a used toro proline. ultra reliable and easy to get parts for . i carry mine in the back of my small toyota pickup longbed so it can be done. i also use wood ramps made from a kit. its all you need -steel -too heavy.
  10. GemSon Lawn

    GemSon Lawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    I have bought numerous things on ebay over the last 3 years, and as far the whole experience of ebay, it is what you make it out to be...if you know all the right questions to ask and what to look for....then a guy can most of the time come out allright, I don't think I would buy a major piece of mowing equipment on ebay with out first going and looking at it first hand. And depend on it to be the money maker. And if it is a rental....think how most of the rental equipment is treated. I mean if a guy rents a skid loader he is going to treat it like he stole it and do things with it he would never do with something he owned and maintained. My opinion.....stay as far away from buying anything that was or is a rental.

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