Walker model MS review and questions

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mc25a, Jun 23, 2010.

  1. mc25a

    mc25a LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    About two months ago I bought a Walker model MS-SD side discharge mower with a 42" deck. I will give you a review of my thoughts on the machine should anyone be interested, and perhaps in return you can answer some questions for me.

    I am not a commercial lawn mower but I do mow three yards (two of them about 1 1/2 acre and the third half that) with it on a regular basis. My yard is about 1 1/2 acre with about half of that on a moderate slope with a small portion of it quite steep. I have various planting beds and 10 peach trees, which if you prune them correctly grow quite low to the ground. All the grass I mow is bluegrass, tall fescue, and/or perennial rye.

    My most recent previous mowers were an old Yazoo master mower 3 wheel outfront with a 48" deck and more recently a Kubota diesel garden tractor with a 60" deck. I came to know the qualities of an outfront mower through the Yazoo, which despite it's age mowed great and was generally easy to operate. It was a real load for my pickup (compact toyota, no trailer) and I obviously never hauled the Kubota around in it.

    I wanted an outfront mower for it's maneuverability and quality of cut. So I was basically looking at Walker, Grasshopper, Woods, and some of the three wheel clones. In ZTRs I've used my Dad's exmark mid mount and felt pretty comfortable with it.

    I ran across the Walker and bought it days after selling the Kubota. I was a little concerned at first giving up a foot and a half deck width but this didn't turn out to be an issue. Like all MS models it has a 13hp Kawasaki fe400. I was not a bit concerned about horsepower having many through the years with bigger decks and less horsepower. I think, as in homeowner equipment, commercial mowers are oversold on horsepower. Then again I've no desire to mow at 8+ mph.

    The MS has plenty of power for the 42" deck, even when I let the grass get ahead of me. I suspect it would drive a 48" ok as well, particularly since my model does not have a ghs system.

    The cut is great, the best on any machine I've ever had, and the grass dispersal is better. I never get clumping, even in tall damp grass. I think I would have been wasting money on the ghs because I can't see the grass clippings as it is. The side discharge throws a perfect 30 degree or so pattern of grass. Striping is great, but I understand that some of you don't like the third wheel pattern. Interestingly enough, my mowing time is only about 5 minutes longer than with the 60" Kubota. Most of my yard (except the peach trees) favors the Kubota as it is open and nearly obstacle free.

    The operation of the machine has taken a little getting used to. As I said I've used ztr's before and didn't anticipate any problems. I basically had it within a couple hours, but I still have trouble mowing straight going downhill. As I said, my yard is one long slope, so the quickest way for me to mow it is up and down. Up is fine. Pulling it wants to run straight. Downhill is another matter. I'm constantly wandering and correcting side to side. Could be related to my next issue.

    The side discharge unit in particular needs more weight on the rear. I'm currently loading the cargo box as a temporary solution. Remember I used a Yazoo before, so I know about the rear end flying up on you if you jerk it too hard into reverse. I can see though how this could frighten someone not so initiated into even falling off the machine. They should not sell this machine without the rear weight kit as standard equipment. Could this be why I'm having trouble wandering downhill?

    Maneuverability is great. Drive is smooth, and traction is great. I like the controls and they seem quite natural after a couple hours. I'm so low to the ground that I can go right under all my peach trees and eliminate nearly all my trimming. I can mow all the way through the kids swing set and again hardly any trimming.

    Of my hilly areas some are quite steep. I am able to mow any of them I felt comfortable with on my Kubota with the Walker. No better or worse. I think the outfront deck and tailwheel are a plus here.

    The walker is really small. As I said before I only have a compact toyota pickup for transport. I built a small ramp which combined with a convenient hillside allow me to load the mower easily and safely. Strap it down raise the deck and close the gate and I'm ready to go. This is great as my Grandparent's house is about 40 miles away and I'm able to take it down there and mow for them.

    The general build quality again is excellent. I have a lot of experience with machinery and I can see that this one is built to last. All in all this is a great machine, and I can see why they are so highly regarded in this industry.

    So I have a few questions for you.

    Walker describes this as a model with a simplified drive train. The wheel motors and pumps seem the same as the larger units. What is simplified?

    Fuel burn is about a gallon an hour. Is this about right or should I expect a little better once the engine gets some more hours on it? (less than 50 now)

    Any ideas on tracking downhill? Is this just something I should get used to in ztr's? This is really my main concern and the reason I was trying to sell it. I may still, but am working on developing my skills so that I can overcome this if possible. The more I use it the more I'm seeing that it's probably just right for my situation.


  2. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    Great review. I have a Model C, side discharge I purchased used last summer, but don't have a lot of hours on it, as it is used primarily only on smaller or fenced yards, of which I'm not servicing many right now. I did mow our whole yard with it yesterday, just because I love the way it stripes.

    As for the "wandering" issue, I think any mower is a little more difficult to get to track straight when mowing downhill. The Walker controls are really sensitive, and I have trouble getting perfectly straight tracks in your yard, which, although level, is pretty rough, so I think I tend to over correct at times. I suspect you will have less of a problem as you get more and more comfortable with the unit.

    Since the deck is so light on the Walkers's, and the design puts most of the weight on the tractor itself, I'm not sure additional weight would make much difference, and, in fact, might make it more difficult to steer down a steep hill. Just don't have enough experience to give an educated answer on that subject, but I have read several instances on here of operators removing the GHS bin and said the handling improved drastically.
  3. mc25a

    mc25a LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    I think the weight is a necessity for other reasons. Mainly to keep the rear wheel on the ground. I think you're right though. More weight in the front would logically make it track straighter downhill, not the rear.

    Did I mention the deck bouncing like crazy? I have a 1x4" steel bar about 36" long. Next time I mow I'll stick it on top of the deck with some magnets to see how that does for the bouncing and tracking.

    Thanks for the feedback.

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