When did wide walk behinds start?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Tinkerer, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. Tinkerer

    Tinkerer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 620

    When did commercial grade wide walk behind mowers hit the market? "Wide" walk behind I mean wider than a standard 19-22" walk behind.
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Who knows, I recall seeing them in the 80's but probably way earlier than that.
  3. FourTrees

    FourTrees LawnSite Senior Member
    from Zone 6
    Messages: 310

    I've seen some that look like they came out of the 70's. Not to pretty.
  4. CCC52

    CCC52 LawnSite Member
    from Zone 5
    Messages: 39

    Scag came around the mid-late 80's...

    The first Deere's I recall were mid 80's clones of the old Kees mower (or was it the other way around?) Still have my first 36" Snapper stickered Kees with an '88 mfg. date. They were going for around $900. Not a great machine compared to what Scag offered, ExMark was a joke too. No double V belts other than the Scag I recall. Scag had the heavy deck, good belts and Peerless... everything else I remember ran skinny belts with worm-gear trannies and lightweight decks. They worked, just much to be desired. The old '88 Kaw 12.5 stills kicks over and cuts well, striping isn't it's forte but that's in the deck design (or lack thereof). Regardless of flaws in any of the old beasts, it beat 21's and tractors for speed and productivity. As I recall Scag's first ZTR's didn't do so well with their 3-wheelers dominating the market? Perhaps some more informed old-timers will opine?

    Gravely, by name had it all goin' on. Multi-tool with a sulky (ride on/sit down, Velke was 20 years away). I could be mistaken but I'd guess it was their product that got the ball rolling...
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009
  5. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    I couldn't imigine running a lawn service without the equipment we have available today. Picture 1982, your selection of equipment is a commercial staggered wheel lawnboy and an Ariens lawn tractor. No Zero turns, no big walk behinds. Trimmer? Heck, we have this nice new gas powered model with the engine on the head to lug around. Edger? Grab that McLane wheeled edger for everything. Any lawn that's really nice? You need a reel mower, gas powered walk behind.

    At least back in the day, lawn tractors were built like tanks, nothing like the crap they sell now.
  6. slplow

    slplow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 354

    Bunton came out in the late sixty's
  7. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    Yes, and in 1982...There was PLENTY of commercial equipment around. In the early seventies, Yazoo was big with their front deck riders. These had gear transmissions (with clutch) and had a horizontal steering wheel. A rather crude machine, but effective for it's day. Gravely had walk behind mowers dating back to the late 50's. These were the old 2 wheel tractor type mower with the mower deck on the front (these things were bulletproof). Gravely also came out with their ProMaster series in the late 70's, that somewhat resembled the Yazoo's, but were further advanced. Howard Price had some decent front deck mowers in the late 70's to early 80's, also. these things had seats that were almost like snowmobile seats, and were rear steering with a horizontal steering wheel. Ransomes showed up in the show with some cool front deck hydrostatic mowers (T series), that were EXTREMELY powerful in the early 80's. These things had the Continental R motor in them - which was the same engine they were using in the Chevy Chevette and Buick SkyHawk at the time. The John Deere walk behinds of the early to late 80's were not Keys. they were Buntons. Of course, at this time, John Deere had their big bad deluxe models of front deck mowers out, which was their F series. I ;loved these mowers, and only dreamed of owning one one day. Later in life, after i saw how they mowed, I was glad I never had the money for one (they were around 12 grand at the time).
  8. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,008

    I have a client that has told me nearly everytime I've seen him in about 5 years about how he used to make $12/hr in 1968 to trim lawns around beds with hand shears. Then he always asks how much to leave a worker for an hour and "hand trim" his edges. I also remember mid 80's sit down sulky mullet men flying through the neighborhood, a few still rock the mullets.

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