why a 36" is better than a 48"

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by griffy77, May 3, 2006.

  1. griffy77

    griffy77 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 102

    I run a small biz and have a 36H and 48 belt, both WBs. I hate belt wish i never bought it so i decided to buy another 48 at first. In the end I got another 36H.

    Things to consider:

    Is a foot more going to make a big difference? If you you mow large fields perhaps but if you have alot of large accounts you should have a 52< Ztr anyway.

    How is the mobility? I can get a 36" in more tight areas with greater mobility than a 48", and get through gates.

    Can i still manage large accounts? 2 36" is 72" of cutting vs just one 48". so yes I can still cut large account's with 2 mowers running at the same time.

    Cost efficient? A 36 is going to cost alot less than a 48.

    If you are like me and do primarily residential property that is under an acre on average I believe a 36 is much better route to go. Mobility, cost are the 2 main factors that make a 36 more desirable. If you have large accounts you should be running a 52 or higher Ztr anyway.

    some thing to consider when buying your next mower.
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I am sorry but some of this mentality is flawed. First off, a 48" cuts 25 percent more grass than the 36" while the 52" cuts 8 percent more grass in a wider path way than the 48" and that is all there is to it. Running two 36" at the same time cuts more than running one 48", but how do you manage to do this by yourself or did you forget this also involves double the labor?

    Cost efficiency, a 36" isn't really cheaper unless it consumes a lot less fuel - A 15hp at Wot consumes roughly the same fuel whether it sits on a 36" or a 48". A 13hp does consume about 10 percent less, but not 25 percent.

    As for larger accounts, the 52" is a float deck and the 48" is a fixed deck. Consider for a moment that floats weigh an easy 500 pounds versus the fixed deck's 300 pounds and you may realize that with anything except the newest mower, the 48" actually runs circles around the 52"... There is only 4 inches of difference in deck size between a 48" and a 52" but there exists a FOOT wide path of visible width between the 48" and the 36".

    As for the Ztr, that is a beast doesn't really compare to Wb's due to a much higher cost / maintenance factor, the Z is a luxury machine thou around here, sure many buy one, some almost before they'd buy a Wb but then that is not my problem.

    As for turf area, yes the 36" might can do better in lots smaller than 1/4 acre, I honestly feel it might even outrun the 48" in tight lawns up to 1/2 acre in size, but there is no way the 3-footer can outdo the 4-footer flat out, and the bigger the lot, the better the money.
  3. Roger

    Roger LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,943

    Last Saturday, I picked up a new John Deere 717A, 48" wide ZTR. My primary mower has been an Exmark, 36" Viking (fixed deck). On larger properties I use a BullRider, two-wheeled sulky.

    I have many observations regarding the new JD, but will keep comments here related to the 36" vs. 48" matter. I can use the JD on about half of my properties (I work solo, working about 40 mowing jobs per week, 10K sq ft to 2.0 acres, average have about 25K-30K sq ft of mowing). My experience to date is the 48" ZTR is only a tiny bit faster than the 36" w/b, and in some cases 20% longer. The 36" mower is far more nimble and I can mow places with the w/b I cannot mow with the 48" mower. The properties where the time/property is longer, I am having to take off my hand mower to finish the job, or have to spend more time with the trimmer. Speed-wise, the ZTR isn't much, or any faster -- sitting on that seat over bumpy turf is harder on the body than standing on the sulky, even though the wheels are only 4.80X8.

    I know I will gain more experience with the ZTR and improve my times a bit, but I cannot much improvement. I certainly have quickly learned that I cannot do more work over the course of a week with the 48" mower.

    Remember, two factors are at work here, the mower width and the ZTR vs. w/b. Why am I not getting better performance? I think it is primarily related to the ZTR vs. w/b issue, not the mowing deck width. Perhaps I would have better served to buy a wider w/b with a good sulky to gain production.

    I am learning that doing the mowing tasks while sitting down is not all that it is cracked up to be. I would rather be more productive while standing than same, or less, while sitting.

    Just for the record, I believe the JD is an excellent machine. The 7 Iron II deck is producing superb results. I always thought my Exmark did a great job, but it does not hold a candle to t he 7 Iron II deck -- beautiful smooth surface, and great spread of clippings. As a piece of equipment, I am very satisfied with my choice. All the issues discussed above are unrelated to my choice of ZTR.
  4. ChadA

    ChadA LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 521

    Who can really say which one is better. I have all small props 10-20k avg. Although I loose some mobility I do at least an extra 8 inches of cut with overlap. So I finish much faster. With cuthroat competition and cheap homeowners i just don't see how I could make nearly the same money or get as many cut in a day. I have a 48 belt W/B and a 32" belt w/b. The 32 cost more than my 48 for one. It's main job is looking good while it sits on the trailer.
  5. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Messages: 3,010

    I'd like to have someone with a 36 follow me with my 48 and at the end of the day look me in the eye and tell me the 36 would be better for me than the 48.

  6. MTR

    MTR LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 1,280

    I would like to have a duel with your two 36"...just with my Gravely 152 Z. We will cut the whole day, I run my Z and you run your two 36", at end of day who are beaten up like hell. Do that for weeks , month and years...there is no comparison.
    Anyone who complained that the Z is not helping any much time, please, hello how long you have experience with your Z? 2-3 months meanwhile you have been running your walk for what 5 years or more?
    A Z is thing to learn and once you TOTALLY experienced with it, it is the machine that saves you and your profit.
    As for 36", 48" walk, I don't like them either...too many passes. It is really personal experience, I can run my 52" TTHP in circle any of you 48" lovers. The cut of 52" is the best not big and not small....then again, it is everyone personal preference and experience.
    Every mower has its place.
  7. aVOLanche

    aVOLanche LawnSite Member
    Messages: 68

    Topsite said ...."I am sorry but some of this mentality is flawed. First off, a 48" cuts 25 percent more grass than the 36" while the 52" cuts 8 percent more grass" .Well,that's wrong.A 48" is 12"=1/3(or 33 1/3%) more than a 36".But here is the more important kicker:Assume you cut 1 row in both directions with each mower and overlap the pass by 6".The total cut for the 36"=36"x2=72"-12"(you lose 6" from EACH pass=12").So the 36 cuts 72"-12=60".The 48 cuts 48x2=96"-12"=84" for 2 passes.
    This figures out to be 87.5% efficiency for the 48 and only 83.3% efficiency for the 36 ,if you overlap cuts by the same 6" with both mowers.The larger the mower,the more efficently it cuts a given area(maneuverability not taken into account).An even larger mower gains more efficiency.To put it another way,a larger mower is able to use more of it's width than a smaller mower because the overlap on each pass should be pretty consistently the same( 6",or whatever).And the 6" is less of a percentage of a larger mower's cut than a smaller mower's cut.
  8. griffy77

    griffy77 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 102

    Like I said in the beginning if you are mowing large size lots go with a bigger deck. If you have small accounts where you need to get through gates and in tight areas then a 36 is the way to go. I felt I could get more use out of another 36 and save some money. I have no regrets. Sure if i was planning on mowing acreage i wouldnt even bother with a WB and get a Ztr. they move faster and make a great looking cut. I just dont have alot of large accounts thats why I figure having two 36 mowers will be more productive than a 36 and a 48. The way I see it is if I need a 48 why not just get a Ztr with a larger deck, because where ever i would need to use a 48 I could easily use a 52 or larger. It worked out better for me to have two 36 mowers going in a residential neigborhood where both could get through gates and in tight spot instead of having some large mower just sitting on the trailer.
    My point is if you need a 48 why not just get a 52 Ztr or larger. The mobility of a 36 is greater than a 48 anyday.

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