Would you reccomend a ZTR?

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by bigz1001, Oct 27, 2004.

  1. bigz1001

    bigz1001 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 128

    First, my mowing conditions. Atleast once a week (some times twice) I mow 3 acres of yard. The terrain is somewhat rough in areas and does have some areas with slope (nothing major, but this is West Virginia). My lawn for the most part is very open without that many obsticals.

    We have lived at this home for 8 years and riding mower #3 is getting ready to kick the bucket. We have been purchasing Craftsman riders in an assortment of setups. The current one is a Kohler engine, hydrostatic drive, and I believe a 50 inch deck. In this current mower the deck is absolutely wore out and will have to be replaced, also the front axle seems to be messed up as well. The common problem with all mowers (except the one where the hydro transmission went out) is that the deck wears out and we are left with a mower that runs fine, but at the cost to replace a deck, it seems to be cheaper just to replace with a new mower. Also, in an effort to lengthen the life of the current mower, we haven't mowed at near the fastest setting.

    So, I pose my question again, would you reccomend a commercial ZTR? Currently it takes a solid 3 hours to mow the lawn, and at atleast once a week, time is money. Will these mowers last long enough to justify the extra cost over the craftsman even with time decreased?
  2. Simplyhere

    Simplyhere LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Well, depends. You can expect to pay (for really good "used", or low-end new) about $6K for a ZTR - say something in the 20hp/52" cut range. You can anticipate the ZTR cutting 40% off of your mowing time, based on my own, similar residential experience. So, that means you'll be using the mower 1 hour and 48 minutes per week. To be "conservative," let's say you average mowing 1.5 times per week (30 week season, you mow twice a week one-half of the time). So, 108 multiplied by 1.5 is 162 minutes, average, or 2.7 hours per week.

    If, with good maintenance, the ZTR can be expected to last 1200 hours (and it should, because it's residential and not subject to the harsh conditions of a professional), that's 1200/2.7 hours per week, or 444 weeks of useful mower life that you can use (remember, this is assuming you mow your three acress 1.5 times each week). Hmmm, o'kay, 444 weeks, assuming 30 mowing weeks per year is 14.8 years, which we'll round to 15 years. Say $6000 purchase price (assuming equal maintenance needs from mower to mower) divided by 15 years, or $400 cost per year - for gross costs only. Remember, we're not adding in maintenance costs, as these would vary.

    Now, take the average price of your Craftsman mowers, divided by the average number of years you've been able to use them (remember, we're considering maintenance equal in terms of need and price), and if the amount of money is equal to or greater than the amount of money you'll pay, per years, for the ZTR, and purchase capital is not an issue, TAKE THE ZTR, as you will save time on your mowing, and have more fun doing it.

    Hope this helps.
    PLM-1 likes this.
  3. wvbill

    wvbill LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Where abouts in West Virginia? I'm in the Eastern Panhandle near the VA border...

    I just went through the same thing as you. I've got 3.5 Acres of ex-pasture (rough in spots), no significant hills. We built the house in 1998 and I've mowed with the same Craftsman 46" 20hp mower since then. Until this summer when the deck wore out and I finally got tired of spending 3 1/2 hours on the mower each week (twice a week in spring and fall sometimes).

    I ended up replacing the Craftsman with a 52" Country Clipper JaZee ZTR that I got for $5,600. I've cut the mowing time down to an hour and fourty five minutes and it's SO MUCH more FUN than plugging along on the Craftsman!

    Do a search for my earlier posts where I describe my comparison shopping for this mower. I think it's an excellent value - a step above the "homeowner grade" ZTRs but without the high $$ of the commercial grade.
  4. mpm32

    mpm32 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 58

    I have around 2.25 acres of grass to cut on my property with lots of obstacles. It took me 4 hours to cut the lawn with my craftsman 42" deck on almost the fastest speed. When I trimmed it added an addition 1.5 hours. This year I hired someone to cut my lawn because it was killing a lot of my weekend. They used a 52" ztr and it took him 1 hr. I went out and got a used Scag STHM 3-wheeler with a 61" deck. It now takes me just under an hour to cut my lawn. And because of the front mount deck, I have to do much less trimming. It is also much more fun and the quality of the cut is even better than the cut when the lawn guy was cutting it for me. I think he was just doing a cut and run and not giving me his best cut.

    I figured that by buying a used well cared for machine and using it just one hour a week it should last me quite a long time. Nothing is better than a commercial quality machine.
  5. Travis Followell

    Travis Followell LawnSite Silver Member
    from KY
    Messages: 2,206

    You will definately be better off with a COMMERCIAL ztr. I would not recommend a residential ztr to anyone. They aren't built any better than a lawn tractor. If you get a commercial ztr with regular maintenance it would last you 2000 hours at the least and should even run more. With an air cooled engine you should expect even 3000 hours out of a mower. Some good brands to look at would be Cb cadet Commercial, Dixie Chopper, Hustler, Grasshopper, Bobcat, Scag, Exmark, Ferris, John Deere, Bad Boy, and Great Dane just to name a few.
  6. bigz1001

    bigz1001 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 128

    Now that you mention it nd after doing some searching my available dealers within a half hour drive are Dixie Chopper as well as Exmark. I agree with choosing a commercial grade mower. But my question lies in, where to start? Lazer XP, HP, Z, and about a million other abbreviations. And Several diffrent series of Dixie Chopper. From browsing websites in an attempt to gather some information. Where to start? It seems like I need around 23HP and 52-60 inch deck. What models should a look at? And what models to stay away from? I like the hydraulic pumps and drives on the Chopper, we happen to use the same brands on some of our mining equipment.
  7. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Messages: 4,205

    Once you learn how to operate a good quality ZTR you will be able to cut your lawn in 1.5 hours without a problem other than during the heavy spring growth.

    We have exmarks so obviously that's what I would recommend.
    The lazer Z HP is a great machine for commercial use but also for homeowners looking to buy their last mower.
    A 23 horse 52" HP will serve you well, it has better trim capabilities than a Lazer Z 60" (full size lazer) meaning the deck sticks out further beyond the left rear wheel,(trim side)
    and will as mentioned last a homeowner 2000 hours easily with proper care. Commercial cutters routinely get 2000 hours with MUCH more abuse than any homeowner will give their own machine.
    Buy a Z over a craftsman rider for 3 acres????
    Absolutely, as long as your budget alows............
  8. dauski

    dauski LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    I was in the same position a couple of months age. I have a little over 3 acres and was spending 4 hours a week mowing the grass. I purchased a Cub Tank M60 and have cut my mowing time down to 1 1/2 hours.
  9. mowhigh

    mowhigh LawnSite Member
    from Dallas
    Messages: 198

    Any of the brands mentioned would more than meet your needs. But try it out on your own turf before you decide. I demoed 9 different makes (Scag and Hustler were favorites) before trying the JAZee (posted by wvbill, although the price was much less). Although billed as an 'estate' mower, it was as rugged as the others and handled the extremely overgrown back section (3-4' tall) best of all. When mowing my neighbor's manicured turf all the ZTRs could be used at top speed. But on my own rugged terrain, none could mow that much faster than my previous John Deere (an ole fashioned lawn tractor, before cheapened to Home Depot standards, which lasted 15 years). The JAZee dealer (www.countryclipper.com) suggested the fully commercial Charger with a pivoting front axle, which was a little smoother (helped much more to reduce the tire pressure). I was already sold on the JAZee's flip-up deck (easy cleaning) and convenient single joystick control, so moving up to the 52" 23hp (choice of Kohler or Kawi) for well under $6k was a no brainer. Depending on the roughness of your terrain, you might also check out Ferris; or add a suspension seat to whatever you end up getting. Good luck!
  10. CathyLynn

    CathyLynn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 77

    We all seem to agree that a commercial grade machine is the way to go!

    The are really few differences between the major players. For rough terrain you may want a heavier frame--A Scag or the Ferris with IS. The Exmark is also a fine machine.

    No matter what your dealer tells you about the Country Clipper it is not designed well and the deck will fall apart under constant use. We used to be the dealer in Indpls but had a lot of warranty issues that CC would never resolve. The joystick seems nice but gives you very poor slope control compared to all teh other major brands. The hydro oil filters hang real low with no protection= bad news.. Few commercial people with other choices available to them use them! None around here!

    The other guys are being conservative in their life expectancy for a resodentially owned and cared for machine!

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