Yet another ZTR advice thread

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by cincigp, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. cincigp

    cincigp LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 7

    Hello, I am new here and in need of some advice. I have looked up specs and features and done all the homework I think I can do on my own, and I really need some help from you guys that have real world experience. I live on 6 acres, of which i currently mow about 5. There are some gentle slopes and one drainage ditch to mow around, but other than that, it is pretty much flat with a fair amount of obstacles. My current mower is an old, tired F935 with a 72" deck, and I am looking to replace it before it finally dies. For reference it takes me about 2:30 to 2:45 to mow everything right now, and probably 75% of the yard is smooth enough that as long as the ground is not hard as a rock I can mow full speed. Also, I pass a Kubota dealer on my way home from work, and I have gotten to know the people on the JD/Gravely/Stihl dealer pretty well since I have bought my trimmer, chain saw, and way too many parts for the F935 there.

    So after lots of searching and considering the dealer location/relationship side of things my initial thought was a used <600 hr JD997 or Kubota ZD331. I am a big diesel fan and I figure either of these two mowers could mulch with a 72" deck and last longer than me.

    I was ready to drive 100 miles to take a look at a ZD331 with <100 hrs on it when I decided to do some more searching for used mowers. This led to even more uncertainty. I started looking at JD 700/800/900 series mowers. It seems I can get lightly used ones for about 1/3 less than the ZD331 that I was looking at. The only things that concern me are I would probably have to go with a 60" deck, and I am afraid of what fuel consumption would be.

    So my latest thought has been maybe a new JD 400/600 series. I realize these won't last as long as the commercial grade, but if I can get 10 to 15 years out of one, surely my next mower will be even better, and I can buy two for the cost of a 997 or ZD331. But again i am worried about fuel consumption and power to mulch if I can't get to the lawn right away. Also, I think these mowers only have a 3 or 3.5 gallon tank. I do not want to have to stop part way though to fill up, or even have to fill up before I mow each time. Currently i have two 6 gallon tanks and I put about 10 gallons in at the beginning of the season and then add 5 gallons every 2 or 3 times I mow.

    So, what do you guys suggest? Go ahead and spend the money now for the top of the line diesel, get the used commercial grade, or a new consumer grade? Also, if any of you have experience with any of these mowers, what are your real world average fuel consumption rates. I am guesstimating my F935 is about 1.25 GPH. I am thinking if the diesels will be .5gph less than gas, then over 1,000 hrs (approx 10 years) I will save 500 gallons, which would almost make up the price difference.
  2. dieseltech

    dieseltech LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 651

    I have a kubota zd326 and its awesome! Well built, great cut and good speed. And did i mention it sips fuel. Around .9 gal per hr. you say you have a gravely dealer close. I would also take a look at the pro turn line of mowers. Im hearing great things about them and their build and cut quality! If i wouldnt have gotten a steal on my bota i would have seriously considered a new gravely pro turn from all the raving reviews. The jd 7iron deck cuts great, i just personally dont care for jd mowers.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. cincigp

    cincigp LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 7

    Thanks for the input dieseltech. I went to a JD dealer today and drove a few mowers around. In some ways it helped a lot, in others it just added options. I pretty much decided if I get a JD it will be a 900 series. I drove a 930 first and liked it. Then I drove a Hustler Super Z and between the two, that one was by far my favorite. The salesman had tried to steer me away from the 997, but I went ahead and drove one of those anyway and it made me wish I didn't like diesels so much. I seriously want it, but it was more than I really want to spend. Although they have a new one with 1.8 hours on it that someone ordered and then decided it wouldn't work for their needs that I can get a heck of a deal on and I could finance for 0%. I think Monday I will stop by the Kubota dealer to test drive some of those. I have my eye on a Kubota that seems to be a pretty good deal, so if I like them as well as I liked the 997 I think I will go ahead and get that one. I will also probably stop by the Gravely dealer to see if I can drive any of those this week too. I was amazed at how much difference there was in control feel between the brands and models. I know as professionals most people on here are concerned with the decks, but as a homeowner I probably won't notice a difference anyway, and anything newer will be better than my old F935. In the end, I ruled out a few mowers today, added the Super Z to my list, and confirmed that if money were no object the decision would be a lot easier and I would be anxiously awaiting the delivery of a 997.

    Does anyone have real world fuel consumption rates for a 930 or Super Z? The Kubota rate sounds about like I was expecting.

    I also have one other question. One of the mowers I looked at today had a rear discharge deck. It seems to me that this would be a desirable configuration as the clippings would be more spread out and less likely to clump. Are there down sides to a rear discharge deck that I am not thinking of?
  4. mtmower

    mtmower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,111

    You might look close at the Gravely 400 series. They go up to 72" and have carb., efi, and diesel option. The Kawasaki FX921v 31 hp is thirsty at approx 2.0 gph. I have a Kohler efi 28 on a Super Z and get closer to 1.2 gph, plenty of power though. IMO bang for the buck the Gravely 400 is hard to beat. Ask about the fleet discount of 20% off.

    Rear discharge uses less hp. so better gph yet and you can trim with both sides of the deck. Down side would be you could never bag or mulch if desired later, also the clippings tend to be larger and not chopped up so fine as a side discharge passing them from blade to blade. Some what drops it like a sickle bar mower would.

    For what your doing you could definitely do with a lot less mower IMO. More is better in my book too and will last longer and will get the job done faster but there are many guys using lesser mowers (such as JD 700s) to make a living and do well with them.

    Ridin' Green may chime in he's got some seat time on the JDs
  5. RAlmaroad

    RAlmaroad LawnSite Silver Member
    from SC
    Messages: 2,257

    I have a lot to mow including a high banked gravel drive about 1/4 mile long. I use my small 4 Wheel Drive Kabota tractor with a belly mower for a lot of the land. You can get heavy duty bush hogs for the wooded area also. However I have a Scag for the pretty cuts around the house. It's not a diesel like the Kabota but a beautiful cut. You might consider something that is a multi tasker since you have the other mowers already.
    Scag and Kabota both orange country TENNESSEE Vols color.
  6. cincigp

    cincigp LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 7

    Thanks for the info mtmower. I agree, I could do what I need to with a lot less mower, but I want whatever I get to last a long time. Unless I get a really good deal on a new one, I plan to buy used with low hours, so that limits me on my selection, and it also closes down the price gap between the levels. The dealer I went to yesterday had the 700 series and 900 series/Super Z priced roughly $1k apart. At that point I would rather pay a little more and get the 930 or Super Z.

    It sounds like the rear discharge would not be a deal breaker for me. I have no plans to bag, and if I can mulch great, if I can't it isn't a huge deal.

    I will definitely look at the Gravely dealer this week. It is also the JD dealer where I have been getting my parts and Stihl stuff, so the already know me there. Unfortunately they have a very small selection of mowers in stock. I do want to drive a Gravely before I make a final decision.
  7. cincigp

    cincigp LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 7

    RALmaroad, the plan is to get a new ZTR and trade the F935 for a cheap garden tractor with a plow blade for the utility work. I thought about getting a CUT, but we mow every week and I would only use a loader, or tiller etc a few times a year, so it just seems to make more sense for us to get a nice ZTR and something cheap to do the utility work.
  8. cincigp

    cincigp LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 7

    Well, I drove some more mowers yesterday. First was a beat up Kubota ZD25 (I think). The ride was nice, but it was in pretty bad shape. Then I drove a 600 hour ZD326. I liked it, but for some reason I wasn't super excited about it when I got off. Maybe it had something to do with the whole feel of that dealer. I left there and went to the Gravely dealer where I drove a demo 260 and talked to them about getting a 472. If I was going to go gas I probably would get the demo 260. However, after discussing it with the wife I think we are going to keep our eyes open for a used 997 in our area. There are some online in our price/hour range so it should just be a matter of waiting until one shows up near us. I was really hoping I liked the Kubotas better, but for some reason I like the layout and the controls of the 997 better. I also already know the people at the local JD dealer and I drive past it twice a day, so that helped the decision too.

    Anybody have a clean 997 with 500 hours or less for sale?

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