Zero radius mowers breaking sprinkler heads

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by walterwilde, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. cpel2004

    cpel2004 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,415

    I just saw your comments, surprisingly you are bashing the same industry that feeds your family and your making strong assumptions without knowing all of the facts. I certainly wouldnt call anyone who is willing to mow in the summer months in this state LAZY. :nono:
  2. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    Tell them to get their lazy @&&es off the ZTRs, and stand their pathetic, sorry legs up and get behind some ( much lighter) 36" - 54" walk-behind mowers, that any respectible mowing company is ethically supposed to be using for 'postage-stamp' lawns of your size!!

    If had read this entire thread, including my comments to Runner, you would have discovered that I retracted & qualified this earlier statement to some degree, in posting #5 :

    "I'm not saying that every company that runs ZTRs on postage-stamp quarter acre (or less) lawns breaks sprinkler heads, are incompetent, or otherwise does shoddy work.

    What I am that since the INTRODUCTION and proliferation of the ZTR in this industry (especially the last couple of decades) smaller lawns like walterwilde's have been cut in increasing #'s by companies of various sizes, many of which are scratching and scraping to stay ahead of their competition, to stay "in the black", and in business.

    And as MORE of them do it...the quality of (many of them) suffers dramatically these days, as compared to when these yards were maintained with cutting decks of only 48" (or so), with walk behind mowers that were maybe 1/2 to 2/3 the weight of what the average ZTR weighs these days.

    For smaller lawns, especially, it often comes down to higher incidences of "uneven soil problems" as compared to typical larger lawns.
    This happens, I expect, because these people (and builders) try to "miniaturize" these yards...over TIME... to suit their individual needs better.
    i.e....developer puts in "smaller" privacy levee along one side of property line, that has an extreme slope as compared to normal, to compensate for space.

    The larger the deck size is, the worse the 'forgiveness' is in scalping the turf, & having the often unpredictable "high grass-low grass" disparities that can often happen regardless of using fixed-deck vs. float deck mowers.

    You can certainly find plenty of ZTRs with smaller decks in the market.
    But many contractors won't consider buying them for their employees, because of their (obvious) inefficiency in terms of acres cut per hour, as compared to the larger 60" and 72" deck ZTRs. That's why the lion's share of ZTRs with smaller decks are sold to property owners.

    Walk-behind commercial mowers can typically be found between 32" to 54" decks, some even as large as 60" (but they're rare.)
    The same thing is true for them.
    The bigger the deck, the worse quality of cut you'll generally get ( with half-@&& quality of personel driving them, especially!)"[/QUOTE]
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2008
  3. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    You're 110% correct, Tadams.

    But you can't tell me that an average commercial grade ZTR, which usually weighs around 1000 or more pounds, or a HALF TON, isn't going to effectively work to compact the soil in that same lawn exponentially faster than any ol' 21" mower?
    Or even commercial WB mowers, which usually weigh between 400-600 lbs?

    No one should be out mowing grass with such heavy pieces of equipment as ZTR'S... when turf is saturated, or if it's somewhat "questionable" to the foreman.
    But you and I know... that this indeed HAPPENS regularly & often by crew foremen "in a hurry", or pushed to the brink by their bosses.

    This happens season after season, year after year, in areas of ALL soil types: sand, silt, clay, or any combination.
    These soils often get pressed and compressed by ZTRs to the point to where some of the underlying irrigation heads are exposed, especially in worse case situations where the turf itself hasn't been maintained very well, leaving the soil with somewhat less turf overhead it needs as a "cushion".
    This oh-so-important "cushion" effect also helps the turf's root system withstand the stress and strain of a 1000 lb ZTR doing the needed 180 degree turns.

    Oh...but please don't ANYONE give any lame salemen's pitch point about how the 12" wide turf-grade tires help "distribute" the that there's less mower weight-per-sq-inch on the turf.
    This sales point has only been constructed largely to make ZTR mowing contractors sleep better at night about not SLIDING DOWN HILLSIDES as easily, and/or not getting stuck in the "muck". :cry:

    Weight is weight, folks! :waving:
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2008
  4. Tadams

    Tadams LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 787

    I agree with all of this (except the part about wider tires not rutting as bad) but I still don't think that the company is breaking his sprinkler heads. We have driven trucks and trailers over heads before and never had any problems- if they were installed properly and working properly.

    Did a ZTR harm you in a previous life or did your wife have an affair with one, Marcos?:angry: Just messin with ya:D. But seriously, what mowers do you use in your business? I have a 48" & a 36" WB and I only use them when I have to. I would much rather be on one of the 60" Lazers.
  5. ovalracer44

    ovalracer44 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    Weight distribution is weight distribution.

    We have already hashed out the PSI difference in another thread about the fact that a 21 inch mower can cause more problems than a ZTR.

    You really need to get a grasp on engineering principles before you talk down about a ZTR

    I can take a 1,500 lbs kia and get it stuck in sand that I can drive a 80,000 18 wheeler down.

    A monster truck is 9,000 lbs but because of the size of the tires it would do less damage to dirt than a passenger car. Heck a monster truck can float because of the tires.
  6. justanotherlawnguy

    justanotherlawnguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,282

    i use a 60" Z on cookie cutter 1/4 acre or less yards all day long, and busting heads is not even an issue. The only time sprinkler heads get busted is from shoddy installs where the head isnt installed deep enough, or if one does not pop back down.

    Does not happen too often, but since we do alot of sprinkler work we have parts in the trailer and repairs only take minutes. Why not just fix it and move on with it?

    It's just good business to fix it and spare the wasted time playing the blame game......
  7. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,536

    That doesnt work everywhere. In CT you need to be a lic plumber.
  8. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    Im with Runner.. I use a ZTR on anything we can, were out there 10hrs a day, and i dont want myself or the crew tired because they had to walk "mowing" more than they had to.

    Ive cut hundreds of 1/4 acre lawns if theyre wide open and we can fit a 48" ztr mower on them. Has nothing to do with being lazy, the guys who use walk behinds on everything just cant afford the bigger/better ride on machines.

    As far as breaking sprinkler heads, 90% of the lawns i cut in developments 1 acre and smaller have irrigation systems and we've NEVER broken a lawn rotor because we drove over it while it was retracted.

    If your guy is breaking/chopping up sprinkler heads, there is a problem with the irrigation system "the rotor itself" not retracting fully into the ground. Call your irrigation company and have them check it out.
  9. dave k

    dave k LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,177

    Remember people we are talking about So. Fl, here, so the lawn is probably cut at 4" or higher. So to me this sounds like the rotors may have sand in them which would keep them up partially, St. Augustine can grow quite tall in one week, so if that is the case you can't really blame the LCO for not seeing them. I would use a stainless rotor which would help them to go down. Without pic's it's really to hard to tell from the amount of info he provided.
    I don't think the Z has anything to do with it, if a rotor is stuck partially up even a walk behind would brake them.
    I personally don't take responsibility for braking rotors unless it is my fault.:cry:
  10. Jerry Lee

    Jerry Lee LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 354

    Runner is completely right, i use my Z on little residentials because its faster. its only a LC companys fault if the heads were not retracted and they hit the head. but even than its there responsability to tell the home owner his heads are faulty, and that its an easy fix if he wants new heads installed.

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