Zero Turn Mower - Front Disc Brakes

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by ted corriher, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782

    I've read most, but not all, the posts in this thread, and get the general drift of both sides of this issue, but want to add some thoughts for all of you to ponder.

    First of all, I suspect those that say front brakes can't/won't work, are merely a later generation of the same people who resisted disc brakes, automatic transmissions, power brakes, power steering, anti-lock brakes, etc., at the time of their inception.

    I think it is obvious that front brakes, or rear, for that matter, on ZTR's will not save the operator in all situations. There will be, eventually, someone killed on a ZTR with ROPS in place and wearing his or her seatbelt. It is inevitable, as there are simply too many variables in the real world for any one device or system to insure safety under all conditions. It is the same with airbags and seat belts in our autos. They don't save everyone, but they do save some. I think that is the point that Ted is trying to make, that any improvement over the current system of no brakes in a positive thing.

    As for the issue of operating in unsafe conditions, especially in the context of slope recommendations by mower manufacturers, anyone with any experience in this field realizes that ALL ZTR's are capable of safe operation at much greater degrees of incline than those stated by most manufactureres. Those recommendations are simply required in todays world of litigation to avoid lawsuits. Same with all the warning stickers on everything you purchase today. We all know that blade is under there spinning, but if there isn't a warning sticker, some idiot will try to blame the poor bloke who made the mower, instead of their own stupidity.

    Shoot, many of us would probably never get a whole yard mowed if we went strictly by the safety recommendations of our mowers manufacturer.

    Also, I'd like to point out that with any wheeled vehicle, the idea is never for any brake to lock in an emergency situation (hence the develpment of anti-lock brakes), but to merely slow the vehicle while maintaining some type of control. Just as on ice, once your tires break traction, either by locking up, or spinning, you have no control. That is the inherent danger evident in ZTR's. The weight transfers to the front tires when going downhill, and while the hydro operated rear wheels are very efficient at braking, it is also quite easy, and natural, in a panic situation, to over-power the machine, causing the wheels to break traction, and begin spinning in reverse. The more panicked the operator becomes, the more power he or she tends to apply, worsening the situation. Same thing people do with brakes on vehicles. The more frightened they become, the harder they push on the brake. That is why anti-lock brakes have saved countless lives and accidents. They are emotionless, and simply do their job no matter what you are getting ready to run into.

    Most of the time, if one were to simply allow the levers to return to the neutral position when you start sliding, you would regain enough control to have some dynamic braking and steering control, but most people don't get into these type situations on a regular enough basis to react correctly. They simply do what works great on level, dry turf: Yank back on the levers. If you don't believe me, put your Z on a steep hill nose down (where you can't hit anything if things go wrong), and simply hold the levers in neutral. Initially, you'll start picking up speed, but eventually, you'll start feeling the braking effect of the hydros.

    I applaud Ted, as I applaud all of those who see a problem, and are willing to try and develop a solution. Will front wheel braking ever be mainstream or mandatory? Who knows? Will they prevent all accidents? Obviously not. Would they, eventually, save one life? Inevitably. And if that one life is yours, or your spouse's, or that of a close friend, wouldn't they be worth it? Neill
  2. ted corriher

    ted corriher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 119

    The first version (pictured above) was not equipped to handle this type of problem, but these hoses have been replaced with braided steel lines and are really made to withstand light to moderate abuse from catching on something (depending on how brutal you are on your mower). We will try to include everyones ideas in our future demo videos. Thanks to everyone who has provided input as it has greatly affected the developement stages of the Tedbrake.

  3. ted corriher

    ted corriher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 119


    We would love to include your writeup on our new website that just launched. There are a lot more pictures, and we included a way for our visitors to contact their manufacturer to request this be added as a safety option during production.

    Please let us know if we have your permission to include what you wrote unedited on our site. We are getting packed up to head up to the GIE Expo in Louisville Kentucky on Tuesday and we are located right in a great spot close to many of the major manufacturers. We will be shooting video there as well to see what kind of interest there is from them as well as from end consumers.

    Check out the new site at
  4. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,782


    PM sent.

  5. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    Which system are you concentrating on? The disc or scrub?
  6. demhustler

    demhustler LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,322

    simple guard plates would help as physically, as psychologically

    2. Ted, does it works on u-turns 2(3)point-turns)
    getting faster and heavier - it hard to stop and turn those babies

    Grasshopper beats superz on small-medium lawns due to turns (and with or without turf damage)- rear wheels on deceleration just have not enough traction (similar to going downhill nose down)
  7. ted corriher

    ted corriher LawnSite Member
    Messages: 119

    Our main goal right now is to get the manufacturers to even look at them and consider putting them on. Once they get involved, I am sure that their engineers will come up a lot of new ideas.

    We are focusing on the disc brake model primarily simply to reduce concerns about wear on the tires. Both work equally as well as the other in our testing so far. We will have both on display at the GIE Expo.
  8. ALC-GregH

    ALC-GregH LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 7,051

    I would imagine the brakes can be applied at any time or in any direction, as in while you're doing a zero turn. I'm also pretty sure young guys will be using the front brakes to do burn outs since it would be pretty easy to do. Not that I'd try it! :laugh:
  9. demhustler

    demhustler LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,322

    on such wheel rpm it would take forever to smoke - they not patient enough!
    dem, but i should check it against the curb (to make sure)
    (on somebody else's mower) : ////
  10. brucec

    brucec LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 479

    Looks good Ted, keep up the good work! If it saves on life it is well worh it. I would rather have this on a machine than a ROP's any day. I don't know how anyone can argue with your new video! Don't listen to the nay sayers!

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