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Zero Turn Traction - Help!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by leeave96, Jun 19, 2004.

  1. leeave96

    leeave96 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 28

    My Dad bought a Simplicity Consumer-Z zero turn mower and in the process of learning this new type of steering after about 40 years of a steering wheel - he is finding this machine has a tendency to spin the rear wheels when working a modest slope - bumpy yard. A bit of dew on the grass and it's very difficult at best to get traction. He thought that one of the benefits of a motor for each wheel, he would have in positive traction. Prior to this purchase, he was considering a garden tractor with the positive traction pedel to help out with wheel slip.

    My question is - what are you doing with your zero turn mowers to minimize wheel slip? Are you using fluid in your tires, wheel/frame weights or chevron (ag) tires?

    I've read a lot of great things about these zero turn riders and can't recall anyone swapping one back the other way - to a garden tractor yet - but if things don't improve with this zero turn rider, that's what will happen.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. sawman65

    sawman65 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 754

    your father is going through a learning curve once he gets some stick time(time useing the mower) all will be good. i sell the simplicity mower and have from time to time the same complanits
    that you stated some things you need to do
    1-mow the hills across not up and down
    2-if you start to spin, back of the sticks and ease into them
    do not load the tires it will void the warranty some people have switched the tires with good results the ones on the mower are not very good get a good square shoulder tire the carlie turf master is what i replace the old ones with
    good luck
  3. Acute Cut

    Acute Cut LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 980

    Another thing that makes a big difference here is the tire pressure. On the exmarks we run em at about 10-12 psi max. If you air them up to the labled air specks you tend to slip alot and not get traction. Different mower i know, but just something to look into.

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    To get moving push BOTH levers at the same time and then back off on one to turn. I found that if I push just one it will tend to break loose. Should keep both moving so to not tear grass anyway.
  5. dcondon

    dcondon LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,246

    very true.

    we run 7-8 lbs in the back and 10-11 in front
  6. GeeVee

    GeeVee LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 421

    AFter all that, you may still want to switch to a wider dish wheel and more aggressive treaded tires.
  7. chuckers

    chuckers LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 657

    i have my tire presure down to 4 i found that the magic number
  8. Andyinchville

    Andyinchville LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 270

    Another tip for really steep hills is to up them forward and back down the really
    steep sections.....
  9. Sam-Ohio

    Sam-Ohio LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 304

    Sawman 65:

    Is there any provision to lock the front axel , so it is rigid on the Simplicity/Snapper homeowner zero turns ?

    If he can lock that front end, then most of his hillside traction problem would go away !

    Also, you told him to mow across the hill - not up and down the hill. Isn't that the opposite of what you meant to say ?

    A couple of months ago there was a long discusion of the merits of pivoting front axels on Z's and how they could be a problem when used on hillsides. When you mow ACROSS a hill with these type units, the down hill front wheel does not push rigidly against the ground. As the wheel pivots upward a bit, the front downhill corner of the machine dives downward, and this makes the opposite REAR corner of the frame lift up just a bit. Of course when you lift this rear corner, and there is almost no weight on that rear tire , then it just spins on the turf. Actually if you loose traction with the UPHILL REAR wheel, the machine can suddenly turn down the slope and start a slide or runaway.

    This traction problem was recognized by some manufacturers, [Cub Cadet, Ariens, Gravely are ones I know- there may be others] and they made provision to be able to lock the pivoting front axel so that their machines could be as steady on hills as the machines that have non pivoting/ rigid front ends, like Exmark, Scag, Toro, Hustler and many many other brands !

    So this is the reason that I'm asking if there is any provision in this Simplicity to be able to lock up the front axel and make it rigid, cause I believe it's part of the solution to the hillside traction and wheel spinning problem they are having.
  10. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,087

    I'm going to go in a totally different direction from all others with my answer, and most likely you will find I am speaking the gospel.

    I agree with a lot that has already been said, and the Simplicity is very top notch in the consumer Z catagory. However, I believe you will find and agree that the traction issue still remaining once the learning curve is mastered all boils down to weight. More specifically the lack there of, and in addition the diameter of the front tires. Let me elaborate....

    If you will compair specs, you will find that machine to be lighter than most any commercial rider. But who cares about that! The point is a certain ratio has to be achieved for a machine to have good traction. I say ratio because all light machines do not lack traction. But weight ajoined to many other things does affect traction a great deal.

    On hills you are dealing with so many factors and ratios. But lets single out the weight/gravity/traction portion. Going up a hill I bet there are no problems as all the weight is shifted to the drive tires. But down is a different story? Down diagonal even worse? Then there is across, where the weight is shifted to one drive tire and the gravity leverage of the front of the machine is wanting to pull the machine around into pointing downhill. So the upper tire skids. The lesser amount of weight on the drive tires and the lighter the machine the more directly conditions affect traction.

    Bumpy ground tosses the weight blance all over. Plus you will find that at times the front castor will kind of 'scotch/chock' against rough terrain and cause the mower to struggle to push the front tire on across. This is very evident if you stop is such an area and try to turn against this harsh terrain.

    In the end, you live with the tire issue. As far as traction, a tire with more bite will help, but can also be a trade off as far as being gentile on the lawn. Any additional weight you can get low and on the tires will help a great deal also. This is exactly why they invented wheel weights and came up with loading tractor tires right? The tires are not going to hold a great deal of fluid though and you will need to check with Simplicity direct about any weight addition by fluid, wheel weight or other means. You will want to be 100% sure it's OK by them and the drive system will handle it.

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