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I have an old Encore Z 42 which is long overdue to replace. I have about 2.5 acres to mow but the terrain is hilly and not very smooth so I'm looking for a rugged and durable machine. I'd like to stay under $5500 but I'm a little flexible in price if there is a big jump in quality for a little bit more. So far I'm considering a Gravely ZT HD, a John Deere Z445 and a Hustler Fas Trak or Fas Trak Super Duty. I think the entry level Ferris, Kubota and Scag are about at my upper price point but I don't know too much about them. Anybody have other suggestions? The JD has a stamped deck; is that a big minus? Anyone familiar with the quality of cut between these machines? From what I've read Kawasaki make about the best engines for this sized mower, any opinion on that?
 

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I vote for either the Gravely (also known as Ariens Max Zoom) or FasTrak SD, although I think the FasTrak SD is going to be closer to $6500 which puts it more in the Scag Freedom, BobCat FastCat Pro and Dixie Chopper Magnum. I don't care for my local Ferris dealer, so I've never considered any of their offerings.

The thing that bugs me about the JD is I believe the deck they use is the same one used on their GTs, at least it was last time I was shopping. Consequently, the blade tip speed was significantly slower. It gave a great cut, but mowing speed was adversely affected.

Another machine I think is a lot of bang for the buck is the Husqvarna MZ6128ZT (Dixon Ultra).
HUSQVARNA MZ6128ZT - Zero turn mowers
Dixon - Ultra Series
 

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You should consider a low hour previous owned machine, that way you could get into a higher quality mower and stay within your price range.I purchased a 5 year old 721 Grasshopper with 160 hours what an excelent machine. The kubota liquid cooled engine is barely broke in at those hours.
 

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The deck is everything on a quality mower. Go for a machine with a fabricated deck. Stay away from the stamped decks. I don't know how JD has gotten away with the stamped decks for so long, they are garbage. Like was said previously, consider a used high quality commercial machine. I have a Kubota ZD-221 that I wouldn't trade for any other machine made except maybe a Kubota ZD-331/
 

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You should consider a low hour previous owned machine, that way you could get into a higher quality mower and stay within your price range.I purchased a 5 year old 721 Grasshopper with 160 hours what an excelent machine. The kubota liquid cooled engine is barely broke in at those hours.


 

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The deck is everything on a quality mower. Go for a machine with a fabricated deck. Stay away from the stamped decks. I don't know how JD has gotten away with the stamped decks for so long, they are garbage. Like was said previously, consider a used high quality commercial machine. I have a Kubota ZD-221 that I wouldn't trade for any other machine made except maybe a Kubota ZD-331/
But, why would not a 9 gage stamped deck be as good as one fabricated ?....Yeah, stamping 9 gage is tuff, and a more modern approach...I think..
 
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