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Has any one had the opportunity to run different brands of zero turn mowers? I'm considering getting one and don't know enough about them to know what features are good and what are just fluff. John Deere has a mulch on demand feature on it's Z900 series, is that worth anything or just a kind of a gimmick? Also, I bought a couple of John Deere X-320 tractors this year and on one of them the transmission started to go bad after only about 200 Hrs. on it, and yes we do a lot of hilly lawns. I never knew about the X-300 series weakness as far as hills are concerned until the tranny went. That's why I want to know if there are quirks like that with any other mowers in general and zero turns in particular. I'm thinking zero turn because we do a few large lawns and I keep hearing about how fast they are. I figure for the most part the hills on these lawns aren't bad enough to be a problem on a zero turn.
A local Scag dealer has a loaner for a day program so customers can try the mowers out on the lawns they'll be used on so that will be the first brand I'll be looking at. What should I be looking for or looking out for?
How do JD , Ferris, Scag, X-Mark, and any others compare, strong points and weak points?
Anyway, I'd appreciate any input on these that anybody might have. Thanks.
 

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I moved your thread to the ZTR forum so it will get better coverage. I'm sure you will get some folks to chime in shortly who run these different brands commercially.
 

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I run a Scag ,5 days a week, 8 months out of the year , for 8 years now . Not too many issues besides regular stuff .... oil belts etc .... just put a new hydro pump on it.
 

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Lots of folks out there making money using the brands you list. The crucial points are to buy a commercial grade rig from a dealer you trust. Of course getting the most bang for your buck, within that apples to apples comparison, doesn't hurt either. Some might say buy a used machine, but I could never find one that wasn't beat to snot (3000+ hours), and still way overpriced ($3500+). I've been running my DC LT2700-60D privately for almost 7 years now on close to 3 acres with no issues other than putting slime in the front tires, and routine oil & filter. I had been leaning heavily toward a Scag Tiger Cub (BIL has a '99 or '00 Turf Tiger still going strong), but local dealer couldn't give as good a deal as DC at that time.
 

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I have a 1996 Woods 6210 mow'n machine

My Woods 6210 Mow'n machine is 19 years old and was purchased for $8400 to mow my three acres. I thought that buying a commercial grade mower would be the last one I would ever have to buy. I just finished putting another $1400 in the mower with my labor not included. The $1400 was for parts only.

It came with a 20 hp. water cooled Kawasaki FD620D which was blessed with a composite cam gear which neither Kawasaki or the prime driver of the composite camshaft gear, John Deere, admit to specifying. In fact, Woods and Kawasaki had no idea if the camshaft in my 1996 engine has the composite gear. I had to pull the water pump to get to the gear. The composite gear fails between 700 and 1000 hours. You either replace it preventively or have it fail and then haul it to your shop to do it. My Woods had the composite gear and I swapped it out at 700 hours. See below and you can see how much wear the composite gear has compared to the steel cam gear.


Based on the electrical problems and dumb design decisions I would not recommend anything made by Woods or Grasshopper that made these for Woods in the 1990's. I just spent $1400 rebuilding the motor with a new cam, tappets, springs, piston rings, valve lapping, etc. I also installed a new muffler and dual tail wheel which should have been standard equipment because the load on a single tail wheel will destroy the wheel bearings. In 700 hours I have replaced the rear tail wheel three time.

I also had the front mowing deck tires lose the foam filled inserts and they just flopped around. I had to buy two new tires and rims for $125. The front fork assembly on the left front wore poorly and the new tire and wheel on the left side of the mowing deck rubbed the mower outside of the mowing deck. This could have been designed out by providing extra clearance between the tire and the front of the deck. Most ZTRs have ample room and as assemblies wear they don't cause interference problems.

The safety switches are another nightmare. I had to pay a repair shop to chase down problems with safety switches that left the mower dead.

The list goes on. Engineering design is amateurish. The side fenders supported the optional snow blower cab (steel and heavy). The primary method of attachment was two sided tape. What were they thinking.

So, I am not impressed with Woods or Grasshopper commercial grade ZTR mowers. Look elsewhere. However, my recent adventure rebuilding the mower and spending another $1400 has really made it feel like a new machine. But in the commercial ZTR mower market 700 hours is nothing.

Bill
 

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Pop into a couple of independant repair shops and have a chat to the technicians.
These are the people who work on the mowers that work in your area so this will eliminate local conditions .
Some mowers handle different enviroments / grasses / rain / soil types/ humidity etc etc etc better than others.
Remember their time is money so ask them to lunch . bring some pizzas etc.
Every brand has its strengts & weaknesses.
I have a customer with a 54" Grea Dane Chariot with around 4000 hours on it, still gong strong. All of the pivot holes are flogged out oval so it no longer cuts to 5", gets used about 30 hrs / week does roadsides with no clean up so rocks, sticks, tyres , bottles all part of a days work, lives on the trailer out in the open.
And he swear by it, loves it and won't part with it.

Another customer with the 61" version of the same mower keeps it in a shed, cleans his lawns before he mows and is always having troubles with it because he expects it to work perfectly and has been trying to sell it for years ( wants too much ).

Next check out all of the owners/ service manuals and look at the required service & service intervals, The GD 's above require the deck spindle bearings to be replaced annually.
Ad finally, look at what is on the trailers of the lawn care professionals in your local area.
Walkers are fabulous mowers, on gentle slopes/ level grounds, cutting fine lawns and sucking up leaves , but useless on rutted lawns with tufted grasses.

I have a few customers who run several different types of mowers. One has a Walker that he uses to do the run of "rich peoples lawns" the Torro comes out to do the sports fields and the Great Dane is used for paddock slashing ( you call that roughing )

Another uses a Cub 2166 specifically after prolonged rain because it is very light on the ground and does not damage wet boggy lawns . When things dry out he switches to the Toro which is faster but tends to tear up soft ground.

The idea that there is one mower that will do all is a fallacy.
If you are going to be a one mower shop then ultimatly you will have to restrict your clientelle to those who have grounds that suit your equipment.

To extrapolate to the absurd level.
Try to imagine using a zero turn to plow peoples driveways in winter.
They will cut the grass beautifuly in the summer but in winter, dead money.
 
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