Larger mowers, 4-wheel steer or zero turn

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by bigsnowdog, Mar 31, 2007.

  1. bigsnowdog

    bigsnowdog Sylvan Dweller

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    I am going to buy a new piece of mowing equipment. I mow a grand total of 15 acres, some of it with a 7’ rear mounted mower. More and more I am developing park-like areas involving trees, as I have planted thousands of trees over a period of many years. This involves the need to quickly mow around trees.

    My 24 hp Kubota is a great tractor, but is not a hydrostat and does not have a live PTO, and the turning radius is too big.

    I want something that will be a capable finish mower, and have narrowed it down to either a John Deere garden tractor powered, mostly likely by a water cooled Kawasaki..... Or a diesel version of that same tractor, in the 700 series. One question, do any of you have the four wheel steer model, and has it been a good thing? Any particular problems with them?

    The other way I may go is to use a zero turn machine, either the Scag, Kubota, or John Deere. Do any of you have these larger machines and what opinions do you have about them? A concern I have had about the zero turns is the ride on uneven terrain and the back irritation that would result. The big Scags have 24 inch diameter rears and 13 inch diameter fronts, so they should do as well as a garden tractor. Having ridden a small Dixon, with small wheels, it is a punishing ride, and I could not stand to use it long term.

    Thoughts?
    #1
  2. Ironheadziggy76

    Ironheadziggy76 What the hell?

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    I have the Skag Wildcat and I love it. It has the 61" deck and a 26 horsepower water cooled Kawasaki. The ride is better than the tractor type Gravely that I was riding. I mow about 5 acres and 4 of them are wooded. What use to take me all day, I can now mow in about 3.5 hours with the zero turn. I highly recommend the Skag, it is built very heavy and I cut small saplings up to an inch in diameter with no problems. It is truly a pleasure to work with this unit.
    #2
  3. garandman

    garandman Wandering Minstrel

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    The place for you: http://www.opeonthenet.com

    Lots of pros and obsessed [SIZE=-1]amateurs.

    I got, and posted, a lot of snow thrower info there.
    [/SIZE]
    #3
  4. Maineiac

    Maineiac Kennebago Express

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    Try this one:

    www.lawncafe.com

    - professional lawncare site. Click "forums" at top of page.
    #4
  5. djchan

    djchan Long timer

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    I had the same talk with myself 3 years ago. Went with the JD lawn tractor because I thought it could do other things as well as mow grass. If I could do it over again.... GET THE ZERO TURN.

    Dean
    #5
  6. bigsnowdog

    bigsnowdog Sylvan Dweller

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    Please elaborate on your thinking....
    #6
  7. djg

    djg Been here awhile

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    #7
  8. Renazco

    Renazco Formerly AKA Boejangles

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    I asked this same question a couple of years ago on this forum and after all my research I ended up with a Jacobsen zero turn, awesome machine! http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=70387

    This site http://www.lawnsite.com/ is great for anything you want to know about lawn care and what the pro's are using.

    The John Deere stuff was way overpriced for what you get, I didn't see any difference in this line compared with the other entry level z mowers.

    Hustler and eXmark were my other considerations and if it wasn't for the great deal I got on my Jacobsen I would of ended up with one of the others.
    #8
  9. paddythesmith

    paddythesmith Been here awhile

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    A week or so ago there was a John Deere 425 on craigslist pictured in its pristine fenced lawn environment in Bellevue, WA (high dollar area of Seattle). Annual'd at dealer, 'very good' condition, 4 wheel steering, rear wheel drive with diff lock, power steering, PTO's going every which way, 20hp liquid cooled twin... Anyhow, asking price was $3k. I caught it during some downtime at work roughly 45 min after it was posted. If I wasn't such a stupid-ass, having paid $3k (after bag catcher, tax) for a new (relative POS) Sears GT 5000 with 25 hp air cooled Kohler twin 2 years ago, I would've bought it.

    Well, actually, if I didn't have to ask my wife (pregnant with our 3rd child) for permission (she said absolutely not) I would have bought it and sold the Sears. Then again, she did just let me buy a 640 adventure after buying an 1150 adv a year ago, so I shouldn't complain too much. That said, I've decided that 425 is the bomb for the JD line. Old school, not made anymore, go for 4500-5500 on ebay. That $3k was a screamin' deal...
    #9
  10. ClayLR

    ClayLR Been here awhile

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    As cool as ZTR is, whoever came up with the dual clutch steering method as is currently used obviously lives in an area without biting insects.
    #10
  11. bigsnowdog

    bigsnowdog Sylvan Dweller

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    Old school in what way? There are a lot of them out there, and they do look substantial.
    #11
  12. bigsnowdog

    bigsnowdog Sylvan Dweller

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    You mean because you don't have a free hand to slap at the bugs?
    #12
  13. MeanMoe

    MeanMoe one really mean cat

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    We purchased the JD 324 which is a 4 wheel steer model. Went with the 42 inch deck because of some tight places that a 48 or larger deck would require hand mowing.

    The 4 wheel steer is quite useful. IIRC the inner radius is something like 10 inches which helps when cutting around the smaller trees. Bought the bagger (running all cuttings through a compost pile) which is a big PIA but it works.

    We were looking at the 700 series just to get the diesel. The sales person at the JD place talked us out of the 700 model because their pricing on the 700 would have put the 2305 with belly mower within $200 of the 700.

    I didn't really didn't want to spend $10K on a tractor at the time so sprung for the 324.

    OBTW, we cut about an acre but it is 10% turf and 90% pasture with hills.

    Pat
    #13
  14. Arkzooky

    Arkzooky Adventurer

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    Had a Kubota 4 whl steer--what I didn't find out till i used it was that when the rear wheels turn going uphill, your traction absolutely goes away. Fine for flatland. Also the rear link broke several times and was always out of alignment. Don't think Kubota makes them anymore, and other brands are probably better anyway. Another long Kubota story about a factory defect in the piston ring grooves.
    #14
  15. Cruiser

    Cruiser Long timer

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    Go zero turn,, The cheaper zero turns stay away from, and I'd stay clear of Jacobsen for now as they are going thru some $ issues and might be going under again. The JD zero turns are nice and the Toro and xmark are nice too. I'd go with the jd or toro,, They have better hydro's and are made for the long haul. The JD is actually a greatdane/jd. They bought out Greatdane to own some of the patents. The 4wheel steer is ok for a small yard homeowner, mows too slow if you have a big area. If you have the cash go with a lastec Zero turn, they have a 36 HP kubota deisel, a 4 section articulating deck and it mows fast, covers 8ft a pass. I work for a JD dealer that also carries the lastec brand.
    Good luck,,
    Steve
    #15
  16. bigsnowdog

    bigsnowdog Sylvan Dweller

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    Your remark about hydros..... where do you put the Scag in that array?

    The Lastec is more width than I need, but it looks neat. Also, no dealers in this state.
    #16
  17. zed88

    zed88 n00bilicious

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    I saw this thread and thought I would chime in. I've spent alot of time on zero turn mowers, and some time on non zero turn motors working for a landscaping company, and the local public works. We also had a Cub Lowboy farm tractor for use around the house, and have since traded that in for a zero turn mower. I've probably got about 1000 hours on standard little mowers.

    Zero turn motors are very quick, and if you have to cut around lots of objects, or delicate areas (curbs, manholes, bricks, driveways, house siding) they are fantastic. The tend to require a little more maintenance, but nothing a average homeowner shouldn't be able to take care off. If you have hills or inclines I would definitely get one. The downsides are if you don't drive carefully with them you can rip up your yard. In our yard we dont care, but some people keep very nice lawns. You can also stripe your lawn if that suits your fancy. It takes awhile to get good with them, but once you do, you can probably run your entire yard at full speed. To avoid tearing up your yard just keep both wheels moving at once.

    Standard mowers are great for their cost, and they are able to cut large amounts of flat grass quickly (for the cost). They suck on hills, and usually lack traction imho (except John Deere in general). I'd figure out how much your time is worth and then choose based on that.

    Then you get to best part where you decide what deck size you want, attachments, and power you need. My favorite was a tigertrack with a 42" that ran about 18mph. For everyday use we ran Grasshoppers because they are relatively cheap, have lots of attachments and are reliable outside of known issues. They also had stabilizing wheels on the rear which was real nice on hills. When you only have 4 wheels you slip more, sometimes even sideways. Rear engine mount is preferred to keep the weight over the drive tires. Even though I'm John Deere's headquarters I can't recommends any of their smaller mowers unless you'll put at least a thousand hours a year on the machine. They are top notch, but priced that way to :eek1

    I'd take a used commercial zero turn, over a new standard any day. Check in with your local dealer to see what they sell to commercial company's and then keep your eye out for a used one. I've seen lots of people buy normal mowers and save a bit of money and later regret it. A good mower will last you at least 15 seasons, and probably much more.
    #17
  18. Gezerbike

    Gezerbike Hey Rocky...........

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    I've always been a conventional tractor kind of guy, but my neighbors Zero Turn has changed that. He has a commercial grade Cub Cadet Zero Turn, I think it is called a Tank 54, and it does some serious grass cutting. I used to run heavy equipment years ago and spent days on end running a SkidSteer Bobcat, so there was no learning curve. There is just no comparing how much grass you cut with one of those things in competant hands. The heavier models seem to ride nice, have good seats and I think his even has a way of setting like a cruise control so you can swat them bugs. The only draw back that I saw, and it was probavly me driving it like it was a Bobcat, was that it was relatively easy to tear up the lawn if you really started to swing that that thing around. I don't think I would even consider a conventional type tractor if I have to break down and buy a new one. My 15 year old twin cylinder, liquid cooler Honda still runs as good as the day I bought it and in those 15 years I have had to replace the clutch cable and the battery......that's it.
    #18
  19. bigsnowdog

    bigsnowdog Sylvan Dweller

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    What do you mean by the known issues on the Grasshoppers?
    #19
  20. zed88

    zed88 n00bilicious

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    The one's were were using were older, and had a few manufacturing defects were deck welds would break. The dealer usually let you know about it, and you could get it fixed. I'm sure all mowers have similar problems occasionally, in this particular instance it was a real pita due to time lost on the job.

    I forgot my favorite mower I've used. Dixie choppers! Fast, powerful, fun to drive while being comfortable. We bought 2 new ones and ran them about 1500 hours each in a season and only had one issue. (Don't let coworkers hit fences at full speed). Aside from oil changes, and lube points they had no issues. Started up everyday and just went to work. Some complain about weak decks, but I don't think you'll run into that as a home consumer. I'd test drive one if you have a dealer in your area.
    #20