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Thoughts on best value for homeowner ZTR?


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#1 MiCarl ONLINE  

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Posted April 25, 2016 - 06:57 AM

The Deere deck I rigged up to my Speedex bit the dust.  In the short time it worked I learned some advice I got here and failed to fully consider is it's sometimes very inconvenient to have a deck hanging from the tractor.  So I'm thinking that rather than chase up another deck for the Speedex I'll just get a ZTR for the mowing.

 

I've got about 1/2 acre of actual grass.  The slopes are gradual but the lawn is bumpy.  I've got limited space for a mower in the shed.  I'm thinking 42" - 46" is probably the right size range.  Of course it's got to be a rider, not walk behind.  I want to be able to mulch with it.

 

I'm 55 so at most probably only 20 more years mowing.  A commercial grade machine might last that long but they're expensive and seem to be large.  I can probably do better financially with a good homeowner grade mower that I have to replace a time or two.

 

So I'd appreciate thoughts on the following:

 

Is 42-46" the right size?

 

What ZTRs are built sturdy enough that my rough lawn won't tear apart?

 

Thanks.


Edited by MiCarl, April 25, 2016 - 07:12 AM.

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#2 ol' stonebreaker ONLINE  

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Posted April 25, 2016 - 07:29 AM

  They've been cussed a lot, but I have a Dixon 3303 w/ the cone drive tranny I traded for a couple of yrs ago and I love it. Walt2002 on MTF E-mailed the complete instructions on how to adjust the tranny and how to overhaul it and I have replaced the brgs in it. It came w/ a Honda 8 1/2 HP w/ only rope start and it was getting tired so this winter I replaced it w/ a new 15 HP B&S w/ electric start.  It's only 30" but what it lacks in width it makes up for w/ speed. Even w/ the Honda, which was about 6 HP less than the factory engine, it would do as much as a 42" rider timewise. W/o an oscillating front axle it does ride rough, but I don't figure I'm getting paid by the square yard. I mow a disabled neighbor's yard and his back yard is about 1/3 acre and is full of nitecrawler humps so I don't rush on that. One little trick I learned is to keep the front tires fairly hard and it makes the 180* turns a lot easier. Another is to go around the edges 2 rounds and the then mow back and forth to keep clutch cone wear even. I have to adjust the tranny maybe once a yr. I'll guess a pair of cones and all (4) brgs might be a little over $200.

    The reason the guy I got it from was his yard is fairly steep hillside which it didn't like 'cause you have to keep a little reverse on the uphill clutch to go across the slope.

                          OK, I'll get off my soapbox!!

                                            Mike


Edited by ol' stonebreaker, April 25, 2016 - 07:35 AM.

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#3 Traill95 ONLINE  

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Posted April 25, 2016 - 07:43 AM

I use a RZT-S ( Has a steering wheel instead of two levers) Cub Cadet 50 inch zero turn mower on my yard. The yard is about an acre in size with some slope and rough ground, though I bought a 900lb lawn roller this year to help smooth the lawn out hopefully.


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#4 TAHOE OFFLINE  

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Posted April 25, 2016 - 07:49 AM

What is your budget?

Are you looking to buy brand new or maybe a couple years old?

 

I have used to of the top end commercial brands, Ferris and Grasshopper.

The Ferris was a well built machine and the top end when we bought in 2005, but IMO due to it's weight and design, was not built for very hilly places, ended up in our church pond 3 times, even with ags tires. IT would cut grass at 12 mph though and the independent suspension and spring seat made for an easy ride.

The Grasshopper is built much better for hilly terrain, lower center of gravity and more balanced. Not as fast, but easier for us to use.

 

I have no used much in lower end, but buying from like a box store or from store, the Bad Boy mower brand looks to be pretty well built.They do have a 42" and 48" standard ZTR, looks to be around $2900 starting price.

I have 2 coworkers who have bought the Cub Cadet zero turns that use the steering wheel and the front wheel are like castors. One has a hilly yard and says it does great, both of them really like those and they feel like a regular lawn tractor.



#5 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted April 25, 2016 - 11:58 AM

My brother uses a John DEERE ZTR ON HIS POSTAGE STAMP LAWN AND LOVES it though he admits he could have used a smaller deck than the 48 inch. Most of the commercial guys in town are running Grasshopper(real good servicing dealer).
Though there are a couple new dealers in town, one is selling Hustler and it looks like a good machine.
The other is selling Gravely, if I were buying a new ZTR I would look hard at one of the smaller Gravely machines. All that being said I really do not think there are any bad ones out there.
So recommend shopping the Dealer that is easy to deal with and gives good service more than being brand specific.
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#6 toppop52 ONLINE  

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Posted April 25, 2016 - 03:42 PM

I bought my first ZTR about 10 years ago, it was sitting outside behind the Sears store along with a few other mowers, had a sign saying closeout special. I parked and walked up there, looking at the deck it was obviously a Simplicity designed machine, 20 H.P. Kohler Courage single with twin cams, so it says. 44" cut, I paid $2195 and was tickled. It's a bit of a pain to put a drive belt on every 2-3 years, but I mow 1.5 acres in an hour and 15 minutes, front is clear but bumpy, just a couple of trees and around the house and walks, back is full of trees and buildings and a septic mound. It goes up and over the mound with no trouble and has worked well. My long winded point is that brand isn't as important as build quality and suitability.


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#7 MiCarl ONLINE  

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Posted April 25, 2016 - 04:04 PM

  They've been cussed a lot, but I have a Dixon 3303 w/ the cone drive tranny I traded for a couple of yrs ago and I love it.

 

 I'm looking for new or nearly new.  It appears to me that Dixon has exited the market.

 

 

I use a RZT-S ( Has a steering wheel instead of two levers) Cub Cadet 50 inch zero turn mower on my yard. The yard is about an acre in size with some slope and rough ground, though I bought a 900lb lawn roller this year to help smooth the lawn out hopefully.

 

I think 50 is probably bigger than I want.  How does the build quality seem?  What do you think of the steering wheel set up?  I know a guy unloading an almost brand new Toro with steering wheel because he says the front wheels don't match what the transmission is doing and they tear up the lawn.

 

 

What is your budget?

Are you looking to buy brand new or maybe a couple years old?

 

I don't have a budget.  I'll spend what I need to to get good enough.  I don't think I want to pay the money for a commercial mower that would outlast me because for the rest of my life I'll only mow as much as those guys do in a single season.  If I can get a consumer model for a third the price that will be pretty trouble free for 10 years that probably makes more sense.

 

I'm thinking new or lightly used.  I have enough projects.....

 

So recommend shopping the Dealer that is easy to deal with and gives good service more than being brand specific.

 

Unfortunately it's hard to know much about the service department until you're committed.  I'd like to find a machine that won't require warranty work.  Otherwise, I expect I'd do most of my own service.

 

 

I bought my first ZTR about 10 years ago, it was sitting outside behind the Sears store along with a few other mowers, had a sign saying closeout special. I parked and walked up there, looking at the deck it was obviously a Simplicity designed machine, 20 H.P. Kohler Courage single with twin cams, so it says. 44" cut, I paid $2195 and was tickled. It's a bit of a pain to put a drive belt on every 2-3 years, but I mow 1.5 acres in an hour and 15 minutes, front is clear but bumpy, just a couple of trees and around the house and walks, back is full of trees and buildings and a septic mound. It goes up and over the mound with no trouble and has worked well. My long winded point is that brand isn't as important as build quality and suitability.

 

I glanced at the Simplicity site last week.  As I recall the reviews on their ZTRs weren't very encouraging.  I wonder if something has changed in ten years.

I am trying to determine which brand(s) have good quality.


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#8 glgrumpy ONLINE  

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Posted April 25, 2016 - 04:35 PM

I was looking at Simplicity in my local shop. About $4000 for smaller ones.  I like the Husqvarna brands offered around. Best is the $4995 version, but they also have lighter $2995 or less on sale version at farm stores and such.  Cub and Deere have ones with steering wheels, I once thought I wanted that for the wife, but don't know now.  Used Deere front mower type are around, diff sizes and think you can get under trees and bushes easy with those. More money for newer ones. Even if not the zero turn, think the Husqvarna tractors are what I would buy next when the light deere dies, think good value.



#9 Traill95 ONLINE  

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Posted April 25, 2016 - 07:23 PM

 

 

 

 

I think 50 is probably bigger than I want.  How does the build quality seem?  What do you think of the steering wheel set up?  I know a guy unloading an almost brand new Toro with steering wheel because he says the front wheels don't match what the transmission is doing and they tear up the lawn.

 

 

My front wheels are free wheeling so that is not  a problem with the tranny. I have used this same mower for 5 years now and happy with it and it seems to be holding up just fine. I have only had to change the oil, plugs and breather. No breakdowns of any kind.



#10 MiCarl ONLINE  

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Posted April 25, 2016 - 07:24 PM

I bought my first ZTR about 10 years ago, it was sitting outside behind the Sears store along with a few other mowers, had a sign saying closeout special. I parked and walked up there, looking at the deck it was obviously a Simplicity designed machine, 20 H.P. Kohler Courage single with twin cams, so it says. 44" cut, I paid $2195 and was tickled. It's a bit of a pain to put a drive belt on every 2-3 years, but I mow 1.5 acres in an hour and 15 minutes, front is clear but bumpy, just a couple of trees and around the house and walks, back is full of trees and buildings and a septic mound. It goes up and over the mound with no trouble and has worked well. My long winded point is that brand isn't as important as build quality and suitability.

I double checked.  Reviews I'm seeing on Simplicity are pretty good.  I wasn't very serious when I looked last week.

 

Their Courier line looks interesting.  They're fabricated decks with life time warranty on the 42, 48 and 52 inch models.  The 46 is a stamped deck with 3yr. warranty.

I kind of like the idea of lifetime on the deck.  The 48 has suspension front and rear where the 42 only has suspension on the front.  The 42 lists for $3,000 and the 48 is $3,700.

 

Simplicity Courier



#11 toppop52 ONLINE  

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Posted April 25, 2016 - 07:58 PM

I'm looking for new or nearly new.  It appears to me that Dixon has exited the market.
 
 

 
I think 50 is probably bigger than I want.  How does the build quality seem?  What do you think of the steering wheel set up?  I know a guy unloading an almost brand new Toro with steering wheel because he says the front wheels don't match what the transmission is doing and they tear up the lawn.
 
 

 
I don't have a budget.  I'll spend what I need to to get good enough.  I don't think I want to pay the money for a commercial mower that would outlast me because for the rest of my life I'll only mow as much as those guys do in a single season.  If I can get a consumer model for a third the price that will be pretty trouble free for 10 years that probably makes more sense.
 
I'm thinking new or lightly used.  I have enough projects.....
 

 
Unfortunately it's hard to know much about the service department until you're committed.  I'd like to find a machine that won't require warranty work.  Otherwise, I expect I'd do most of my own service.
 
 

 
I glanced at the Simplicity site last week.  As I recall the reviews on their ZTRs weren't very encouraging.  I wonder if something has changed in ten years.
I am trying to determine which brand(s) have good quality.


Mine is an old design that's out of production, and I wasn't promoting any brand, though Simplicity does have well documented cut quality. I was saying buy what suits your needs and stay away from gadgets.
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#12 MiCarl ONLINE  

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Posted April 27, 2016 - 06:49 AM

So an update on my search:

It's the Kubota zero turns that the reviews weren't what I'd have expected from a Kubota product.  I was mistaken when I said Simplicity reviews weren't good.

I visited a dealer yesterday and sat on a few.  The Cub Cadet felt like a torture device in the showroom, I cannot imagine mowing with it.  Every other machine I got on was way more comfortable.  The Simplicity Courier 48 was as comfortable as my La-Z-Boy.

 

A concern I had with all the 42 inch ZTRs is the mower deck was pretty much the same width as the drive wheels.  That means to get any overlap in the cut I'd have to run the wheels back over the same track - not really interested in giving the lawn that pounding.

They did not have a Simplicity Courier 42 on the floor.  Looking at the dimensions and photos on line it looks like the 42 is mostly the same chassis as the 48 except with the narrower deck and rear tires 1" narrower to get the width down to match the deck.  The 48 is the same length as the 42 and only 4" wider.

 

Right now I'm really liking the Simplicity Courier 48.


Edited by MiCarl, April 27, 2016 - 06:49 AM.

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#13 toppop52 ONLINE  

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Posted April 27, 2016 - 08:42 AM

I have a 44" now, but wouldn't go less than 48" next time, I think you'd like the Simplicity cut quality as well.


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#14 MiCarl ONLINE  

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Posted April 27, 2016 - 11:56 AM

On my way to work I stopped at another dealer that carries Toro and Husqvarna.  While looking at them I realized something - the Simplicity is the only one in the homeowner line where the front axle pivots (the axle has springs and dampers on it).  All the others the wheels are attached directly to the frame.  That means if the ground is uneven either the fame has to twist or a wheel ends up in the air.

 

Of course the pivoting axle set up might be weak at the pivot.  I'll need to look at that more on the Simplicity.

 

I'm curious what others might think about a pivoting axle vs. rigid construction.

 

On to what I saw today:

 

The Toro Timecutter 42 has a deck that is wider than the stance so that's an advantage over the other 42s I saw.  Seemed to be well built and $2400 with a stamped deck.  Sales guy said it's their most popular mower and I'm not surprised.  Seems like it'd be a pretty good fit for the average suburban lot.

 

The Timecutter 42 with a fabricated deck is $3400.  That's starting to get pretty close in price to the Simplicity Courier 46 but smaller and without the features.

 

There is no Timecutter with a 48 inch deck.  Their step up from the 42 is 50 and with fabricated deck is several hundred $$ more than the Simplicity 46 and I don't think as nice.

Husqvarna mowers were at a similar price point to Simplicity.  Looked like good mowers but the Simplicity is more comfortable and I think better designed.


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#15 Cvans OFFLINE  

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Posted April 27, 2016 - 12:10 PM

It's good to hear your taking your time and really investigating what's out there. Your going to be using this mower for a long time so it might be prudent to ask if a demonstration could be arranged at your location when you make a final choice.

Good luck with your purchase. :D  






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