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View Full Version : Belly mower to zero turn time savings?



Matt Meiser
04-24-2012, 1:35 PM
Has anyone here gone from a compact tractor with a belly mower to a zero turn? My dealer is telling me I can cut my mowing time on my John Deere 4110 with a 60" deck down by about 50% if I go to a Husqvarna commercial unit with a gas engine and 60" deck. In addition, he's saying I can mow even wet grass meaning I could mow just about any time instead of being forced to wait until mid day or evening.

In theory that gives me back somewhere around 30 hours a season. That's huge in my mind!

Paul McGaha
04-24-2012, 1:49 PM
My oldest son has a house on a 5 acre lot in Winchester, VA. He mowes it with a zero turn. As a pure mower it's going to be hard to beat a zero turn. No other tasks though. Mowing only.

I dont know this for a fact but I would think that as for the grass being wet it would be about the same as a lawn tractor. I think it discharges grass the same way ??

Maybe a brief talk with a landscape contractor would be helpful. I'm sure they would have an informed point of view.

PHM

David Weaver
04-24-2012, 1:56 PM
With a good mower and past discretion on a tractor, half is probably right. It's a bumpy ride if you don't have an even lawn, though.

I guess you can figure what speed you mow (4-5 miles per hour?) on your Deere and see if you can tolerate double the speed since you're talking about same-size decks.

You have other cheaper options like a pull-gang mower, too. Gang mowers don't usually do a fabulous job on weeds, but you could mow with one 3 out of 4 times and use your tractor the fourth to knock down anything tall. I don't know what's out there, I mowed for a long time commercially (for another guy) with a rough mower and a 30 horsepower tractor, as well as two old jacobsen F10s. I think you could probably find a lighter weight version (but still commercial quality) of a rough mower for about 3 grand, and it should have an indefinite life span and also be low fuel consumption with the tractor - it has to be heavy enough to do the work, though, no cheap $700 retail catalog versions.

The diesel F10 (had a ford diesel) could go 5 miles per hour on a 14 foot swath at less than a gallon an hour, equating to less than a 20 hp drain to mow 14 feet across. It's a marvelously efficent method if it's ground drive.

Tony Joyce
04-24-2012, 2:02 PM
Last time we got a mower we looked at zero turn and all steer(both John Deere). We ended up getting the all steer. It just seemed safer and would get into tight places better for us. With the 60" deck we have a 6" turning radius, if we had used a 72" deck would have give us zero turning radius. It has a high vac deck so wet and tall grass are no problem.

I really find it hard to believe you could mowing times in half, but what do I know about mower sales? I'm a lowly woodworker!

Tony

Matt Meiser
04-24-2012, 2:05 PM
I dont think the savings is as much ground speed as it is time mowing around obstacles. I estimat I've got around 30 trees etc. Many are mulched. It mowing around the is still slower.

I think the wet comment is about efficiency of the material movement under the deck.

Jerome Stanek
04-24-2012, 2:17 PM
Yes that is about right. You make turns a lot faster with a zero steer. We cut ours down about half and I went from a 72 inch to a 54 inch zero steer.

Van Huskey
04-24-2012, 2:22 PM
We have two lots between my neighbor and our house that are sold but were bought for investment so they don't have anything on them. My neighbor and I keep them cut. He runs a landscape buisiness and he has his guys do it 90% of the time. He does have a new "better" mower he uses for his industrial contract (haven't seen it, don't know what it is) but he uses a Dixie Chopper for his light commercial and residential cutting mowers. Now obvioulsy these guys are GOOD but there is no question they cut it in less than 50% of the time it takes me but my deck is only ~50". I say they can cut open areas almost twice as fast and around trees it is a huge difference, the more trees the better the advantage at least between me and these "pros".

Scott T Smith
04-24-2012, 4:25 PM
Matt, I went from a belly mower to a Scag Turf Tiger about 10 years ago. The Scag is at least 50% faster mowing around obstacles. In flat, open area, HP for HP maybe about 20% faster.

The ability to mow when wet seems more related to the amount of HP available at the deck and the amount of vacuum developed by the mower blades. All things being equal, I think that equal HP at the deck would be equal mowing quality when wet.

The drawback to the zero turns is that they tend to get stuck easier in muddy ground, as opposed to riders. Also, if you turn too sharp (ie pivot on one of the rear wheels) if the ground is wet they tend to chew up the grass a bit.

They sure are fun to run compared with traditional mowers though.

Dave Lehnert
04-24-2012, 4:48 PM
About 5 years ago I purchased a Toro ZTR 19hp Kawasaki 52" deck. I kept putting the purchase off because it was hard to spend the money. Was not sure if I would like a zero turn etc... First time I mowed with it I forgot the cost and was sorry I did not get one years ago. I had a Wheelhorse 32" cut and it took me two evenings after work to get 2 1/2 acres mowed. Now if I run my 52" zero turn wide open I can do it in an hour. But like the other post said it is bumpy.
I just finished the lawn today. I mowed the 2 1/2 acre, Did a good detailed weed eating and used the blower on a 100 foot drive, sidewalks and deck. Took me 2hrs and 15min. That includes getting the mower out and checked fluids to back into the house when done.

Ed Aumiller
04-24-2012, 8:16 PM
My father-in-law spends about 5-7 hours a week to mow his grass on a 48" riding mower...
When he is sick my son-in-law takes his 60" zero turn to his house and mows it in less than 1 1/2 hours...

And it looks better also !!

Larry Frank
04-24-2012, 8:57 PM
I have a Simplicity zero turn radius that has shocks and springs on the corners and is a smooth ride. I think that you can mow when the grass is wet because some of them have much higher blade speed. This helps getting a better cut with damp grass.

In my two acre yard, it cuts the mowing time about 40%.

There is some learning to do with these units or at least mine. If you stop too fast, you can skid and also you have to learn to turn so that inside wheel turns a little to avoid any tearing. Mine goes a lot faster than the John Deere garden tractor.

Mine also has a roll bar and seat belt. Going faster and turning faster can lead to a little less stability and if you have a lot of sharp inclines or side hills, you want to factor that into if you want to buy one.

Some also have limitations on how much you can pull. My garden tractor can pull a heavy little trailer but not supposed to do that with the zero turn machine.

John Coloccia
04-24-2012, 9:20 PM
I now have a walk behind hydro and I've never looked back. If you don't have humongous hills like me, you could get a big, belt-drive Scag walk behind, save money and cut the grass very quickly (had one of those too). If you just like spending money, a walk behind hydro does extremely well.

I started with a zero turn, but they are absolutely terrible on hilly terrain IMHO. Honestly, though, I think I go faster with the walk behind than I ever could any other way.

Jim Matthews
04-24-2012, 10:41 PM
I thought my 40" walk behind Lesco was a serious machine... you lot must have acres to cut.

David Weaver
04-24-2012, 11:03 PM
I dont think the savings is as much ground speed as it is time mowing around obstacles. I estimat I've got around 30 trees etc. Many are mulched. It mowing around the is still slower.

I think the wet comment is about efficiency of the material movement under the deck.

I guess it's a combination. The big commercial ones I've seen say they mow at 12 miles per hour ground allowing. A friend of mine had a 420 deere (that's a while ago now) and a rolled runway (rolled grass, of course, and not dirt or pavement). The 420 would go 12 miles an hour wide open, but we only ever ran it that fast on the runway because the runway was smooth enough to do it. If you had a mower that could go that fast off of a runway without throwing you off the machine, you could really cover some ground.

Matt Meiser
04-24-2012, 11:43 PM
It mowing around the is still slower.

Don't know where that came from but what I meant to say is mowing around the obstacles is what really slows me down.

I have ten acres and about three of that is lawn, driveway, or building. The other 7 is basically wild--I brush hog enough to encourage any trees and grasses and discourage any brush.

Brian Elfert
04-25-2012, 12:28 AM
I cut grass on a large fairgrounds for about five years in the early 90s. We used Toro Groundsmaster riding mowers. They had front mount decks, but they didn't cut all that well in wet weather. They would clog pretty bad with wet grass. If the grass started to get ahead of us the boss would make us mow even in the rain. The only time we would stop would be if it there was lightning.

I see commercial services cut in the rain at time. I would upset if a service cut my lawn in the rain as I doubt I would get a good job. (I cut my own grass.)

Matt Meiser
04-25-2012, 8:25 AM
I doubt I'd use it in the rain, but being able to do it first thing in the morning would be great during the dog days of summer.

Ron Natalie
04-25-2012, 10:00 AM
We've got nearly seven acres of runway adjacent to my house. We use a zero turn mower with a "side car" additional cutting deck to do most of it (turning isn't so much an issue on the bulk of it, you're going 3000', turn around and come back and mow another 3000' row). We uncouple the side car and do around the runway lights and other things on the sides.

Larry Edgerton
04-25-2012, 8:59 PM
I have a John Deere 4 wheel steer and a commercial Cub Cadet zero turn.

At my old house with the perfect lawn and a lot of landscaping the zero turn was the ticket. At my new house out in the country it is a little rougher, and I have no intention of creating another lawn monster, and in the rough the JD wins hands down. The zero turn beats you to death on rough terrain and is much harder to control.

I would say if your lawn is a work of art, go zero turn. If it is a bit rough the smooth ride of the tractor is much nicer on old bones. [Mine, not yours!:p]

Larry

Jerome Stanek
04-26-2012, 8:35 AM
Have the dealer bring both of them out so you can try them on your place. You can't get a good feel for them just running them around the dealership.

Matt Meiser
04-26-2012, 9:27 AM
I've had the 4110 for almost 8-1/2 years now. Probably 20+ mowings a season over 7 seasons, I'm WELL versed in its performance. :D

I am going to try the loaner unit from the dealer when its available. Hoping to get it over a weekend or something like that so I can spend some time getting to know its operation before I start mowing so I can get a decent test of its speed. Also that way my wife can try it out.

What I'm looking at is pretty much the top end commercial unit. The operator platform has a lot of rubber isolators, then there's a suspension seat. Hopefully that would reduce some of the roughness. Its not cheap at all--talking pretty decent used car prices--but comparing to the next step down its so much more heavily built there's no question in my mind whether its worth it. But it will probably be a purchase in a year or two due to some other things we need to get done.

Jim Becker
04-26-2012, 8:17 PM
Matt, three years ago I bought a Scag ZTR to "replace" the 60" belly mower that came with my Kubota BX22. I don't miss the belly mower in any way, shape or form...and sold it to the farm where we board our horses to replace the one they, um...destroyed. The ZTR cuts like a dream. As good as the cut was with the orange deck, the higher blade speed and "designed for the purpose" ZTR is even better. There was a small learning curve to driving it, of course, and it's easier to get stuck than my heavy tractor with bar tires, but I'm exceedingly pleased with the investment. And I don't have to continually remove the back hoe and loader when it's time to mow. ;)

Art Mulder
04-26-2012, 8:41 PM
Seems pretty unanimous to me, Matt... :p

I'm curious though... I've seen some commercial services with stand-up ZTR mowers. (ie: the operator is standing on a platform at the back, not sitting down on the mower.) They looked even more compact than the regular ZTR units. But I've never seen them in stores. Anyone ever used those?

...art

ps: My buddy also went from regular to ZTR on his 4 acres and he also reports that it cuts "much" faster. His lot is SERIOUSLY treed, so doding obstacles is a big deal to them also.

Dave Lehnert
04-26-2012, 10:28 PM
Seems pretty unanimous to me, Matt... :p

I'm curious though... I've seen some commercial services with stand-up ZTR mowers. (ie: the operator is standing on a platform at the back, not sitting down on the mower.) They looked even more compact than the regular ZTR units. But I've never seen them in stores. Anyone ever used those?

...art

ps: My buddy also went from regular to ZTR on his 4 acres and he also reports that it cuts "much" faster. His lot is SERIOUSLY treed, so doding obstacles is a big deal to them also.

I looked at a Toro Grandstand. Looked like a very well built mower.
Just FYI- Toro owns Exmark . When I purchased my ZTR 4 or 5 years ago the Toro was made better and cheaper. So shop around.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wU1FDzf0YMo

Matt Meiser
04-26-2012, 10:43 PM
Matt, three years ago I bought a Scag ZTR to "replace" the 60" belly mower that came with my Kubota BX22.

Jim, that's VERY comparable to the switch I'm looking at. How much do you mow and what time difference did it make?

Jim Becker
04-27-2012, 10:51 AM
Matt, we have about 2 of our four acres as "grass" and there are a lot of trees. It would be hard to say what the actual time savings is, but it's noticeable when I can move at "full speed"...slower mowing in the spring like now due to very fast growth, so I slow down a little "just because" and zipping along in mid-summer when it's hotter and drier. And, of course, there is no time changing over the "tool" from a "digging" configuration to mowing. Removing/installing the FEL and BH is actually pretty quick on my Kubota, but the heavy mower deck was a pain in the butt to deal with, especially since I had no concrete/paved area to do it.

Eddie Watkins
04-27-2012, 12:42 PM
It used to take me about 3.5 hours to mow 2 acres with a belly mower on a JD 4300 tractor. Like Jim, I got tired of taking things on and off and bought a Grasshoper 722D with a 61" deck. It now takes me about 3 hours to mow 5 acres. The diesel engine is a Kubota 22 hp and I can get about twice the hours per gallon my neighbor gets with a 25 hp Kawasaki gas engine. I had a mulching kit on the mower when I first got it and had to slow down if I let the grass get too tall before mowing. I took the mullching kit off and can pretty much mow at full speed most of the time. THe deck really shoots the grass out and seems to get it discharged damp. I have never mowed when it was really wet so I can't speak to that. The downside to not having the mulching kit on the mower is that I have to mow with the wind on a windy day or the grass gets all over me. The time saved by being able to mow faster is worth the trade-off in my opinion. Also, the mower does cut cleaner if I slow down a little but I probable still mow at about 8 mph.

Jim Becker
04-28-2012, 5:56 PM
FYI, it took me just over an hour yesterday to mow our approximately 2 acres of lawn-ish places. I was going a little faster than I normally do because I needed to get out and pick up Alesya from the barn and then cook dinner at a reasonable time, but not so quick that I missed anything.

Tom Green
04-30-2012, 7:28 PM
Matt, I switched from a Husqvarna "belly mower" to an articulating Husqy "rider 155" in 2005 and easily cut my mowing time in half. The old mower had a clutch and gears, the new one is hydrostatic drive. One pedal is forward and the other is back. As with you, we have lots of trees throughout the landscaping and the near zero turn and seldom having to back up is the major time saver. I don't think I drive it any faster than I did the belly mower. I'm driving 9 hours round trip (california smog laws suck) next week to pick up a new Husqvarna R 220T that is the replacement for my Rider 155 (still runs). Needless to say I'm sold on these mowers.

Matt Meiser
04-30-2012, 7:52 PM
I'm tentatively scheduled to get the demo unit on Friday to try in my yard. Should be interesting.

Mike Cruz
04-30-2012, 10:38 PM
A little late to the party, Matt, but I have a John Deere zero turn with a 60" deck. It does a great job. There are some design issues that they may have solved/changed by now (mine is 8 years old), but other than that, I love it. It would be very hard to go back to a riding mower. The advantage to a riding mower is that you can pull a cart and such. But I have an ATV, so I don't need that feature...

I mow about 2 acres (around the house, the driveway, and around the exterior of our pastures...two swipes). Does a great job. I used to mow our three 3 acre pastures with it. But the tallest I can set it is 5" and needed higher so I got a finish mower for my tractor for that. But even so, when I was mowing the fields, I could do a 3 acre pasture in about 1 1/2 hours. Cutting wet grass? Well, yeah, you "can", but wet grass clumps up. So, I don't do it...

Matt Meiser
04-30-2012, 11:53 PM
We'll be keeping the compact tractor for general purposes, brush hogging, and snow removal if we get the ZTR. I'll still have to maintain 6-7 wild acres, a lot of driveway, and landscaping. And the tractor loader is handy to move machinery too ;)

Matt Meiser
05-01-2012, 3:47 PM
I went today and test drove the one I was looking at on their lawn. There's a definite learning curve but I can definetly see where time savings will come from. And with easy of maintenance. It's very comfortable to drive even on rough terrain.

Anyway, they are delivering mine as early as this evening if they can get the prep done. :D

I'll check back in down the road when I get proficient at driving.

Jim Becker
05-01-2012, 10:16 PM
Yea, the first couple times you drive a ZTR it can appear a little like driving under the influence...heh...heh... :D

Matt Meiser
05-01-2012, 10:38 PM
Yeah, the salesman warned me to practice away from stuff. One of their customers too out the side of his truck first time out.

Mike Cruz
05-01-2012, 10:44 PM
The morons I got my ZTR from thought I knew how to drive one. So, they let me just drive it up on my flatbed trailer. Then when I got home, I had to BACK it off the trailer! Yeah, THAT was fun...

Matt Meiser
05-01-2012, 10:58 PM
By the way what I ended up buying is a Husqvarna PZ6034fx which is one of their commercial units.

Dave Lehnert
05-02-2012, 9:15 PM
By the way what I ended up buying is a Husqvarna PZ6034fx which is one of their commercial units.

This spring, when I went to the Toro dealer to get tuneup stuff, I noticed they started selling Husqvarna ZTR's. I looked them over and was impressed. Looked like a good price too. Keep us up to date how you like it.

Matt Meiser
05-02-2012, 10:01 PM
Well, they delivered it about 8 this evening. I thought I overheard them say they sold 2 this week. Nope. Three.

231218

The bugs were getting bad but I mowed a fairly open part of the yard MUCH faster than I would have with the tractor.

Mike Cruz
05-03-2012, 12:02 AM
Bottom line is that mower decks on ZTRs tend to be wider than on mowers, and the manuverability of the ZTR just makes things easier and less jerky. You can go back and forth and turn on a dime without snapping your neck. My JD is also the commercial version, Matt. And I think you'll love your Husky.

Jim Becker
05-03-2012, 11:25 AM
Mike, in general, ZTRs do have wider decks than typical "mowers" and "garden tractors", but in my case, I went from a 60" deck on the Kubota to a 54" deck on the ZTR...That was the largest available on the Scag model I wanted to buy, but I don't miss the 6". Mowing is still faster and enough sticks out to the left side that I can get just as close to trees and fencing as I did with the larger deck on the tractor.

Matt Meiser
05-03-2012, 11:40 AM
I went out this morning before starting work and mowed the first time. It wasn't really ready but the yard is already pretty wet and we've got a lot of rain forecast over the next couple days. At first I was pretty slow and I have some decent divots from turns. By the end I was getting pretty quick. If the small amount that was stuck on is what happens wet, dry will be real interesting. The best part, despite the slowness and washing and blow drying it at the end due to splashing through a hidden mud hole.....2 hours from when I got it out to when I put it away! Woohoo!!!

There's a lot of time yet to be found as I get more comfortable and as I learn new mowing patterns. I used to cut around everything 2 mower widths to allow room for maneuvering. One is easily plenty.

Keith Outten
05-03-2012, 1:36 PM
Matt,

Welcome to our Zero Turn Mowers Group :)

Mine is a Dixie Chopper with a 72" deck and 25 HP. I haven't had to rake a leaf since I bought my Chopper and it will even make gum balls disappear. Tree limbs about the size of my thumb and smaller will also be reduced to dust in a heart beat.

I just acquired a plastic roof from an EZGO golf cart to make a canopy for my Chopper. I figure a couple hours of cutting and welding should have me mowing in the shade this year :)
.

Bruce Page
05-03-2012, 2:23 PM
Country boys have the coolest toys. I have a 20 year old, 21” Lawnboy..

Keith Outten
05-04-2012, 11:35 AM
Bruce,

I still own an International Harvester Cub Cadet model 71 mower that was built in 1964. I retired it from mowing about 16 years ago but I still use it to pull a trailer around the yard. The Cadet mowed two and a half acres for 32 years straight with only one engine change, the mower deck has been rebuilt a couple of times. It has a big cast iron rear end, a drive shaft and clutch with disk and pressure plate.

When you buy the good stuff it lasts forever.
.

Matt Meiser
05-18-2012, 11:45 PM
I mowed for the third time with it today. Start to finish including a little trimming and clean up with the blower was 1:45. And I go it stuck and spent 10 minutes or so opening the bypass valves and pulling it out with the tractor. I tried to mow an area that's usually to wet but thought it was dry enough. Probably would have been had I not tried to turn around. :o

I'm getting pretty good with it. My biggest remaining issue is tire spin on turns. Next is remembering I don't need a death grip on the controls. I do remember when my hands start getting numb. Once I get my patterns down I think I can easily get to 1:30 with the cleanup and some trimming.

A nice surprise is how much nicer it mows. The lawn looks flatter and I don't get wind rows in the thick areas. My yard has never looked better. Almost makes me want to spray for weeds. Almost. ;)

Dave Lehnert
05-19-2012, 3:45 PM
Sounds like you're hooked.
As you get more experience, you will be driving one handed in the open areas.

Jim Becker
05-28-2012, 9:40 PM
Yea, you learn to be more, um...subtle...with the steering as time passes. One of those skills is how to do k-turns to reverse direction without tearing up the turf. A similar principle applies when trimming around tree trunks. You have to just alternate between turning to the left going forward, allowing a little over shoot, and then backing with a slight right turn to sweep the edge of the deck back against the tree, etc. It results in less wheel damage to the lawn. You'll undoubtedly come up with some of your own tricks, too.

I'm very experienced with getting stuck in wet/muddy areas. Nature of the beast. Fortunately, the big orange power tool makes pulling it out easy. LOL

Kevin Bourque
05-29-2012, 6:01 PM
I just spent the last 5 hours cutting grass with a JD 4115 which is almost identical to Matt's tractor. We tried using a zero turn here on the farm but its way too bumpy, uneven, and hilly for it to be practical.

roman brisk
05-27-2017, 4:07 AM
yes you can save your time and these are very cool to operate. if you have a big lawn than you should definitely go with zero turn.

Keith Outten
05-27-2017, 9:13 AM
In order to go fast you have to have a serious increase in tip speed at the blades. This is the strong point of Zero Turn Mowers and the reason that they can cut grass from 7 to 12 mph without losing cut quality. Mine has a tip speed of 400 mph per the mower specifications.

I own a 17 year old 72" model Dixie Chopper, its a great mower but the ride is very rough when the lawn isn't smooth. To keep from making a divot in your lawn when turning 90 degree corners you have to make a three point turn. If you have mulch around your trees you can easily cut around them at a considerable pace. Another advantage of mowers that the engine is in the back is that the heat and the exhaust is behind you, this is a huge advantage when the temperature is above 90 degrees. If you have enough horse power you can run duel blades, the increase in the cut quality is another level up. My Chopper is 25 hp but it doesn't quite have enough power to run 6 blades when the grass is tall.

There is a trade off you have to consider concerning tires. An aggressive tread will not spin or get stuck in wet grass or even soft ditches but its a rougher ride and can be more damaging to your lawn over time. Last year I switched to a pretty smooth tire tread but I'm not happy with the loss of traction so I will soon change to a more intermediate tread design. Cutting wet grass is not a problem but a 1200 pound machine plus the weight of the rider can leave ruts behind if the lawn is very soft from a period of extended rain.

Last September my Chopper engine caught fire due to a failure of the fuel pump so I purchased a new engine this year. It took me about one day to change the engine and I'm ready for another 17 years :)

Ole Anderson
05-27-2017, 10:24 AM
I have had a JD Z425 for over 5 years. It is a little 48" so it fits in my garage with room for other things. Unlike the rest of you with acres to mow, I am on a 1/3 acre residential lot with lots of trees. In a hurry, I can get the job done in 20 minutes. My turf is quite thin, so I have issues making repetitive tracks around some of the trees when turning. Once you make dirt, it is difficult to get grass established again. But I had the same problem with my previous lawn tractor with the deck guide wheels. K turn at the ends is the trick. If you truly zero turn you will tear up the turf. All I have ever done to it is a new battery and change the oil. I added a hitch so I can pull a roller and an aerator. And I have some hills around our walkout that I have learned to traverse. I have the belt powered assist blower for bagging, but it still doesn't suck up every leaf the way my old tractor used to.

Matt Meiser
05-27-2017, 2:12 PM
You all realize I asked this 5 years ago, right? :cool:

John K Jordan
05-27-2017, 2:18 PM
You all realize I asked this 5 years ago, right? :cool:

So what did you decide 5 years ago?

JKJ

Jim Becker
05-27-2017, 2:44 PM
You all realize I asked this 5 years ago, right? :cool:


LOL

At least it's still a relevant conversation...


BTW, for folks who have bumpier properties like Keith mentioned, Ferris (I believe) has ZTR with suspension that reportedly really smooths out the ride.

Matt Meiser
05-27-2017, 2:51 PM
So what did you decide 5 years ago?

JKJ

I bought one. Loved it, cut my mowing time in half. Then a year later we moved our daughter to a private school 25 minutes from home. A year after that we decided the drive was killing us, sold the house, and moved to a subdivision. Now I have a commercial walk behind and do my 1/3 acre lot in an hour including trimming, blowing, and a quick shower.

Ronald Blue
05-28-2017, 9:46 AM
Sometimes you wonder how a topic like this get's reborn 5 years later. LOL I like Keith ran Dixie Chopper until this year. I went to a Simplicity Cobalt with the 4 wheel independent suspension. WOW is it smooth. The Ferris is the same unit only a different color. The Dixie was rock solid dependable. Not even a belt in 15 years. There are indeed tricks to using a ZTR with minimal turf damage.

John Ziebron
05-29-2017, 12:40 AM
I went from cutting my lawn with a 60 inch belly mower on my compact tractor to a 61 inch Ferris 3 years ago. The Ferris, as Jim mentioned, has a shock absorber/spring suspension but it was still a little rough on my bumpy 2 acres. So last year I bought a Michigan suspension seat and this has made the biggest improvement in ride quality. Can mow at full speed now without my headphones dislodging.

Jim Becker
05-29-2017, 11:57 AM
John, I'll have to see if I can put a seat like that on my SCAG. I don't have the suspension, but do have a few bumps in our lawn. :)

Keith Outten
05-29-2017, 2:13 PM
I'm also interested in the seat your using John. My Dixie Chopper is like riding on a cinder block in my yard.
Tell us more about the seat.

John Ziebron
05-30-2017, 12:48 AM
Jim & Ken, it's called the Michigan seat model V5300 made by Milsco. I bought it from Northern Tool who I believe still has it on sale, but others sell it also. It's a great seat with fold-up arms, adjustable back angle and, my favorite, adjustable lumbar support. It includes a slide mechanism for forward/rearward positioning and a knob in front center on a sliding shaft to adjust for one's weight, up to 270 pounds. The suspension system puts this seat about 2 1/2 inches higher than your original one but that should not be a problem. In fact, it should help taller guys get a little more leg room. All the different reviews I've seen for this seat have been very good.

Keith Outten
05-30-2017, 8:34 AM
Thanks John,

I'm going to look into the seat but I'm concerned about the additional height as my feet barely rest on the floorboard of my Dixie Chopper now.

Robert Engel
05-30-2017, 9:56 AM
If you're only mowing 3 acres, the return on investment seems pretty low to me.

Here's my thought process on things like this:

Lets say at $100 per, how many times could I pay someone to mow vs. the capital machine cost, gas, maintenance and my time (I figure anything I work on around the house I wouldn't do for less than $20/hr.)

Where I live mowing season is from May-Sept. Twice a month in may and Sept + weekly June-Aug. Lets say 15 mowings/year. That mower + all the expenses put pencil to, but let say total $8000. Estimate break even 5-6 years, assuming no major repairs. After 5-6 years, the major repair odds increase.

I would have to conclude in the end, I'm mowing 3 acres of grass and saving an hour each time I mow.

Doesn't seem worth it to me, especially since I'm cutting my "tractor therapy" short LOL.

Jim Becker
05-30-2017, 10:01 AM
Sometimes a purely financial analysis doesn't address the primary reason why many of us purchase a ZTR to mow...cut quality, speed and "fit for purpose"...or more importantly, "we want one". :D
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That seat sitting up higher wouldn't be an issue for me on the SCAG as the seating position is pretty low and my legs are barely bent. (5'11")

Matt Meiser
05-30-2017, 10:21 AM
Plus, a homeowner should get way more than 5-6 trouble-free years out of a commercial machine. I'm putting the kind of hours per year on mine that the commercial guys put on them in a week and they last them years. When I lived on 10 acres, my neighbors were going through lawn tractors every few years. Total cost of ownership they were easily spending more.

You are correct that I could probably pay a lawn service to come out and do it for a similar overall cost on my small lot and I go back and forth on whether I wish I'd looked into that first. I don't believe that would have been true when I lived on a large lot. I would have automatically paid more due to the travel time since they wouldn't have been likely to be working down the street.

Harry Hagan
05-30-2017, 11:04 AM
Have the dealer bring both of them out so you can try them on your place. You can't get a good feel for them just running them around the dealership.


Ditto on that!

John Ziebron
05-30-2017, 11:28 AM
Ken, one can usually compensate for the additional seat seat height by moving it to a more forward position. If your feet barely rest on the floorboard now and your seat is in the most forward position then you could probably drill 4 new mounting holes more forward in your Dixie Choppers seat mounting plate. Realize too that this seat comes complete with it's own sliding mechanism and it may have more forward travel than your current seat.

I couldn't find any drawings on this seat that show that kind of detailed information, but if you like I can move mine to the most forward position and measure the front edge of the seat to the centerline of the forward mounting studs.

I'm only 5' 9"and I realize I have a different machine but I had both the original and this seat in the most rear position and did not really notice any difference except for the slight sensation of being up a little higher. I rest the bottom of my feet on the forward angle part of the floorboard. Hope this helps you.

Keith Outten
05-31-2017, 11:06 AM
My floorboard is flat, it bends upward right at the front of the machine but that's way to far away from the seat. The existing seat doesn't move, its bolted to the sheet metal and this isn't any practical reason for it to move forward or back.
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Robert Engel
05-31-2017, 11:15 AM
You are correct that I could probably pay a lawn service to come out and do it for a similar overall cost on my small lot and I go back and forth on whether I wish I'd looked into that first. I don't believe that would have been true when I lived on a large lot. I would have automatically paid more due to the travel time since they wouldn't have been likely to be working down the street.I was trying to be the dog on the other shoulder using pure logic, which, BTW, rarely governs any my own decisions concerning machines or equipment. LOL

Art Mann
05-31-2017, 12:28 PM
If I ever start evaluating the financial benefits of owning woodworking tools, or lawn care equipment, or a travel trailer for that matter, I will sell everything. It is all about what I want to do. My yard is many, many times too large to mow with an electric mower but I own a Zero turn radius mower, a push mower and a gas powered string trimmer because I want to take care of my own yard.

Jim Andrew
06-06-2017, 12:53 AM
My lot is 3 acres, plus my wife mows the highway right of way out front, which is a couple more acres, and she can mow the whole works in 2 1/2 hours with our Exmark mower. I bought it used about 10 years ago. And it is still hanging together, although it is getting to look a little used. It is 26hp and 72" cut.

mark kosse
06-09-2017, 8:04 AM
Matt, learning curve is about 30 minutes and it becomes second nature. Zero turns make mowing fun.