Advice on which self propelled mower to get

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  #1  
Old 04-01-08, 11:11 AM
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Advice on which self propelled mower to get

Hello,

I'm thinking about getting a new mower. I have a 1/3 acre lot, so I don't really need a rider. I currently have a push mower, but I'd like to get a self propelled. My lot is flat and I prefer to mulch, but I guess the option of side/rear discharge/bagging would be OK. I live in Buffalo so mowing season is April - October.

So which brands should I look at? I got a coupon from Lowes for free financing on all purchases $299 up through May 1. Are the brands they carry any good? I haven't been in there to look at them. My current mower is a 8 year old Craftsmen.

Some specific questions:

Self propelled: is front wheel vs. rear wheel any different?
Should I get one with bigger rear wheels? What do they do?
Which engine brands are good? How are Briggs & Stratton engines? Others?

Thanks for the help.

Mark
 
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  #2  
Old 04-01-08, 12:50 PM
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Whatever you buy-pay for the longest warranty you can get.
At least you can relax for that time...........
Have fun,,,,,,,,,,
 
  #3  
Old 04-01-08, 03:36 PM
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My opinion is either a Deere or a Toro but from a local, reputable, servicing, independent dealer in your area. What you buy should be based on what you have for local service shops in your neighborhood. If you buy a Deere but don't have a shop closer than you care to drive for parts and/or service then it isn't worth the purchase. I like the Briggs overhead valve engines.
 
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Old 04-01-08, 06:27 PM
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Lowes did carry a Cub-cadet mower with the kawasaki engine on it. If you had to get one from Lowes, I'd suggest something like that for longevity/durability. Of course, if you got 8 years out of your craftsman, you can't complain...so maybe a trip to sears? Sears's service is spotty at best though, and lowes offers no service that I know of. And service is the biggest part of the purchase that you'll benefit or suffer from later down the road. With that in mind, I, like Puey61, suggest buying from a local dealer who has been around for a while and you can trust to take care of you and your mower when the time arises.
 
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Old 04-02-08, 05:05 AM
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Thanks for all the advice.

What about my other questions:
Self propelled: is front wheel vs. rear wheel any different?
Should I get one with bigger rear wheels? What do they do?

Thanks again.

Mark
 
  #6  
Old 04-02-08, 06:31 AM
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Front wheel versus rear wheel drive is a matter of personal preference mostly. On hilly terrain rear wheel will perform better. Your better brands you will notice will be rear wheel drive, if that tells you anything. Any high-wheeler (the rear wheels only will be large diameter) will be a front wheel drive and the rear wheels will aid in maneurvability as they provide greater leverage. I'm not sold on the benefits of a high-wheeler on a self propelled unit but they do help with push mowers.
 
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Old 04-02-08, 07:33 AM
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I liked my FW drive/large rear wheel when I had a pretty big lawn back in VA. The only real problem was when bagging, it tended to take more and more weight off the drive wheels, as it was a rear bagger. It was very manuverable tho.

Edit: BTW mine was a Craftsman, that I bought on clearance for $150 less than the current years model. Diff color, and .25 HP less. Bought it in 96, gave it to a neighbor still running fine, in 2007, when I moved here to the land of gravel lawns.

One thing to look for on any brand, esp the 3 way mulch, blow, baggers, is does it include the accessories needed to do all the diff modes. Even if it says it will do them, you may need to buy a $25 part to blow.
 

Last edited by Gunguy45; 04-02-08 at 07:39 AM. Reason: add info
  #8  
Old 04-02-08, 10:04 AM
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FWIW, if you can afford it, look for one with a blade brake clutch, especially if you catch the grass clippings. It stops the blade without killing the engine so you can empty the catcher with the engine running. I have a 10 year old John Deere with a Kawasaki OHV engine, and it's been dependable to a fault. It's rear wheel drive which maintains traction with the bagger, although it's a little tipsy when the bag gets full. I don't know it JD still makes one with BBC, but Toro does. Like Puey61 and cheese said, buy from an established local dealer for service and knowhow. It's worth it in the long run.
 
  #9  
Old 04-03-08, 10:21 AM
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LOTS of GOOD advice above. All I'll add is to really check out the handle bar height and it's adjustability. I'm 6'-3" and quality of cut comes second after making sure my back isn't gonna hurt from stooping over a mower built for someone 5"-3" tall. Also look at how sturdy the wheel height adjustment is and how easy it is to change and will it change itself if bumped against a tree, etc.
 
  #10  
Old 04-07-08, 12:21 PM
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What are thoughts on this mower? My local dealer (not a big box) quoted me $349 assembled. It also was Consumer Reports Best Buy in their March 2008 ratings.

http://www.toro.com/home/mowers/recycler/20066.html

One question about rear wheel drive self propelled: I usually mow to one end, push down on the handle (thus bringing the front wheels off the ground) and do a 180 turn and then head back in the opposite direction. How hard will this be with a rear wheel self propelled? Is it just a matter of releasing the propulsion bar, turning and then squeezing the propulsion bar again? I assume the propulsion bar is separate from the bar that activates the blade?
 
  #11  
Old 04-07-08, 04:22 PM
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Absolutely no problem turning this mower, each wheel is driven independently and this is a personal pace model so you don't have to operate any controls to make it go. Just start walking and the handle senses how fast you want to go, simply walk faster and the mower goes faster, slow down and the mower slows, stop and the mower stops. It's a pretty cool setup.
 
  #12  
Old 04-08-08, 05:01 AM
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AAWrench,

Thanks for the reply. So the 180 turning method that I use won't be a problem then? That's my concern.

Overall, is this a pretty solid mower? I've heard nothing but good things about Toros. Thanks again.
 
  #13  
Old 04-08-08, 05:21 AM
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Iv'e never known to be able to pivot a rear wheel drive,you can do it with front wheel drive.
 
  #14  
Old 04-08-08, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by daswede View Post
Iv'e never known to be able to pivot a rear wheel drive,you can do it with front wheel drive.
Then you have never used a Toro rear wheel drive, or a Snapper, Ariens, John Deere, Honda and many others, as long as the rear wheels are not attached directly to a live axle there is no problem pivoting on the rear wheels to turn.

Overall quality on the steel deck models is good, the cast deck models are better, but with reasonable care you should get many years of service from this model Toro.
 
  #15  
Old 04-08-08, 09:46 AM
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Get a Honda, you pay for it up front but will get years and years of return on investment.
I'd stay away from front wheel drive as traction is a problem in any model or brand.
 
  #16  
Old 04-08-08, 09:52 AM
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I primarily mulch - are any brands/models better at mulching? That's the biggest complain of my current 8 year old Craftsmen hand me down - I have to stop a lot and lift the front end up to prevent it from stalling. Even raising the deck doesn't help with the stall issue.
 
  #17  
Old 04-08-08, 12:59 PM
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How would you guys compare this Snapper from Sears http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...ower+Propelled

to the Toro http://www.toro.com/home/mowers/recycler/20066.html?

Price is within $10.00.

Is Snapper the new name for their Craftsman line? Never heard of Snapper.
 
  #18  
Old 04-08-08, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Indiana627 View Post
How would you guys compare this Snapper from Sears http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...ower+Propelled

to the Toro http://www.toro.com/home/mowers/recycler/20066.html?

Price is within $10.00.

Is Snapper the new name for their Craftsman line? Never heard of Snapper.
My understanding about the Snapper from Sears, is that it's just a Murray mower painted red with the Snapper logo. The Toro's and Honda mowers mulch very well.
 
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