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Mower recommandation sought


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03-29-16, 10:19 AM   #1  
Mower recommandation sought

Hi all

I have 10 yo Craftsman with 42 deck and 18 hp engine. It does fine but now we are at a much larger property and I have much much more grass to mow. This one simply chokes on higher grass and takes forever to do about 2 acres of mowing. I have more to do, but have to go in increments as it simply is not up to task.
Property is not that bad to mow. Couple of hills. Otherwise, straight runs.
Craigslist turned insane on mowers. Not sure how it works, but new ones appear to be less expensive in store than on craigslist.
I am open to REASONABLY priced recommendations on a new mower. I don't really think I need a ZTR one, as I do not need to dance around trees and such.
I need something that will mow FAST and WIDE so that I do not spend half Saturday on it. Should be able to go through TALL grass and have good traction, as I got slopes that's for sure.
Thank you.
What's reasonable to me? I'd love to stay below $2K. Also, for the size of mowing, I am not bagging. I need to CUT. Care less about the other stuff.

 
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03-29-16, 10:59 AM   #2  
At that price range you are probably going to be best to go with a Husquvarna or a Craftsman with the model number starting with 917. Stay away from yard machines, troy bilt, and other MTDs. Lowes has a hiustler with a kawasaki engine for $4700 that is a pretty nice machine for the price. Fast, strong, wide, but more $$ than you want to spend.


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03-29-16, 11:16 AM   #3  
Cost

Compare the cost to own a decent mower with cost to hire commercial landscapers to mow for you.

 
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03-29-16, 04:41 PM   #4  
In order to get the HP you need and a bigger deck your going to have to spend more then $2,000 unless you want to take a chance and buy a used one with no warranty.
I would not be buying one at the box stores.
Main reason what are you going to do if you need service?
Lots of the better brands are offering interest free financing at the dealers.
I have two riding mowers and one Z turn, my Z turn will cut my cutting time almost in half and's a whole lot more fun to drive.
One of the main things I look for when looking for a long term mower is a plate steel deck, not a cheap stamped metal deck.

 
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03-29-16, 09:34 PM   #5  
It's going to be hard to find anything at all that is suitable and in good shape for $2000, even buying used. A new 42" mower like the one you already have is probably going to cost you almost that. I have two used zero turns at the shop now for sale, one's a 50" and the other is a 60" and even used they are both more than that.


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03-30-16, 09:33 AM   #6  
$75 an hr up to 2 hrs of mowing will take a lot of mowing to compensate a $4500 mower.
I saw Cub Cadet at HD with 48 deck/3 blades and 22hp engine for $1900 and pennies.
Tractor Supply has a smaller deck ZTR for $2100 Cub Cadet. But the cutting width is about same as on my current mower.
I know nothing about ZTRs. They sure do LOOK more fun to use, but do they cut faster? I'll work through the rest of tall grass by tonight, then all I need to do is fast sweeps to maintain. That's why I am looking into something that has wide cut and goes fast at it.
My current Craftsman will start choking on regular grass, previously cut, doing fine trim, if I go 4 and 4, as in 4 cutting setting and 4 speed. In 3 I have to creep through the field for hours.
Btw saw solution for slopes. Chains.
Forgot to mention., Looking at about 2.5-3 acres to mow. Mostly level.


Main reason what are you going to do if you need service?

DIY. No problem unless it's transmission.

 
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03-30-16, 09:44 AM   #7  
At that price range you are probably going to be best to go with a Husquvarna or a Craftsman with the model number starting with 917.

Something like this? 54 inch deck will work for me. I have Kohler engine generator, been stellar for years.

Shop Husqvarna LGT26K54 26-HP V-Twin Hydrostatic 54-in Garden Tractor at Lowes.com

Btw, what's the difference between garden tractor and mower? I like the sound of "tractor".

 
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03-30-16, 10:31 AM   #8  
Cub cadet is MTD. I don't like to knock manufacturers too much so I'll just suffice to say that they would not be an option at any price on my shopping list.

The craftsman would be my choice probably in the range that you're looking in. Mowing 3 acres is going to take a toll on any $2000 mower but I've seen AYP mowers do it for several years before major failures (Husquvarna, craftsman, poulan). If I was going to consider an MTD, it would be a ztr so that I could bypass their poor steering system that wears out often. The tractor is a slightly heavier version of the mower. Made to withstand pulling for longer etc... Sometimes there is little difference at all other than the name. I normally recommend a hydro unit but you will probably be better served by the heavier gear transmission in the tractor style from craftsman... the one with the high/low range. I don't think a consumer grade hydro or the normal standard lawnmower transmission is going to hold up that well over 3 acres.


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03-30-16, 11:07 AM   #9  
Mechanical sounds good. I also want to mention, that I normally am very diligent about mowing. It just happened to be so that we had very chitty spring with tons of rain, and grass went wild. As soon as I get through the last patch of it tonight, it will be only maintenance. Trimming, not cutting through grass half mower tall.

 
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03-30-16, 11:27 AM   #10  
Best I could find...

Craftsman.com

 
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03-30-16, 02:33 PM   #11  
I am going to toss this out as an opinion, observation, or whatever, but that's all it is, so Cheese or someone else might correct me, and I'm fine with that. There are lawn mower and there are lawn tractors, and if it even resembles a lawn tractor, I think of it as one, because it shares many of the traits, such as steering design, etc. Compared to a lawn mower, which have pretty much all evolved into zero turns, the steering, geometry, mowing efficiency, etc. is different. Lawn tractors are designed to be able to power more than mower decks; most of them have other attachments available such as tillers, snow blowers, scraper blades, etc. So, sort of like a truck versus a car, the lawn tractor is going to put more power to the ground, with less speed and less power dedicated specifically to the deck. And, because of this, things like the steering geometry are different, designed for wider turns, etc. Also, because of the versatility, the configuration of the belts that power the deck is sometimes more complex. Lawn mowers on the other hand are designed to mow, so the designers know exactly, allowing of course for a wide variety of ground conditions, how much power it takes to move the machine and run the blades. This allows them to maximize the cutting power. And, because they are not intended to move heavier loads, they can be designed for higher ground speeds, more maneuverability, and more overall efficiency for their intended purpose. In the lawn mower arena, zero turns have become what I think of as the standard, and one of the advantages is tighter maneuverability, but, whether that particular aspect is an advantage, or not, they still are an ideal mowing machine; as long as that is the purpose of the machine.

 
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03-30-16, 04:59 PM   #12  
It depends on if we are talking about what we call a tractor, or what the manufacturers call a tractor. The manufacturers call some mowers tractors when they are not much different than the next model down designated as a mower. L or LT, G or GT, etc... T designating tractor. Some models with the tractor designation can cut more, faster, and better than the lawnmower counterpart. It's more about marketing than reality but it generally designates a more capable stronger machine.


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03-30-16, 06:10 PM   #13  
Regarding Craigs List...At least in my area (NE Ohio) there are some bargains to be had on commercial walk behinds. If you don't mind walking behind it you can get them with 48 or 54 inch decks and plenty of HP. I think they are going for a little cheaper because most people are moving to ZTR so the market for ZTR is not as good.


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03-30-16, 06:45 PM   #14  
I dont know that I can give you any real advise but more of an opinion & experience.

I've had a couple of Murray's & they were decent vehicles but the decks dont last but about 4 or 5 years with me.
I've had a John Deere 125 & its been a reliable mower for about 10 years. The biggest problem I have had with it is the deck doesn't always cut level & I cant figure out how to make it cut level every time. This time it will & next time it wont. There just doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason why it will or wont each time.
I recently acquired a Husqvarna mower with a 20 HP Koler single cylinder at an estate sale. I think its a 2009 model. Since I bought it, the John Deere just sits there. It cuts sooooo much better than the JD. The only thing I dont like about the HV is its slowwwww in reverse. I've read on the internet that there is an adjustment but I havent looked for it. I'll get to it one day. But that's another thread

So, of the three brands I have owned in riding mowers... at this point, I'll readily buy another Husqvarna before the others.

 
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03-31-16, 04:08 PM   #15  
Should I maybe jump on this one then:

Husqvarna YTH24V48 Fast Tractor 48" Cut

That's the best deal I have seen so far and reasonably close by. 200 hrs spooks me away though. Also, a bunch of gripe on internet about some mandrel snapping on those.
Could prolly knock it down to 1200 or so.

 
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03-31-16, 04:44 PM   #16  
What side of WA do you live in?

I cut my teeth in small engine repair in SW Wa. There the only time you had an option to NOT mow wet or tall grass, is if you wait till it gets dry but by then you have to bail it.

We carry Husqvarna, Cub Cadet along with Bad Boy and Grass Hopper. The Cubs have a different steering setup than MTD, which I agree with cheese on is a POS. However, I think the decks and belts on the Cub and MTD for that matter do a much better job, in particular on taller or wet grass. Belts on the MTD line are beefier and last 4 times longer. AYP line of belts and system make it easier to change, but that is because you have to much more often.

Personally, I think if you up'd your budget to 3k or so, you would be much happier and likely never have and second thoughts. A whole lot of more options open up in that range.


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03-31-16, 04:51 PM   #17  
Black Diamond area. SE of Auburn.

 
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04-01-16, 05:25 AM   #18  
Nice! Then you know what I mean about mowing wet grass or bailing hay


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04-01-16, 07:36 AM   #19  
Zero turn. The claims of cutting your mowing time in half are real. Pay more now & have more free time EVERY time you mow.

They're also stable, wide & low--which is why you often see them mowing the slopes on overpasses. I have a side slope in my 2-ac yard that I slid down on a JD lawn tractor when the grass was wet. NOT interested in repeating that experience

 
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04-01-16, 09:18 AM   #20  
Yeah... I have several slopes and have to go perpendicular to them not to flip over. Especially that my mower is - yes - rigged to run when no one is in the seat. Yes, I know.
The good news is, after final mow yesterday, when I rid of "bailing" patch, my wife exploded into "to the hell with all this mowing, too much time and gas" so she may be now more open to a ZTR one.
I still can't afford, well, do not want to afford, to pay $4500 for one.
But yes, I'd rather have a low center of gravity one.

 
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04-02-16, 05:58 PM   #21  
Well, did more research and found that ZTRs are NOT recommended for slopes for reason being simple - they have no relative weight on the front wheels and slide sidewise or FWs even come off the ground. While I just did my slopes in my Craftsamn and in 2nd gear thing plows straight up the hill like tank.


OK, my budget suddenly increased. Mi esposa gave green light to buy a new mower.

I'd ask again: do I go with Husqvarna tractor as safe bet? Craftsman has quite chitty reviews. Btw, Consumer Reports claims Cub Cadet to be their best choice.

I can now float between 3 and 4 K.

 
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04-02-16, 06:13 PM   #22  
I think the Husqvarna is a good choice for a lawn tractor. I use a Kubota diesel ZTR, and am able to do the hills sideways because I have 24.00x12x12 rear tires, which are not available on newer models I have seen. Definitely don't want to go up a hill with one. One caution with a ZTR with ROPS (roll over protection system), or a roll bar. If you use it in the up position, wear the seat belt. If you use it with it down, do not use the seat belt.

 
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04-02-16, 06:34 PM   #23  
Craftsman is getting bad reviews because their cheaper line of mowers is now made by MTD (also makes cub cadet). That is why I say if you get a craftsman, make sure it's one with a model number that starts with 917. That means it is made by Husquvarna.

With the new budget though, you can leave the cheap homeowner mowers and all the marketing hype and get into more serious quality machines like the john deere x300. The difference is huge, in quality, ease of use, comfort, durability, etc... This kind of machine will last much longer with less nickel and dime breakdowns, less belt problems, much longer engine (kawasaki instead of cheap kohler and briggs) and transmission life, etc, etc, etc..


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04-02-16, 06:37 PM   #24  
https://www.deere.com/en_US/products...48in_deck.page


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04-02-16, 10:05 PM   #25  
https://www.deere.com/en_US/products...48in_deck.page
Well again I agree and disagree with my bro cheese!

As I stated earlier
Personally, I think if you up'd your budget to 3k or so, you would be much happier and likely never have and second thoughts. A whole lot of more options open up in that range.
While the deere the link points to is likely a very good ride, look at the tire tread...in Wa you will never get up the slightest grade on grass especially when wet. Now if they offer different tire options and you want a tractor "style" mower, then I trust cheese in his judgement.

For what I service and repair everyday, the consumer models of Husqvarna and Cub Cadet, are easily equal. Once you step up to ZTR, Husqie runs away IMO. Still Cub does has some well made consumer grade ztr's.

Now who you gonna trust, some good ole boy from GA who mows ant hills and cockle burrs, or someone who lived you land

chuck


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04-02-16, 10:53 PM   #26  
20x10.00-8 Lug Atv Tire

If you can't get enough traction from the stock tires. Still within budget and now you can pull the neighbor's truck outta the ditch!

scott


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04-03-16, 04:17 AM   #27  
With those tires you would not need to run the blades

 
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04-03-16, 07:39 AM   #28  
Thank you. I gain very little and pay a lot with JD 48 inch deck and 18hp engine. Only 6 inches diff cutting width. My son said wise thing yesterday - if you going to upgrade that much, make sure you REALLY upgrade it.
I'd rather roll with 52-54 deck and much more powerful engine. Esposa said "yeah, I know, they are 3 to 4 grand" so it puts me shy of 4K grand total.
I also think simple wheel chains will do the job for traction. Also, slope I have to traverse, on septic mound, from 2 sides, is easy 30 degrees and my g'ol took on it fine yesterday. SLOOOOW but goes up while cutting.
As my fellow neighbor said - I SHALL have to deal with wet grass. Maybe even tall wet grass.

 
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04-03-16, 12:13 PM   #29  
It's not the HP and width where you gain with that JD. Just saying. It's similar to the difference between a dollar store socket wrench set and a Snap-on socket wrench set.


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04-03-16, 02:27 PM   #30  
OK, here's some pics of what I have to mow








The rest is pretty flat. I have been moving ever since Monday afternoon. Wild guess is I put about 8 hrs into it by now, mostly creeping through high grass. But it's all done, maintenance left. The rest of grass it pretty flat and easy to run fast. Mole mounds, of course.

 
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04-03-16, 04:08 PM   #31  
Wow! And here I was missing Washington St. LOL
Yep I member now, especially that last pic!
So as I mentioned here is the reply I gave you in PM and mentioned sharing here.

Let me do some checking at work tomorrow. Boy did those pics bring back memories And YES those pesky lil mole critters hehehe.
Personally I don't have much experience operating ZTR's so not real sure how they do in taller and wet grass, but I would think you would be better served with a Garden Tractor mower. The thing about the John Deere's, at least the older ones like the 176 and 180 etc. they ran a 38" deck compared to the cheaper mowers running a 42" deck with similar power and drive. They are also beefier built than either AYP or MTD. You are able to get the first wet cut down faster, and then maintain faster even though it requires a few more laps. I have not had a chance to look at the newer deeres, but no doubt the one cheese pointed out is a good one.
I would also get at least 25HP. Kawasaki preferably, briggs Intek, second then the Kohler Command Pro. Kawasaki still makes one helluva engine, and mostly bullet proof. Briggs Intek (I don't care for the Vangaurds) are strong and mostly solid and parts are readily available. Kohler Command Pro...??? Most parts usually easy to get but, carbs are ke ien and can not even get a kit for the dang thing and a new carb is 337.00 or so.

Absolutely make sure you get an I-beam cast iron front end. Some Cubs even have power steering which will help alot on the steering system but may need a bit more maint and $ upfront. Also look for grease zerks.

Now, you say you want mulching capability? Well here comes the down fall. The decks that mulch well, do not bail hay worth a.....the ones that bail hay do not mulch as well if at all. So that is a decision you will have to make.


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04-03-16, 04:16 PM   #32  
You also mentioned something about online purchase or some such, can't really advise on that but you might think about finding a dealer in Portland Or. The savings might pay for a nice road trip


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04-03-16, 05:02 PM   #33  
No tax in OR for OR residents only and I do not have trailer. Renting U-Haul will be about same as paying local tax.
Online purchase gives free shipping and no tax at same price as dealer. That's about $500 saving right there. I can buy a cart for the money, plenty of stuff to haul here. My only concern is warranty for mower as I do not know how it works with online purchase.

 
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04-03-16, 05:24 PM   #34  
From your earlier descriptions I thought you were mowing a meadow. With regular trimmings you have what looks like a very nice LAWN there--it would be a shame to tear it up using tire chains. I think if you choose a mower (err...tractor) that can take wide tires and perhaps you save a little back to upgrade to some GOOD tires with a nice grippy tread and rubber compound you'll have a nice finish cut that won't look like you brushhogged it.

 
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04-03-16, 05:30 PM   #35  
Well you do not have to be a resident for no sales tax, unless it has changed in the last 3 months. One reason Vancouver Wa. has grown so much, live in Wa no state income tax, cross the bridge to shop for no sales tax.


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04-04-16, 10:14 AM   #36  
From your earlier descriptions I thought you were mowing a meadow. With regular trimmings you have what looks like a very nice LAWN there--it would be a shame to tear it up using tire chains. I think if you choose a mower (err...tractor) that can take wide tires and perhaps you save a little back to upgrade to some GOOD tires with a nice grippy tread and rubber compound you'll have a nice finish cut that won't look like you brushhogged it.

Well, it's a 6 acre property but about a 3rd is wetland so no one is going to mow THAT. Also, I am not bound by HOA regulations and can play a preservationist all I want to. What surprises me even more is how his grass survived to this condition after last year drought that killed most of the grass anywhere else.
Neighbors across and to the right and behind have livestock, so they have natural mowers. I have to have "fast and furious" to do mine. Not close to selling it, so not much worried about looks. Also, so far, my ol' Crafstman did fine with stock tires. I think we are over thinking tires.
But question is - will a ZTR do the septic mound? Husqvarna ZTR has no tread on front tires and again, it's weight distribution. They look rear end heavy.
I just want to have something wide that goes fast. I am not sold on ZTR levers either and ones with steering wheel look goofy at the best.

 
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04-04-16, 01:11 PM   #37  
I tend to favor AYP/Electrolux/whatever-their-name-is-now designed and built for residential use. Those would be the Sears 917.xxxxxx series. The higher-priced Sears units are equivalent to Husqvarna, Poulan, Poulan Pro, WeedEater brands, with small variances in standard equipment.
You are out of my price range, but I just wanted to say I mow about 1/2 of a 3.5acre area in NW Georgia using a 42" Craftsman. It works, is about a 1997 model, so it lasts, and I bought it used. Re-furbed the deck parts, new belt & battery, and went to town. Previously, I used a Snapper 33" to mow the same area. I decided I didn't want to make mowing such a career, and 'upgraded' from 33 to 42". It does make a difference. The 48" and 54" decks cut more, but they have 3 smaller diameter blades, so much more 'busyness' on the top of the deck, with attendant possible problems. I had a hydro Poulan, and the hydro feature is nice. You can slow down or speed up just by moving the shift lever back and forth, to take advantage of thick or thin growth variances.
I had a Yard Machines built by MTD, and sold it quickly. It worked, but the quality of the parts used seemed lacking, as did inspection of the Murray-built models also.
It seems shiny paint, cup holders, and other gimmicks sell at the big-box stores. That is capitalism at work. Look for the mechanicals is my motto, as they will determine life and how much time you spend on parts runs and replacing them.

 
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04-04-16, 02:28 PM   #38  
Yeah, my 2005 bought - 11 yrs - 42 inch Craftsman keeps chugging and chugging. All I did was a belt last year and once in a while oil change. Carb leaks some, so installed fuel shut off valve and simply let it run out of gas. I had rebuilt kit but it was lost in action during move.
The only problem I have with my ol' mower is it takes so long to do the job. As you all understand, with 6 acres, 2 dwellings, shed, and chicken farm, 5 cars, I have much else to do besides spinning around on mower. Though I LIKE mowing. That's why I keep circling around ZTRs as they are the fastest out there.

 
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04-04-16, 02:33 PM   #39  
Igor, I don't see any part of your yard a good ZTR won't handle. As I said earlier, I do my 4.5 acres out of 6.5 with a 60" Kubota ZTR and have no problems negotiating hills similar to yours. I'm in the North Georgia Mountains and , except at my shop it is all hill......both directions

 
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04-04-16, 03:14 PM   #40  
Advice taken and appreciated.

 
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