Riding mowers

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Riding mowers

Postby Langenator » Mon Aug 29, 2016 9:45 pm

I just bought a home with enough grass that I need a riding mower. Probably going to go with a traditional vice a zero-turn type.

Looking for recommendations for makes/models that are good, and ones to avoid.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Cobar » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:18 pm

I can't speak for mower brands but I've had good luck with briggs and stratton engines.

I have a grasshopper zero-turn that was left with the house. Never did get the transmissions to work but the engine still works when I turn it over now and then. Have a Murry, I think, conventional riding mower. It's OK I guess, never had a problem with it. It has another B&S motor.

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby PawPaw » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:46 pm

The brand really doesn't matter. Most of them are made by MTD, a factory that makes a lot of riding mowers and re-brands them. My current one is a Sears/Craftsman, and I believe that it is an MTD. Years ago, MTD stood for Montgomery Tool and Die, but nowadays, I think that it's just a name of a factory that makes mowers. (If anyone has any info, I can be corrected).

As long as it has a Briggs and Stratton or Kohler engine, you're golden. My last mower lasted ten years with a 2-cylineer Kohler. It finally went away when the bed rusted out. The engine is still running at my son't place on another mower.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby JustinR » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:50 pm

I strongly suggest you stay away from the MTD branded mowers, especially Troy Bilt. Although the engine is fine since it's a B+S, the rest of the mower is an engineering nightmare, and a serious headache for what should be routine maintenance and use. Changing the deck belt, which burns up far too frequently, is frustrating and time consuming. In contrast, the Husqvarna riding mower my MIL has is not only solidly built and reliable, but the deck was clearly engineered with ease of end user maintenance in mind. Buy a Husqvarna and be done with it is my suggestion.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby First Shirt » Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:07 am

JustinR wrote: Buy a Husqvarna and be done with it is my suggestion.

Yeah, what he said! If The Boss can't tear one up, it can't be torn up. (She does the big stuff with the rider, I get the fiddly bits with a push mower or weed whacker.)
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby randy » Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:10 am

I grew up in John Deere country. Manufactured 30 miles in one direction and 60 in the other. My observations were all of the big stuff. How do their riding mowers stack up? Always said if I get a house with a lawn big enough a Deere was the next purchase.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby evan price » Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:44 am

JustinR wrote:I strongly suggest you stay away from the MTD branded mowers, especially Troy Bilt. Although the engine is fine since it's a B+S, the rest of the mower is an engineering nightmare, and a serious headache for what should be routine maintenance and use. Changing the deck belt, which burns up far too frequently, is frustrating and time consuming. In contrast, the Husqvarna riding mower my MIL has is not only solidly built and reliable, but the deck was clearly engineered with ease of end user maintenance in mind. Buy a Husqvarna and be done with it is my suggestion.

There is MTD and there is AYP. Mtd makes cub cadet, and a lot of other brands. Ayp makes craftsman and until recently husqvarna. Husqvarna spun off as HOP, but they still are AYP derived.
Anything big box is the same one or the other.
At least ayp &.mtd parts are common and cheap.
I prefer cast iron front axles and greaseable bearings, briggs motors or tecumseh. Kohler was good but the newer ones aren't as good, and honda twins are right out as are kawasaki.
Buy the cheapest version with good features.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby BDK » Tue Aug 30, 2016 7:57 am

Baby doll sheep

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Netpackrat » Tue Aug 30, 2016 10:01 am

BDK wrote:Baby doll sheep


:shock: You know, you aren't supposed to ride those... Or is it an aggie thing?
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby BDK » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:08 am

I suspected there'd be some type of peanut gallery comment. But they are pretty much the original "intelligent" lawn mower. I think... I forget some kind of geese need to be put W them to get it all down.

Anyway, they fertilize, mow and produce lamb chops at the same time.

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Steamforger » Tue Aug 30, 2016 1:12 pm

We've got the goat wranglers and about 20 goats at work right now. The goats munch on the vegetation that grows on the bedrock where the penstocks come out of the intake and dive into the power house. The rock can be 45% or better and is far too steep to put people on. The goats just climb all over it like its barely there.

My Dad has had good results with a conventional Deere. Parts are expensive.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby mekender » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:03 pm

After reading a bit over the last month or two, I am actually leaning towards getting one with a Honda engine instead of a B&S engine.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Denis » Thu Sep 01, 2016 12:21 pm

Life is too short to spend it on mowing lawns: www.robomow.com

Turn it on in March, off in November. Fire and forget.

Highly recommended.

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Langenator » Thu Sep 01, 2016 3:22 pm

I don't need a robot. I have kids. :lol:
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Denis » Thu Sep 01, 2016 8:09 pm

Langenator wrote:I don't need a robot. I have kids. :lol:


Ah. I see. Well get back to beating them then!

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby evan price » Thu Sep 01, 2016 11:40 pm

mekender wrote:After reading a bit over the last month or two, I am actually leaning towards getting one with a Honda engine instead of a B&S engine.

Just make sure it's not a honda with a plastic camshaft or the timing belts inside the crank case. Grenades.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby MarkD » Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:32 am

evan price wrote:
mekender wrote:After reading a bit over the last month or two, I am actually leaning towards getting one with a Honda engine instead of a B&S engine.

Just make sure it's not a honda with a plastic camshaft or the timing belts inside the crank case. Grenades.


Just like their cars. Once they go it's too expensive to fix them.

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Netpackrat » Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:46 am

I'm a big fan of Honda engines. From Evan's comment, it sounds like they may have put out a lemon or two like everyone else, but overall they are some of the most bulletproof small engines out there. Parts are kind of expensive, but they are really good for keeping everything available well beyond any reasonable life expectancy for the equipment. I still have a 1981 Honda ATC; it still runs and I don't think the engine has ever been apart. Honda's parts department was absolutely golden for about 30 years... Any part I needed was available. It's only been in the last few years where they have finally started discontinuing items. I was still able to get the stuff I needed to rebuild the carb about 3 years ago, but it took longer to get the parts, and they don't list a kit anymore.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby rightisright » Fri Sep 02, 2016 2:08 am

I am also a big fan of Honda small engines. I have two Honda generators (they are the gold standard w. contractors around here) that have been bullet proof for thousands of hours and a Honda 13HP powered pressure washer (the PW isn't Honda, just the engine). Regular oil changes are the key. I also have a smaller backup up power washer that uses the cheaper GX Honda engine. That one has been through two pumps but no engine work has been needed.

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Precision » Fri Sep 02, 2016 2:08 pm

I don't know how much acreage you have, but a used commercial mower with less then 1000 hours on it will last you FOREVER. Get a Kubota, Gravely, Toro, Skag, Exmark, Grasshopper or the like. Just make sure they are not one of the consumer grade ones someone used commercially.

When I had my lawncare business, I mowed 130ish lawns per week ranging from .16 acre up to 12 acres. I had a gravely 60inch Zturn (PM260) that thing was a BEAST. Nothing would stop it. Then there was the 36" tri blade Scag, very similar to the Gravely but much smaller. The deck didn't like wet grass, would clump up. But on dry grass, it would eat through anything too. There were a few others had along the way that were not good. John Deere zturn in a 48" gas guzzler and maintenance queen. I got it when I bought someone out. Sold it quickly. Snapper sucks.

That zturn scag was great for up to an acre. Too slow for commercial use (not a wide enough cut) unless the land demanded it. But it was great for backyards, tight spaces and having a second body mowing on high mow / low detail properties.

Skag no longer makes that mower. It has been replaced with this. If your knees are ok, this is actually a better way to mow.

http://scag.com/vride.html more comfortable and easier to work -- after a little practice. New they run about $6k. Look into Wright standers. They have a winter purchase program that is deeply discounted. Great mowers.

companies to avoid. John Deere, Great Dane (bought out I think), Bad Boy mowers, Dixie Chopper...
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby HTRN » Sun Sep 04, 2016 12:51 am

John deere small tractors are garbage made by MTD.

In fact, almost all the small tractors are made by them.

If you want ole skool, run forever, and have enough area to mow, get a Ford "N" series(I suggest the 8N, as it was the last in the series), and a Woods finish mower. Add some Turf tires. Should be able to be pieced togetther for 5 grand or so. 20 years from now, you'll be able to sell it for what you got into it for.

New Zero turn? Buy a Hustler. Best kept secret in zero turns.

Used Commercial? Skag. Not cheap.

None of these options are cheap, but they'll run for decades, with little problem.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby PawPaw » Sun Sep 04, 2016 4:08 pm

HTRN wrote:New Zero turn? Buy a Hustler. Best kept secret in zero turns.

Used Commercial? Skag. Not cheap.

None of these options are cheap, but they'll run for decades, with little problem.


My son, who is an ace mechanic, has been buying used, "broken" commercial zero turns and educated himself on the complexities of the hydraulic pumps (his current gig is heavy on hydraulics). He's been picking up older zero-turns that no longer run off Craiglist on the cheap and fixing them for resale. He'll pick up a used commercial mower for $500, rebuild the hydraulics, and put a for sale sign on it.

The last John Deere small tractor (20 horse, Cat 1 hitch) I looked at, the engine/transmission/running gear was made by Yanmar. I don't know who stamped out the sheet metal.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby evan price » Mon Sep 05, 2016 5:57 am

Compact diesel tractors are great. I've got a Satoh S470 Buck which was imported in the 80s, made by Mitsubishi. Three cylinder diesel about 980cc, 18.5 hp but torque! I run a Woods RM48 finish mower on the three point.
The Kubota and Yanmar get a premium price. The Cub Cadets and some IH & Massey are Mitsubishi. Ford are Iseki. Deere is Yanmar. Bolens was Shiabura iirc.
Now the Indian brands like Mahindra are good too.
These are actual farm grade machinery, as long as you stay away from the real cheap ones marketed to bottom end. With reasonable care they will run forever and can use standard three point implements. Best of all is they hold value.
I've got a woods mower, a grader blade, a rear scoop, a cultivator and a drag harrow for my Buck. I bought it specifically with agricultural bar-lug tires and not turfs.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Termite » Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:08 am

PawPaw wrote:The last John Deere small tractor (20 horse, Cat 1 hitch) I looked at, the engine/transmission/running gear was made by Yanmar.

IIRC,
Yanmar was selling their complete tractors here in the US until the mid-80s. Then they got a contract with John Deere to make engine/trannies/gear for Deere, with the stipulation that they wouldn't sell Yanmar tractors in the US.

Yanmar tractors are popular around the world. And they make fine industrial diesel engines for multipurpose use.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Langenator » Mon Sep 05, 2016 6:39 pm

There's a listing on the local CL for a Kubota T1560 for $650.

Anyone have any experience with Kubotas?
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby 308Mike » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:41 am

Langenator wrote:There's a listing on the local CL for a Kubota T1560 for $650.

Anyone have any experience with Kubotas?

Precision's post above mentions them:
I don't know how much acreage you have, but a used commercial mower with less then 1000 hours on it will last you FOREVER. Get a Kubota, Gravely, Toro, Skag, Exmark, Grasshopper or the like. Just make sure they are not one of the consumer grade ones someone used commercially.


Perhaps someone with direct experience with the model you stated will make some comments. Precision might chime in if he knows about that brand directly.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Steamforger » Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:52 am

Termite wrote:
PawPaw wrote:The last John Deere small tractor (20 horse, Cat 1 hitch) I looked at, the engine/transmission/running gear was made by Yanmar.

IIRC,
Yanmar was selling their complete tractors here in the US until the mid-80s. Then they got a contract with John Deere to make engine/trannies/gear for Deere, with the stipulation that they wouldn't sell Yanmar tractors in the US.

Yanmar tractors are popular around the world. And they make fine industrial diesel engines for multipurpose use.


Good boat engines too.

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby evan price » Tue Sep 06, 2016 3:36 pm

Langenator wrote:There's a listing on the local CL for a Kubota T1560 for $650.

Anyone have any experience with Kubotas?

These are a kubota in name only. Built to compete at big box store mower level.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Precision » Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:38 pm

Langenator wrote:There's a listing on the local CL for a Kubota T1560 for $650.

Anyone have any experience with Kubotas?


The Kubota lawn tractors are decent pieces of kit. But understand it is a NON commercial mower. It is sort of like buying someones used KIA or Hyundia. You are buying a high end consumer grade product with no warranty. It might be great. It might be really close to expiration. Most consumer grade mowers have an expected lifespan of roughly 300 hours. Many of them now are not very serviceable either. No grease points, no bearing that are replaceable. Kubota tends to be better about that kind of stuff then the MTD rebrands, but still. The entire subassembly or macro assembly often has to be changed. Best I can tell, that is a 10 year old piece of equipment. It looks like in my 3 minutes of searching they stopped making that unit in 2006. Could be very wrong on that.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby scipioafricanus » Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:40 am

Kubota commercial mowers are garbage. Worst purchase ever.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby rightisright » Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:58 am

How much lawn do you have to mow? No sense in going nuts if you need to use the mower for 30 minutes a week. Yeah, commercial stuff is great. I get it. I've been a contractor for almost 30 years.

It takes me 25 minutes to do my lawn using a 42" John Deere tractor I bought brand new at Home Despot 15 years ago for $550 during a late fall clearance. If my lawn were much bigger, I'd attach a 3 pt hitch to my 27 HP diesel tractor.

In the 15 years I've had the lawn tractor, I've changed the oil 4 or 5 times, plugs twice, drained the gas every fall, sharpened the blades 2 or 3 times and just recently changed the mower drive belt and idler pulley assembly. It has a B&S 20 hp engine. Point is, there is no need to spend the $$$ for a commercial grade mower if you are going to use it for 20-30 minutes a 3-4 times a month. If you have several acres, it's a different story.

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Precision » Thu Sep 08, 2016 4:42 am

rightisright wrote:How much lawn do you have to mow? No sense in going nuts if you need to use the mower for 30 minutes a week. Yeah, commercial stuff is great. I get it. I've been a contractor for almost 30 years.

It takes me 25 minutes to do my lawn using a 42" John Deere tractor I bought brand new at Home Despot 15 years ago for $550 during a late fall clearance. If my lawn were much bigger, I'd attach a 3 pt hitch to my 27 HP diesel tractor.

In the 15 years I've had the lawn tractor, I've changed the oil 4 or 5 times, plugs twice, drained the gas every fall, sharpened the blades 2 or 3 times and just recently changed the mower drive belt and idler pulley assembly. It has a B&S 20 hp engine. Point is, there is no need to spend the $$$ for a commercial grade mower if you are going to use it for 20-30 minutes a 3-4 times a month. If you have several acres, it's a different story.



True but it also depends on the type of grass and the type of soil. Sandy soil down here eats up thing pressed decs. Our thick ass bahia eats blades. Eating blades makes them dull. Dull blades is more side load on the spindles... way more wear then some other places.


My 60in Gravely PM260 was 6 minutes including moving it out of the workshop and back on my half acre. At $10k no way to justify that if I didn't have the business. The Toro 36" walk behind I had with the sulky. Paid $900 used and sold it 2 years later for $700, did the same yard in 15-18 minutes.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Langenator » Thu Sep 08, 2016 7:13 pm

Lot is one acre, maybe 3/4 is grass. Some St Augustine, mostly lighter stuff.

Local JD dealer has a couple of small used mowers for sale I'm going to look at.
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby rightisright » Thu Sep 08, 2016 7:28 pm

Precision wrote:True but it also depends on the type of grass and the type of soil. Sandy soil down here eats up thing pressed decs. Our thick ass bahia eats blades. Eating blades makes them dull. Dull blades is more side load on the spindles... way more wear then some other places.


My 60in Gravely PM260 was 6 minutes including moving it out of the workshop and back on my half acre. At $10k no way to justify that if I didn't have the business. The Toro 36" walk behind I had with the sulky. Paid $900 used and sold it 2 years later for $700, did the same yard in 15-18 minutes.

Good point about the sandy soil. I am on clay, so I get little to no dirt kickup.

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Langenator » Sat Sep 17, 2016 4:47 pm

A semi-local (45 minute drive) Deere dealer has a 1999 LX255 (42", 15hp) for $1000. Good deal?
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Re: Riding mowers

Postby rightisright » Sat Sep 17, 2016 10:48 pm

Langenator wrote:A semi-local (45 minute drive) Deere dealer has a 1999 LX255 (42", 15hp) for $1000. Good deal?


The LX has a good reputation on the tractor forums I visit. You'd really need to take a look at it to check condition. Any pix?

Here are what some are listing for: http://www.tractorhouse.com/listings/fa ... ltxt=lx255

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby BDK » Sat Sep 17, 2016 11:48 pm

For 3/4-1 acre, would one of the larger robot mowers be an option?

(Though I still vote sheep. An adequate herd of baby doll sheep could be supported off 1 acre- sheep apparently have to be in an actual herd.)

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby Denis » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:55 pm

BDK wrote:For 3/4-1 acre, would one of the larger robot mowers be an option?


My Robomow is rated for .5 acres. The next bigger model is rated up to up to .9.

BDK wrote:(Though I still vote sheep...)


Not making the obvious Aggie joke...!

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Re: Riding mowers

Postby BDK » Mon Sep 19, 2016 2:25 am

Some of us are quite fond of lamb chops...


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