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Old 05-21-2019, 10:49 AM   #1
quazz
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Anyone know anything about zero turn mowers?

I sold my mower and want a zero turn but they are really expensive. I have 2+ not so smooth acres with a bunch of trees and I want a good solid machine that will last a long time. It is too much work for the entry level machines available in box stores so I am looking at the "pro-sumer" category. I think I have it narrowed down to the Cub Cadet ZT2 - 54 or the Kubota Z411. The Kubota would normally be my first choice but they are much more expensive.
Any thoughts or advice?
I have a bush hog type mower for the tractor to use on the really rough stuff.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:09 AM   #2
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My father had a toro at our old house with 4 acres in NC so the cutting season was quite long. Used it for 10 years and sold it with the house, zero issues.

With the new house and 2.5 acres he bought a hustler, going on 5 years with zero issues. In Pa, and the cutting season isn't quite as long

Both machines were in the commercial type line that he bought used at the dealer, not the ones they sell at the box stores. But much cheaper than new, and since they are commercial quality everything is replaceable and last forever.

Just two other brands to look into.... if you can get them up yonder
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:09 AM   #3
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I had to replace my ZTR last year (don't buy a Gravely!) After looking at a lot of them again late last fall, I ended up buying a 48" Scag Liberty-Z with the 21 hp Kawasaki v-twin.

https://www.scag.com/libertyzmower.html

It's a hell of a mower! The price isn't as high as you would think and Scags are built like tanks and extremely easy to service. Surprisingly, the hydraulic units on even the base model Scags are serviceable/repairable. Go check one out before making a decision.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:19 AM   #4
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I'm a Cub Cadet fan. I have 3 not so smooth acres with 600+ trees.
I had my 1st Cub for 10 trouble free years.
Decided to upgrade to a bigger one 2 years ago when I took down a fence with gates that restricted the size deck I could have.
Both have a Kohler engine.

Just make sure whichever brand you buy has a welded/fabricated deck. Beefier and has a higher blade tip speed= faster mowing.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:32 AM   #5
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I went through this a couple of years ago when I bought my current home with 2.5 acres of mostly grass. What it seems to really come down to are the deck construction and motor durability. The thin metal in the decks of the low-end machines are not strong enough to contain the effects of a serious blow-up of the blades hitting something and grenading, so the blade speeds are lower and thus the cutting speed is lower. Better deck construction, basically of steel plates welded together, means the blades can run faster and you get better production. They are all rated in terms of acres per hour, which is a direct result of blade speed and thus deck strength.

As for the engines, from what I found, all the major players use good quality brands. Kawasaki, Kohler, B&S, & Tecumseh. My Cub Cadet 48" has a 21hp Kawasaki which I feel is more than adequate. There is a point of diminishing return with more horsepower - at a certain point you are going to chew up your grass with the drive wheels as you put down more power to slow down, turn and go. It's not like pavement where there is tons of grip - grass is slippery, especially when wet, and if you start spinning your wheels you are doing damage.

The other thing I'd look at is how easy it is to remove the deck for servicing. Are you going to have to lift the mower frame off the deck, can you slide the deck out, all that. When you look at it, and ask how it's done, fast forward in your mind to when everything in there is bent a little, the pins that hold it together are no longer perfectly clean and straight, etc.

I'm in the process of adding guide pulleys to my deck to keep belt vibration down. It has a single run of over 3', so even a heavy duty 5/8" belt vibrates a lot under load. In my case the belt can hit the insides of the drive units as it travels from back under the motor up to the center of the deck. The tension pulleys all have springs but no dampers so the whole system has a harmonic that can sometimes let the belt dance quite a bit.

That's all I have on it. Kind of like your wood tools - you mostly get what you pay for.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:58 AM   #6
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I have a Cub cadet from 2006 and it won't die. Good engine, 23hp Kohler. Deck slides out the side. RZT-50".
Everybody around here are now buying the Huslter for around $3k.
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:59 AM   #7
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Both the Club Cadet and Kubota mowers I am considering have 736 cc Kawasaki engines. One is FS series and on is the FR series but there seems to be little difference except for weight. The FS is about 5 lbs heavier and is on the more expensive Kubota. In fact the mower itself is 250 lbs heavier.
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Old 05-21-2019, 12:13 PM   #8
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I have a Cub cadet from 2006 and it won't die.
That is good to know! I have never used any cub Cadet equipment before so appreciate any testimonials.
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Old 05-22-2019, 05:12 AM   #9
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Our son does landscaping on the side (he's a firefighter) and uses an Exmark mower. That's about the sum of my knowledge on the subject.
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Old 05-22-2019, 05:44 AM   #10
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You're spending your money on engine and transmissions. The more expensive the zero turn, generally, the higher quality engine and transmissions it has.

Of the three main engine manufacturers, Kawasaki is generally considered the best.

Their FX engine has a better air filtration system than the FR and FS.

Hydrogear makes most of the transmissions and they also come in different grades, ZT3100 being the start of their commercial grade trannies (rebuildable if needed) and moving up numerically from there.

I'd pick the chassis that fits you best and is easy to maintain, with an FX Kawasaki motor and and ZT3100 or higher transmissions.

I have had a Hustler Fastrak SD54 for seven years now (residential use) and 230 hours and have no complaints other than:

1. I should have gotten the suspension seat with it.
2. Deck leveling, when needed, is a bit complicated.

http://www.kawasakienginesusa.com/engines/fx

https://www.hydro-gear.com/commercial/
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Old 05-22-2019, 07:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bocephous View Post
You're spending your money on engine and transmissions. The more expensive the zero turn, generally, the higher quality engine and transmissions it has....
I think it goes a lot deeper than this. Pretty much all the major mfgr's are using the same engines. I'll personally never have anything but a Kawasaki or Honda engine on a mower from now on. The more expensive options do use better drive systems. The real differences are tied up in the construction of the mower itself. How the mower frame/body is built, i.e. welded sheet/plate vs stamped/formed. Powder coating vs paint. Sealed bearings vs no bearings vs traditional bearings that you periodically need to grease. Are the hydraulic units sealed or serviceable? Are they fan cooled and have replaceable oil filters? Deck leveling, adjustment and blade accessibility. Deck design has a huge impact on how well it cuts and discharges the grass clippings.
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Old 05-22-2019, 08:37 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bocephous View Post
You're spending your money on engine and transmissions. The more expensive the zero turn, generally, the higher quality engine and transmissions it has.

Of the three main engine manufacturers, Kawasaki is generally considered the best.

Their FX engine has a better air filtration system than the FR and FS.

Hydrogear makes most of the transmissions and they also come in different grades, ZT3100 being the start of their commercial grade trannies (rebuildable if needed) and moving up numerically from there.

I'd pick the chassis that fits you best and is easy to maintain, with an FX Kawasaki motor and and ZT3100 or higher transmissions.

I have had a Hustler Fastrak SD54 for seven years now (residential use) and 230 hours and have no complaints other than:

1. I should have gotten the suspension seat with it.
2. Deck leveling, when needed, is a bit complicated.

http://www.kawasakienginesusa.com/engines/fx

https://www.hydro-gear.com/commercial/
Thanks for the info on the Hydro-Gear drive units. It looks like they are rebuildable, and readily available should I need to replace one.
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Old 05-22-2019, 09:29 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Neanderthal View Post
I think it goes a lot deeper than this. Pretty much all the major mfgr's are using the same engines. I'll personally never have anything but a Kawasaki or Honda engine on a mower from now on. The more expensive options do use better drive systems. The real differences are tied up in the construction of the mower itself. How the mower frame/body is built, i.e. welded sheet/plate vs stamped/formed. Powder coating vs paint. Sealed bearings vs no bearings vs traditional bearings that you periodically need to grease. Are the hydraulic units sealed or serviceable? Are they fan cooled and have replaceable oil filters? Deck leveling, adjustment and blade accessibility. Deck design has a huge impact on how well it cuts and discharges the grass clippings.
I commented on ease of maintenance.

I pretty sure that the vast majority of zt's that have commercial transmissions and engines are welded.

The commercial Hydrogear units are fan cooled and have replaceable filters.

Again, I commented on how I don't like the leveling system on my mower.

If you buy a zt with commercial hydraulic units and engine, the rest of the mower will almost certainly be of higher quality.

Scag, Hustler, Exmark, Grasshopper, some Kubota's, Ferris, and Toro would be among the brands I'd recommend.

For your shopping and price comparison ease:

https://www.tractorhouse.com/listing...wers-zero-turn
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Old 05-22-2019, 10:40 AM   #14
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I have a 1988 Yamaha Terrapro with the 48" finish cut. It won't die.
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Old 05-22-2019, 07:05 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bocephous View Post
You're spending your money on engine and transmissions. The more expensive the zero turn, generally, the higher quality engine and transmissions it has.

Of the three main engine manufacturers, Kawasaki is generally considered the best.

Their FX engine has a better air filtration system than the FR and FS.

Hydrogear makes most of the transmissions and they also come in different grades, ZT3100 being the start of their commercial grade trannies (rebuildable if needed) and moving up numerically from there.

I'd pick the chassis that fits you best and is easy to maintain, with an FX Kawasaki motor and and ZT3100 or higher transmissions.

I have had a Hustler Fastrak SD54 for seven years now (residential use) and 230 hours and have no complaints other than:

1. I should have gotten the suspension seat with it.
2. Deck leveling, when needed, is a bit complicated.

http://www.kawasakienginesusa.com/engines/fx

https://www.hydro-gear.com/commercial/
Thank you for that!
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Old 05-23-2019, 04:28 AM   #16
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Most of those brands like Exmark , Scag , Hustler are either not available or quite rare in Canada. I am sure there must be a dealer somewhere but parts and service could be an issue. I am leaning towards this one:
ENGINE
Model GH7302V
Type Air cooled 2 cylinders gasoline engine Kawasaki FS
Engine gross power HP 22
Total Displacement cu. in. (cc)726
w/ mower lbs. (kg) 388 (856)
TRANSMISSION
Type Hydro-Gear® Commercial ZT3400®
System 2-HST w/Gear reduction
Speed control 2-hand lever
Traveling speed range
Forward mph (km/h) 0 – 10.0 (0 – 16.0)

I would be lying to say that the top speed of 10mph is not a major factor even though I understand this is an impractical speed given my rough ground. I have a Kubota tractor and after five years I am very impressed with the quality of components and the fit of everything. They seem like the Honda of tractors. I have to make up my mind soon since my John Deere ride on mower was sold.
Attached Images
File Type: png Kubota-ZeroTurn-Z411KW-450.png (234.8 KB, 63 views)
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Last edited by quazz; 05-23-2019 at 04:47 AM.
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Old 05-23-2019, 05:02 AM   #17
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I don't think you can go wrong with a Kubota. They use quality parts and you know parts will be available for as long as you own it. Now if you could get one with a Kubota diesel engine that would be sweet, but also $$$ if purchased new.

I recently bought a used Kubota diesel lawn tractor mower w/54" deck. That 3 cyl 18 HP diesel engine is smooth and more powerful than I expected. You can see the quality that Kubota puts into their machines.
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Old 05-23-2019, 05:45 AM   #18
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That is a good looking mower.
And it's arkie6 approved.
You picked a good un.
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Old 05-23-2019, 05:45 AM   #19
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I don't think you can go wrong with a Kubota. They use quality parts and you know parts will be available for as long as you own it. Now if you could get one with a Kubota diesel engine that would be sweet, but also $$$ if purchased new.

I recently bought a used Kubota diesel lawn tractor mower w/54" deck. That 3 cyl 18 HP diesel engine is smooth and more powerful than I expected. You can see the quality that Kubota puts into their machines.
Yeah the Kubota diesels are only in their high end commercial mowers. I would love one but they are basically double the price of an already really expensive machine. You have a great mower.
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Old 05-23-2019, 06:10 AM   #20
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Thank you for that!
You're welcome!
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