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New Mower

 
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My John Deere 300 riding mower is in need of some repairs .....again. The repairs will probably be in the $1000 range. it is over 10 years old.  I will probably get them done and use it for a back up. That leaves me looking for a new mower.  It needs to be a riding mower.  I am looking in the 5 to 7000 range.  I have  3 acres that need to be regularly mowed. I have another 2 acres that I knock down a couple of times a year.  Oh yes, I also have a JD 2210 with a belly mount mower that works well. Right now I am looking at a Scag.
 
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No specific recs, but for mowing a friend has a riding mower that lost the ability to mow, requiring replacement of the mower deck, a shaft, etc. that equaled the cost of a cheap mower, but the engine was still good. What he did was to get a three part reel mower that he pulled behind the still functional small tractor that had the mower deck removed. He honestly preferred the results of the reel mowers, giving a very nice manicured look and was faster than the original mowing deck. The drawback was you need to stay on top of the job as a reel mower as longer grass will lay down instead of being cut (I think it preferred mowing 4” grass or shorter, so that is a major factor. He had a neighbor who brush hogged his field the two times his lawn got too long for the reel mower. His lawn looks like a golf course and he puts zero inputs into it (admittedly living someplace where lawns like to exist helps).
 
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John F Dean wrote:I have  3 acres that need to be regularly mowed.



Slightly off-topic question, but I really am curious - why do you need to mow 3 acres?  
 
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A couple years ago, I purchased an Ariens Ikon-X 52" zero-turn and absolutely love it. It has reduced my mowing time by at least 60% vs standard riding mower.
This will be my third season and so far have no complaints. Cuts fantastic - lawn looks like a golf course.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Ariens-IKON-X-52-in-23-HP-Kawasaki-Gas-Hydrostatic-Zero-Turn-Riding-Mower-915223/300243716

They are somewhat difficult to get through HD, though (esp this time of year) ...they get periodic allotments and sell-out quick.
Was finally able to order one on-line, but had to get up a 5am to do it.
 
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So are you unhappy with the Deere?  Sounds like it's been a good mower.  Do they have a buy-back program or a trade-in program?

I am at the point where I only buy Honda equipment.  I have nothing to do with the company.  

I have spent too much money and time struggling with familiar brands that turn out to be middle-of-the-road equipment only to have them need repair or fail in just a few years.

Honda prices are up there, but I've found they get better gas "milieage" which saves a lot of money and storing of gasoline.  All of their products just go and go and go, so I wouldn't hesitate.  Have never been disappointed, and have been very pleased even with the oldest pieces of equipment of theirs I have.
 
John F Dean
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Tyler,

My wife is a cruel woman who must be obeyed.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Cristo,

I have a high opinion of Honda engines
 
John F Dean
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Hi Pete,

Interesting.  The price is certainly right.
 
John F Dean
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Hi James,

I have given that some consideration.    I have a great many obstacles to move around.  I am not looking for another JD because of the price of deck belts.
 
Tyler Ludens
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John F Dean wrote:Tyler,

My wife is a cruel woman who must be obeyed.



Perhaps you could interest her in native habitat restoration!
 
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I agree with Pete's recommendation. Although my brand is a Husqvarana, I have found the zero in this class to be really good. It has replaced the 3 riding mowers we've owned which had a much narrower cutting path, much less rugged with thinner metal and a crappy steering mechanism that often wore out. This is our 4th season with it to cut about a 5 acre orchard/lawn.
It took a bit of time to get used to the handle bars vs a steering wheel for maneuvering but now I really like it even better. You just have to be careful not to do a quick full zero turn otherwise the tires can scalp the lawn a bit. Other than that, only a flat tire has been needed to be repaired with no other troubles.
 
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John F Dean wrote: Oh yes, I also have a JD 2210 with a belly mount mower that works well. ....



Is there some reason this does not suffice for the 3 acres?  Is it just that you want a second mower around for back-up?  I can certainly relate to wanting two of everything that is important to the operation....
 
John F Dean
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There are a good many tight places where the tractor does not fit,
 
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Sheep? (not sure you can ride them, though :) )
 
Tyler Ludens
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John F Dean wrote:There are a good many tight places where the tractor does not fit,



I mow parts of our 20 acres with a Ryobi battery electric push mower.  My husband hates mowing but I find it enjoyable exercise, so I do most of the mowing around the place.  This mower seems quite powerful, enough to cut down seedling trees.  Aside from a string trimmer, it's the only mower we have.  
 
Pete Podurgiel
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Just writing to edit/update my recommendation on the Ikon-X 52" mower, so here's a few additional comments for the OP (or anyone else reading this).

First the good news: I started the mower the other week after sitting idle for 6 months and it fired-up instantly. So far, that Kawasaki engine has been running great.


Also wanted to add a few criticisms:

- Commenters on HD website noted that the rear wheels are a bit undersized - I would agree. It doesn't affect me really, but if you have hilly and/or wet areas, this may not be the mower for you. The wheels will tend to slip and clog the treads.

- It arrived with the control levers not quite tightened all the way, which allowed for sloppy response. As this was my first zero-turn mower, I did not know what was going on and took me a few rides before I figured out that problem.

- One of the front wheels would not always ride straight (like a bad shopping cart). Easy enough to fix, just had to dissasemble the wheel housing and add some grease to the shaft. Minor, but shouldn't need to do this to a new mower.

- Oil change is a PITA, the petcock is in a bad location and you need to use the provided hose to drain the oil (and it drains rather slow).


All in all, still very happy with this mower.  The zero-turn is amazing and expect it will pay for itself just in time saved vs my conventional riding mower (sears LT2000 42").  


 
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Some other alternatives you may want to consider since that sounds like a heck of a lot of money.  We currently cut about 1.5 acres with a push mower.  Work on it about an hour or less a day.  It has a grass catcher so we have all the mulch we need.  Using it in the hugels mixed with wood chips and manure as well.  BCS has a cutter bar for some of the areas that don't get attention.  Brush mower is around 1K.  On our old property we had 2 riding mowers to keep up.  Trying to get by with much less.  The expenses on those 2 were ridiculous.  I know some like to fix their own equipment.  I'm not good at it so any solution involves avoiding something that is always in need of attention.
 
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Hi John,

About 2 years ago I sold my beloved JD2305 and traded up,  this meant that my mowing platform was no more and I needed a new riding mower as well.  I always wanted a zero turn model but had been put off by the price and the perception that they were one-trick ponies.

For me it came down to two mowers and I am not certain I made the right choice.  I got a JD 5000 series which does its job extremely well.  I have no complaints whatsoever.

But the other option was a real dream.  For about $1000 more, there was a recently rebuilt grasshopper mower with a 60” front deck and a Diesel engine.  I have always loved the idea of a front deck mower as you can just push the mower under foliage and mow grass w/o getting a face full of sticks and twigs.  Also the deck easily flips up for cleaning and blade access.  Finally, a Diesel is so much more powerful and efficient than a gas engine.

The 5000 was near the top end of my price range so that’s what I bought.  It has been a very good mower and I would recommend it.  But that one-time Grasshopper was a sweet deal.

I don’t know if this helps or not, but my JD 5000 series has been very good to me.

Eric
 
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Some times its best to question things rather than just carry them out.
The Nurmeburg defence does not hold much water nowadays.
Realisticly there may be alternatives to mowing 3 acres regularly.

Meadow, stock for a syart.
 
John F Dean
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Hi eric,

You made the right decision from my experience. I was CEO of company that took care of a couple of interstate rest areas.  Over the years we had 4 mowers in the Grasshopper price range.  John Deere, Gravely, Grasshopper, and Cub Cadet.  That is the order I would rate them in.  There was a huge gap between #2 & #3.  The first 2 were about equal and the last 2 were about equal.  They all were sent into the dealer each winter for a thorough going over.  The Gravely appeared to be the best built. It's only problem was it kept getting stuck in soft ground ....a problem that has since been corrected (it was bought in 93).   The Cub and Grasshopper have lived in the repair shop .....literally more time being repaired than mowing.  Of course, Cub has been bought out several times since we bought ours.  They don't seem to make anything high end now. Anyway, the one we had would severely overheat every 30 minutes. After the first year, we stopped using it except as a back up.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Pete,

Thanks for the follow up.  I am looking closely at the Apex and a Gravely.  The Scag in there somewhere in third.  It just seems over priced.
 
Eric Hanson
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John,

Wow!  That is not what I would expect.  I love a Diesel engine and the front mount deck and as far as I know grasshopper is the only manufacturer with both.  

I have been very happy with my JD machines, both from a general reliability standpoint and the dealer.

Thanks for the feedback!

Eric
 
John F Dean
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Hi Eric,

To be fair I do need to point out that a sample of one from each manufacturer is hardly an adequate sample.  Also, the people operating these machines did not own them and were probably less than gentle with them.  Finally, there is a huge question regarding who was doing the repairs  (4 different shops were used ). Still, Grasshopper and Cub Cadet fail to make my list.
 
Eric Hanson
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John,

You make fair points.  Operators and shops are certainly not all equal.

When I have looked at grasshoppers, I usually see them in the hands of pros, and when I look at price, they are not priced for the homeowner.

The one I looked at (and turned down) was actually a pro model, but it was a repair job.  Actually it was two mowers—one had a bad tranny (I think), and the other had a bad engine.  The model I looked at was a sort of Franken mower, being the combination of a good chassis, with the engine from the other.

But given what you said, perhaps these are more common than I originally thought.

Thanks for the perspective,

Eric
 
John F Dean
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Hi Ed,

Through divine intervention, I was cleaning out my barn and stumbled on a Troy Bilt push mower with a Honda engine.  I replaced the oil, put in some quality gas, and it started on the third pull.  So, this year I intend to experiment with push mowing.  So far ...so good.
 
Eric Hanson
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Nice find John!  Nice to hear that the mower starts so easily after sitting for who-knows-how-long.

Eric
 
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Eric Hanson wrote:John,

Wow!  That is not what I would expect.  I love a Diesel engine and the front mount deck and as far as I know grasshopper is the only manufacturer with both.  

I have been very happy with my JD machines, both from a general reliability standpoint and the dealer.

Thanks for the feedback!

Eric


We have a Grasshopper with a 72" deck and 27hp Kubota diesel. It has been a disappointment. The design layout is good, as you suspect, the engine is bulletproof and sips fuel, but one transmission went out twice. The mower was designed for a 2X horsepower aluminum engine; the diesel weighs 300lbs. It was always slow, and the whining from the transmissions was louder than the engine. First, something I can't remember internal broke and we replaced it. They do not sell parts; only the whole unit, so we found one being parted out. The second time, the aluminum casing cracked. They are just too daintily built.
 
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