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  1. #1
    Gold Member NoTrespassing's Avatar
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    East Central Illinois
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    Kubota 1999 L3710 HST FWA

    Default Maintenance requirements ZTR vs "lawn tractor"

    Hey All,

    I bought an MTD Troy-Bilt lawn tractor for 1,500$ about 10 years ago and have basically used it up. I'm trying to figure out what to buy next. I mow about 2 acres of relatively flat lawn. The thing is, unlike a lot of guys on this site, I hate maintenance. I barely do the maintenance on my 15k$ kubota let alone my lowly MTD mower.

    Over the 10 years I've owned it, I've only change the oil in the 21 horse B&S maybe 5 times and the filter probaby 4 times. I've changed the drive belts and blade belts once each after they quit working. I'm on my 2nd set of blades and I had to change a fuel hose when it leaked. I'm on my 2nd battery and that's about it. I feel like I've gotten off really cheap mowing 2 acres for 10 years for about 1,700$ plus gas.

    Now for my question, if I tried the same thing with say a 5-6K$ ZTR, would I get away with it or would it bite me in the butt with a major expense? I've almost got myself talked in to buying another throw away MTD but I'd sure like to get the mowing done faster. Help me make the decision...

    Kevin
    L3710 HST/LA681FEL/6ftRM/6ft Woods aerator/6ft Woods Box Scraper/roller/speader/posthole digger

  2. #2
    Super Member
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    5,666
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    Cedartown, Ga and N. Ga mountains
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    1998 Kubota B21, 2005 Kubota L39

    Default Re: Maintenance requirements ZTR vs "lawn tractor"

    I can't think of any additional maintenance that my ZTR has caused me. Actually I think it is a bit easier than my riding mower was. The engine is exposed so oil, filters and plugs are very easy to get to. I can drop my deck in 5 to 10 minutes which makes it easy to remove blades and grease spindles. You will definitely save on mowing time. I mow about the same as you and it cut my time in half and mostly eliminated the need for the string trimmer.

    MarkV

  3. #3
    Veteran Member Carl_NH's Avatar
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    Apr 2002
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    Coastal NH
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    01 Kubota B21TLB, 2010 Ferris 52" ZTR, Cub Cadet 1811, Gravely Super8

    Default Re: Maintenance requirements ZTR vs "lawn tractor"

    For the investment of $5-6K you can get three MTD type machines or 30 years at your run rate, but if your cutting time is typically about half like MarkV says.

    If cutting time is half the fuel consumption may be a 1/3 or so less, since the ZTR usually have a little higher HP than the MTD type mower 25HP in a ZTR vs 19-22 in a lawn tractor.

    Maintenance wise, I wouldnt expect a major difference but the ZTR has two transmissions or two pumps and wheel motors vs one on the lawn tractor. Longevity on a 5-6K ZTR should be at least 20 years if you run it 30-40 hours a year.

    Then the fun factor cutting with a ZTR is definitely more than a lawn tractor. Ultimately either choice will serve you well. The up side of a more $$ ZTR if you get a commercial one it doesnt depreciate like your lawn tractor will after 4-5 years.
    Kubota B21TLB, Ferris IS2000, Cub Cadet 1811

  4. #4
    Gold Member NoTrespassing's Avatar
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    East Central Illinois
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    Kubota 1999 L3710 HST FWA

    Default Re: Maintenance requirements ZTR vs "lawn tractor"

    Man, I guess I need to keep looking at ZTR's. I wonder if I'll even have a lawn to mow here in central Illinois next year. We got our first rain last night in over 8 weeks.

    Is it a good time to buy now? Do dealers drop their prices on ZTRs in the fall?

    Kevin
    L3710 HST/LA681FEL/6ftRM/6ft Woods aerator/6ft Woods Box Scraper/roller/speader/posthole digger

  5. #5
    Super Member
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    1998 Kubota B21, 2005 Kubota L39

    Default Re: Maintenance requirements ZTR vs "lawn tractor"

    Carl makes a point about the hydraulic drive motors. I have heard of people who buy the residential ZTR's designed for urban lawns that have had trouble when using them on estate lawns like yours. I would stay away from the mowers you typically see at the box stores for as much as you mow. If you can be in the 5-6k range you can get into a good mower for your needs.

    MarkV

  6. #6
    Veteran Member Carl_NH's Avatar
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    01 Kubota B21TLB, 2010 Ferris 52" ZTR, Cub Cadet 1811, Gravely Super8

    Default Re: Maintenance requirements ZTR vs "lawn tractor"

    Kevin,

    The best time to buy is probably anytime from now to October or November when the dealers can "opt in" to take say 10-15 2012 units and hold them over the winter the Manufacturers will give them a great price for them to take these units off their hands.

    This coupled with the drought this country has experienced in 2012 I am sure many dealers have stock still to sell so this is a good year to buy a ZTR if you want one.

    You have a lot of selection out there - basically the Scag, Exmark, and Ferris, kubota, John Deere, and Hustler are some of the top brands then you get into Bad Boy, Bobcat, Ford/New Holland which seem to be more regional.

    I know Ferris make the Simplicity, Snapper brands and Scag and Exmark I beleive are their own make/brand but in all the top end units you will find separate pump and wheel motors and usually Kawasaki or the high end B&S Big Block engines which I hear are very good.

    All of the ZTR's are built similarly but you will find differences in the build quality from one brand to the next. You can find a $5K ZTR and you can also find a $10K machine that appear on paper very similar - its when you run them and compare side/side you can start to see the differences.

    In my opinion, you can get a decent machine in the 5-6 range, but for commercial quality you will see 6-7 or even 8K. Once you narrow down the brands and test drive some you will form your own opinion.

    Also right now you can likely find a 50-150Hr used commercial machine too for $5K like a Scag, Exmark etc.. The cutting width is another factor - measure your yard closeor tight points - normally when you have been using a 44-46" deck for years, a 52" may just not fit in a lot of places so check out the deck width too - typically 48" is the minimum for commercial ZTR machines.

    Carl
    Kubota B21TLB, Ferris IS2000, Cub Cadet 1811

  7. #7
    Gold Member NoTrespassing's Avatar
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    Kubota 1999 L3710 HST FWA

    Default Re: Maintenance requirements ZTR vs "lawn tractor"

    Thanks for taking the time to reply, I appreciate it.

    My Dad bought a Toro Time Cutter 2 years ago. I think he gave $3500 for it. He loves it but I think I might tear it up at my place. I see the box stores carry them although he bought his from a long time dealer that also does maintenance and repair on them.

    Can anyone tell me the weak points of that brand and model, Toro Timecutter MX5060 (50 in. 23 hp Kaw)? They go for $4,000 right now.

    Kevin
    L3710 HST/LA681FEL/6ftRM/6ft Woods aerator/6ft Woods Box Scraper/roller/speader/posthole digger

  8. #8
    Veteran Member Carl_NH's Avatar
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    01 Kubota B21TLB, 2010 Ferris 52" ZTR, Cub Cadet 1811, Gravely Super8

    Default Re: Maintenance requirements ZTR vs "lawn tractor"

    Kevin,

    The Toro 5060 is a mid-upper grade residential machine - the hydros are one piece units - not sure about the filters on them and cant really tell you a lot more - after the Kawasaki engine, I look at hydro setup, weight, ride comfort, build quality and seat for a ZTR. Toro make good machines usually and they do have a range of mowers but for the money probably this is a decent machine.
    Kubota B21TLB, Ferris IS2000, Cub Cadet 1811

  9. #9
    Silver Member
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    Sep 2006
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    Southwest Florida
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    Kubota L5740HST, zd221

    Default Re: Maintenance requirements ZTR vs "lawn tractor"

    What about the Hustler Raptor 42 ZTR? Is this a decent machine at about $2750?

  10. #10
    Veteran Member Carl_NH's Avatar
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    01 Kubota B21TLB, 2010 Ferris 52" ZTR, Cub Cadet 1811, Gravely Super8

    Default Re: Maintenance requirements ZTR vs "lawn tractor"

    The base Hustler units I would consider is the residential Hustler Fastrac Super Duty or the Commercial xOne series.

    Botton line you get what you pay for. $2750 for a ZTR is a great low entry price to get people in the door, but check out (meaning go and see them in person and look the entire model line up) and decide on the one that meets your needs and budget.

    If you do your diligence, you will find the base to better units have separate pump and wheel motors, and basic ZTR weigh 650 Lbs to 1200 Lbs for a commercial unit but a similar looking machine.

    Buying and evaluating on line only goes so far.

    Carl
    Kubota B21TLB, Ferris IS2000, Cub Cadet 1811

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