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  1. #1
    Silver Member SOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    237
    Location
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Tractor
    NH 45 A (2006)

    Default Shopping for a Zero Turn Mower

    I have about 13 acres of which 5 require mowing with some obstaclesand fairly flat. I致e been using a JDLA175 for the past 5 years and it has been breaking every month this summer Iam wearing it out. I need somethingstronger but the boss says I have a spending limit of $5,000 (which I can stretchwith some sweat talk).

    Here is what I have found around here in my price range:
    kubota ZG127 E or S 27 HP (54 in) -- $5,300
    John Deere Z655 27 HP (54in) $6,100
    Swisher -- ZTR2460KA 24 HP (60in) $4,900
    eXMark -- QTS691KA502 23 hp (50 in) $5,800

    I would appreciate feedback on these and other suggestions.Thanks.

    ___________________________________
    Steve -- 2006 NH 45A

  2. #2
    Super Star Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    14,436
    Location
    Yanceyville, North Carolina
    Tractor
    Kubota L4400

    Default Re: Shopping for a Zero Turn Mower

    In my area the Hustler Brand is very popular. The largest lawn maintenance company in our County uses these zero turn mowers for almost all their accounts. Three of our immediate neighbors own them, and they all tell me of the quality of these mowers. I plan on buying one in the Winter when the prices drop somewhat. Best wishes.
    The PUPIL who does not surpass his Master, fails his Master.

  3. #3
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    2,140
    Location
    Fairmont, WV
    Tractor
    Mahindra 4035HST purchased 2013 - John Deere 42" Geardrive w/bagger purchased 2012 - Craftsman 42" HST purchased 2006

    Default Re: Shopping for a Zero Turn Mower

    BadBoy mowers are very maintenance friendly and good quality, they can be found at about 1/4th of the Tractor Supply stores I've been to as well as online. Dixon is the company that actually coined the term "zero turn mower" and has been in the business nearly longer than anyone, they have dealers various places. Cub Cadet has been in the "zero turn" market longer than just about anyone (before they were called zero turn mowers) and they can be found all sorts of places. All three are worth a look before committing to anything.

    While I can't give model specific opinions on your choices, my overall thoughts on the brands mentioned above:

    Anything as small as a zero turn by kubota or John Deere isn't manufactured by them. The high end models they have the parts made by third parties (lowest bidder) and run it down their own assembly lines to have the benefit of hands-on Quality Assurance. Their lower end models are all manufactured and assembled by the lowest bidder, painted to look like a John Deere or Kubota and have a huge price markup placed on it to cover warranty services after the sale. I'd find the equivalent model by a "lesser" name and save a buck or two unless there were some key quality differences on certain components. I have 42" Craftsman and John Deere tractors that are the same age, same frame, same motor, same deck. The only differences on the machines are the design of the spindle where it attaches to the blade (simply to make blades non-interchangeable), the locations of the gas tank and battery are swapped, the JD has a garden hose connector for a deck cleanout, the Craftsman has a hydrostat and the JD a gear drive. The JD gear drive was $200 more than I got the Craftsman hydrostat for, and an identical JD hydrostat would have been $400 more. Needless to say I kick myself for buying the JD considering it travels the same ground as the Craftsman and is broken down twice as often. If you need a $50k+ piece of hardware, JD and Kubota are worth a look; but on the small stuff they don't manufacture, the better long term investments are found elsewhere in my opinion. While it's just 'luck of the draw' that my particular JD breaks down more than my Craftsman; my point is buying it just cause it says JD on it (or Kubota for that matter) doesn't mean it will provide trouble free service, it just means it costs more overall. The main reason I can see to go with JD or Kubota would be if you have really excellent dealers in your area. An excellent JD or Kubota dealer that makes the purchase worth the price after the sale is the only REAL reason to pay their prices for their hardware. The quality of service from a high quality JD or Kubota dealer really can't be matched by dealers of any of the other manufacturers. On that note, if you have a high quality locally owned mower repair shop in your area, they can fix any of the zero turn units as well as any dealer can and do so at way less cost simply due to less overhead costs (owning a franchise dealership costs gobs).

    Swisher is a good company that manufactures most of their steel work and purchases high quality components and hardware for final assembly. What they purchase from third parties is likely from the lowest bidder same as John Deere and Kubota, but the standards of quality seem to be higher (likely due to their focus being on their large equipment). John Deere and Kubotas generally have "prettier" appearance than Swisher on the machines I've seen, but the Swishers seem to be more stout of a machine (heavier gauge steels, better powdercoated finishes, thicker welds).

    eXMark is now owned by Toro. Before settling on this model I'd check out the equivalent Toro and see which has the higher quality components. Beyond that I don't have any experience with them (or Toro) to advise or comment any further.

    Hustler is another oldie that was early in the production of zero turn mowers and they've been in the mower game as long as Cubby or Dixon. They've always catered more to the commercial segment and I've not had any experiences with them but I'd say they're surely worth a look.

    Myself, I'd go to a company whose lifeblood is mowers of the size and type you need who also manufactures their own designs. I think all these brands mentioned are selling good quality hardware overall, it's mostly what is going to be the best overall value for you and your needs. One of the best pieces of advise I can think of, test drive them all. As with most equipment you never know what you'll think of it until you have it in operation. SEAT TIME!
    Last edited by Sysop; 08-11-2013 at 01:57 AM.

  4. #4
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    255
    Location
    Newark, de
    Tractor
    International 424

    Default Re: Shopping for a Zero Turn Mower

    Look at Gravely Pro Turn series or a ZT-HD units.

  5. #5
    Super Star Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    13,354
    Location
    Northern Fingerlakes region of NY, USA
    Tractor
    Kubota L3830GST, B7500HST, BX2660

    Default Re: Shopping for a Zero Turn Mower

    Quote Originally Posted by Sysop View Post
    Anything as small as a zero turn by kubota or John Deere isn't manufactured by them. The high end models they have the parts made by third parties (lowest bidder) and run it down their own assembly lines to have the benefit of hands-on Quality Assurance. Their lower end models are all manufactured and assembled by the lowest bidder, painted to look like a John Deere or Kubota and have a huge price markup placed on it to cover warranty services after the sale. I'd find the equivalent model by a "lesser" name and save a buck or two unless there were some key quality differences on certain components. I have 42" Craftsman and John Deere tractors that are the same age, same frame, same motor, same deck. The only differences on the machines are the design of the spindle where it attaches to the blade (simply to make blades non-interchangeable), the locations of the gas tank and battery are swapped, the JD has a garden hose connector for a deck cleanout, the Craftsman has a hydrostat and the JD a gear drive. The JD gear drive was $200 more than I got the Craftsman hydrostat for, and an identical JD hydrostat would have been $400 more.
    Might want to re-check that info on the Kubota machines. Cub, Deere, Troybuilt, Toro, etc have their low end stuff made by MTD (or its "made by Deere", but its a clone of a MTD), but AFAIK, that is not done with Kubotas.
    Yes, the hydro transmission will be made by someone else, its a hydro-gear ZT-3100 in the low end mowers (ZG100 series) and that's as better than most (most use a ZT-2800 for the mid level homeowner stuff)

    Aaron Z
    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
    Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

  6. #6
    Silver Member SOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    237
    Location
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Tractor
    NH 45 A (2006)

    Default Re: Shopping for a Zero Turn Mower

    you've all been great. Now is there any difference between the Koler and Briggs & Straton engine worth noting?
    ___________________________________
    Steve -- 2006 NH 45A

  7. #7
    Silver Member djdicetn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    184
    Location
    Mt. Juliet, TN
    Tractor
    2012 Gravely Pro Turn 152

    Default Re: Shopping for a Zero Turn Mower

    Quote Originally Posted by SOS View Post
    you've all been great. Now is there any difference between the Koler and Briggs & Straton engine worth noting?
    I'll agree with user sox3 that the Gravely Pro-Turn 52 with the Kawasaki FS series(Heavy Duty) and ZT-3200 Hydro-Gear tranny would be worth considering(at $6199 MSRP) but for 5 acres you may want to sweet talk a little more and look at the Pro-Turn XDZ100 52"(which I have and HIGHLY recommend) with the FX691V Kawa(Commercial series) and ZT-3400 trannies(but will run $7499 MSRP).

  8. #8
    Bronze Member stihlman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    84
    Location
    Southern Illinois
    Tractor
    Kubota L3830 HST

    Default Re: Shopping for a Zero Turn Mower

    kubota ZG and ZD machines are designed and built by Kubota. I don't know about the new Kommander series
    Stihlman

    Kubota L3830 HST with LA723 loader
    ZD326P

    Stihl Chainsaws:
    MS660
    056 Mag II
    MS441R M-Tronic
    MS362R M-Tronic
    MS361
    MS261
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    MS211
    015 L
    HT 131

    Lots of other antique saws:
    Certified "gold level chainsaw nut"

    Lincoln SA200 ( 1966 Redface )
    Lincoln IdealArc 250 (1975)

  9. #9
    Silver Member djdicetn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    184
    Location
    Mt. Juliet, TN
    Tractor
    2012 Gravely Pro Turn 152

    Default Re: Shopping for a Zero Turn Mower

    Quote Originally Posted by SOS View Post
    you've all been great. Now is there any difference between the Koler and Briggs & Straton engine worth noting?
    P.S.
    I think if you do some research you will find that currently Kawasaki is considered the most reliable small engine on the market that is used universally across different mower brands. Their "engine series" ratings are FR(Residential), FS(Heavy Duty) and FX(Commercial). Personally, I would rate Kohler as #2(except the twin cylinder Courage series) with Briggs hot on Kohler's heels at #3(the Intek design was a bad move by B & S and the older Vangaurd series IMHO is better than Kohler). The Kohler/Briggs is pretty debated as both have some good/bad series.

  10. #10
    Gold Member cmore's Avatar
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    Jul 2012
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    254
    Location
    nw tn
    Tractor
    traded MF135 for a 2605 4x4

    Default Re: Shopping for a Zero Turn Mower

    I have a Dixie Chopper Silver Eagle and it has worked well the 11 years I have used it. Other than rear tires, belts, battery and filters no maintenance has been needed (except when I put some green (???) gas in it). Not sure its available in your area. Its built like a tank.

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