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  1. #1
    Silver Member
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    South Central KY
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    Kubota B3030HSD

    Default Repair or Replace Grasshopper 618?

    I've got a Grasshopper 618 w/52" mower deck & tandem rear wheels; also got a Model 12 PowerVac that I've seldom used and just keep in storage. I believe that the engine is a Kohler Triad TH18. I just finished mowing the yard (1 hr.) a couple of days ago and was getting ready to pull it into the garage when I heard a bang so I shut it down quickly. There was a little smoke coming from around the engine and I couldn't restart it. The starter wouldn't even turn over the motor so I pushed it in and haven't had time to do any troubleshooting yet but suspect that maybe a head gasket blew or since it won't turn over maybe something a lot more serious like a broken rod, cam, or ? It's been a good machine requiring no significant repairs - only routine things like battery, belts, blade sharpening, etc. - with over 10,000 hrs. on it.

    Since I've used this machine in my yard for 10 yrs. now (not commercially) I'm wondering if it's worth repairing if it turns out that I need major engine repair or replacement? I suspect that a comparable replacement engine would probably cost around $1500 + installation and/or frustration factor. Maybe I could sell it to one of the commercial lawn service guys around here for the parts. The PowerVac alone should be worth something to them for fall leaf pickup, hydrostatic transmission should have some value, mower deck isn't inexpesive, etc. Don't really know what I might be able to get for it though. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Veteran Member jlsmith's Avatar
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    Murchison, Tx.
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    MF 285 Long 560 MF2670 CX100

    Default Re: Repair or Replace Grasshopper 618?

    That mower is a great mower and i think i would replace the motor if thats the prob. and maybe use it another 10 years instead of a new one. cheaper to fix it than buy a new one and will still prob be better.

  3. #3
    Silver Member
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    South Central KY
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    Kubota B3030HSD

    Default Re: Repair or Replace Grasshopper 618?

    Actually when I dug out the papers to get the engine spec. # I found that I've been using this mower for about 18 yrs. now which explains the why I've got so many hrs. on it. Turns out that the Kohler Triad engines are no longer available and Kohler says there isn't a direct replacement. Interestingly Kohler says they were a joint effort between Kohler and Harley-Davidson. I know others have reported reliability problems with the Triad series which I'm sure is the reason they've been discontinued. Guess I got a good one.

    Doing more research including contacting Grasshopper, there is a "repower kit" available which allows replacement with a Kohler Command CH18, both of which Grasshopper dealers can install. There is also a kit available for a B&S Vangard 18hP replacement. I've not got firm estimates yet but we're probably talking around a $2,100 or more repair to have it by the dealer, maybe a little less to have it done by a non-dealer repair shop. In this case dealer repair might be best since they could take care of anything else while it was in.

    Since it's an old machine with lots of hrs. on it and other expensive things like the hydrostatic drive units could go out in the near future too, I'm not sure which direction I should go:

    1. Spend the money on the replacement engine and hope for the best. I'd still have an old cobbled together machine and don't know if it would be as good as originally.

    2. Buy a new Grasshopper tractor only (probably the 620) and have my dealer install the 52" deck from my old machine, tandem tail wheels, and Power Vac grass catcher on it. I'd have the advantage of the new machine design with expensive components not likely to need repair/replacement for a long time.

    3. Buy a totally new machine considering other brands besides Grasshopper. I don't really need the 52" deck anymore and would probably buy something with a 48" instead. Also don't really need the tandem wheels and seldom use the grass catcher anymore. I doubt any dealer would give me much on a trade in without a working engine though.

    Of course I could just hire a lawn service and no longer have to worry about any of it! Thoughts guys?

  4. #4
    Silver Member
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    Kubota B3030HSD

    Default Re: Repair or Replace Grasshopper 618?

    Went by my local dealer who sells Grasshopper, SCAG & Ferris machines and services all; also talked to the service shop manager about the repair option. This is what I learned:

    - Repair: Replace engine with a B&S Vangard 18 would cost about $2450, Kohler Command 18 about $2650. Mgr said that a new engine might put additional stress on the hydro drive units and considering the age they might be going out before long too. Replacing hydro units if they go would be about $3500 ($1500 each x 2 + labor). He also thought deck spindles might need to be replaced before long. We're potentially talking some serious money for an 18 year old machine which has givem be good service - I've got over 10,000 hrs. on it.

    - Replace with new Grasshopper 620: Tractor only cost is $6800 and the salesman doesn't know if my old deck & PowerVac would fit on the new tractor; he'd have to check with Grasshopper but doesn't think the new mounting design would accomodate deck & vac that old. New 620 including the new 52" deck with power lift & tandem tail wheels would cost $8400 (no vac).

    - Replace with new SCAG: Freedom Z with 26 hp engine & 48" deck is currently on sale for $4999; I think he said he could put a 52" deck on it for an additional $100? Stepping up in the SCAG line would cost around $6000 w/52" deck. I don't really need 52" anymore so it's probably not the deciding factor.

    - Replace with Ferris: A bit more expensive (no machine on sale) and I know it's a good machine, but the center of gravity looks like it wouldn't be as stable on hills that I mow sometimes.

    Unfortunately my old machine with the shot engine isn't worth much on a trade so I'd be just about be giving it to them to get rid of it more easily. I know the SCAG Freedom Z is their bottom of the line ZTR, but the one on sale has the biggest engine offered on this model so it should have plenty of power to handle steep slopes and tall grass and would meet most of my current needs. I tend to sometimes overbuy so I'm thinking this might be my best choice. Think I'll stop by another dealer tomorrow and look at a couple of other brands before making any decision though.

    Thanks for looking at my thoughts even though they've brought little in the way of replies.

  5. #5
    Elite Member smstonypoint's Avatar
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    NH TN 55, Kubota B2320 & RTV 900, Bad Boy Outlaw 61" ZTR

    Default Re: Repair or Replace Grasshopper 618?

    There's an extensive literature in operations research/management science on optimal machinery replacement policies. Deploying those policies requires a lot of math.

    But I think I could do this one in my head -- buy a new mower. In the best case scenario, it's going to cost you $2,500 to get your current mower up and running. The annual average cost of ownership of a new mower should be less.

    FWIW, I spent a fair amount of time researching the alternatives before purchasing a ZTR. After reading a lot here and elsewhere, I decided that it was worth the extra money to purchase a model with a Kawasaki engine versus a Kohler or B&S engine of comparable HP.*

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    Steve

    * I've probably jinxed myself -- watch it have a problem the next time I mow.

  6. #6
    Silver Member
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    Kubota B3030HSD

    Default Re: Repair or Replace Grasshopper 618?

    I agree that in this case I'm better off buying a new replacement. I certainly didn't have any problems in the 18 yrs. of service I got out ot the Kohler Triad but I know others found this engine to be unreliable. I believe that the SCAG Freedom Z I'm considering has a B&S ESL 26 hp engine. I think some had problems with early ESL engine reliability when it was first introduced several years ago, but is there any particular concern with the current engines?

  7. #7
    Elite Member smstonypoint's Avatar
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    NH TN 55, Kubota B2320 & RTV 900, Bad Boy Outlaw 61" ZTR

    Default Re: Repair or Replace Grasshopper 618?

    Quote Originally Posted by FrogLick View Post
    I believe that the SCAG Freedom Z I'm considering has a B&S ESL 26 hp engine. I think some had problems with early ESL engine reliability when it was first introduced several years ago, but is there any particular concern with the current engines?
    It's been a while since I did my research and I don't recall any of the details. You would probably increase your chances of getting a useful response if you posted your question over in the "Lawn and Garden" section.

    Steve

  8. #8
    Platinum Member
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    north Mississippi
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    NH 3040

    Default Re: Repair or Replace Grasshopper 618?

    I guess you have already decided to buy a new one. I think that is the wise choice, 18 years and 10,000 hours, unreal. I really believe the dealers are right other stuff is going to start failing. If I used a grasshopper for 18 years and 10,000 hours, I'm buying another grasshopper. If I get 1/2 that out of my JD 737 I will buy another JD zero. Just my thinking.
    NH 3040 fel 6' cutter
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    trek 5900 nobody knows what that is.

  9. #9
    Silver Member
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    Default Re: Repair or Replace Grasshopper 618?

    Yeah, considering current and likely upcoming repair costs buying new just seems to make sense and what I've decided to do. Although I've certainly had good service with this Grasshopper (maybe I was just lucky and my experience was an exception) I'm not married to the brand and certainly open to others. Although I tend to subscribe to the idea that you get what you pay for to a certain extent, there are some other machines out there now that seem well built and are less expensive. When I originally bought this Grasshopper 18 yrs. ago it was just about the only real ZTR game in town and just about the only thing used by commercial lawn services. The competition and choices are greater now and I'm seeing a lot of the commercial guys switching to other brands; no one brand seems predominent with them now. Almost all brands use variations of engines from B&S, Kohler & Kawasaki so other build quality, user friendliness, and service ease are my major considerations besides price. The choices available now give me more reasons to procrastinate about making a decision.

    I'd really like to be able to find someone who'd buy my Grasshopper at a very good price for the barely used PowerVac, 52" mower deck, hydro drives & pump, starter, etc. to use for spare parts. I don't have the time or inclination to go the eBay route and just want to get it out of the way quickly. The dealers either aren't interested in a trade-in or won't offer much.

    I'm just thinking out loud publically now so I'd better just button it!
    Last edited by FrogLick; 10-12-2010 at 12:06 PM. Reason: added to post

  10. #10
    Silver Member ae_ted's Avatar
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    Far West Ky
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    MF 1040

    Default Re: Repair or Replace Grasshopper 618?

    I just went through same situation on a 1996 Woods(grasshopper) 750hrs 6180 52' deck. 18hp Vanguard engine blew and I was facing same situation on replacing engine...around $2000. DID NOT want to go to a residential POS mower. This happened last fall and I looked and every mower dealership in 100 mile radius. Was about to decide on the new motor option but the older hydro motors was haunting me. I kept looking and by winter I got my yard mowed for $200(2.9 acres country) Spring time came and i was still huntin and wrestling with the decisions..none of which I was liking. Then I went to a kubota and they had just got in a used 2001 ZD21 60" diesel with 700hrs in good shape. I said how much and he said $3900, I told him of my woods and described its shape. he said he would give me $700; I said DEAL!!!! For $1300 more than the new engine was going to cost , I got a commercial grade diesel and I AM HAPPY. The diesel beats gas hands down not to mention how much less fuel it burns than the old Woods. I know how you are feeling and I wish you as much luck as I had with my situation.

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