Scalping by JD Z970R vs Scag TT2
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    Scalping by JD Z970R vs Scag TT2

    Hi, which of the two Z970R and TT2 causes more scalping with a 72 inch deck? I know both have anti scalping wheels, but is the push button deck lift in the Z970R more helpful in avoiding scalping than the foot pedal and pin in the TT2?

    I would think the Z970R can lift the deck faster to avoid changes in topography.

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    Keeper of the GTT Cookies dieselshadow's Avatar
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    It's simple. Both. With a 72" deck and uneven terrain, they'll both scalp. It's up to the operator to prevent scalping by changing the pattern you mow or dealing with it. Which one is easier? That seems like a personal preference. Have you tried them both out?
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    I don't have a 72" deck partly because of the scalping and partly because of the trees. Where I see it the most is cutting our ditch along the road. If I cut across the bottom of the ditch the deck will bridge the gap meaning cutting shorter than intended on the outside edges and the grass is much longer in the middle. If it is running on the deck wheels in this case. If I try and cut across the hill just a little bit up from the bottom the deck will then cut that lower grass but it leaves a jagged look because I can't get all of it cut even. For the best cut of the ditch I find going down and up the other side works the best. However when I crest the hill it scalps because the rollers are on the front, back and corners. Sure I can tap the deck lift button which is nice. I don't worry about it too much though and just cut across the ditch. I am not maintaining a golf course.

    I have no experience with the Scag but the M and E versions of the Z9xx have foot lift. Never really mowed with them but operated them a bit as I was shopping. The foot lift might actually react quicker but I haven't timed it. When you press the button there is a split second of a delay I assume is it builds up hydraulic pressure. Also the hydro-static deck lift is timed. You can only hold the button for a set period of time. If you keep holding it longer than 20-30 seconds or so it just goes back down. If you need it up more than a few seconds you are supposed to lift it and turn the deck lock. It isn't a toggle with that button but rather it will go up and stay up as long as you hold the button or until the time limit is hit.

    I guess the big reason why I went with the R was the power deck lift was something I liked because I use a collection system some times. With the manual one you are supposed to adjust the deck lift assist springs based on if you have the collection system on or off. That wasn't the case with the R. Also the R has cross porting for better cooling of the transaxles if you have hills which I have. Though that probably isn't that big of a deal with my unit being my yard isn't that big. It it probably a bigger deal for a commercial guy that is cutting all day every day. Then there is the PTO kill switch on the control stick which is nice. If there is anything I don't like about the R, I would say that is the parking brake. You have to set it all the time which is fine and better for safety which is why I haven't disabled it. It is easy to set but it seems like sometimes I just fight and fight with it trying to release it. I have found that my footwear does impact how easy or difficult this is. If wearing good shoes or boots which probably should be worn, it is easier to operate than if wearing flip flops. Not that I make a habit of mowing with flip flops but there are times where I simply need to move the machine out of my shop to get to something else and I might have them on. The E and M have a hand brake which I think works better. In the end I just kind of wanted an R and they cut me a deal on it being it was their demo which I wouldn't have gotten with a M. They threw in the suspension seat and with the demo discounts I pretty much got the R for the M price. While the Z950R is the smallest unit that supports the 72" deck I wouldn't try and run one with the collection system. I am glad I went with the Z950R and the 60" based on what I cut even when not using the collection system.
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    JD Z950R 60" Deck with DFS Collection System

    JD X585, 54C deck,
    CTC Model X4750 F.E.L - Modified Imp Pressure Relief from 900 to 1175PSI, Power Flow and MC519 cart, 54-inch Quick-Hitch Front Blade, 47-inch Quick-Hitch Snow Blower, 3-pt hitch, HF Quick Hitch, Heavy Hitch, 48" box blade/rear blade, Dethacher, 3pt Sprayer

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    Quote Originally Posted by dieselshadow View Post
    It's simple. Both. With a 72" deck and uneven terrain, they'll both scalp. It's up to the operator to prevent scalping by changing the pattern you mow or dealing with it. Which one is easier? That seems like a personal preference. Have you tried them both out?
    I actually never drove either, but I am trying to see if it is worth it to pay 3,000 more for scag.

    So, I guess with uneven terrain, any deck size can cause scalping...even 36" deck. Like you said, it is up to the operator. It is just that 72" would require more skills to avoid scalping. But then, that can slow me down and the only reason I am going for 72" is to mow the yard faster.

    What do you recommend? I never had a zero turn before.
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    I liked the foot operated deck lift on my 757. You have complete control. In many situations I only needed to lift an inch or two briefly while mowing. I've never used an electric lift, but I would think it would be harder and not as fast. There will be a delay when you hit the switch - plus I am thinking that it would be so fast that the deck would come all the way up in an instant. Then you would also have the lag coming down.

    I could do this on the fly - never slow down. If an electric deck lift had a hand control you would have to take one hand off one of the sticks which I don't think would work so well on the fly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sennister View Post
    I don't have a 72" deck partly because of the scalping and partly because of the trees. Where I see it the most is cutting our ditch along the road. If I cut across the bottom of the ditch the deck will bridge the gap meaning cutting shorter than intended on the outside edges and the grass is much longer in the middle. If it is running on the deck wheels in this case. If I try and cut across the hill just a little bit up from the bottom the deck will then cut that lower grass but it leaves a jagged look because I can't get all of it cut even. For the best cut of the ditch I find going down and up the other side works the best. However when I crest the hill it scalps because the rollers are on the front, back and corners. Sure I can tap the deck lift button which is nice. I don't worry about it too much though and just cut across the ditch. I am not maintaining a golf course.

    I have no experience with the Scag but the M and E versions of the Z9xx have foot lift. Never really mowed with them but operated them a bit as I was shopping. The foot lift might actually react quicker but I haven't timed it. When you press the button there is a split second of a delay I assume is it builds up hydraulic pressure. Also the hydro-static deck lift is timed. You can only hold the button for a set period of time. If you keep holding it longer than 20-30 seconds or so it just goes back down. If you need it up more than a few seconds you are supposed to lift it and turn the deck lock. It isn't a toggle with that button but rather it will go up and stay up as long as you hold the button or until the time limit is hit.

    I guess the big reason why I went with the R was the power deck lift was something I liked because I use a collection system some times. With the manual one you are supposed to adjust the deck lift assist springs based on if you have the collection system on or off. That wasn't the case with the R. Also the R has cross porting for better cooling of the transaxles if you have hills which I have. Though that probably isn't that big of a deal with my unit being my yard isn't that big. It it probably a bigger deal for a commercial guy that is cutting all day every day. Then there is the PTO kill switch on the control stick which is nice. If there is anything I don't like about the R, I would say that is the parking brake. You have to set it all the time which is fine and better for safety which is why I haven't disabled it. It is easy to set but it seems like sometimes I just fight and fight with it trying to release it. I have found that my footwear does impact how easy or difficult this is. If wearing good shoes or boots which probably should be worn, it is easier to operate than if wearing flip flops. Not that I make a habit of mowing with flip flops but there are times where I simply need to move the machine out of my shop to get to something else and I might have them on. The E and M have a hand brake which I think works better. In the end I just kind of wanted an R and they cut me a deal on it being it was their demo which I wouldn't have gotten with a M. They threw in the suspension seat and with the demo discounts I pretty much got the R for the M price. While the Z950R is the smallest unit that supports the 72" deck I wouldn't try and run one with the collection system. I am glad I went with the Z950R and the 60" based on what I cut even when not using the collection system.
    Thank you very much for the great details. I actually never drove a zero turn before. Given the 3,000 difference in price between JD and TT2, I am leaning to just deciding between JD Z970R and Z960M with 72" deck.

    Can you push the lift button and then quickly adjust the height knob without slowing down (going at 8 mph)?

    For the cross porting, I don't think I will ever need it because I have a level lot.

    Also, do you think the extra horse power (35 hp instead of 31 hp) can help when using a mulch kit with the 72 inch deck going at high speed?

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    sennister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tractorfan17 View Post
    Thank you very much for the great details. I actually never drove a zero turn before. Given the 3,000 difference in price between JD and TT2, I am leaning to just deciding between JD Z970R and Z960M with 72" deck.

    Can you push the lift button and then quickly adjust the height knob without slowing down (going at 8 mph)?

    For the cross porting, I don't think I will ever need it because I have a level lot.

    Also, do you think the extra horse power (35 hp instead of 31 hp) can help when using a mulch kit with the 72 inch deck going at high speed?
    Here is what I would do first off. See if they will let you do an on site demo. My dealer offered it but I couldn't do it. I live in MN and bought it in Jan 2016 so the only demo would be how well it gets stuck in a couple feet of snow.

    As far as adjusting height cut without slowing. Either machine (JD I don't know anything about Skag) can be adjusted on the fly. In the case of the R you press the button. That button press lifts the deck all the way it isn't variable like the foot thing. Meaning if you press half way it comes up half way. It probably isn't too good for it but I guess you could rapidly press and release the button to get 1/2 lift. So maybe that is a benefit to the foot lift on a M since it is leg powered it lifts as much as you press on it. Getting back to an adjustment. If you crawl under the machine and look at what the cut height adjustment is, you will find a toothed cog like system. These are the stops in 1/4" increments. I guess my X585 is about the same manner but I don't think it offers as many selections. I think that is 1/2" adjustments. So if I remember these steps are physical stops for the deck. So if going down you don't need to lift it much before you could start turning the wheel to lower the cut. To go up you just have to lift it high enough to clear the next tooth. Make sense? The deck travel lock is simply all the way up and your turn the yellow knob in the middle of the cut height adjustment and it mechanically locks it up so it isn't hanging on the hydraulic system or the normal cut height limit.

    That is one more difference between the R and M. The R is a little faster. It maxes out at 12MPH. I don't remember what the M and E is but 8-10MPH I think. It wasn't a huge difference but the R is faster. It is nice for me when my hopper is full and I am making a run to the back yard where my compost piles are to dump.

    As far as HP. I don't have the mulch kit. When you say that are you talking the Mulch on Demand or the bolt in kit for the standard 7 Iron Pro? I know they have both for the 60" I never really looked at the 72" as I mentioned because of trees and terrain. So when I first walked into the dealer and sat down he was talking the Z915B (now called Z915E). Great machine for the price but I quickly dismissed it. I want to say it is a 25HP machine and with my hills and the collection system that I wanted I knew that the Powerflow Head which is belt driven off one of the spindles is going to sap power. The salesman said the head will take about 2HP to run which is why I was focusing on the 950-960 range. We have lots of Maple Trees, Ash Trees and White Pine. The leaves from the Maple and Ash run through this thing like a dream. Even with the 27HP I bog down in the pine needles so I have to slow down. It might be nice to have a bit more HP but it isn't a big deal. Now you are not looking at running the collection system. I am not sure on the mulch how much power it takes. I would plan on a couple HP. The bigger thing is if they make a MOD deck in 72" and that is what you are looking at, definitely get a demo to test it out. I have seen a lot of poor reviews on it and really not much positive. Great concept and it might work in some types of grass and not others. I don't know for sure but the big complaint is it leaves lots of clumps. If they don't have a demo, I would get in writing the return or ability to swap for a regular 7 Iron Pro if you don't like it. Though they do have the Green Promise so find out if that is covered. Personally, I just skipped the MOD though I wish it was a viable option. I have thought of the bolt on mulch kit for my 60" but I know it would probably be a pain to take off everytime I go to collect leaves in the fall. I just run Gator G6 blades and that does a good job of mulching. I plan my cut paths to blow grass clippings away from the mulch beds. As for the driveway I just make a pass when I am done blowing it off or get out my backpack blower. As far as HP needs and the 72" deck. It might come down to how often you mow. If you are trying to mulch with a cut height of 2" and the grass is 10" long you are going to want the Z970R. If you get out there more often and it is only 3-4" long the Z960M should do fine. Heck with the flat yard the Z950R would be fine even with a mulch kit.

    Since you are new to Zero Turns I will mention a couple things. Unless you have a smooth yard they ride rough so get a good seat. I went with the full suspension, don't skimp on this. If you have hills cut up the hill not down if you can avoid it. Even if that means backing down a hill. Going down forward shifts the weight to the front casters and you can loose the ability to steer/stop. If there is a retaining wall with a 3' drop like I have it can cause a bit of a pucker factor. When you get to the end of the run, don't pivot around you will shred your grass. Do more of a 3 pt turn keeping both wheels moving. With practice and a couple mowing jobs you will get really quick at it. They are great at cutting grass but there are some things to learn about them.

    If you have any other questions ask away and I am sure someone will chime in. We are heading out of town shortly to go camping and I don't have cell coverage so I probably won't reply again until Tuesday unless I find a pocket of coverage somewhere over the weekend.
    Drifterbike and Canuckian like this.


    JD Z950R 60" Deck with DFS Collection System

    JD X585, 54C deck,
    CTC Model X4750 F.E.L - Modified Imp Pressure Relief from 900 to 1175PSI, Power Flow and MC519 cart, 54-inch Quick-Hitch Front Blade, 47-inch Quick-Hitch Snow Blower, 3-pt hitch, HF Quick Hitch, Heavy Hitch, 48" box blade/rear blade, Dethacher, 3pt Sprayer

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    I'm not sure what you're used to mowing with but if this is your first ZTR unit, you need to throw just about everything you've learned about steering, traction and stability out the window and learn over. I came off an X748 (4wd diesel garden tractor) and jumped on the Z950R thinking I knew what I was doing. Well, a few dozen divots, a trench that a slipping tire dug on the back hill of my lot and a wheelie leading to a near rollover, I came to the conclusion that I knew nothing about operating a ZTR. Mind you it's not rocket science and doesn't take too long to catch on but these things are a definite learning curve. They have the potential to be quite unforgiving if you don't watch what you're doing.

    Like Sennister, I chose the 60" deck to avoid scalping and so it could fit through some tight spots and a gate a little easier. That and I didn't need a 72" deck. 60" is even overkill for my lot. I'd have gotten a 54" deck but the mower they had in stock had the 60" with the MOD that I wanted and I didn't really want to wait weeks or months for a custom ordered machine. If your field/lot is smooth enough to mow at 8+ mph, you wouldn't have to worry about scalping with a 72" deck. But, the more bumps, drops and rises you have, the more scalping you're going to have. Now that I have a 60" deck, I'd say that's a good size that you don't really to worry about scalping unless you have a lot of uneven surfaces in tight spots.

    good luck with your choice!
    2016 1025r TLB with Tektite cab, 54" Snow Blower, 54" blade, Frontier SS2036 spreader, 10p cart, I-Match, Ballast box
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    Thank you Sennister & Canukian.

    The mulch kit is the bolt in kit for the standard 7 Iron Pro. To me, it is all about speed and less about the quality of the cut.

    I currently have a 2016 JD X734 but it takes a very long time...close to four hours to mow the level 5 acre lot. But it also makes marks even though it is 700 lb lighter than TT2. X970R is only 200 lb heavier than X734.

    I will have to trade in to zero turn. I don't mind paying more for the best built and best ride. I just have to make sure that the HP is enough to the 72" and mulch kit and going at 8 mph. It would be nice to mow 5 acres in one hour or less.

    I have few trees around, I just removed 120 trees and ground all stumps. So, no obstacles around and not much leaves. I will have to buy a leaf blower and bag the leaves as X970R doesn't pull behind a leaf vacuum like Cyclone.

    As for the variations in deck height, I don't think I'll be doing much feathering...it all about raising the deck to avoid fallen small branch or stone. I am not trying to do a perfect mow here. I just want to enjoy my backyard.

    It appears that JD R line is the only one that has electric lift.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coaltrain View Post
    I liked the foot operated deck lift on my 757. You have complete control. In many situations I only needed to lift an inch or two briefly while mowing. I've never used an electric lift, but I would think it would be harder and not as fast. There will be a delay when you hit the switch - plus I am thinking that it would be so fast that the deck would come all the way up in an instant. Then you would also have the lag coming down.

    I could do this on the fly - never slow down. If an electric deck lift had a hand control you would have to take one hand off one of the sticks which I don't think would work so well on the fly.
    Thank you coaltrain.

    i am really trying to do it the lazy and easy way, I don't think I will be adjusting (feathering) to mow my 5 acre lot. Just a quick mow once a week is good enough for me to enjoy it. I haven't phased out the foot operated deck lift, but I think it now between Z970R and scag Cheetah...since dealers kept telling me that Cheetah is better ride than TT2 and is cheaper by 3,000.

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