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New property. Haven't ever had more grass than a push mower could handle in an hour.

I now have 1.2 acres of grass (yes I mapped it, ha). I am pretty much settled on a 540m. I really don't need a fancy mower and I take good care of my equipment. But for some reason I have this nag to buy a commercial grade mower with the thought process being that it will last me forever. Is that a realistic expectation? How long can I expect a 9 series to last me? Im thinking 15 years would justify the purchase. Will it outlast a 540m by a large margin?
 

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I had a 970 that was built like a tank. I think with good care a 915 would last along time. I have a garden tractor I bought in 92 and I mowed and plowed snow with it till last year and when I moved up my son took it to his place and uses it every week. Good luck
 

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Cropgun, it's "night and day" difference between the residential and commercial grade mowers. I was one of those that wanted the "best" and ended up getting the third rate ones. I own a Z710A aka "estate mower" in the eyes of the Consumer Reports people. It has the same larger frame materials, transmission motors, and all the good things that they install in the commercial grade tractors.

In the past forty years I have own four John Deere lawn tractors, all considered residential grades, and my last was a 1999 345 water-cooled Kaw 20hp engine. I paid $6,699 for it NEW, and since these 19 years I have spent about another $4500 on repairs. The Kaw engine is the greatest in this 345 and hasn't spent one time other than oil and filters. It's the other things John Deere put into the tractor... like one bad 54" mower deck where I bought 17 mower deck belts in three years...plus the very expensive spindles...at $89.00 ea. totaling 12 in all. Plus all the idler and deck pulleys that I have replaced.

The Z710A is a 2012 year model with a 23hp Kohler. I'm running the same factory install drive and mower deck belts, same deck spindles and pulleys. I changed the transmission filters and fluid at 50 hours, and just changed the filters and fluid last month at 350 hours.

So, get you a commercial grade model and you won't look back that you made the wrong decision.

BTW: I mow 10 acres. 3 acres with the 1999 345 -54" deck and 7 acres with the Z710A with 54" deck.
 

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Think I would go the extra coins for a commercial grade mower even for just 1.2 acres.

Speed and good dependability are hard to beat.
 

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I have a z920 with over 1500 trouble free hours on it. It's built like a tank but rides like one too. I have owned multiple zero turns and in my honest opinion it doesn't matter how good of a mower you buy your only going to run it X amount of time before you just want something different. My z920 has been amazing and although mechanically sound I noticed last fall that most of the linkage in the deck has ALOT of wear and slop in it. The mower has over 1500 hours and there's no way I'm going to start throwing certain parts at it now. I'm going to run it another summer or so then it's being traded in or auctioned off at the local farm auction like the mowers it replaced. If I was mowing under 2 acres I personally wouldn't invest in a higher dollar mower. A high grade residential mower will give you years of service and by the time it's shot I'm sure you will be ready for something different anyways. From all the zturns I have owned it doesn't matter how much money you spend to purchase it, certain parts are going to be worn completely out while the drivetrain is still rock solid. By the time those parts wear out the mower will have enough years and hours behind it that you'll be cautious about dumping money into it replacing those items, a new mower will be far more appealing. The only exception to this I would say is if you cough up enough money to purchase a really high end commercial mower with a diesel on it. A mower that nice/expensive is worth replacing all the worn linkage and other parts to run the mower another 2-3 thousand hours or so to get your monies worth out of those parts/repairs. I am certain if I replace everything on my z920 that's now or soon to be completely shot, within a couple of summers after spending that money I will be looking at needing a new engine, hydro pumps, or drive motors. I have already been down that road with a JD zturn before and learned my lesson.
 

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I have a z920 with over 1500 trouble free hours on it. It's built like a tank but rides like one too. I have owned multiple zero turns and in my honest opinion it doesn't matter how good of a mower you buy your only going to run it X amount of time before you just want something different. My z920 has been amazing and although mechanically sound I noticed last fall that most of the linkage in the deck has ALOT of wear and slop in it. The mower has over 1500 hours and there's no way I'm going to start throwing certain parts at it now. I'm going to run it another summer or so then it's being traded in or auctioned off at the local farm auction like the mowers it replaced. If I was mowing under 2 acres I personally wouldn't invest in a higher dollar mower. A high grade residential mower will give you years of service and by the time it's shot I'm sure you will be ready for something different anyways. From all the zturns I have owned it doesn't matter how much money you spend to purchase it, certain parts are going to be worn completely out while the drivetrain is still rock solid. By the time those parts wear out the mower will have enough years and hours behind it that you'll be cautious about dumping money into it replacing those items, a new mower will be far more appealing. The only exception to this I would say is if you cough up enough money to purchase a really high end commercial mower with a diesel on it. A mower that nice/expensive is worth replacing all the worn linkage and other parts to run the mower another 2-3 thousand hours or so to get your monies worth out of those parts/repairs. I am certain if I replace everything on my z920 that's now or soon to be completely shot, within a couple of summers after spending that money I will be looking at needing a new engine, hydro pumps, or drive motors. I have already been down that road with a JD zturn before and learned my lesson.
Outstanding post. :thumbup1gif: That was my point in my post but not in so many words. :lol: You did good. :thumbup1gif:
We had a commercial Z-Master 150 with ~1500 hours on it, never had a problem with it, traded it in before we did.
I know hydro pumps and/or drive motors are big $$$.
 

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I have a z920 with over 1500 trouble free hours on it. It's built like a tank but rides like one too. I have owned multiple zero turns and in my honest opinion it doesn't matter how good of a mower you buy your only going to run it X amount of time before you just want something different. My z920 has been amazing and although mechanically sound I noticed last fall that most of the linkage in the deck has ALOT of wear and slop in it. The mower has over 1500 hours and there's no way I'm going to start throwing certain parts at it now. I'm going to run it another summer or so then it's being traded in or auctioned off at the local farm auction like the mowers it replaced. If I was mowing under 2 acres I personally wouldn't invest in a higher dollar mower. A high grade residential mower will give you years of service and by the time it's shot I'm sure you will be ready for something different anyways. From all the zturns I have owned it doesn't matter how much money you spend to purchase it, certain parts are going to be worn completely out while the drivetrain is still rock solid. By the time those parts wear out the mower will have enough years and hours behind it that you'll be cautious about dumping money into it replacing those items, a new mower will be far more appealing. The only exception to this I would say is if you cough up enough money to purchase a really high end commercial mower with a diesel on it. A mower that nice/expensive is worth replacing all the worn linkage and other parts to run the mower another 2-3 thousand hours or so to get your monies worth out of those parts/repairs. I am certain if I replace everything on my z920 that's now or soon to be completely shot, within a couple of summers after spending that money I will be looking at needing a new engine, hydro pumps, or drive motors. I have already been down that road with a JD zturn before and learned my lesson.
You know - you really made me think. I am planning on a new zero turn in the next couple years - some things have to align themselves first.

When I was mowing commercially my last machine was a Deere 757 commercial zero turn which I loved. Now when I am passively looking at machines for use at home I automatically go to the commercial units. I just have this unobjective opinion that residential units are junk.

But thinking about it - I now am lucky if I mow 35-40 hours a year - not 35-40 hours a week like I used to. I mow around 3 acres. A higher end residential unit will probably be fine for me now. And with a Deere or Kubota unit I know I will be able to get parts quickly if I need them.

just a side note - please hit your enter button once in a while - your post is a wall of text to me and I can't read it.
 

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You know - you really made me think. I am planning on a new zero turn in the next couple years - some things have to align themselves first.

When I was mowing commercially my last machine was a Deere 757 commercial zero turn which I loved. Now when I am passively looking at machines for use at home I automatically go to the commercial units. I just have this unobjective opinion that residential units are junk.

But thinking about it - I now am lucky if I mow 35-40 hours a year - not 35-40 hours a week like I used to. I mow around 3 acres. A higher end residential unit will probably be fine for me now. And with a Deere or Kubota unit I know I will be able to get parts quickly if I need them.

just a side note - please hit your enter button once in a while - your post is a wall of text to me and I can't read it.
I apologize for the lack of spacing in my reply. When I know without doubt I have experience in what I'm typing my fingers go faster typing than my mind can keep up with and I forget to space.

I have ran residential mowers to 1500+ hours and commercial mowers to 1500+ hours and they both did it with close to the same wear and tear. I'm not taking about cheap residential mowers, I'm referring to those that share many of the same components as commercial mowers.

The differences I saw between residential and commercial mowers for my use is the commercial mowers hold up to trailering better. My mowers ride ALOT of miles being beat and banged around on trailers and the residential mowers would end up with cracked welds and so forth that required some welding here and there, the commercial mowers have held up to that abuse. If I was to stop with all the mowing I do and maintain only my yard there's no way I would cough up the money required to buy a commercial mower. I would buy a high end residential mower knowing it would only be trailered occasionally and run the snot out of it until it was worn out then repeat with a new mower. Mowing 50 hours a year on a mower that's capable of 1500 hours is 30 years of service, not bad if you ask me.
 

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I apologize for the lack of spacing in my reply. When I know without doubt I have experience in what I'm typing my fingers go faster typing than my mind can keep up with and I forget to space.

I have ran residential mowers to 1500+ hours and commercial mowers to 1500+ hours and they both did it with close to the same wear and tear. I'm not taking about cheap residential mowers, I'm referring to those that share many of the same components as commercial mowers.

The differences I saw between residential and commercial mowers for my use is the commercial mowers hold up to trailering better. My mowers ride ALOT of miles being beat and banged around on trailers and the residential mowers would end up with cracked welds and so forth that required some welding here and there, the commercial mowers have held up to that abuse. If I was to stop with all the mowing I do and maintain only my yard there's no way I would cough up the money required to buy a commercial mower. I would buy a high end residential mower knowing it would only be trailered occasionally and run the snot out of it until it was worn out then repeat with a new mower. Mowing 50 hours a year on a mower that's capable of 1500 hours is 30 years of service, not bad if you ask me.
I agree with all you said. When loading my mower on my trailer the deck would drag just a bit at one point going up the ramp. Day in and day out doing that will eventually wear or break something.

Now - I don’t even own a trailer anymore.

So I am now looking more toward Deere’s top of the residential line - the 540R. Kawasaki motor, greasable spindles, big air cleaner and muffler, etc.

I originally wanted a diesel becuase I have bulk diesel fule storage. But even with Kubota’s smallest 60” mower I am at $14k. Ridiculous for what I need. But I do insist on a Kawasaki motor and those other things I mentioned.

I had to put it all in perspective and your example helped push me over the edge. If I mow 40 hours a year, in 20 years that is only 800 yours. I doubt very much that I will still be able to stay in this place for another 10-15 years at most.
 

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I agree with all you said. When loading my mower on my trailer the deck would drag just a bit at one point going up the ramp. Day in and day out doing that will eventually wear or break something.

Now - I don’t even own a trailer anymore.

So I am now looking more toward Deere’s top of the residential line - the 540R. Kawasaki motor, greasable spindles, big air cleaner and muffler, etc.

I originally wanted a diesel becuase I have bulk diesel fule storage. But even with Kubota’s smallest 60” mower I am at $14k. Ridiculous for what I need. But I do insist on a Kawasaki motor and those other things I mentioned.

I had to put it all in perspective and your example helped push me over the edge. If I mow 40 hours a year, in 20 years that is only 800 yours. I doubt very much that I will still be able to stay in this place for another 10-15 years at most.
I am a huge fan of the Kawasaki engines! Never had a issue with them
 

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I faced a similar scenario. We have 2.5 acres, take out the dirt where there is driveway and buildings means I cut about 2 acres. We also cut a couple neighbors from time to time so that makes about 5 acres total. I was looking at replacing my X585 but $20K (with new attachments) for a 1 Series was more than I wanted to spend at the time. The other issue was at the time the only collection system they had was the 3 bag version. Since I compost my leaves it would slow me down too much to empty them compared to the cart I had on my X585. I guess I could have rigged something up to use the cart with the 1 Series but the canvas is showing its age.

I considered a new X Series something in the X7xx which is pretty close to my X585 in specs but I wouldn't really gain much and I didn't want to lose my FEL. So I thought about X7xx and keep my X585 for dedicated FEL work. But again wasn't gaining much in terms of speed when cutting grass which is where the bulk of my hours come form.

So I looked at Zero Turns. For me the biggest issue was I had to go with a commercial zero turn if I wanted a John Deere MCS. They don't have any options for this in the residential line. I could have used the X585 which I was keeping to pick up the leaves but that kind of defeats the reasoning behind what I was doing. I didn't want to mess with the mower deck on the X585 anymore.

When I looked at the Z9xx machines I started with the 915 but ended up going with a Z950R for a couple reasons. I wanted a Kawasaki engine and the 915 has a Kohler I think. Personal preference thing. I wanted a bit more HP as the powerflow head for the MCS is going to sap about 2HP from the system. While the extra anti scalp rollers can be added to the 915's deck it was nice that the bigger machines (M/R) already had them. The R also adds the hydraulic deck lift. This is a good and bad feature. It isn't as easy to just feather the deck up a bit like you can with the manual foot control on the M and B/E versions. The benefit though is when you add the powerflow head you have to also adjust the deck lift assist springs on the manual models since this head adds a lot of weight to the deck. Since I mainly run the MCS during spring and fall cleanup and no MCS all summer that is work I don't have to do on a R model. I just slap it on or pull it off which is about a 10-15min changeover. It would easily double that work load if I had one with a manual lift. The full suspension seat which I wanted is only an option on the M and R models though there are aftermarket conversions people do. The R also comes with airless front caster wheels. The R has a higher top speed which is nice when going to dump the hopper in the compost pile in my back yard as well as cross porting for better cooling of the transaxles for longer life.

For what I paid for the Z950R 60" deck, full suspension seat with MCS at a dealer that was willing to come down on the price was still an amount where I could have bought two Z915B machines (without MCS and had money to spare. That said I am still happy with my purchase. I guess you need to consider if you want a MCS. People do run them on a Z915B/E but our property is a bit hilly and I wanted the additional power as I mentioned. Even with the bigger 27HP engine I bog it down when I am picking up pine needles or get into some really wet leaves. I expect it to run me many years based on the number of hours I put on a year. I would estimate I did about 90-100hrs a year with the X585 doing mowing, FEL and snow removal work. Now that the X is a dedicated machine fore snow and FEL work it sees about 20 hrs a year and the Ztrack about 60 or so. I haven't looked at it that close. I know service intervals for something like an oil change is every 100 hrs. I just do the 100 hr service in the fall when I am putting it in storage even though it isn't near the 100 hr mark.

Bottom line. If it wasn't for the MCS I would have had a harder decision and may have gone the higher end residential machine. The fall leaf cleanup is what pushed me to the Z9xx. I get way too many to try and mulch in place and I like making dirt to spread around the yard. I am not sure what the price difference is between the Z915B/E and a higher end residential machine. I would guess $1-2K. So it will come down to what you want for an engine.
 

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Great post seenister! Your reasoning for buying what you did is right on. MCS or not must be considered with these machines.
 
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CT, what I noticed is the biggest difference between residential and commercial is weight. I tried a Z445, and on
my property (pretty hilly) it didn't work. With the lack of weight the tires would spin in redicullous situations, and that
got dangerous. Another thing that bothered me about that machine was it's tendency to collect grass on top of
the deck in voluminous quantities. I ended up getting an X500.
One of the major advantages of a zero turn is speed. My place is so rough that I can't take advantage of it.
 

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CT, what I noticed is the biggest difference between residential and commercial is weight. I tried a Z445, and on
my property (pretty hilly) it didn't work. With the lack of weight the tires would spin in redicullous situations, and that
got dangerous. Another thing that bothered me about that machine was it's tendency to collect grass on top of
the deck in voluminous quantities. I ended up getting an X500.
One of the major advantages of a zero turn is speed. My place is so rough that I can't take advantage of it.
I had 400 series zturns and could mow places on them my 920 zturn wont. The z920 I have weighs so much it sinks and leaves ruts often requiring being pulled out with the truck whereas the lighter mowers I had would just spin tires.
 
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CT, what I noticed is the biggest difference between residential and commercial is weight. I tried a Z445, and on
my property (pretty hilly) it didn't work. With the lack of weight the tires would spin in redicullous situations, and that
got dangerous. Another thing that bothered me about that machine was it's tendency to collect grass on top of
the deck in voluminous quantities. I ended up getting an X500.
One of the major advantages of a zero turn is speed. My place is so rough that I can't take advantage of it.
One thing about a zero turn (insert any brand or size) is that they can get sketchy on hills. They say if you have anything moderately steep you need to back down them. This is because too much weight is transferred to your front wheels. The front wheels are casters like a shopping cart. All your steering and fwd/rev is done with the back wheels. Unload them too much and you will go flying down a hill totally out of control. If the grass is damp at all it doesn't even have to bee that steep. I have one section that is tricky. It is along side my house, not really all that steep but I am cutting down hill and I have to be able to make a right turn or I will go off a 3' retaining to the driveway below. I don't want to cut it going up hill because the discharge shoot is blowing clippings all over the sidewalk and stairs going along the side of the house to the driveway. Also I can get close enough to the retaining wall with the chute on that side. I really need to rebuild the retaining wall and go from 3' to about 5' and back fill it. This would level out this area and it wouldn't be an issue.

You bring up good points. The zero turn is going to be a rough ride unless the yard is smooth. That is why I wanted the full suspension seat. It sure helps but I am working on those bumps.

I had 400 series zturns and could mow places on them my 920 zturn wont. The z920 I have weighs so much it sinks and leaves ruts often requiring being pulled out with the truck whereas the lighter mowers I had would just spin tires.
I have yet to get my Z stuck but will agree it is a heavy machine. I really haven't had issues with ruts much. The only place is my back yard where I have my compost pile. It is the lowest section of my yard and in the spring I have to watch it as it takes a while to dry out after the snow melts. Of course when I am making those runs to the compost pile is when the machine is the heaviest. When you get one with a MCS you have you run with suitcase weights on the front to counteract the weight of a full hopper of grass and leaves. How much weight is based on what you have for a deck and machine but in my case I have to run 252# in suitcase weights (6 x 42#) plus whatever all that stuff in the hopper weighs, the powerflow head on top of a machine that already weighs probably more than what my X585 does even though it has fluid filled tires. For my yard though, I only notice it is an issue in the spring. Even if cutting a wet yard in the summer it hasn't been an issue other than the one spot I mentioned above where it is hard to control and I have had a few oh crap moments when I thought I was going over the retaining wall. I keep telling myself that I need to rebuild that wall but the question is when. Hopefully I get around to it before gong over the edge. Soil composition will come into play on the ruts and getting stuck.
 

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You guys talking about weight may be on to something....

My first zero turn was a 717a which is quite small. Just looked for the weight online but couldn’t find it.

Right off I found the front end to be too light. Talked with my dealer who said I could add a front weight bracket if I wanted. I ended up trading it in my first season with it on a 757. World of difference as far as stability - it was a keeper.

Since there is no way for me to be able to test drive one at my place I am going to have to look hard at the weight of these machines and compare that to this z540R.

Edit to add - I found the weights -

717a - 1132#
757 - 1214#
Z540R - 697#

I don’t know how accurate these weights are but if the z540R is only 1/2 the weight of the machines I am used to I am going to have issues on my hills.
 

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You guys talking about weight may be on to something....

My first zero turn was a 717a which is quite small. Just looked for the weight online but couldn’t find it.

Right off I found the front end to be too light. Talked with my dealer who said I could add a front weight bracket if I wanted. I ended up trading it in my first season with it on a 757. World of difference as far as stability - it was a keeper.

Since there is no way for me to be able to test drive one at my place I am going to have to look hard at the weight of these machines and compare that to this z540R.

Edit to add - I found the weights -

717a - 1132#
757 - 1214#
Z540R - 697#

I don’t know how accurate these weights are but if the z540R is only 1/2 the weight of the machines I am used to I am going to have issues on my hills.
Weight is part of it, the weight distribution is probably a bigger factor which isn't very clear. With a 2wd tractor if going down hill and it unloads the rear wheels enough to lose traction, well your front wheels gained weight and they do all the steering. If you can't stop but can still steer you might be able to avoid the obstacle. On a Zero Turn you lose both steering and braking though in this situation. That is why they say to back down hills.

As for the Z950R JD lists the weight as 1,292 to 1,340 lbs. There are two deck options (60" or 72") oh and the MOD deck. My guess is my machine with the standard 60" is probably around that 1300#. Then I have the front weight bracket and all the MCS stuff and suitcase weights. I would guess if the hopper is full, and I am on the machine with my beer belly and it is going to come in over 2000#. Just the suitcase weights and me are going to be in the combined 1800# range. The hopper and powerflow head is going to be at least another 150-200#. So that is right around 2000# before I picked up anything.

The Tractor Data website shows the X585 as 955#. That is probably without the deck and of course without my hundred + pounds of fluid in my rear tires for ballast with the FEL. So my guess was right. The Z950R is quite a bit heavier than my X585.

As far as the front being too light on a zero turn. I don't think that is possible. If you ever need to add weight, you want it to the back within reason. Look at the Z915B/E they make it that cheap by cutting out some of the things on the more expensive machines. The deck is a little different, less expensive engine but the big one is it doesn't have the cast iron rear bumper. They use that big heavy (70# if I recall) rear bumper not only to protect the back of the machine from backing into or clipping something while turning, but more importantly it is ballast to improve traction on hills. Many people that have bought the Z915B/E have added the rear bumper from a M/R to improve stability. Yeah I get that I hang a lot of weight on the front of mine. But I have also done wheelies with it when going up to get my suitcase weights. When I don't have the MCS on the Z950R, I use the weights on my Heavy Hitch on the X585 and FEL. When I need the weights for the Z950R and also need to run the FEL I go pick up my box blade for additional ballast.
 
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Yeah - it looks like I need to look at machines that are at least 1000#.

With the small machine I couldn’t get it to crab on my hillside - it would just fall off. With the bigger/heavier machine it would crab that hillside even when a little dew wet.

I’m glad you brough this up - a 600# machine just won’t work for me. I’m not worried about being too heavy - I’ve been mowing for years now with my 2520 with loaded tires - probably weighs close to 3000# set up for mowing.

This makes those couple used 997’s I saw very appealing - and I would get my diesel!
 
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