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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A few days ago my trusty Cub Cadet rider developed a steering problem for the second time in as many years. I've been repairing various things on it for several years to keep it going but having it suddenly change directions while mowing was the last straw. I'll fix it again sometime and still use it - but it has been demoted.

I decided to buy the lowest end Ztrak as a replacement. Anything more expensive was just out of the question. My dad will be using it a lot and he has trouble with balance - and he is not small. I saw the smallness of the Z335e as an advantage both for maneuverability and for mounting/dismounting.

With absolutely nothing solid to hold onto getting on and off was an accident waiting to happen. I saw the Donbar thing and determined that it was too expensive and not substantial enough. I then came up with a few ideas of bending and welding up some tubing to make a railing, but the tube bender that I have will not bend tight enough radiuses for what I wanted and making sharp corners was not an option - I didn't want to destroy the appearance of the machine.

I then had the idea to find some tubing that was already bent to the shape I was looking for. I found what I thought would work in the Harbor Freight 24" x 36" Folding Platform Truck for $47.

I removed the folding hardware then also removed the solid plastic plug inside the end of the tubing. I planed down a 12" block of hardwood into a dowel that press fit inside the tubing. Once planed and sanded to fit snugly in the tube I cut it in half so that I had two 6" dowels. I hammered them into place then drilled the appropriate holes in the tubing and the mower.

The 3d printed saddles are there simply because I have a 3d printer and I wanted make it nice - I am sure that it would be fine without them - but not without the dowels, they are necessary to keep the tubing from being crushed. Maybe you could leave the plastic plug in place and just be careful not to over tighten the top bolt, but that would be a weak point. You would have to take care not to pull on the bar too hard. Much better to make the dowel, longer than 6" would be good too. Mine is that long only because it is what I had on hand.

To attach it the the frame of the mower I used the bolts, washers, lock washers and nuts that came with the Folding Platform Truck.

A can of Deere Yellow paint was used to make it look like it belonged. I think it turned out pretty well. It has made a huge difference in my dad's ability to get on and off the mower safely.

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Motion control levers;

WTF was Deere thinking when they designed those things? With the seat all the way back and the levers adjust as high and as far forward as they can go it just fits a normal size person. Someone larger can't even pull the levers into reverse without pressing into their belly. I can't imagine anyone using the more rearward positions - even if they are smaller and need to move the seat forward.

The solution was pretty simple. I drilled another hole between the existing two holes on the lever, filed the hole square then used the bottom two holes to mount the lever to the top two positions. This both raised the lever up and angled it forward more. Now he can go into reverse without any problems. Less distance between the two mounting bolts means that it is structurally weaker but I tested it pretty hard and I am confident that it is more than sturdy enough.

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Ride quality;

I have read many times that zero turns are supposed to be a rougher ride. When I was mowing the other day I was thinking that it seemed noticeably less rough than my 1025R mowing the same area. I think it rides better than my Cub Cadet or One series when mowing. I have since reduced the tire pressure and expect my next session to be even smoother.

Traction;

I took it out after a rain and experimented with its abilities. Predictably, going down a moderate slope usually meant loss of steering control to various degrees. The uphill wheel would be skidding but I couldn't tell it was skidding until I attempted to turn. There's nothing you can do except wait until you get traction again. Still, having read about the issues with hills I was impressed with just what it would do, and this was on slippery wet grass with turf tires.

I decided to swap out the tires from the Cub Cadet (20x10 lugs) and see what difference it would make. Unfortunately, with those wider tires there was only enough clearance between the sidewall and the machine to slide a credit card through. Not enough for my comfort. I have some wheels spacers on order, I am confident that with the lug tires that I am not going to have problems with my hills - which are steeper than the recommended 13°.

To summarize, so far I think this is a great mower. It requires a couple mods to make it work for me but then I don't think Deere can make a machine that doesn't have at least a couple stupid things about it. It is also much easier on my dad's wrist. His wrists would be really sore after mowing with the Cub Cadet and its little steering wheel. With this machine that problem is completely gone.
 

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I appreciate you sharing your modification to help with stability on and off the Z. I have a similar situation where my 82 year old father likes to do all the mowing on my Z535R. He looks forward to mowing every week. During a cancer battle two years ago when he was in bad shape he kept talking about how much he was looking forward to getting back on the mower. His balance has been really bad since his cancer and I do worry about him falling. He's prideful and doesn't want special accommodations so I just need to figure out a way of keeping him safe without hurting his pride.
 

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Nice piece of work there W9GFO. (y)
 
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I really like your railing/hand hold. If I ever got a Z again I would need something like that.
 

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Way to think out of the box!!
 
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Old Pa-pa
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Great mod.(y)(y)

Every now and then when my knees are acting up bad, I just about need something to help me get on the thing.
 
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