Self-propelled Toro, Lawn Boy, Honda, or JD?

campguy2006May 25, 2006

What self-propelled mower (Toro, Lawn Boy, Honda, JD) is the best for a small Camp? I run a Camp that is hilly enough that a tractor mower is dangerous. Due to hills, however, it is important to have a SP mower to get the mowing done. I hire local teens to assist with the maintenance, and they are responsible for the mowing. We are mostly under trees, so the consolidated mowing area is generally only several acres, and rarely flat and straight. Only the soccer field is flat and straight. The archery range is straight but not flat. Since we are mostly under trees, we don't have vast fields to mow.

I have reviewed Consumer Reports, and I have read several threads that have helped a great deal. I have learned:

1.) Variable speed is good so a faster pace is possible for faster terrain.

2.) Personal Pace (and related technology) is not good for obstacles. I will need to push/pull in several situations.

3.) The splash process for lubricating is okay, but the pressurized process is better when the terrain is hilly and the mower is frequently tilted. (Is this really a high priority?)

4.) Not all mowers are durable. They expect to be mowing lawns by older adults instead of teenagers who yank them around our may run over items that should be avoided.

My additional requirements include:

5.) Especially in the beginning of the season, the grass might be high. The mower should be able to handle relatively tall grass. Once cut the first time, the grass length will be normal.

6.) I would rather buy two mowers than one very expensive one. I can get more work done with two teenagers working at the same time.

7.) If repairs are necessary, I want the engine to be common enough that finding a repair shop is easy.

Perhaps you can help me?

Thanks in advance for the advice.

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Have you considered Eastman commercial mowers?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 7:15AM
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Good suggestion. I made contact with Eastman. I noticed that it seems to be very similar to the John Deere JX75. Do you know pros/cons of the two?

Many thanks for your thoughtful suggestion.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 9:23AM
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I know the eastman are made in Maine...Portland I believe..They seem pretty durable...You know what you are getting when you buy a Deere..
Sounds like you need one self Prop. for the hilly areas, and a good push for the rest...I am considering an Eastman myself..among many others. Eastman..Cub Cadet..Ariens..Honda..there are sooo many choices now it is hard.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 10:01AM
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See if you can find a couple of Lawn-Boy new or used 10323 self-propelled mowers, though they may not be readily available in your area. The powerful 2-cycle engine won't have a problem with the grass, even if you let it get really long. Furthermore, 2-cycles are best for hills since 4-cycles may not get proper lubrication in those conditions. The 10323 is easy to push-pull when mowing around obstacles. Its maximum speed may not be fast enough to suit, but it's not advisable to mow hills too fast anyway. As far as the level areas are concerned, the teenagers should have no problem pushing the 10323 as fast as they like if the SP is too slow for them because it's a fairly light mower.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 1:54PM
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Thanks, Blaise70, but I can see the end of my mower will be when one of the boys decides that all mowers use gas without oil. While I know you are right, there is a very high risk that we will burn it up.

Any other suggestions? They all have been great!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 6:06PM
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You just need to instruct the boys about gas/oil mixing for your new mower, get them involved with the process of mixing up the fuel so they won't forget. Get yourself a 2 1/2 gallon jug and write all over it: "Lawn Boy Gas Oil mix Fuel Only" I also write the ratio and the oz. of oil per gallon on it. Once you mow with a properly tuned LB you'll never go back to the 4 cycle mowers. Remember "Nothing ventured, Nothing gained".

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 7:15PM
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lawnmowerdan(ne fla)

the only con with the jd jx75 is the high price-other than that its the best mower a lot of $ can buy. the upper honda line is also very durable and the shaft drive would be a plus .its ultra reliable and pulls great up hill. you need a premium mower and possiably of commercial quality from the sounds of it

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 9:03PM
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I saw 2 one year old JX75 mowers this spring for 350.00 or less. Seems the owners arent very loyal. Maybe a credit card has a lot to do with letting them go so cheap. Pay full price, sell it cheap and pay for the mower you no longer have for a few years... sheesh.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2006 at 12:33PM
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lawnmowerdan(ne fla)

i lucked out and got my jx75 for 125$ from a pawn shop run by women. they didnt know what it was. paid 100$ for my 14sc (commercial version of 14sb) its still working great after 12 commercial years. i got my baby -a jx85 on ebay for 200$ but had to pay 150$ to have it shipped air freight (no choice)from oregon

    Bookmark   May 26, 2006 at 2:52PM
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You are under some misconceptions:
1) Toro/Lawn-Boy Variable Speed is good for those areas where you need to go slower and push/pull. Top speed is slow for some, but you can release the drive bail and push as fast as you want.
2) Toro/Lawn-Boy Personal Pace/Sens-a-Speed is an excellent drive system with a top speed faster than most people can walk. It's also ideal for younger, more inexperienced operators because they will quickly learn to use it, rather than fighting it like some old geezers - (like me).
3) All 4-cycle lawn mower engines are splash-lube. Those with a filter have a pump that sends the oil through the filter only. This is a good thing for longevity but has no benefit in mowing slopes. 4-cycle engines these days seem to handle slope mowing with no problems.

I would not buy expensive mowers for this application, and self-propel may not even be indicated by your needs. Slopes are generally mowed side-to-side, not up and down, so self-propel doesn't enter into it. You will be discharging only, so you don't even need a mulcher, much less a bagger. What you do need are 22" push mowers with side discharge and up to 3.5" cutting height. 4.5HP would be plenty. Ideally, some used Lawn-Boy commercial 2-cycles would fit the bill, but are hard to find in good shape. I'd go to Wal Mart and get several 22" mowers. Set the wheel axles in the lowest hole for highest cut. Let the kids get a workout as they push these incredibly light mowers. When the wheels get wobbly, replace the wheels and axle bolts. Change air filters and SAE 30HD oil frequently, and blades every year. Use STABIL in every gas can all the time.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2006 at 4:22PM
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I just came back from a long weekend getting the camp prepared, and your comments have been extremely helpful. In fact, I couldnÂt make an informed decision without all of your comments.

I didnÂt mention that we already have a DR Field and Brush mower ($2,500+). I use it to do the first cut on the camp property. After a first cut with the DR, the grass is short enough for smaller mowers to handle.

I will take the advise from all contributors:

1.) I will buy two standard 4 cycle mowers, and
2.) Keep my eyes open for any available Lawn-Boy 2 cycle mowers. It seems the 2 cycle mowers are favored by all, and I will try to train the kids to add the oil and hope for the best.

Now I need to decide which 4 cycle engines to buy. I decided to buy a self-propelled rear wheel drive mower, and the variable speed will work best. The local LoweÂs has Troy-Bilt mowers that are 6.75 HP B&S, variable speed, electric start, for $379. (I didn't see the same machine without electric start.) My question is whether the quality of the Troy Bilt is equal to competitors. I spoke with several people who swear by the Troy-Bilt tractor mowers, but did not have an idea about the SP walk behind style.

1.) Does anybody have experience with Troy-Bilt?
2.) If I get the electric start, am I asking for battery trouble that could be avoided with the pull start?

Another option is to pay more for a John Deere. I could pay $399 for a JS20. It seems like not that much more than the Troy-Bilt, and I am sacrificing only the electric starter.

You have all been very kind to listen to read this analysis, and I thank you all for your kind advice.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2006 at 11:00PM
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What about Snapper, they have 2 different walk behind mower lines now. Their top of the line seems nearly identical to mowers they were making decades ago. Everything seems old time heavy duty. Which leads to a few big positives. Reliable proven design, dependable, and when yo do need a part chances are it will be available. (A problem I had with a 10 yr old Murray, sure those generic parts are available at big retailers, as well as some parts for more recent models, but they like to keep you buying new equipment every few years.) Plus they are mostly sold at dealers who are also service shops. When you need your mower serviced, the big retailer wont be the one you bring it to. Look at many of the mowers they have discounted in their discount area. Usually the ones returned for one reason or another often with the sticker of the local repair shop that serviced the machine.

Snappers other line is new and designed and priced to compete with mowers sold at the big retailers. Im not sure about the dependability, but if you are using them with different teen operators and on Camp sized property with hills and such with enough area needed mow that two mowers would be needed to cut it quickly then it may be wise to purchase from an authorized service / dealer like Snapper.

And the prices online at Snapper are suggested list only. When I got my new Snapper I had moved from a flat 7000 sq ft lawn to a sloped 20,000 sq ft lawn. Considering I had 3 times the amount of lawn, I definetly wanted self propelled, mulching, and a high quality motor. So I picked the old style Snapper mulching deck with the 6hp Kawasaki engine that is used on many commercial models for $599 , $100 under list without bargaining.
If I had gone with the standard B&S engine it probably would have been closer to the price of the Deere yout mentioning since the mulch only B&S Snapper is listed at $499 and your planning to get two so you could probably get a nice deal.

Ariens also makes a nice mower I was considering, but the Ariens dealer wasnt as close as my local Snapper dealer.

Also considering the other equpiment you have it would be even more of a reason for me to buy from a Dealer / Service shop as opposed to a big retailer.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 2:48AM
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Read the posts started by Culas72 for sound reasons to buy Snapper self-propelled.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 1:13AM
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