Considering Buying a Used Dixon ZTR 4421

TiminIndyDecember 15, 2012

I'm trying to help my step-mom find a used riding mower so she will be able to cut her lawn by herself. I've been going over and cutting it with the push mower for the last year, but with driving time it was taking about 4 hours out of my day off, and in the spring it was needing it every 4 days. The lawn is under 1/2 acre, so if I went non-stop I could mow it in 1.5 hours, but with a couple breaks it was over 2 hours. I know she doesn't want to spend much money, so I've been watching Craigslist for riding mowers $500 and under. She is 70, but still sharp as a tack and in pretty good shape. In fact, she was cutting it with the self-propelled push mower until last year when I told her she shouldn't be doing that anymore and I started cutting it. Even this last summer, sometimes she would get out and do the small back and side, and once or twice she ended up doing the whole thing when I was having trouble getting a rain free day off.

If I can find a suitable one with a low price, I'm leaning toward a small zero turn as opposed to a tractor style mower, based on the lawn. I summarized my thoughts on it and gave her some current options in the statement below I sent to her, and she likes the idea of a zero turn and feels confidant that she can learn the lever steering:

[quote]I never heard back from the people in Attica about the Dixon zero turn mower w/ no price. This other one is still listed in Indy - it is also a Dixon ZTR. He has it for $250 and says it needs a battery and a tune up which he will do for $100. I called this guy and he said it runs fine but he bought a bigger, newer one and this one "probably needs a tune up", which he said means changing the oil, filters, & spark plug. I could do all that and find a new battery and put it in - probably for about $50. He said it is at his rental property at Emerson & Thompson. I didn't ask, but I get the feeling he could probably deliver it:

42" Dixon ZTR 4421, $250, Beech Grove: [url][/url]

30" Dixon ZTR 3303, $500, Franklin: [url][/url]

I was leaning toward the smaller zero turn mowers because your yard isn't that big and it seems like you can get in closer to stuff with these, although there is a learning curve with using levers for steering. I've also been watching for smaller riding mowers that have steering wheels, but aren't the big 'tractor style' ones. In addition to being big and bulky to maneuver, most of the bigger 'tractor style' mowers are either a lot more expensive, or look ancient, dirty, rusty, and/or beat up. The bigger ones would make the west lawn go quicker, but would be more difficult for the front and east side, and wouldn't get into the back (you can always push mow that). The smaller ones would take a little longer, and may be slower going uphill, but they could get everywhere. So, you have a trade off for speed/power vs. maneuverability. The zero turns probably have the best of both worlds (but with the learning curve). I haven't seen any new listings for smaller, affordable zero turns, but here are a few smaller riders that looked fairly clean and not too expensive:

30" Craftsman, $275, Anderson: [url][/url]

30" John Deere, $200, Meridian/Kessler: [url][/url]

30" Murray, $150, Greenwood: [url][/url]

Here's the few 'tractor style' ones I saw under $500 that were clean and modern looking:

42" Troy-Bilt, $375, Shelbyville: [url][/url]

(42"?) Yard Machine, $350, McCordsville: [url][/url]

We have plenty of time if you want to wait, but I'm guessing there won't be that many new listings through the off season. Also, once it gets colder out, it will be tougher to test ride anything! [/quote]

So yesterday, I went to look at the Dixon ZTR 4421. It is old (these were made `94-97) but actually looked to be in pretty good shape for its age. For having a 42" deck, it seems pretty small and nimble. It has a Kohler 14hp engine, but there's no engine hour gauge on it. I know these aren't the greatest zero turns and this product line is just geared for residential use, but that is all we will be asking from it. The battery is dead, so it won't start and I couldn't test ride it. He said it will run fine with a new battery. I saw a [url=]video online[/url] of a ZTR 3304 where the drive chains got stretched out, so I checked these chains and they didn't seem to have too much play. He said he bought it used 4-5 years ago and he replaced the chains once. Another wear item is the cones for the cone drive system, which he has also replaced and they looked pretty new. I am having my doubts on this. On one hand, I know we are going cheap, so you get what you pay for, which will likely mean some repairs along the way. I'm fairly mechanically inclined, so I can do some maintenance and repairs, although I'm not familiar with these and how the cone drive system works and I don't know how much I could do with that. She has a lawnmower repair guy that makes house calls, so I told her to ask him about this model and if he can work on it. I searched online and parts seem to be readily available for this model. I'm thinking I should let him replace the battery and 'tune it up' and see how it runs and rides, and if all checks out, we'll probably get it. He wants $350 with the battery and tuneup, so maybe I will offer $300. I figure it has lasted about 17 years, so if we take care of it, we can get several more years out of it. On the other hand, I would hate to recommend she get it and then have repair bills for more than we are paying for it.

Any opinions or experience on Dixon? Am I crazy to get into something this old? Should I go with one of the small, 30" riders?

Here's the lawn:


As you can see, the front has a pretty good slope:


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You may want to post his on the "Tractor" forum also as many knowledgable people over there don't visit this forum.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 2:05PM
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