ZTR is too complicated!

pineacreSeptember 16, 2007

I can't believe it, my John Deere STX38 is just about on its last legs and when my wife found out I was looking at ZTR mowers, she said they were "too complicated"

Well she has a point...she mows the lawn about 85% of the time and is use to the "traditional" steering wheel mower.

I talked to another guy at work and he had the same problem, but now his wife loves the ZTR mower and won't let him mow it at all! I think my wife is afraid to drive with the two levers.

How long does it take to drive a ZTR beast? I actually test drove a country clipper and it felt strange...I was over correcting the steering all the time.

Is there such a thing as ZTR mower driving school? Or maybe a computer simulation program.

Is anybody really buying any of the old "steering" wheel machines anymore? There are so many ZTR models to choose from...its great!

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Don't take long, just go slow till you get the hang of it. My wife said the same thing till she got about hour and a half on it. Now she can mow with the best of them. So she thinks!!!!!!!!!grin.

As with any Riding mower be careful on slops or slops that fall off into ditches or ponds. Traction better than LT's, but don't get complacent.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2007 at 8:41PM
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They aren't "complicated", just different. There is a little learning curve to them. If your lawn doesn't have any hazards, she'll have no problems. If you have drop-offs or ponds, fairly steep inclines, etc., beware.

My dealer, who mows a cemetery, said he about lost it going down a fairly steep hill. He hit a bounce, which made him pull back on the levers, and then forward, etc. He said, "he finally stood up to shut 'er down".

    Bookmark   September 16, 2007 at 9:14PM
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"she said they were "too complicated""

My wife said the same thing about 25 years ago when I got the first one. In no time I had to get half mad to get to use it. I'd come home from work and she would already have the lawn mowed. Have two of them now. A co-worker said it was the best investment he ever made because his wife mowed the lawn all time now.

Walt Conner

    Bookmark   September 16, 2007 at 9:35PM
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Have you looked at the Cub Cadet I-Series yet. They are a ZTR with a steering wheel.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2007 at 10:48PM
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My 1997 Toro HMR had a type of set-up similar to the Cub I-Series, but it didn't work the same as a ZTR. They called it "inter-connected steering".

    Bookmark   September 16, 2007 at 11:12PM
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You don't mention which model you drove, but did the Country Clipper dealer tell you about, or have any of the joystick models?

I'm told that if you're not already used to the twin stick arrangement, the joystick is easier to get the hang of.

Here is a link that might be useful: Country Clipper

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 8:51AM
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Took me all of 1,maybe 2 minutes,and I went mowing.To speed up ,push levers forward.To turn left,release a little pressure from left lever.No seperate brake,clutch,gearbox/hydro control,etc. Start engine,PTO to "ON",set engine speed, and go mowin.tbk

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 9:23AM
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jtmacc99(z5/6 NY)

It took me 30 minutes to get the hang of it, another hour or so of mowing to figure out some of the details of the best ways to to stop, turn around, and go around obstacles, and ... that's about it.

When I voiced some concern about being able to drive a particular model through my five foot gate, a dealer told me that "you'd have to be a complete moron not to be able to drive one of these things through a five foot wide gate." Heh. He was right. For such a big, powerful, and fast machines, they sure are easy to drive.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 9:28AM
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canguy(British Columbia)

I see this frequently. He thinks a ZTR is a great idea and she won't touch it. I approach her with
"Do you drive?"
Her "Yes"
Me "It is part of your daily routine, you don't give it a lot of thought"
Her, with a quizzical look, " Well, yes"
Me "How did you feel the first time you got behind the wheel? Once you get onto it, you two will be arguing over who gets to cut the grass."
By now hubby has a face splitting grin.LOL.
Start out on an open area at a fast idle. Arm rests, not all machines have them, are good because they allow the operator to relax and use light pressure on the levers. Slow smooth movements are the key, don't grab the levers and pull or push.
The better machines such as Toro and others have hydraulically dampened levers that are much smoother and easier to use. The low end units tend to have very loose touchy controls which lead to 'porpoising'.
I tried the Country Clipper with the joy stick and did have trouble getting used to it.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 10:02AM
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First, these things are pricey enough that no matter what you buy, make sure you / your spouse either get an extensive demo operating on real grass, or a return agreement in 30 days if you don't like it, or etc. My learning curve was about 1/2 hour from a Snapper Comet conventional rider. I believe that the overall complexity is significantly less than a tractor. The mower drive on my Mother's old JD 140 is a real Rube Goldberg compared to the system on my Dixon 4521, and both are hydros.

Even with the low center of gravity on my Dixon, I DO NOT mow my banks with it. James Bond "-only lived twice." Thee & me have to get along with half of that. I mow 'em with a push mower.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 1:27PM
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ZTRs aren't compicated, just different, takes a little time
to learn a new system... By the time U get 10 hrs on it
U'll be flyin' low... But if push comes to shove an a ZTR
is out, U could always go with a JD 304-324 AWS, the're
pretty nice, as well as highly maneuverable too, not quite
a ZTR, but close enough that most of us could live with
Paul R...

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 3:51PM
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My problem isn't with my wife wanting to mow with my ZTR, it's with my 13 year old daughter! She always wants to mow. I taught her last summer when she was 12 and after 3-4 times I felt I could let her mow and didn't have to watch her all the time. This year I can be inside the house when she's mowing. It's about an acre of very flat yard with lot's of trees and raised flower beds.

She's so good with it now she can back up with the utility cart on the back; not easy with a ZTR.

I've now started to let my 10 year old daughter drive it, though not with the deck engaged. She's a little young yet for mowing, but loves to drive it with the cart attached as we do our landscaping.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 1:03PM
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Thanks for all the comments, I appreciate them greatly. Yes, I to have a 14 year old daughter that is very mechanically minded and would probably love to drive a ZTR. So far, I have test drove a Country Clipper Jazee 52" and a Gravely ZT 2044 XLP. The Jazee had the joystick on the right hand side, not much good for my left handed wife! Also have looked at a Bush Hog ES 2044 and am researching the Hustler FasTrak on the WEB. My yard is about 1 and a half acres with trees, gardens, duck and chicken cages, horse barn, wood piles, lilac bushes, dog run, more trees and bushes, etc. I also have a 4 foot deep, 10 foot wide 125 foot long swail that I keep mowed also. The John Deere STX38 cuts it with no problem. Any reason to think a ZTR could not handle it? Oh, I use a New Holland TC33DA and 60" Bush Bull to keep the pastures in order. The 14LA bucket also serves for snow removal in the winter. Only a 103" of snow last winter for us here in upstate New York. Lake effect snow from lake Ontario really kills us.
Thanks again,

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 9:48PM
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tomhoffman(NE Iowa)

As you have found out most ZTRs steer by pushing forward on both levers and moving left or right by adjusting levers as needed to go where you want. I tried conventional ZTRs (20 of them) and found all most all of them have the same problems.

I found the one in the link to be totally different. It is steered by two finger on the left hand. Little finger to turn left and the index finger to turn right. Very simple very easy. I learned how to operate it in under 5 minutes. My wife took right too it. She loves to drive it although I do all the mowing, she uses it for a garden cart as it has a utility box on the back. Some models come with a Grass handling system instead of the utility box. Take a look at the link......

Here is a link that might be useful: Take a look....

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 10:00PM
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canguy(British Columbia)

The Walker is probably one of the easiest systems with the twin sticks between the knees. The right hand lever controls forward speed and the two short sticks operate the steering and reverse. I like it a lot better than the Toro 355 I tried some years ago at a sales meeting. Good thing the hotel manager was not watching.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 10:37PM
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Many ZTRs are designed to be operated with one hand. The steering is smoother. That is why most levers meet each other right in front of you. I have a few different brands of commercial ZTRs at work and they are all the same. Using two hands, one on each lever causes over-correcing and jerky steering, but once you hold them both in one hand it quickly becomes apparent that it is a lot easier. Those Walkers, and Scag Cougar, and Exmark Navigator all show an operator using one hand on the twin-sticks. Our Excel hustler recommends using one hand on the sticks for better control.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 5:41AM
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