Commercial Riding Mowers: A Home Away from Home. (Power Equipment)

Article excerpt

Not too many years ago, all the major riding-mower manufacturers worried about was speed, maneuverability and quality of cut. Today, they've added operator comfort and -- more importantly -- productivity.

It's difficult to find a mower nowadays, for instance, that doesn't have one or two fuel tanks capable of keeping the mower running steadily for 8 or 10 continuous hours. It's difficult to find a mower that doesn't have flip-up decks for quick, easy maintenance and cleaning. Many mowers are being designed with low centers of gravity for stability and speed on slopes. Seats are not only more comfortable, but many are suspension seats, cushioned and adjustable (up-back positioning and lumbar support). And just about every manufacturer now provides the operator of their mower with a cup-holder.

The zero-turn market continues to expand by leaps and bounds. The reason? Zero-turners offer the ultimate in maneuverability, in many cases eliminating the need for a separate trim mower. Again, it comes down to productivity.

The main distinction between commercial riding mowers is deck placement. Midmount decks are typically used on "dedicated" mowers (mowers only). They take up less space on a trailer and offer better operator visibility. Front-mount decks are easier to flip up and maintain, and can be removed so that you can use attachments other than a mower deck.

Hydrostatic transmission is desirable, if you can afford it. Steering mechanisms include wheel, joystick and twin-lever, the latter being the most popular among operators.

Look also at the thickness of the metal in the deck. You can buy mowers with everything from 12-gauge (thinner) to 7-gauge (thickest) steel decks. They can be stamped, formed or welded.

Engines? You have your choice from among air-cooled gas, liquid-cooled gas and diesel. Because of the popularity of zero-turn models, diesel and liquid-cooled engines are selling more. And an overhead-valve engine (rather than side-by-side) is more fuel efficient -- again, if you can afford it.

There is no dearth of riding-mower manufacturers out there. Here is a

generous sampling: &

RELATED ARTICLE: Boost maneuverability

John Deere says that you can zoom through jobs with precision and efficiency with its 717 and 727 Mini-Frame Z-Traks. The zero-turn radius increases productivity while the smaller frame makes it more maneuverable.

The company's "7-Iron" deep-deck mowers are made of 7-gauge steel. The 717 is powered by a 19-hp air-cooled Kawasaki gas engine and mows a 48-inch swath while the 727 has a 23-hp Kawasaki and mows a 54-inch swath. Both models have overhead valve engines for better fuel efficiency and less noise.

With an 8-gallon fuel tank, operators can mow all day without re-filling.

John Deere

Circle 124 on Reader Service Card

Phone: (800) 537-8233

Time-saving mower (Power Equipment)

To save time on the jobsite, one company suggests that you use "the time-saving machine," its Zipper-TS.

Both gasoline (Kohler 20- to 25-hp) and diesel (Daihatsu 26.5- and 31-hp) engines are available. The gas engines deliver speeds up to 8 mph while the diesels deliver 10 mph.

Any of the five engine configurations can be purchased with a 54-, 64- or 74-inch full floating mowing deck. Also standard are zero-turning hydrostatic transmissions and high-back seats with arm rests.

Optional equipment includes mulching kits, grass catchers, and dual-tail wheel kits.

Zipper-TS Mowers

Circle 125 on Reader Service Card

Phone: (888) 876-6937

Four-wheel IS.

Ferris Industries introduced its all-new compact mid-mount zero-turn mower with front-wheel IS (independent suspension), the IS 1000Z, at the Green Industry Expo in November.

This unit also has a spacious operator compartment; two-cylinder, 21-or 23-hp Kawasaki engine; trim-capable, 48- or 52-inch deck; 10-gauge mower deck with double top deck and double reinforced side skirts with lap-welded corners; twin 4. …