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buying a ride on mower for steep ground

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  • buying a ride on mower for steep ground

    Hi all

    New to this site...

    Researching a suitable ride on mower - probably second hand but all suggestions most welcome.

    Have about 10 acres to mow in high rainfall sub tropic area. Our horses mow some of it for us.

    Land is very steep in places and bumpy in others - looks as though it has been swailed on the flatter bits?

    I am not mechanically minded..

    happily katefish :twisted:

  • #2
    A few comments from my experience on the subject:

    Our land is steep in parts and bumpy just about everywhere. We have been using a Rover 13 hp for almost 3 years. It is reasonably reliable - we've had a few repair jobs but not an excessive amount. The local ride-on mechanic says that Hondas are more expensive but you get what you pay for.

    One thing I have heard is to avoid the two-cutting-blade type if you have rough, bumpy ground - they get more knocked around and fall apart sooner.

    Even though you are not mechanical, like me, I would suggest that you be prepared for a certain minimum of maintenance such as changing blades and patching tyres if you don't want to be organising getting it to a mechanic all the time.

    Oh, and we had awful trouble with punctures at the start, like one or two per day, with hours of mucking round to fix each one, until we got a product put in the tyres which oozes out and fills the hole whenever a puncture occurs. Don't know the name of the product, but it was well worth the $30 or so dollars it cost - we haven't had a puncture since.

    Hope these snippets are useful

    Nimbin, northern NSW, on the edge of the Nightcap National Park.


    • #3
      ride on mower

      Thanks Pete

      Does yours have a low postioned seat? I have been told that the seat needs to be very low for steep ground else the mowers tend to roll. I hvae seen Granden and Deutschers with the low seats but that's about all.



      • #4
        g'day katefish,

        it's not only the seating position that counts it is the low profile of the whole mower as such even the engine positon. i am careful coming into recommending mowing with anything on slopes because i can't realy see it.

        deutscher are a very good simple model (simplicity makes the design more reliable), but with only a single wheel configuration on the back and rear engine i would wonder at their stability on a slope. rear engine models tend to be back heavy and prone to wanting to lift the front wheels off the ground going up slopes and when starting off especially in the higher drive speed ranges (when i was a mower mech' we would have wheel stand competitions with rear drive mowers could even get some of the front engine models to lift the front wheels so been there done that hey?).

        what ever you choose and there aren't that many good models (keep away from the tap-n-go models! must have variable ground speed models), but would imagine that the rears would need to be very wide wheels or dual wheels. might be that you will have to mow up or down the slope and not across so a front engine model is then paramount. most definately a roll bar for safety they limit ground clearance needed to operate the machine close under trees.

        if some areas are too steep plant them with sturdy trees and let the grazers do the mowing. look for the lowest profile top of the range models with the widest wheel base for their height. would also suggest steering wheel models they give more steerage control in tight conditions, tiller bars are ok on some slopes and free running castor wheels only ever good on the flat. you may need capacity to add extra front end balast as well.

        also engines with an oil pump in preference to a slash feed the common gardened 4 stroke engine not meant for steep slopes.

        e/mail e for more discussion if you wish



        • #5
          Hi Katefish,
          I haven't noticed that much difference in heights of seats to say whether mine is low or high. Len's advice is pretty comprehensive, he has lots of experience and knowledge of the different kinds. It's really going to come down to how much you can or want to invest, which may be influenced by things like how much area you have to mow and how much time you have to spend bouncing around on the thing. A friend of mine who normally spends 1 day mowing a large tract of park like grass for their bed-and-breakfast place on a normal little 13 hp mower like mine, recently borrowed a $15000 one with the zero turn type steering arrangement, and did the whole place in two hours.

          By the way, going back to what Len said about the 'tap and go' type, I think he meant the sort which does not have manually controlled gears, where you just push the foot accelerator thing (not really an accelerator) backwards or forwards to go forward and back. I think he may be speaking from a strictly mechanical point of view. I have asked other experts adn they say if you have to change gear manually when you are weaving your way around trees, holes in the ground, navigating bumps and other odd bits and going backwards and forwards into the inaccessible bits, you will get very tired of the extra handling. Despite the obvious desirabability of it being mechanically simple, I have had no trouble from the automatic drive articulation of mine. No offense meant Len, and I hope none is taken. I just thought the other point of view should be presented.

          Nimbin, northern NSW, on the edge of the Nightcap National Park.


          • #6
            Oh, when I said mechanically simple, I meant the manual gear change type was manually simple, but that my less simple one has given no trouble.
            Nimbin, northern NSW, on the edge of the Nightcap National Park.


            • #7
              Mowing hills and slopes???????

              A deutscher walk-behind if you must.

              Better still 4 goats & an electric fence unit, back that up with a decent heavy-duty Whipper snipper with a blade.




              • #8
                g'day peter,

                sorry mate the gear box is used to sleect ground speed only it is not a box like in a car, so you select whatever ground speed you want from the box then begin to mow the big big benefit here is that you use engine rev's to spin the blade at the desired speed and the gear box to then convert that speed to the desired ground speed. tap-n-go machines are very inefficient in this are to begin with as if you want to go fater over the ground you have to rev the motor harder for no real mowing purpose and reving the motor harder guarantees quicker engine wear even in a car think about it. and you need at least 5 ground speed selections. ztr's would be great on flat or almost flat terrain and yes would trim lots of waht a regular design could do, bet they have more wearing parts in their drives though hey? but your on your own on slopes with them.

                now for me i know a lot of experts and they don't recomment tap-n-goes for reliability or versatility, just wait until the tap and go thingy wears out the pocket will realy hurt, they do after all work on a slipping dry clutch process so imagine what would happen to you car if you slipped the clutch everytime you wanted to change direction and in an istant from going flat out forward you go into flat out in reverse wow think of the stresses and strains.

                that's why all the top of the range models have gear boxes and for the blokes who mow lawns they are the models they buy.

                i agree with floot also the detsher walk behind with dual wheels is going to lots more manauverable and safer if the mower get away from you the operator you can let it go and not harm yourslef, and there should not be anyone else around, well not in the danger zone. and then there is goats or plant it our with trees and let the birds ahve it as habitat.

                so rover rancher, deutscher & snapper are the best that i know of, not sure about john deere by name and nature and mtd make models for discounters so i don't support them, and you simply just don't see enough of the others to even bigin to evaluate their probable quality or lack of. a good lesson look in the trading post see waht people are trying to get rid of bet there aint many of the good ones there.



                • #9
                  buying a ride on

                  Hi Katefish.
                  Let me join in on this one. I have spent the last 2 even 3 years researching ride-on mowers.
                  I have 10 acres. The house hectare is all lawn (this is in transition, believe me – it was my Damascus road eureka moment on my ride-on that lead me to discover permaculture – ie after 3hrs mowing (the same patch) for the 3rd consecutive Sunday, I said “help, there has to be a better way, I want a life!)
                  Anyway.... I had/have a 7year old Greenfield that I have had nothing but trouble with from the nanosecond I handed over the cheque. The sales place said “see Greenfield” Greenfield said “see Briggs and Stratton (the engine manufacturers), and Briggs said “see the sales people”. I saw red, mostly. After 7 years and hundred – no thousands – of dollars on unsatisfactory “repairs” I have now found a reliable mechanic that has actually fixed it and it works OK. Other people like Greenfields - they are a tap and go device - and I haven't had trouble with the 'gear box' - yet - (famous last words. My trouble was it just wouldnt start (maybe because it knew what a day was ahead of it!)
                  About 2 years ago I fell in lust with a Grillo Climber (google it). I got to test drive one, and knew this was the love of my life when it came to ride-ons. Only one tiny hiccup. They cost $15,000.
                  At that price range I began looking at small tractors, but by the time I added a cutting deck and other attachments, I was looking at $24,000.......... and on and on and on and on and on my mind would spin.
                  There is a happy ending. Last year I saw my darling Grillo advertised for just on half price – so I picked up a second-hand almost brand new Grillo – one genuine lady owner – and the machine does everything I could possibly want.
                  It is designed to mow on slopes and it is a real Terminator in terms of long grass and woody weeds and tough undergrowth. It is a brute, a beast and eats overgrown paddocks for breakfast. Nothing really compares with a Grillo if you have acres and sloping ground.
                  I did test drive quite a number of other machines, and a Deutcher would be a very distant second option. Its a good machine, but I found it not as easy to manage, and the centre of gravity was a lot higher, which made me feel very “tippy” on the slopes.
                  Most other ride-ons aren't really designed to deal with acres of paddock grass – they are really just boys toys for gentle, manicured “park-like” acres. I am not mechanical, but most of them are made of plastic and very fragile. They look good in the showroom – but we don't care what they look like! (– although the Grillo is very elegant).
                  Len is absolutely right – those zero turn things will break with the first piece of tree branch caught between the spinning disks. Great for parks, not remotely suitable for a sloping paddock!
                  My advice, plead with the universe to provide you with a second-hand Grillo. It is really truly best machine for your (our situation).
                  (I still have some paddock to mow next weekend – I could try and take a “before”and “after” shot to show you how bloody amazing this machine is!
                  (And no, I dont have shares in the Grillo company, and I wish I WAS on commission.) I just know where you are coming from Katefish, cause I went around and around and around and around trying to find something I could afford - and that would do the job.
                  There is no shortage of really expensive machines on the market, but very few that can do the job.
                  .....And for the uninitiated, if you think you can get a quality, hard-working ride-on for much under $10,000, you're dreaming!, Do the research and wear out your shoe-leather like Katefish and myself have been forced to do, and then you'd know what we're going thru!
                  Showrooms are chockas with ride-ons, some are even $18,000 to $20,000 and are just plastic shit.... so buy a Grillo – it's metal and tough and incredibly well engineered.
                  The History you were NEVER taught in school:
                  Oil War 1: 1914- Britain thwarts German Berlin to Basra pipeline.
                  Oil War 2: 1939 Germany, Italy, Japan seek to solve their oil deficiency.
                  Oil War 3: Cold War: US v USSR: Clash over oil sales to Europe


                  • #10
                    ride ons

                    Oh Peter W – can you find out the name of that tyre-fixing product you are recommending. Punctures are inevitable in paddocks of knee to thigh high grass.
                    (I LUURVE the sage advice: “walk around and remove all branches and other objects before mowing”. No bloody idea!@!!
                    The History you were NEVER taught in school:
                    Oil War 1: 1914- Britain thwarts German Berlin to Basra pipeline.
                    Oil War 2: 1939 Germany, Italy, Japan seek to solve their oil deficiency.
                    Oil War 3: Cold War: US v USSR: Clash over oil sales to Europe


                    • #11
                      Thank you all - fabulous info and lots to take in.

                      I have considered the macho walk behinds from the start of my search (2 years now!) and know that cos I am a full time working single mum that time- saving speaks loudly to me..

                      Using grazing animals and planting more forest on the steepest bits seems the go. sigh.. more fencing.......

                      Any one out there had any experience with a Granden?


                      • #12
                        hey heuristics,

                        those grillo's are a rugged looking machine mate they look like the should/could do the job but there again this is the first i have ever heard of them let alone try one in action, love the looks of the cutter deck and good low profile seeaing position and those tyre well what can i say they look like they could climb a brick wall on their own hey :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: ?

                        on the site i went to ... and=Grillo they don't tell about the power unit or the drive mechanism.

                        yeh greenfield one of the toys i was alluding to they make a top shredder but.

                        and katefish you'd be surprised how much quicker over the ground a walk behind can be in some situations a sit on rider can be slow by design and steering limitations.



                        • #13
                          what exactly is a granden katefish?

                          doesn't show in searches, would like a bit more info if you can please?



                          • #14
                            ride ons

                            Hey Len, Google “grillo climber” and the page for the 910 should pop up.
                            No, they are not well known, and when I asked about them at the kind of places selling toys for the big boys, I got a lot of dismissive comments. I had, by then, already test driven one so I knew a lot of their dubiousness was unfounded. Given how this machine would be the answer to a lot of property maintenance issues across Oz I think they do an absolute CRAP job promoting their product. Their distributors should be composted. Yes Grillos are expensive, but then I know what I looked at with a price tag of $18,000 (like a McCullough) and it was all just plastic.
                            I have had my Grillo for just on 12 months and I am a fan (if you didn't guess). My Grillo will do things I couldnt contemplate doing on a Greenfield. It can tackle seriously nasty, thick, wet, choking long grass, and just cut thru it like a laser beam thru butter.
                            Also, when it does find sticks and small branches in the long grass it just eats them. It protests, and I know I am not supposed to use the mower to shred fallen timber, but I figure if I have to replace the blades, so be it, as I have limited time and I need to get a lot of ground slashed. In fact the Grillo is more a small slasher than just a mower. I tend to use the Greenfield up by the house as the Grillo doesnt give that manicured finish – but its horses for courses. Like a draft horse is unlikely to win the Melb Cup, and few people would say make the criticism "it's a great draft horse, but cant sprint!"..... and yet we (collectively) tend to do that with other things --- I need a solid workhorse and that's the Grillo, if I had a park with soft, gentle lawn, well then something with a neater cut would be better. I mean I love those Toro zero turns and lots of other brand zero turns, they are poetry, but they would be a shattered wreck within 15 mins at my place.
                            The History you were NEVER taught in school:
                            Oil War 1: 1914- Britain thwarts German Berlin to Basra pipeline.
                            Oil War 2: 1939 Germany, Italy, Japan seek to solve their oil deficiency.
                            Oil War 3: Cold War: US v USSR: Clash over oil sales to Europe


                            • #15
                              got it katefish,


                              that is a ztr model for me i wouldn't like to be using one on steep terrain as you have no direct control over steerage eg.,. compared to other riders and cars say.

                              yes they do appear to do a realy good job on flat very large areas around trees and things as for their rubustness (drive) and relaibility (drive) or versatility just don't know? have never seen blokes who mow lawns for a living use any of the models available.

                              the grillo while it looks robust is an overseas manufactured machine the thing there is how readily available consumables and necessary repair components are. in the mower shop we as did many other shops took to selling the snapper rider and mower range, far superior mower for the home handyman/proffesional cutter than any other models around but then things went wrong and they stopped importing them. research what needs imported machines have and if anything they use is interchangable with local models.

                              fencing is easy to do so is planting habitat.