There are many factors that go into your purchasing decision when selecting a new mower. Your overall equipment needs and your budget are obvious considerations. The mower’s overall design, engine options, controls and comfort all probably capture your attention. And, of course, the mower deck itself is of great importance. Deck construction, width, height, discharge and airflow all impact the mower’s durability, effectiveness and the overall quality of cut. To provide you a glimpse of some specific mower decks, Landscape and Irrigation asked leading mower manufacturers about their mower deck design, and how it benefits professional landscapers. The following responses were received between April 22 and April 29, 2008.
Cub Cadet Commercial
Select Cut System
Cub Cadet Commercial’s Select Cut System (SCS) is an adaptable mowing deck that gives commercial cutters the ability to deliver a clean, high-quality cut regardless of terrain, grass type or weather condition. The patent-pending SCS incorporates a sloped front skirt, creating increased space between the deck and the cutting blade. This space allows grass to rebound after the deck passes over the lawn and before hitting the cutting blade, resulting in a cleaner cut. Additionally, the leading edge of the front skirt is adjustable, so it can be raised to further reduce grass deformation. This deck provides versatility to easily cut difficult regional grasses, such as Southern Bahia, as well as northern grasses like Bluegrass and Fescue.
According to Cub Cadet Commercial, landscapers look for lawn products and solutions that improve how they run their business and contribute to their bottom line. The care about the following:
* Efficiency — The SCS does the job faster, more consistently, under varied terrain, grass types and moisture content. It also uses less power, which lowers fuel cost.
* Quality of cut — The SCS gives a cleaner cut, reduces scalping and clumping, and provides even dispersion of finer grass clippings.
* Productivity — Ultimately, the better the cut, the more efficient the machine, the more productive the business. The SCS eliminates the need for double cutting to eliminate stragglers or to even out dispersion of grass clippings.
The Toro Company
Turbo Force cutting deck
Many of the Toro Z Master Series zero-turn riding mowers feature the 7-gauge Turbo Force cutting deck, which includes Toro’s patented adjustable baffle that allows landscape professionals to fine-tune their cutting performance in order to conquer changing seasons or turf conditions without sacrificing quality or efficiency.
Designed to deliver productivity, the adjustable front baffle is easily moved in a matter of seconds. In long, dense grass or wet conditions, the baffle can be set to the wide-open position to increase the discharge opening, and achieve faster mowing speeds. In less-demanding conditions, the baffle can be closed down to yield micro-sized particles, and maximize discharge velocity. When double-cutting is unavoidable, setting the baffle to the fully open position allows operators to quickly power through on the first pass.
The entire, fully welded, fabricated shell of the Turbo Force deck is constructed of high-strength 7-gauge steel, and includes durable spindle assemblies that absorb impact loads and distribute them across a broader area of the robust deck shell. The deck’s “bull-nose” front bumper is designed with a raised leading edge that delivers a crisp, level cut with reduced plowing, plus an integral underskirt that minimizes blowout. To resist flexing and the rapid wear associated with abrasive conditions, 1/4-inch thick, high-strength alloy steel blades come standard.
Kubota Tractor Corp.
ZD-300 Series zero-turn mowers
Kubota’s ZD-300 Series commercial zero-turn mowers are engineered to deliver increased power, durability and performance, enabling operators to obtain a manicured lawn even in the toughest terrain.
For superior cutting performance even at faster speeds and in tall, wet grass — the deeper Pro Commercial mower deck on the ZD-300 series uses a flat design and new baffling system for improved discharge of clippings.
To meet the needs of various jobs, three deck sizes are available. The 72- and 60-inch decks are an extra-deep 6.5 inches, and the 54-inch deck is 6 inches deep. The discharge chute is 27 percent wider to disperse clippings more evenly, and the front axle is adjustable to rigid or oscillating with only two pins.
Hands-free hydraulic deck lift pedals are right in front of the operator for easy access and quick response, allowing the deck to be elevated easily with the touch of a pedal. The cutting height can be adjusted from 1 inch to 5 inches, in 1/4-inch increments, with the simple twist of a dial. To prevent unsightly turf damage, the 72- and 60-inch mower decks are equipped with independently functional anti-scalp rollers that rotate a full 360 degrees. The new baffle design, in conjunction with deeper deck design, improves air flow — cutting the grass quickly and discharging it through the wider discharge chute, resulting in a beautiful finish.
Wright mowers are designed by lawn care professionals. Wright designers know the wide range of conditions that mower operators encounter, and design durable decks to perform on any terrain and in any environmental condition.
Wright stamps its decks from 7-gauge steel and 3/4-inch buttress plate on the deflector side. Wright’s flare flow design assures that clippings will increase in velocity as they are directed through the flow pattern, and exit clear of the deck and blade. This eliminates clumping and clogging.
Many mower models are equipped with Wright’s exclusive “Rapid Height Adjustment,” which allows the operator to change deck heights on the fly for greater efficiency.
Wright designers know that time is money, so they design and build mowers for production. Operators have a choice of standing, sitting, sit/stand or walk-behind models. Regardless of the model, however, all decks are built of the same rugged material to the same high-quality standards.
Combi Mulch Deck option for zero-turns
Husqvarna introduced a new Combi Mulch Deck option for its large-frame (LZ) and intermediate-frame (iZ) series commercial zero-turn mowers for 2008. With its deep, optimized shape, the Combi Deck provides optimum mulching performance. The Combi Mulch Deck eliminates the need for collection systems with costly grass disposal charges by delivering premium cut quality with almost no visible clippings.
The Combi Deck is constructed of 7-gauge stamped steel and features additional side reinforcement for added strength and durable cast-aluminum spindles with maintenance-free ball bearings. A removable rear plug allows the deck to convert from mulch to rear discharge. Four anti-scalp wheels and large front nose roller protect the turf on rougher terrain. The design also allows trim capability on both sides of the cutting deck.
Operator control and ergonomics are also primary design considerations with every Husqvarna zero-turn. A foot assist pedal works together with the quick lift to reduce the effort required to raise and lower the deck to the pre-set cutting heights.
HM2 series mowing decks
The Ventrac HM2 series mowing decks each boast a rugged all-steel reinforced carrier frame that incorporates a full-length rear roller that maximizes grass striping. The progressive flow deck design allows grass to move quickly and efficiently out of the discharge chute, improving the quality of cut. Ventrac’s Linear Adjustment System provides cutting height selection of 1-1/8 to 4-3/4 inches. A single hand-adjustment lever allows for a quick change in cutting height.
Ventrac’s “Return to Form” discharge chute allows the driver to come in contact with obstacles and not damage the chute — it simply returns to its original form.
The deck can quickly be tilted to a near-vertical position for cleaning, transportation, storage or sharpening blades.
With Ventrac’s Minute Mount system, all Ventrac attachments mount in about a minute or less.
The HM finished mowers come in 60 and 72 inches.
The HP 72-inch offset mower shifts the mowing deck 6.5 inches to the left for a shorter cutting radius and increased reach for mowing around ponds or ditches
The mower deck, when operated with the Vanguard 31-hp. turbo diesel engine with dual wheels, is approved for 30-degree continuous operation.
Bob-Cat builds decks from 32 to 72 inches and 36 to 72 inches in its zero-turn models. Every deck on a Bob-Cat mower comes with the patented Extreme Discharge System, which incorporates a fully baffled deck design with a large, redesigned discharge opening. It has high airflow and creates suction from the deck over the grass being mowed, which allows for a more even cut and effective discharge of the clipped grass particles.
Bob-Cat’s deck design features a raised front edge — the Bahia deck — which allows for tough and tall weeds and grasses such as dandelions and Bahia grass to be cut more effectively.
Bob-Cat’s 36-, 42- and 48-inch decks are fully fabricated decks using 7-gauge steel on the top deck plus 7-gauge reinforcements and leading edge front lip. Bob-Cat’s 52-, 61- and 72-inch decks are fabricated with two layers of 10-gauge steel with the 7-gauge reinforcements and the 7-gauge leading edge front lip and trim skirts. Bob-Cat’s decks are designed with a full floating “Contour-Cut” system and adjustable anti-scalp rollers that deliver a safe and superior cut on undulating terrain. The decks are fully adjustable at each contact point for fine tuning the deck and its pitch or angle. The adjustable cutting height from 1-1/2 inches to 4-1/2 inches has a patented lift design that makes height adjustments easy.
The low-maintenance design allows for more uptime, and the easy cutting-height adjustments make one mower capable of cutting a virtually limitless range of lawns.
Woods Equipment Company
Mow’n Machine MX
The rugged MX and MXT decks on the FZ front-mount, zero-turn, professional-grade Mow’n Machine from Woods Equipment Company offer several features. The patented baffle prevents “blow-back” of grass over the top of the deck, improves cut quality because it stands grass up, adds strength with a double leading edge, and is removable for Bahai/St. Augustine.
The MX also features a deck bumper that lifts the deck over objects and adds strength. Its TrueFloat deck floats side-to-side and up and down to allow the deck to track independent of the tractor for a much more even cut with less scalping.
Woods patent-pending PowerTilt option raises the deck with a flip of a switch on the console for easy maintenance. This makes it easier to keep clean, easier to remove or sharpen blades, and easier to install or remove mulch kits. Plus, with the deck tilted, less space is required to store the mower. In addition, the PowerTilt feature includes an electric cutting height adjustment.
Design and construction of mower decks is important for the combination of durability and performance. Grasshopper DuraMax mower decks are formed and robotically welded, not stamped, for greater strength and better performance. Grasshopper’s anvil-edge, truss design creates strength without unnecessary extra weight so the decks are nimble but strong to withstand the brunt of commercial mowing. The spindle plane is multi-layered, trussed for strength, and dissipates vibration.
Grasshopper DuraMax decks are specifically designed for three functions so that each deck can side discharge, mulch or vacuum collect for a fine quality of cut. The 5.5-inch-deep deck processes a large volume of material in an efficient manner no matter how the user handles clippings. The shape and condition of the blades affects the airflow under the deck and determines the quality of cut in different conditions. The GrassMax blade system offers blades that produce a quality cut in varying conditions such as lush grass, mulching applications, high-visibility areas, etc.
Topside access to belts and only three grease zerks adds to productivity by making it more likely that routine maintenance will be performed, and unexpected down-time will be avoided. The handier it is to access service points, the less likely it will get put off.
Encore Power Equipment
Mid Cut Prowler
The Mid Cut Prowler line from Encore mower offers versatile design with a range of options in engine selections, collection systems and mulching — all with the razor-edge cut and speed that puts results in the user’s bottom line.
This true floating deck on a mid cut mount rider is an articulating, floating deck. Developed to “keep the cut” on uneven ground, this machine offers minimum scalping and maximum stability.
A pivot system allows both front wheels to maintain ground contact over all kinds of terrain. Each side of the deck floats at a level distance above the ground. The result is an even cut through the whole job.
Reduced bounce and more comfort are added benefits of the floating deck. Whether it is a two-hour job, or in use all day long, the Mid Cut Prowler gives a car-like ride for every job.
Options include two- and three-bag collection systems, ROPS, ROPS canopy, mulching kit and bar lug tires.
Exmark mowers deliver an exceptional quality of cut that many landscape professionals, and their customers, have come to depend on. But an exceptional cut can only happen when you have an exceptional deck, developed with the latest technology in mind.
A critical element in Exmark’s Triton deck is its 30-mm spindle shaft. This larger, thicker spindle shaft delivers 40 percent greater bending strength to resist blade impacts. The 7-3/4-inch-diameter cutter housing disperses shock due to blade impact over a wide area to protect the deck from damage. An oversized solid-steel housing clamp maintains clamp load on spindle bearings and protects the spindle assembly from the elements. This also allows effortless removal of the blade-drive pulley for easier servicing. The patented splined blade drive virtually eliminates blade-bolt self tightening for easy blade removal.
The popular spindle is maintenance-free because its double-row bearings are triple-sealed — not only to stand up to blade impact, but to resist moisture.
Pro-series zero-turn mowers
Engineered with more than 60 years of experience, Swisher’s Pro-Series zero-turn mowers are built with a mid-deck design and pivoting front axle that provides a true 360-degree turning radius. The low center of gravity and profile provide excellent maneuverability and stability.
The Pro-series features a 66-inch mowing deck and 27-hp. engine that make quick work of large lawn jobs. The dual Eaton commercial-grade hydrostatic transmissions provide smooth and effortless speed changes up to 8.5 mph forward.
The 2-inch-by-2-inch, 11-gauge, welded steel, rail frame and 7-gauge welded deck, provide superior strength and durability. Tough 23×10.5-12 rear tires provide maximum stability and flotation for a smoother ride, and the machined-steel blade spindles and high-speed precision bearings are designed to be maintenance free for a long life.
Three commercial-grade Gator Mulcher blades provide a clean look without grass clumps. Dual six-gallon fuel tanks allow more time between fill-ups. Models also feature a push-pull button for electric PTO engagement, electric turn-key start, automatic parking brake, and electronic deck lift that instantly adjusts cutting height to an unlimited range from 1.5 inches to 5.75 inches. Anti-scalp rollers and adjustable side deck wheels ensure a professional-quality cut on uneven terrain
The deluxe, high-back seat comes with variable rate suspension, tilt/slide lumbar, ergonomic cushions and arm rests. A removable storage compartment, hour meter and cup holder are standard. The two-year bumper-to-bumper, three-year transmission, two-year engine, and one-year commercial limited warranties will ensure years of continuous dependability.
7-Iron Pro deck
Stamped with strength and refined with a precision cut, the John Deere 7-Iron Pro deck, featured on Z-Trak Pro 800 series mowers, offers durability, productivity and reliability.
The addition of full-wrap reinforcement makes the tough 7-gauge-steel deck even tougher. And to give commercial landscapers a leg up, the deck offers a heavy-duty step to provide solid footing.
The 7-Iron Pro deck comes with front, double center and rear anti-scalp wheels. Plus, the straight-line belt drive contains 60 percent fewer moving parts with 40 percent larger idlers to ensure superior bearing and belt life.
The 7-Iron Pro deck houses blades that run at a blade-tip speed of 18,000 feet per minute to deliver more blade strikes per inch mowed and more acres per day.
The ergonomic height-of-cut dial makes setting cut height easy. The height-of-cut range is 1 to 5 inches in 1/4-inch increments. This simple mechanical design ensures superior performance and long life.
The new extended line of 7-Iron Pro Mulch on Demand mower decks now includes 48-inch, 54-inch and 60-inch deck options. Built to save time, the 7-Iron Pro Mulch on Demand deck lets commercial landscapers safely, effortlessly switch from side discharge to mulching — and back again — with the pull of a lever.