|Their Ventrac Story
Portions of this review reposted with permission from: http://tractorbynet.com
I just thought I would report back on the little Ventrac 3000 now that it has been used for mowing 3 times and used to help haul landscape blocks into a difficult area for a retaining wall/planter unit.
FUEL ECONOMY: First, the thing uses more gas than my old [lawn tractor], I would say that it uses about a 1/3 of a gallon more than the [old lawn tractor]. That may not sound like much, but think of it in terms of run time and it certainly burns more per hour. It takes about 2.5 hours to mow the yard with the Ventrac but about 4 hours to mow it with the [old lawn tractor]. So on a gallons per hour basis, the Ventrac's 21hp engine uses considerably more fuel than the [old lawn tractor]. However, the Ventrac mows so much faster that it saves 1.5 hours per week in mowing. So while I burn $24 extra in gas per year, I save about 45 hours in labor.
CUT QUALITY: From the standpoint of the quality of the cut, I have never seen such a good mowing tractor. I believe the quality of cut is based on two things. First the blades always seem to run at full speed even when the engine is pulling the tractor up a very steep slope. Secondly, the deck NEVER scalps the ground no matter how rough the terrain. Neither of those things was true with my [old lawn tractor]. Granted I have some rough ground and some steep hills that many people probably don't have.
EASE OF USE:
--- FOR MOWING, the thing is pretty simple. There is a foot pedal that allow for both speed and direction, it is a bit awkward in reverse but works great for forward. There is also a hand control that duplicates the foot pedal. I find I use both and the control is better with the hand control, but often I switch to the foot pedal. The mower deck is engages with a simple switch on the dash, there is a safety cut off if you bounce out of the seat.
--- USING THE SLIP SCOOP: This surprised me. The 48" scoop was able to dig into a mound of dirt that had 3 seasons of weed growth and pull out dirt. For a tractor as small as this, with a scoop design that is as limited as this, I was very pleasantly surprised. The hydraulics are VERY strong for such a small tractor. I also used the scoop for hauling concrete blocks. It easily held 10 "landscape blocks" at a time for a plater I was building. I don't know the weight, but the blocks are 12" by 8" by 4". The best part is that the tractor brought them right to where I needed them, which was a feat in itself because when using a wheelbarrow we could only move 4 blocks at a time because the slope I was building the planter on would cause the wheelbarrow to tip or to run away and there was no way to get my [other tractor] onto that slope without rolling it sideways down the hill.
IMPLEMENT CHANGES: To remove a belt drive implement you simply release the belt tension, then flip a switch that releases a set of locking clamps and drive the tractor in reverse to back away from the implement. Total time, 60 seconds.
--- To install a belt drive implement you do the above in reverse, and it is a little tricky to line it up perfectly, but it takes 2 to 5 minutes to mount the mower deck.
--- To install the slip scoop, you pull into the implement, flip the lever to lock it into place, and then attach the hoses. Total time 2 minutes or less. To remove it, reverse the proceedure, total time 30 seconds.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS: The 4wd mechanism works great in conjunction with the articulated frame. The tiny turning radius is an added bonus, but the most impressive part is that it is so soft on the turf even while making the tightest turns possible.
The seat is very comfortable. But both my wife and daughter found that they would disengage the mower deck accidently when they shifted their position in the seat becuase of the safety cut off tied to the seat. Bringing the seat a bit forward eliminated the problem.
I think implement mounting could be made easier if there were holes in the footwell so you could see through it to the mounting arms.
All in all, I am more pleased with the tractor than I thought I would be and would recommend it to anyone who has somewhat rough terrain or hills or both. I would also recommend it to anyone who wants MOST of what a ZTR has to offer in terms of cutting speed --a ZTR will mow faster-- but still desires some benefits of tractor implements such as a small front bucket or a snow blower. The unit is somewhat expensive, but passes all the tests I could think of, and it comes with a 3 year warrenty.
The articulated frames is really an amazing thing and people don't realize what they are missing by not considering some of these alternate units.