riding mower on hill - how easy to flip?

Page 1 of 2  
I have my eye on a 40" 12hp Murray riding mower, it's maybe 10 years old or so, regular front-engine standard tractor mower. My house is built on a hill, and I'm wondering if the slope is too great. Due to the shape of my yard, I can't really go up and down the hill, I have to go across the hill. I'd guess the hill is a bout 20 degrees, and I'm nervous that the mower with me sitting on it will be too top-heavy and flip. Or is the center of gravity pretty low in these things?
Thanks,
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Looks like a great investment, that mower:
"Remedy: Consumers should stop using this product immediately and discard or destroy it. The firm is out of business, and a remedy is no longer available."
From here: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml04/04103.html
Will you still be able to get parts for that mower?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Great. I have one.
Perhaps I should sell it before anything breaks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 12 Jul 2007 15:45:39 GMT, "JoeSpareBedroom"

Hazard: Plastic components on these lawn mowers and lawn tractors can crack if they are struck by an object thrown from the blade. Objects can be ejected from the mower unexpectedly and could hit nearby consumers.
Incidents/Injuries: None reported.
A) "could hit nearby consumers". Apparently only consumers' safety is important. If you don't have have money, it's ok if objects hit you.
B) I'd like to know what plastic parts could crack and what objects could be ejected. Once I went over my yard a could times, there was nothing new to hit. Plus it happens there is never anyone around when I mow my lawn.
The CPSC is pretty much obliged to take a hard line, but everything has its risks. If I had kids who ddn't know how to stay away from the mower discharge, or mowed by a sidewalk or street where people walked or often drove, and I had reason to think there could be stones in my yard, etc. I'd sell it to someone who wasn't in that situation. I'd tell him about the recall and expect to get not much money.
Recently my next door neighbor gave me a beautiful portable baseboard heater, and only because I didn't understand one word, or one light, on it, I googled it and found that it was recalled for burning the carpet on 20 rugs and starting two fires because it gets too hot below part of it. If I had had a use, I would have found the hot spot and just put a ceramic tile under it. I kept calling my neigbhor, writing emails and leaving notes on his door, telling him about the recall and asking him if he wanted it back. He never got back to me and I just left it on his front step.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I wasn't focused on the mechanical issues. Rather, I was pointing out that the company is out of business, which might affect the OP's decision to buy a Murray machine.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 12 Jul 2007 21:16:50 GMT, "JoeSpareBedroom"

True.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
clipped

We had a neighbor in our condo whose small child like to throw rock out into the law - the mower picked one up and it broke the slider on second floor above us. It sounded like a car had hit the building.
When I worked in operating room, we regularly had foot and hand injuries from mowers - folks push mowers uphill and it rolls back, or they try to grab something from underneath - really hard to imagine - while it is running.
Just in the past week or so, there was a guy killed mowing near a pond in a park. Mower rolled over into the pond with him under it. All one needs on a hill is a soft spot of ground, even without steep incline, to roll it over.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

actually knew someone who lost an eye from a stone thrown from a lawnmover. I can't picture how it is even possible, but I saw him before and after, and it really happened.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Accident here when a rotary gas mower flicked a piece of metal (wire or nail?) some 30+ feet into someone's chest. Can't recall if it was fatal?
See people mowing in sneakers, even sandals etc. We always wear steel- toed boots etc. and wear safety glasses.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My brother is a writer for the Ontario Ministry of Environment (press releases etc). He told me that tractor rollovers or flips is one of the largest causes of death or major injury short of road accidents. While some of that is related to farm tractors rather than yard/lawn tractors, the stats for those are pretty high on their own.
Our Cadet is very heavy, holds slopes pretty well, and most of our property is pretty flat. But there's a couple of places where we use a weedwacker instead.
--
Chris Lewis,

Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
mfreak wrote:

Good idea to be nervous and, no, the COG isn't low when you're on it.
It is actually probably more stable sideways than going up the hill as, unless it's got some serious front-end weights, your weight is probably at or behind the rear axle and the startup torque will tend to flip you over backwards...
That said, I had a fairly steep slope yard in TN and used a JD rear-engine mower w/ rear bagger on it for years and never had a problem (nor ever felt I was near to tipping it). It was, however, smaller and probably better balanced.
I can't actually estimate the slope really accurately of that lot -- it dropped sufficiently steeply that standing on the road in front let you look at the top of the roof ridge. That would be about 16-ft rise but eyeballs are 5-1/2-ft so more like 10-11 ft actual elevation drop. I'm thinking it was about 50-ft setback(?), maybe. If so, that would be about the 1:5 you're talking.
W/ that, I'd say if you could, see if you can give it a trial run and see how it feels...if it seems spooky, probably a message there... :)
--
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
mfreak wrote:

Get your local handyman to weld outriggers on the thing.
I'd put a dead-man switch on it also (like on an electric treadmill).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
HeyBub wrote:

Once he's dead, why would he care? :)
Sorry, couldn't resist...
Came back to add one thing on the stability -- the mid-engine I had meant was sitting well _in front of_ rear axle. As noted before, the position of the seat on a lot of the little tractor-style is at or even behind the rear axle...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

THere are several problems with mowing hillsides with riding mowers. The first is the obvious risk of tipping over. No one can really tell you if your exact situation would be safe or not without seeing it and seeing the mower that you are going to use. As a rule, you should always mow a hillside "up or down", and not "across" it. The type of soil that you have is also an important factor because it will determine the amount of traction that the rear wheels of the mower will get while mowing. Your size can also affect the stability od the mower. If you are heavy, you will get more traction, but will also add more weight high up on the mower which will make it more likely to tip. Lastly you have to be concerned about the engine not getting oil when it is running on a slope. Mower engines have either an oil "flinger" which is a little metal scoop on the crankshaft that throws oil up to the top of the engine while running, or an actual oil pump that pumps oil around inside the engine. If the flinger or oil pump are out of the oil in the engine because it is tilted, the engine won't get oil and will quickly be damaged. There really isn't any easy answer. I live on a 3 acre lot on a hill. THere are various slants and plataues on the property. I ended up getting a large, older Cub Cadet mower, and added a lot of weight to both the front and the back to make it stable. I looked at the literature for the engine to determine which directions I could mow and not starve the motor of oil. My personal feeling is that using a hydrostatic mower is the only safe way to mow on hills. I've seen several people flip mowers because they popped the clutch too fast on a slope. I only mow up and down my hills because I have rather sandy soil and when I tried to mow across some areas the mower wanted to slide sideways, which is obviously VERY dangerous. In some areas I have to mow up, then stop, and reverse back down because of bushes or a fence at the top of the slope. My neighbor mows across his slopes. He hangs off the side like a motorcycle racer to keep from flipping, but still flips his mower at LEAST once a season. He just buys $50.00 rummage sale riding mowers all the time, and laughs about flipping them over. Not only is it going to hurt (or kill) him some day, but his lawn look like crap, and he spills a bunch of gas and oil on his yard whenever he flips it. Again, there is no easy answer, and you are going to have to do some more research if you want to be safe. GOod Luck

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Keith Stelter wrote:

This thread got me wondering, although I don't mow or have a mower. So, I did a quick google search. One link, to Briggs-Stratton, says mow across incline with walk-behind, up/down on a rider. It would be interesting to see if other major mfgs. advise otherwise. Seems possible for different sizes to have different issues, but I certainly am sure of the walk-behinds to be used across inclines. Helped sew up lots of feet when I worked in surgery. Some folks still let the kids ride, and, somehow, a fair number of people used to stick their hands into the way of the blade. Don't know why.......
http://www.briggsandstratton.com/display/router.asp?docid2704
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Hi,
Apart from the recall which I think by now you are aware of due to all the posts, I think that this sort of lawn tractor is not suitable for hilly mowing. I have the same problem as you and my hill is about 20 degrees. That is too steep for this sort of machine. Most professionals do not use Ride-On's or those zero-turn ride on's for this type of situation, they use Walk-Behinds.
http://www.scag.com/swzu.html
They also attach a "Dolly" behind them. This is a small trailer with a small seat on it. The walk behind tows this trailer. The operator can stand, and often does on the small platform beneath the seat. That way on slopes the person can maintain a vertical stance. If the situation looks tough, you can easily let go and step off / jump clear. I have seen these used by guys on the IBM Headquarters corporate site that has rolling lawns on slopes. Most of the time they are standing on the dolly. These guys go fast too ....
If your hill is not that steep, and I think 20 degrees really is too steep for this, you can try these zero turns.
http://www.scag.com/zeroturns.html
Note on all these mowers have roll bars to protect the operator as well as seat belts.
As for me I use a 21-inch Honda HRC 216 mower with Hydro-Static drive. But even with that I was almost run over once by loosing my footing due to a golpher hole. The mower rolled back onto me but the blade brake stop the blades as soon as I released the controls. I also managed to stop the mower rolling down hill into a wall / trees. For the really steep stuff I use a Weed-Wacker, Honda HLST31.
Best, Mike.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Consumers Reports" (monthly magazine) has a specific section in every issue that has many of these recalls, etc.. It makes for some hilarious reading. "Steering wheel may come off at over 110km/h....", "Electric cooler may overheat and cause fire".
My local hairdresser had a sandwich board that I wish I had taken a picture of for National Lampoon mag. ___ | uper ----- perm | pecial -----

-
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
To answer some q's, parts are readily available at the Fleet Farm by my house. I can get tires, filters, bearings, belts, all the regular maintenance stuff. The entire lot is about 33,000 square feet, - house - driveway - deck - some little garden areas, I estimate the lawn area to be around 26,000-28,000 sq. ft, I mowed it several times with a push mower, and it takes about 1.5 hours if you're really haulin ass, sweating, panting like a dog.. Pushing a mower a lot of work..
I noticed a neighbor down the street with what looks like weights on his wheels, they look like solid metal, about 15" around and a few inches thick. If it IS metal they must weight at least 100 lbs apiece. His yard was about the same slope as mine, I was watching him flying around his yard real fast, turning up hill, it appeara that extra weight really makes him stick well.
I think I might also like a counterweight in the front.. In one of the spots on my yard, where I CAN go up and down the hill, it's also the steepest part of the hill. I started at the bottom and went straight up. I got about 2/3 of the way up, back wheels spun out. I just let the rider roll backwards down the hill. I felt the front wheels would come up and potentially flip over backwards if I popped the clutch too hard. IF the wheels didnt spin out again anyway.
BTW, I bought it.. It's worth it, good condition, runs and cuts great. So even if it doesn't work out I can sell it and I'm sure break even. Anyway, I did my yard with it once so far, and it's not too bad, I lean like a motorcycle racer and it stays up.. It's easy to get a wheel off the ground though, so I'm still a little nervous.. I'd like to try out some of those weights, see how much of a difference it makes.
Comments? How much will weights help? What are 'outriggers'? Google's not helping me figure that one out...
Thanks!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
mfreak wrote: ...

Weights will help, particularly the front weights for balance, rear for traction (although if it's rear engine and you're sitting back there too, not likely to help a whole lot more on traction). For traction, more aggressive tire tread and/or larger profile tire might help noticeably if they're kinda' small and not very knobby. Of course, trying to not mow until grass is dry (if you're in one of those places where that's even possible :) ) will go the farthest--hardly anything slicker than damp/wet fresh-cut grass...
Outrigger is like the rear wheels behind a dragster for rear turnover, an extended arm w/ a wheel for sideways--much more difficult to rig up than something behind. Best trick for that I've seen is an extension ring for the rear wheels to spread the wheelbase some -- even an inch or two on each side can make a big difference if the wheelbase is pretty narrow...
--
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
dpb wrote:

BTW, the weight doesn't have to be wheel weights -- anywhere you can fasten a chunk of something heavy that isn't in the way of steering, etc., on the front axle/etc., will do just fine...
--
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.