Written on: 14/08/2012
I bought one of these new earlier this year with the "Combi" deck and grass collector. It was supposed to be an upgrade from my old T1600 now 12 years old. It was sold to me as quite capable of not only producing a good finish on my lawn but also of cutting full height long orchard grass of which I have about 1 acre. (I checked this info directly with Westwoods who confirmed it by phone). This deck is really intended as a mulcher but even with the removable baffle plate taken out the blade design is such as to cut very finely and then drop the cuttings, ie there is no airflow to chuck it out the back. This doesn't matter on short grass up to say 3" height but anything longer than that, particularly if dense and wet, will choke the deck immediately,burning the belt and probably stalling the engine.
I took this up by letter with both the dealer and Westwoods. The dealer was prompt in reply and apologised for the misleading info I had been given. There is a so-called "high grass deck" which will cut the orchard but it cost another £800. Westwoods didn't bother to reply until after a second letter. They simply blamed the dealer and offered no help.
Eventually a deal was done and I got the high deck at 1/2 price. Now I have to change decks and reckon on doing this perhaps 2 or 3 times a year. But at least all the grass can be cut. The old T1600 did manage the long grass, just, although belts and bearings took a terrible hammering.
The first actual failure in service was the deck lifting handle which was so badly made that the pawl would not lift out of the rack properly so my wife couldn't manage it. That was attended to under guarantee. The second failure was the electric clutch; it engages OK but now won't disengage until engine is cut. Could be electrical or mechanical fault.
Good points: turning circle is much better. Very good. Kawasaki engine is much less thirsty than the Briggs & Stratton and quieter. Deck removal is simpler than the old T1600, no nuts just pins and(horrible)clips. I have refitted the antiscalp wheels on to swivelling brackets so they can be turned 90 degrees to make deck removal much easier. And replaced those clips with R clips which you can do with one hand instead of two.
Grass collector has much bigger capacity and works well, but you can't see how full it is!! Just needs a window.
Trivial but irritating points: there is a 3 second delay between turning ignition key off and engine actually responding. WHY? Same applies to the seat switch so if you fall off, the engine and blades won't stop immediately. Is this what they call elf & safety? The stupid little dashboard screen cannot be read on a sunny day, too small and wrong colours. The telescopic handle for emptying the grass box gets easily bent by overhanging branches if you forget to shove it down. Mine got bent and was very difficult to straighten out although I managed it eventually.
You do have to remove the deck frequently for cleaning. They warn against using a hose near the bearings (which probably have very cheap and ineffective seals)so you have to scrape off the muck by hand with a homemade plastic thing so as not to remove the paint.
The best thing about these tractors is that they really do pick up wet grass unlike the sucking types which all get clogged.
I know this isn't a machine for commercial use. I reckoned it was the best of a bad bunch, made to a price and aimed at those with large gardens but not rich enough to afford a Kubota. I curse it as I cursed the old one. I don't believe the designers get out enough and try these machines themselves. If they did they would soon discover all the annoyances. Westwoods didn't appear to care about my custom one bit.
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