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TORO Z-Master 8000 Direct Collect – Grooming Mower
There are just two sizes of the 8000, a 42" version and a 48" version. BTSouth usually keeps the 48" model in stock.
While it is called the 8000 it is not a step above the other Z-Masters with lower model series numbers. The 3000, 5000, 6000, 7000 & 7500 series are all mid-mount zero turn mowers, while the 8000 is a front deck grooming mower. It’s a different machine with a different purpose. It is designed to compete with Walker, the biggest competitor in its category of front deck grooming mowers. Few owners of Walker complain about the quality of cut of a Walker, but they do often complain of the maintenance and or short life if you don't maintain it properly. The 8000 is the third generation of mowers in this category from the Toro company starting back in 1998. Quality of cut has always been outstanding, but most of its evolution over the decades has been toward longevity, reduced maintenance and easier maintenance.
Compared to the Walker the horizontal shaft engine is turned lengthwise with the machine where as the walker engine is turned perpendicular. For the Toro this makes the natural air flow better for cooling and it eliminates one gear box and two belts. Toro managed to get the hopper to pack full and tight without the need for the oscillating chute like found inside the Walker hopper. The Toro uses a rigid tubular frame where as the Walker uses a flat bar frame that flexes. Toro offers a mulch plug whereas the Walker would require switching to a different deck to mulch. The walker has two different hopper screens, one each for wet & dry conditions, whereas the Toro has one adjustable screen for wet & dry conditions. The 50HP rated deck gearbox system on the Toro is made by Superior and has spiral-bevel cut gears utilizing premium Timken tapered roller bearings and is independently sealed. At last check the gearbox systems used by Walker are not rated at even half this HP. Admittedly Toro's choice in gearboxes is overkill, but when you are talking about low maintenance and long life, overkill can be the best answer.
One of the biggest features I hear landscapers brag about on the Toro 8000 is one that didn't make sense to us. It has two adjustable baffles under the deck that make it pickup just 25% compared to its normal mode. You might be asking the same question we did, if you are going to spend $15K on a mowing vacuum cleaner then why would you want to restrict it to 25%? By listening to landscaper feedback we now understand the 25% it picks up are the largest particles and what it leaves behind is so small that the yard still looks just as groomed as it does at 100% mode. But valuable nutrients are being left behind and the hopper is only filling up one fourth as fast which means they can mow four times as long before having to find a place to dump. And in the nice neighborhoods where this type mower is likely to be used the most frequently it can often be a challenge to find good places to dump.