A Tale of Two Ventracs

marnett

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Well, I did it. I downsized and believe I found myself where I need to be.

Purchased a 4226D in January and plowed a bit of snow with it. Mowing season gave me some more experience with the unit. I'll admit I had some trouble navigating various elements of my yard while mowing. I also had difficulty adjusting to having the mower out front with so much "tractor" in front of me. I did not like not being able see the complete mower unit and losing sight of the mower's outside edge any time I made a turn while trimming. This resulted in backing up quite a bit in many of my tricky spots to either avoid hitting something or to get all the grass. Overall though, superb cut and mowing wide open spaces was no problem. The striping is an added benefit I had not benefited from previously.

I was thinking the tractor was too big for my yard with its obstacles and maneuvering, but I enjoyed the tractor so I was OK with it. Still, the doubt lingered if I had the optimal machine for my property.

Then, my wife wanted to mow a few weeks ago. She is shorter than me and had even more trouble seeing where the mower was. Trimming was very challenging for her and ultimately she stopped and said "I don't want to mow with this tractor." even though she had talked me out of buying the 3223D and into buying the 4226D because "it looked more like a tractor." See previous post about that whole experience.

We talked it over and I decided to contact my dealer (Mast-Lepley in Applecreek). My salesman, Tim Jordan, is an outstanding guy and ran some numbers for me. I knew I 'd take a hit on trade-in, and that was not insignificant, but I was still going to see some money coming back my way. However, Tim put together a good deal for a 3223D package with the appropriate 60" mower and blower. I was keeping the previously purchased slip scoop and v-blade as they would work fine on the 3000 series unit.

I decided to list the 4226D on Craigslist and luckily was able to sell it privately (w/mower) for significantly less loss than trading everything in. I was happy about that. I am selling the KA-160 blower today.

I took delivery of a new 3223D about a week ago past. I have been able to mow quite a bit with it and move quite a bit of topsoil and landscaping materials over the weekend. I am thrilled with the maneuverability. There is simply no comparison between the units when it comes to mowing my property. The 3223D was so much more agile and maneuverable it almost seemed ridiculous. Couple that with the fact I could see the entire mower unit with edge-to-edge visibility at all times. Tremendous improvement for me. Even using the slip scoop was much easier with the view afforded by the 3223.

There are obviously some significant differences between the 4000 and 3000 series units in addition to the obvious ones (operator position etc). The 3223D rides rougher due (at least in part) to the lower profile tires. The 4000 series has a much smoother ride as its tires are more balloon-like (I guess). Also, I have the knobby tires on my 3223D and you really feel the tread on hard surfaces. Neither of these observations are a concern for me, but something to take note of if you're buying a unit.

The foot pedal is much easier to use on the 3000 series. In my experience, it is difficult to use on the 4000 series (a retro-fit afterthought arrangement due to the older design it came from I guess). I am pretty used to the SDLA levers, but appreciate the more useful pedal being more useful for some situations where I need my hands to lift branches as I mow near a tree. The tension for the SDLA levers and pedal could be lessened in my opinion though.

Operating in reverse is a tad more tricky with the 3000 series due to the "tail" aspect you have to account for with the engine behind you. But as with any articulating tractor, I believe the benefits far outweigh the downside and it is something you learn adjust for with experience.

So far, it seems to me the 4000 series might mow a tad better. It stripes better from what I can see, but I may need to adjust the weight transfer differently or something. I have no issues with the 3223D mower (60") cut, but the deck is noisier when mowing. More mechanical noise, but nothing of concern. Minor quibbles here.

The weight transfer feature is much (much, much) easier to adjust on the 3000 series. It is standard on the 3223D. A welcomed refinement.

I was slightly concerned that attaching/detaching attachments would be more difficult. I may need more time to be sure, but in my view it was no harder and ultimately may be easier in my opinion. The holes in the footwell are very good to have. I was always craning my neck from side to side with the 4000 series. Admittedly, I was not incredibly proficient at the task with the 4000 series, but I am improving. It will take mow some time before I can pronounce judgement on this aspect.

Before I bought either machine, I was concerned the 3000 series was not enough tractor. I had only been able to drive a well-used older/gas version of the unit at the dealer and my experience was very limited. Boy, was I wrong. The 3223D is real billy-goat with tenacious traction, power, and lifting ability. It may not be able to out pull or out lift a 4000 series unit, but it has more than enough capability than many people would need. Plus, it has much better maneuverability and visibility for those that want or need it.

I did order mine with the roll cage though I was unsure at first. Now, I am glad I did as I have some slopes and just feel more secure with it knowing others will be also operating the tractor. Additionally, I find the roll cage makes it very easy to pull myself off the 3223D when leaving the operator's seat. The 4000 series is more of "step into" design, which is nice. The 3000 series you do tend climb onto in my view. It is certainly not difficult, but I find the roll cage helps me with my "dismount" if you will. I also like having a seat belt and being secured to the machine. I am just strange like that I guess.

I may purchase the broom later this year. Now, I need to find a stump grinder for rent. I may have some trouble finding a 3000 series attachment like that for rent as the 4000 series belt-drive system is not compatible, and the 3000 series attachments are not near as plentiful. A minor downside, but not a legitimate concern for me in the big picture.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the 3223D unit. My dealer said they sell ten 4000 series units for every 3000 series unit, but I find it hard to believe the 3000 series unit isn't finding a bigger market over here. Apparently the 3000 series is popular overseas. I find it to be an amazing machine that fits my needs very well.
 

toro5xi

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:smile:Interesting comparisons. I also have the 3223 and have yet to find a situation where it did not have enough power. I had toyed with the idea of upgrading to the 4000 series for snow plowing but since you pointed out the enhanced visibility of the 3223 I am glad I did not. It is extremely easy to clean up with the 3223 I rarely have to get out of the seat to clear snow.
I do have occasional traction issues in deep snow due to lack of ground clearance. I have looked for more aggressive tires but did not have any luck. The knobby tires are actually used on sport atvs as well.
I have the stump grinder and it works well. I too am surprised the 3000 series is not more popular. The look is certainly different but once you try it I think it wins you over.
Hope you enjoy your unit.
 

BKBrown

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Great comparison - the visibility is not a problem for me where I need to go (I do understand how it could be in certain situations).
I found that tire chains on the 4231 solved any traction problems I might have had - you do want to make sure you don't "high center" yourself by making sure you keep the blade or blower low enough to give you ground clearance.
 

toro5xi

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Hi BK

Quick question on the chains. With the fenders being so close to the tires were you able to use chains without removing the fenders. It looks like my fenders are so close on the 3223 I was afraid to try it.

Last winter was so mild I did not bother but this year I may add some weight to the rear.

Thanks
 

BKBrown

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I had no problems with the fenders and on the first 4231 (I had an 04 and now have the 2011) the rear frame was a bit close - the new 4231 has more space between the frame and the tire.
I use chain tighteners so there is no space between the tire and chain.

vbarsm (2).jpg
attachmentid=7036&stc=1&d=1340809934
 

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toro5xi

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Nice set up. Blower looks serious. I have only used the blade in the winter. I think I will add some rear weights this winter. Thanks for the photo.:smile:
 

BKBrown

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FebSnow2.jpg
February snow.jpg
The blower is serious - we had two 2' snows and the blower had no problem doing 9 LONG drives and over 1/4 mile to the main road.:thumbsup:
 

Raw Dodge

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Glad you like your new 3000 series! Ill tell you this,the D850 in the 3000 is a much better engine than the d950 in the 4000....they are the same engine family but the 850 will run forever,the 950 not so much...I know a dealer that replaces blown 950s both NA and turbos with the D850s because they are trouble free,and its worth the 3hp loss.....
 

toro5xi

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Hey everyone

I am pretty anal on maintenance for all my equipment. I have 50 hours on my 3223. Oil has been changed, although will use the 5w-40 weight next time. Have greased all fittings and cleaned the screens several times. Air filter looks good so far.
My question is the hydraulic fluid and filter. When do people usually change it the first time? I think the manual indicates 200 hours but at the rate I am going that will be 5 years for me. Is it like motor oil where time as well as usage should be considered?
Thanks for the feedback.
 

Raw Dodge

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With a hydraulic system that's not used alot the biggest issue to consider is condensation.. I would service it more frequently than 5 years especially if the hydraulic system never gets hot. You won't be developing enough temperature to burn off any moisture in the system. So while you will have little contamination as far as wear metals go... You don't want any moisture to build up in the system. It would be a good idea change it every few seasons.... Especially if you run the machine in deep water or if its stored outside...
 
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