Utility vehicles deliver efficiency

It's the norm--not the exception--to go to a job site and find many products from like numbers of manufacturers," says John T. Gillan, executive director of the Professional Grounds Management Society. His statement, in a nutshell, describes the nature of what grounds managers will find as they scan the current utility-vehicle (UV) scene.

"There's a tendency to mix and match," Gillan says. Professional users analyze their particular needs and purchase what best fulfills their requirements. They often like specific characteristics of many different models.

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"Therefore, manufacturers seem to be adjusting to this buying trend. It's still a popular marketing policy to offer a broad array of product types and, especially, spotlight their multifaceted roles. Yet some industry producers are focusing on building product reputations by creating unique niches."

Gillan gives high marks for development to the makers of today's UVs. He hopes to see increasing promotional attention paid to all segments of those dedicated to grounds maintenance.

The following article provides an abbreviated glimpse of what you will find today in the UV world. We don't spotlight all models in all price ranges in each of the sections we detail here: capacity, versatility, special features, maneuverability and safety. Instead, we highlight some of the areas in which some of the major manufacturers' vehicles shine. (To get more information on these units, circle the Reader Service Numbers--which accompany their photos--on the Reader Service Card, page 85.)

Sheldon S. Brown is a freelance writer who has been writing for the lawn- and turf-care industries for more than 20 years. He resides in Southfield, Mich.

Club Car Inc.: Headlights are standard on the Carryall Turf II, plus 6-ply rated tires and reduced-speed reverse.

John Deere: The offset operator's seat of the Gator UV -- positioned toward the center of its platform -- adds to its stability. The cargo box, with its forward placement, contributes to its balance.

E-Z-Go: Safety-yellow color is one of three choices (the other two are hunter green or champagne). A reverse-warning indicator and floor-mounted horn button are standard on both the electric- and gas-powered versions.

Haul Master Inc.: An automatic torque converter with Salsbury clutch, driven pulley and heavy-duty belt continuously sustain power and speed on the Huskie HD. Optional features that improve its safe use are a canopy, turning signals and hydraulic front-disc brakes. A 4-cycle, air-cooled, 16-hp Briggs & Stratton engine powers the units.

Jacobsen: The SV line features 23-hp diesel or 34-hp gasoline engines. The engine-forward design aids in even weight distribution. The vehicles ride on 24 x 13.50-12 high-flotation Ultra-Trac rear tires, which aids in traction on hills, whether the unit is empty or loaded, even in slippery conditions.

Kawasaki: All Mule models come equipped with a large-volume U.S. Forest Service-approved muffler/spark arrestor. Seats have separate bottom and back cushions with guard rails on each side and two seat belts. Users can enhance operator comfort with steel or soft cab assemblies, a cab heater, cab covers and windshield with optional windshield wipers.

Mitsubishi Fuso: An all-steel tilt cab is standard. The air cleaner is a dry paper element with snorkel and rain cap. Steering is telescopic with a tilt steering column and steering lock.

Ransomes: A ROPS is available on all Cushman Turf-Trucksters

Smithco: Accessories on the Red Rider include an emergency brake kit, headlight, taillight and horn.

Toro: The Workman vehicle provides a ROPS with built-in shoulder- and hip-restraint bars as standard equipment.

Club Car Inc.: Self-adjusting rack-and-pinion steering is standard on the Carryall Turf II, as is front and rear leaf springs with dual-hydraulic shocks. The governor automatically senses ground speed.

John Deere: Gator UVs are available in several configurations -- a 6x4 in gas or diesel and a gas-powered 4x2 -- but each has in common high ground clearance with low centers of gravity. Turning-clearance circles for the 6x4s and the 4x2 measure 24.8 and 22 feet respectively. (Each model is less than 60 inches wide.)

E-Z-Go: The turning radius of the Workhorse is 10.3 feet with a wheel base of 77 inches and ground clearance of 5 inches. Steering is automotive self-compensating, single-reduction rack and pinion.

Haul Master Inc.: The turning radius of the Huskie HD is 11.5 feet. Transaxle drive, differential lock and 9.5-inch ground clearance improve its operation in muddy or rocky terrain. It also offers rack-and-pinion steering with adjustable tie rods and A-frames. The front suspension features fully independent coil springs over hydraulic shock absorbers, as well as five-position spring-force adjustment.

Jacobsen: The Model 2015 utility truck has rack-and-pinion steering. It has a reduced turning radius to facilitate moving around in tight spots. The specification on the 1110 Hauler's turning radius is 5.3 inches. It has a 77-inch wheelbase.

Kawasaki: All Mule UVs have dual-mode differentials that the user can lock to provide maximum traction in demanding terrain. The Mule 550 has a single A-arm design front-suspension system that aids turning by keeping the wheel angle constant during suspension movement to improve steering feel. The Mule 2510 adds the option of 4-wheel-drive. It also comes equipped with a two-speed transfer case that allows operators to shift to the low range and engage 4-wheel drive for maximum traction.

Mitsubishi Fuso: The Fuso FG is equipped with premium traction tires and 9 inches of ground clearance. It also features drum-type brakes, standard exhaust brake and vacuum servo assist.

Ransomes: The Cushman Turf-Truckster is available in both three-wheel models and four-wheel power-steering models, as is the Cushman Jr. Turf-Truckster.

Smithco: The Red Rider offers a ground clearance of 6 inches. Maximum ground speed is 12 mph, and the unit's crated weight is 720 pounds.

Toro: The company's Workman 3000 Series offers stability with 3-wheel maneuverability. It has 70-degree power steering. Its front-suspension and anti-sway bar aids its controlled ride. The Workman 4000 Series offers a 50-degree turning geometry, traction and towing capacity without making any damaging scuff imprints on sod.

Club Car Inc.: Many standard features on the Carryall Turf II are not available or are optional on some of its competitors' units, such as a trailer hitch, sealed electrical box and fresh-air intake.

John Deere: Its Gator UVs function in a variety of terrain, weather conditions and environments (off-road, turf and farm). The company's 1800 UV offers a full range of compatible attachments. Owners, for example, can custom-design their spray systems.

E-Z-Go: Special features on the Workhorse include a ball cage or a cab (with steel or vinyl doors) and a Refresher Cooler, which has individual storage compartments for food items and drains for ice-storage areas.

Haul Master Inc.: The Huskie HD is the largest in its class yet its manufacturer says the unit is small enough to fit in a standard pickup bed. Optional features include a front carrier, snow blade and a bed liner.

Jacobsen: The 2015 utility truck accepts a variety of attachments. A universal mounting kit accepts other manufacturers' attachments. Attachments on the SV line are hydraulically powered. Users change attachments by removing four retaining pins and disconnecting the hydraulic lines.

Kawasaki: Some of the accessories available for the Mule UVs are towing hitches, trailers and stake-bed gates; a locking van box; cargo baskets, toolboxes and tool holders; and a heavy-duty alternator to power auxiliary lighting equipment.

Mitsubishi Fuso: Dump, utility, tool carrier, stake body, dry and reefer vans, and car-carrier bodies adapt the FG's all-weather traction to many vocations.

Ransomes: The Cushman Turf-Truckster features a live hydraulic system for operating attachments and fifth-wheel implements for aerating, core harvesting, top dressing and spraying. Smithco: Up to six riders can fit onto the Red Rider, which features a double V-belt-and-chain drive train and disk-type brakes.

Toro: The Workman accepts Toro or competitive attachments. Users can customize their own combinations. The vehicles feature a rear-hitch attachment area. Toro designed its modified Category-I system to lift and transport up to 550 pounds.

Club Car Inc.: The Carryall Turf II utility vehicle offers a vehicle-rated capacity of 1,200 pounds. Actual inside box dimensions are 48.75 x 49.75 x 10.875 inches. The cargo box holds 15.26 cubic feet.

John Deere: The 6x4 Gator liquid-cooled UV has a payload capacity of 1,400 pounds. The hydraulic lift cylinder on the 1800 UV cargo box has the power to dump up to 1,600-pound loads. The hinged cargo box facilitates loading.

E-Z-Go: The Workhorse UV has a 1,200-pound payload capacity.

Haul Master Inc.: The Huskie HD features a 1,000-pound dump-box capacity.

Jacobsen Textron: The Model 2015 utility truck has a 16.6-cubic-foot cargo box with a total hauling capacity of 1,500 pounds. The SV System line of vehicles can handle a 2,200-pound payload. The Model 1110 Hauler UV has a 1,200-pound capacity.

Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A.: The top Mule models can handle up to 803 pounds of cargo in their 13.5-cubic-foot tilting beds.

Mitsubishi Fuso: The Fuso FG handles payloads up to 6,590 pounds. A variety of specialized bodies can be fitted to the FG chassis, all the way up to those 14 feet long.

Ransomes America Corp.: The Cushman Turf-Truckster is designed for use on golf courses and other large turf areas. The Cushman Jr. Turf-Truckster work vehicle is intended for turf-maintenance assignments that do not demand the large payload and other features of the Cushman Turf-Truckster. The Jr. Model can haul up to 2,000 pounds of cargo.

Smithco: The Red Rider has a capacity of 23 cubic feet, 1,000 pounds on level.

Toro: The Workman vehicle handles jobs up to 2,600 pounds total capacity and hauls 2,000 pounds of cargo in its full bed. The outfront-operator feature enables users to center bulky, heavy loads over four wheels rather than over just the rear axle. The vehicle has a two-thirds dump bed for normal loads. The forward one-third area is designated for items such as powered and non-powered tools and attachments.

Club Car Inc.: The Carryall Turf II comes standard with a rustproof aluminum frame and dent-proof ArmorFlex body. It also features an 11-hp engine with pedal start, 2-wheel brakes, 15 mph ground speed, an hour meter, a radio/beverage holder and differential guard. Other standard features: automotive-style spin-on oil filter, neutral lockout switch, dash-mounted fuel gauge and low-oil warning light.

John Deere: All Gator UVs feature large-capacity, one-piece mufflers, lower-engine rpm and liquid-cooled engines (on the 6x4s). The end result is low sound levels. High-flotation tires improve these units' ability to work on turf without leaving ruts or marks. A greens-mower cradle attaches to the rear of the 1800 UV for transporting walk-behind mowers.

E-Z-Go: The Workhorse UV offers the options of a larger cargo bed and a power dump. Both gasoline and electric models are available.

Haul Master Inc.: The Huskie HD has a wheel tread of 36 inches in the front and 37.5 inches in the rear.

Jacobsen: The 2015 utility truck features an optional hydraulic lift to dump its box. The tailgate is double-hinged. It swings down for unloading, hinges from the top for spreading or you can remove it entirely. You also can detach the side panels to make a flatbed for large loads. A tailgate ramp is available. The SV system vehicles feature precise ground-speed control for accurate, consistent application when spraying, spreading and topdressing.

Kawasaki: The Mule 2500 Turf model treads lightly on smooth, extra-high flotation, low-pressure tires. This makes it appropriate for turf maintenance and resort-utility use.

Mitsubishi Fuso: The ladder-type frame of the Fuso FG is designed to handle bending stresses. High-capacity front and rear axles, 4-wheel heavy-duty shock absorbers and full-floating axles with tapered bearings help the unit to better survive off-road use.

Ransomes: Different vehicles are available depending on user needs, from the Turf-Truckster to the Jr. Turf-Truckster (designed for maintenance tasks at golf courses and sports facilities) and the Cushman White Truck (an off-road utility vehicle engineered to transport personnel and equipment around golf courses and sports complexes). The White Truck offers similar amenities to pickup trucks, such as a dome light, heater/defroster, AM/FM cassette radio, digital clock, inside/outside rearview mirrors, intermittent wipers and adjustable bucket seats.

Smithco: The Red Rider UV features an extra-low, ramp-type, easy grade tailgate designed for no lift, roll-on/roll-off loading and unloading.

Toro: The Workman vehicle has an integrated 120-volt, 4,200-watt, 35-amp generator, powered by the engine. Dual PTO systems operate combinations of attachments independently or at the same time.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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