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Riding Lawn Mower Advice

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by EJL923, Apr 11, 2011.

  1. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    The reason that you don't see many decks over 42" is that you can't fit it into your truck bed. In addition, the larger decks will have three blades where the smaller ones like my 42" only have two. I have the plastic bins on my craftsnam 42" bagger and I like them but apparently there are two bin systems and three bin systems. The three binner would allow me to bag much more grass before dumping which would save lots of time.

    As you will see, MTD makes almost all of the mowers. So you shop for features and price. What features do you really need? Not many. Hydrostat transmissions are known failure points, but are very convenient if you have lots of little obstacles to mow around. Electric blade clutches are also failure prone and expensive to replace, the manual blade engagement system is superior unless you only have one arm. Cup holders are not important, your beer will go flat. Headlights are not important unless you plan to blow snow. Cast iron front axles and lug nuts on the wheels are an indicator of a heavy duty machine but have nothing to do with the ability of the mower to mow lawns. Who has ever worn out an axle?

    Very few, if any, are made in the USA, probably not even JD. They don't even make their own tractor engines until you get into huge ones. Unless you are made of money, that factor needs to fly out the window right away.

    Grass is growing. I busted out the crapsman last night and knocked down a few inches of wet grass without collecting the heavy wet clippings. The mower is green with grass juice and smells great. Go buy the cheap manual craftsman and save your money for the gas that this thing is going to suck.

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  2. festerw

    festerw Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2009
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    149
    Loc:
    Cambridge Springs, PA
    MTD makes probably 99% of all the lawn tractors out there including Bolens, Troy-Built, Husky Cub Cadet, Yard Machines, some Craftsman, etc.

    AYP makes some Craftsman and Husqvarna.

    John Deere, Kubota and Simplicity are the only ones that I know of that still make their own.

    I've had a Husqvarna LGT2654 for about 3 years now with no problems. I ended up buying it at Lowe's not because of the price difference from the local dealer (IIRC was about $200) because I liked the hydrostatic pedal on that model better. I would have rather had the Kohler engine from the local dealer than the B&S engine on what I've got but it's been trouble free so far. I don't put a ton of hours on it usually ~20/year though.

    I looked at the similar Craftsman model and the biggest deal breaker for me was that the grease fittings on the spindles were inaccessible, the pulley covers had to be removed to grease them. The Husqvarna had cutouts for the fittings.
  3. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    northern massachusetts
    the guys around here don't like craftsman because they have to do things to it a few times before it's right. i brought my craftsman 6.5 horse walk behind mower to 4 places before i got the 4th guy to work on it. i asked him why and he thought they were a pain but did it. my machine needed a head gasket and the carb to be worked on. he put on 3 factory carbs and could not get it to run right. i went down to take the machine back and he said that he could try boring the jet out bigger but wouldn't guaranty that it would work. the reason for him replacing the carb is that craftsman designed the machine thru the engine maker to have no mixture screw. so it couldn't be adjusted. they also had them make the carb a different shape so to fit the big plastic cover that goes over the whole thing so he couldn't replace the carb with something else be cause the plastic cover wouldn't go on. deck is weak and bent a few times. anyway that's the reason for not working on craftsman, and my problem doesn't relate to riders, but i thru that in there just to say be careful not to get screwed on a machine that can't be worked on.
  4. rwh442

    rwh442 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    Messages:
    139
    Loc:
    Southeast Indiana
    I have an 11 year old "Yard King" 22HP B&S twin Intek with a 52" deck. This was Murray's "top of the line" I believe before they went under. I think B&S bought them out or simply inherited what was left of them. I mow about 2 acres weekly.

    The B&S Intek has held up very good except for last year - one of the valve guides started to come out of the head and bent a pushrod. I knurled it a bit and pushed it back in - been fine so far. The problem was caused by overheating due to excessive buildup of debris in the cylinder head cooling fins - my fault. I will be cleaning that yearly now. FYI.

    Concerning solid cast iron axles - that would have been worth it for me. I have parts of the yard where the mower rocks on three wheels - broke the stamped steel/welded front axle and the wheel almost came off. Fixed it with welds again.

    All that being said - if you have a lot of hills or want to tow anything - the transmission is where your longevity comes into play. Mine has a Tuff Torq K66 which has held up good so far. I believe you can actually buy parts for it - most other hydro transmissions are throw aways on the $1 - $2K lawn tractors.
  5. PJF1313

    PJF1313 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    Messages:
    389
    Loc:
    Pine Barrons, L.I., NY
    I have 3 riders - 2 crapsman and a Troy-Built (MTD) The only reason why I have that many, is that I got "lucky" on the T.B. and a new(er) Craftsman.

    Originally bought the 1st in '98 after hand-cutting (walk-behind) an acre and a half, and shoveling 3 driveways, I said nuts to this. It is a LT-1000 with the B&S 1-cylinder 17.5 hp motor, 42" deck, manual transmission, and the snow blower attachment and weight kit for just over 2 grand. I couldn't be happier with it - no major expanses other than blades every 3 or 4 years, drive belt once, and the deck belt twice. The blower seems to eat a belt a year, and atleast a shear pin or two.

    We moved into the current house about 4 years ago, about 3/4 acre of grass, and atleat a 8 car drive (I know we had 7 in it at one time[get together], and still plenty of room) Since then, I've acquired the other 2 mowers. The T.B. was 200 bucks, and needed a front tire and belts, and sharpened blades. It is the one I use for my first cut of the season, to clear the sticks, twigs, and other winter debris, before using the original mower. It also get used to clear out the paths in the other 1/2 acre once in a while.

    The second craftsman is(was) bought as a parts machine. It was built in the late 00's (08,09?). It's missing alot of parts, but the motor now starts and runs. This, some day, will be my dedicated snow-blower in the winter, and wood toter/mulch hauler/de-thacker/aerator/pull this around in the off season.

    Pros and cons of each machine

    "older" Craftsman :

    PRO:
    relatively cheap
    does everything I ask of it, and more
    Easy(er) to remove deck (to service blades/belts/clean)

    CONS :
    Sears for blades
    No filter for oil

    "Newer" Craftsman

    PRO:
    (NOT enough machine to work with YET)
    Seems to be almost the same parts as the older one
    Pressure lubed engine w/filter (a big plus in my opinion

    CONS:
    BIGGEST gripe - you have to turn the key to have it run AND mow in reverse?!?! (by-passed already!)
    (NOT enough machine to work with YET)

    Troy Built

    PRO:
    Same B&S engine as in the older craftsman ;-)
    "cheaper" to buy blades (H.D./ Lowes/ Ace / Local H.W. store)

    CONS:
    PIA deck to remove

    OTHER :
    Transmission: It has a separate lever for forward and reverse. So, in essence, it has 7 forward gears and 7 reverse gears. The craftsmans' only have
    single reverse gear, and a single lever to select the gearing (6f +1r) I do get confused when I use both the T.B. and the craftsman multiple times during
    the same day

    While none of them have a factory installed hour meter, I installed one on the older one shortly after getting it. I change the oil twice a year, also. 30w in the warmer months, and 10-30 in the winter for the blower. I also added an in-line fuel filter. All 3 have the battery under the seat, and the fuel tank under the hood. The T.B. seems to have a larger tank than the Craftsmans.

    Hope this helps some,
    P.J.
  6. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Would be nice if my tractor had more than just 2 reverse speeds... Slow and slower. Seems to take forever to back down my driveway when blowing snow.
  7. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    I would definetely buy a used deere, simplicity, kobota over a new craftsman in a heart beat.
    Go to the weekendfreedommachines website (deere)for help on specific older deere models. You will get more help than you will ever need.
    If you buy the right model it will out last you.
  8. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2009
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    Loc:
    Western Mass
    my problem is weighing a value buy, best bang for the buck. i dont like to buy something just becuase it is more expensive when a less expensive machine can get the job done. The latest mower on my radar is the husqvarna 2348.
  9. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    The cheapest machine will get the job done (for a while).
  10. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    Western CT
    i am on my second used mower in 8 years - third if you count the one i gave away to my friend. Amazing that people get rid of these machines for next to nothing when all they need is a belt or two and a little TLC.
  11. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    I'll second the idea of buying a used, heavy duty machine. Most of my machinery was used when I got it, and with a little TLC they are fine machines now. That said, I did treat myself to a new Simplicity Conquest 5 years ago. It has 250 hours on it, and runs and feels like new. The engine is rated for 2000 hours, and the rest of the machine is sturdy. I expect this thing will outlast me. There are many Simplicitys still running well that are 20 or 30 years old.

    Good buys can be found, since many times the original owner discovered that he didn't buy enough machine for his needs. That's a common situation. A rule of thumb is to buy at least one level above what you think you'll need. I did, and am glad I did, but would have been better off going up yet another level.
  12. jlove1974

    jlove1974 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2010
    Messages:
    245
    Loc:
    Piedmont of NC
    In 2004, I purchased the newest HD Craps, er Craftsman Lawn "tractor" . I distinctly remember them comparing this tractor, on a feature by feature basis, the the LT John Deere series.
    On paper, they were absolutely HANDS DOWN the best value out there for around two grand. 25HP Kohler with full pressure lube, filters, etc was the big selling point. 25hp, 48" cut, big tires, hydrostatic drive.
    I even got another discount and I think we paid $1800 at the time (a great deal, or so I thought). This was the same machine as the Husqvarna YTH series.
    2 Full oil changes, synthetic of course, and serviced air filter at 50hrs later:

    1. 25HP kohler started blowing oil from the muffler. Came to find out that Kohler had a big problem with blown headgaskets on their CV750 engines. What a POS. Would have been MUCH better off with a briggs. V-twin briggs would have given no problems. I paid MORE for the Kohler and got less quality IMO.
    2. 2 year warranty expired in 2006, therefore I had no recourse. I contacted Kohler and they shipped me the headgaskets and bolts. I repaired the mower, and mowed 1 more season (40 hrs).
    3. Engine started leaking oil again, so I parked it outside and covered it up for the winter. The next spring, I fired it up and it wouldn't move on it's own. It would seem the Hydro transaxle had seized over the winter (in the mild southern US winters we have)

    So never again will I be swayed by not buying a commercial quality outdoor equipment brand. Crapsman is FOREVER crap. Even their new tools are being made in China....

    Now I have a used 2006 Ariens zero turn with a 17HP Briggs single that runs and mows like a dream. I paid $500 for it, and had to replace a deck spindle.
  13. jlove1974

    jlove1974 Member

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    Husqvarna = owned by Electrolux (or was) = AYP = most craftsman riding mowers. My crapsman was the exact same model to the T as a "Husky" YTH2548. They are probably made
    on the same factory floor and painted a different color.

    Husky consumer grade equipment is crap, including their chainsaws up to the XP series.
  14. gregp553

    gregp553 New Member

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    Nov 15, 2009
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    Loc:
    SE Michigan
    Put me down as a happy owner of an 11-year old Craftsman LT1000 with a Kohler 17 hp motor and 42" deck cutting 1.5 acres. Works like a champ and only had to fix a few mounting bolts here and there. The motor just keeps running strong. Would love a high dollar mower but this one works just fine.
  15. jlove1974

    jlove1974 Member

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    Another thing I have noticed on my Craftsqvarna vs the Ariens is the deck design. The Sears deck actually has a LEDGE inside that collects shavings. Otherwise, there is no "vortex" design to aid mulching OR bagging discharge.
    The Ariens however, is easier to clean and the deck is designed to mulch or discharge extremely well depending on the blade used. I am currently using the stock mulching blades but plan on using Gator blades this season.

    Deck design is something that should be foremost on a company that sells as much Outdoor equipment as sears does. If you look at consumer reports, it's something that has NEVER been their strongpoint.
  16. flewism

    flewism Member

    Joined:
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    130
    Loc:
    newport MI
    I have a 2003 cub cadet model 1529 lawn tractor with a 19 hp Kawasaki and it has been nearly flawless in those 8 years. I did have a problem with the starter bendex not kicking out a couple of years ago , but it was an easy fix. I do not tow anything or plow snow with it at all because I don't trust those sealed hydraulic transmissions to do any real work. Its only job is to cut grass.
    I believe this was right before MTD acquired Cub Cadet.
  17. schoondog

    schoondog Feeling the Heat

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    dutchess county, n.y.
    It depends on what you want to do with it. If your yard is flat and you are not going to haul around wagons, snowblowers, plows, or leaf mulchers a craftsman yt (yard tractor) could be your best buy. If you are planning to do almost anything else other than mow than a GT (garden tractor) will be a better bet. I was looking for a new mower last year due to the fact we can no longer burn leaves in NY and I bought a Cyclone Rake (great machine) to make leaf removal on my treed, hilly 2.7ac. easier. I have a 48" ransome comercial walk behind that does an awesome job of mowing, but won't do a thing with the Cyclone Rake. After checking out several models and store I bought a Husqvarna GT2648. I went to a profesional outdoor equipment dealer and they showed me the difference between a garden tractor and a yard tractor. Heavier transmission, bigger wheels and better tires and a welded deck that has much better bearings and spins the blades much faster than the stamped deck you will find at sears. (craftsman or husqvarnas sold at sears) Spent a few, well several hundred, more than I would have spent at sears or Lowes but less than the GT Deere sells. Due to my acerage,hills and equipment load I felt I had to go to the bigger machine. I guess time will tell if I made the right choice, but last fall things went great. Good luck with your choice.

    Schoondog
  18. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    Well, Ok, but my current mower is a 12 yr old Craftsman that purrs like a kitten and pulls a full load of wood up my steep driveway. Everyone has opinions based on very limited and isolated experiences.
  19. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Nobody makes crap anymore. I would expect a 3000$ mower to last longer than my 1000$ mower but not three tmies as long and when new, you would be hard pressed to tell which mower had mowed the lawn. The crapsman cuts a lawn very nicely.
  20. Hiram Maxim

    Hiram Maxim Minister of Fire

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    I have been using a 60" Exmark Commercial mower for the close to 3 acres that I mow.

    It will last me a lifetime as I put around 50 hrs per yer on the mower with grass and leaf clean-ups. Not to mention Your time.

    I have found after having various tractors/Mowers like White, Troybilt,Toro over the years that nothing even comes close to a commercial machine.

    Many of my friends have purchased commercial machines used and they hold up and are easy to work on.

    Just food for thought.

    http://www.exmark.com
  21. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    I bought a '68 Cub Cadet 125 last year. 12 hp Kohler, hydro, 42" 3 blade deck, 36" snow thrower, and 42" front blade. It runs like a top and is absolutely simple to maintain. It started with no trouble in single digit temps to plow or blow snow and will pull a cart heaped with firewood effortlessly. The mower doesn't give that nice a cut, but will knock down small brush without skipping a beat. The snow thrower will put snow on the roof of my house! This was a top of the line machine 43 years ago and porbably cost what a small cheap car would have back then. It is living proof that you do get what you pay for.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
  22. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    +1 you do get what ya pay for. nice machine steve. that's in nice shape for it's age.
  23. 94ranger55

    94ranger55 Member

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    Loc:
    New Hampshire SeaCoast
    I have a old 1978 simplicity that I loved to death ...until the engine literally blew apart one day ...very simple to run and built prof...the cut quality was amazing, also you can use ground engaging equipment too !( i still have it just need a doner engine )My new machine is 15.5 hp koler engine early 2000s craftsman,42 inch deck . The craftsman doesn't have the balls or the build quality as the simplicity but starts every time and mows relativity well and can tow a full load of firewood no problem .So if you can find some old iron GET IT...if not go for craftsman.
  24. jlove1974

    jlove1974 Member

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    now you are just talking crazy ;)

    Another thing to consider is the air filter (high up on the list for an outdoor machine). Those little dinky filters on consumer grade machines are barely serviceable.
    Then look at the Kawasaki engine on an exmark, everride, scag, etc. It's rated for service every 100hrs
  25. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Who cares about the air filter? Have you ever actually had a small engine failure because of an insufficient air filter? The engine is probably the best component of these economy mowers and most folks don't even change the oil. Near the bottom of the list for an outdoor machine is the air filter, right down there next to number of cupholders.

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