Need help finding the right yard/garden tractor

mech0001February 7, 2013

Long time lurker, newbie poster. Lots of great info here!

Well, it's time to buy a new(er) mower. Price point $2k - $4k. I have about 1.5 acres which is quite hilly. I need a mower that will be used primarily for mulching and want it to look nice when I'm done. I prefer hydro and am prepared to utilize fluid filled ag bar tires for improved traction. My current machine is a Simplicity 3314H with (I think) a 48" grass masher deck. It's not very dependable but ok for backup/entertainment (I'm a mechanic) purposes.

I've looked over a lot of the current offerings but it's not clear how to compare a Vickers hydro to the current offering of Tuff Torq equipment. Probably tougher than a K46 but equivalent to a K57, K72? Also watching craigslist but seems that people are wanting a lot of money for their used GTs, most 10 - 20 years old.

I'm fine with buying "one step above what you need" but not sure where that is. I'm looking for suggestions on good mulching mowers (am I right in assuming that a 46" deck is going to be a better choice that the 50" - 52"?) that will be durable.

From what I've looked at the x300 series seem to be a little underpowered for mulching at 18hp. The Snapper NXT seems to have a lighter guage frame (12 guage) than seems necessary. The B&S line (Snapper, Craftsman CTX)sounds promising and the Cub Cadet's might be a possibility as they are also available in my area.

Open to any and all suggestions.

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Maybe expand your options to used commercial equipment. New units you may need to push the envelope in pricing a bit to actually replace what you had. The larger X series tractors have at least a hydro that you can service. I would not make an automatic assumption that a 46" will mulch better than a larger one. Mulching is great, but can bring quality of cut issues and clipping dispersion issues along with. Take your time and research well.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 8:17PM
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Tufftorq publishes their specs on their website - if you can get similar specs for Vickers, etc., then you should be able to make a better comparison.

John Deere used to publish info about their transmissions before they updated their website (price of progress, I guess). Their x320/324 has a better tranny than their x300/304, if you're looking at those tractors.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 8:51AM
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Not real hopeful on getting any specs on the hydro.

I'll look at the x320 specs. Really like a used 425 for under $3000, tho.

Any suggestions on good mulchers?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 9:04AM
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That 425 sounds real nice. I think the best approach is to start checking out what dealers close to you have in the back row. be it a tractor complete or even extra decks. Get their opinions. Look on the Craigslist/ EBAY , estate sales etc. The older 400 series were built like tanks, but lots of them had no mulching. Service decks are available new- but pricey once you add it to a machine you just had to buy too. Maybe a Toro XI with a 52" recycler.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 12:11AM
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I have had an x320 for 5 years and the only regret I have is I didn't go up to the all wheel steering. I mow 3 ac of orchard and have to back up for about 1/4 of the 300 fruit trees.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 1:41PM
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Ooh, that's a lot of backing. I only have 7 fruit trees so not so much of an issue. Do you mulch/climb hills with it? Any info on how it does with those tasks?

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 1:28AM
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No real hills and I don't mulch. I often wait to long to mow so I have to slow down sometimes to get a good cut. It is still more relaxing than my big deere with a 6' flail.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 7:06PM
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The diesels are much more fuel efficient. If you shop around you can find red diesel a little cheaper - no raod use tax.
You can find a an older 300 or 400 series John Deere or Kubota and have something that will last years.
My 1980 John Deere 400 has been cutting 3 1/2 acres plus , ever since and is still going strong. I would like to sell or trade it and end up with a similar tractor in a diesel

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:10AM
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