Sears - not making this up

jfm_nbptApril 7, 2008

I am interested in purchasing the new Craftsman Professional 24 h.p. yard tractor, model 28870. Trying to confirm whether the transmission is K46 or something more substantial (hopefully).

1. Sears Parts Direct on-line does not recognize their own model number so I call Service.

2. Service says they cannot answer the question and transfers me to Parts.

3. Parts says they can't answer the question so they transfer me back to Service.

4. Service says I need to speak with Parts, and then disconnect me during the transfer.

5. I call back (to Service, and then get transferred to Parts). Here is the dialogue:

Sears: "That model number isn't recognized in our system."

me: "It is your model number from your website."

Sears: "We need the model number off of the tractor."

me: "I haven't purchased it yet, which is why I am calling."

Sears: "You need to speak with Service...."

I guarantee that Sears will miss their revenue number this quarter, and they will surely hide behind news of a national recession rather than their very own incompetence. I can only imagine what it must be like to actually try to get a tractor repaired.

Does anyone know how to determine the transmission model for these new "Professional" tractors?

I may just go to the local Husqvarna dealer & pay approx. $500 more for a similar tractor, but at least I'll have someone local who I can look straight in the eye and get some service for my hard earned dollars!

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I know what you are saying. I'm not so sure you will get all your answers from a dealer either. Most dealers I know of are just about like Sears was in your case.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 4:27PM
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Try the complete model number 917.28870, the first 3 digits represent the manufacturer. The sears numbering system has been like this for years. The name plate on the tractor will have the complete number as well as the operators manual that comes with the tractor. If you search on this model number leave out the dot between 7 and 2 (the number will appear as 91728870)
BTW, the Transaxle in this tractor is K46BT. I do not have a bone to pick with sears or a dealer or any other brand. But this is a very common transaxle for LT's (not GT's) of any brand.
Oh one other thing, sometimes sears adds a digit (0,1,2,etc.) to the end of the model number to represent a (on the fly) revision. It will also appear on the tag or manual.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 5:43PM
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Thank you. It is unfortunate that one of the five Sears employees I spoke with did not know this.

From reading this forum, the K46 seems to be the 'standard' transaxle for the sub $2000 lawn tractors. I was hoping that Sears' "Craftsman Professional" designation, and their use of "Deluxe" and "Yard Tractor", and the fact this model is listed under "Garden Tractors" rather than Lawn Tractors, might indicate a beefier transaxle. I guess not.

Besides my back yard which is a reasonable size (less than half acre, flat and square), I need to mow along my private gravel road which heads down to my boat dock, which is roughly 13% grade (approx. 80' elevation / 600' length). Probably four passes with a 42" deck. My thinking is to ride up the road and mow down in order to keep the tranny a bit cooler, but for piece of mind I would prefer a tractor with a stronger transaxle. Any suggestions? I am leaning towards the Husky 2246LS which is sold exclusively through their dealer network, since a dealer resides a couple of miles from my home.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 7:52PM
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Here's a list of Craftsman tractors that are rated for "Ground Engaging" work. These should all have Tuff-Torq K62/K66 or Hydrogear 3000 series hydros that are a few steps up from the lawn tractor class K46.

28746 (Currently $2499)
28848 (Currently $2499)
28860 (Currently $2599)
28846 (Currently $3249)
28874 (Currently $3499)

While it's always nice to get a beefier tranny, I think the K46 would handle your needs well enough.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 9:25PM
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New tractor, There not going to know all the spec's right off the bat, there in the parts business. With the pressure of daily business they probably get 1000 questions. They don't make them, they don't put them togather, and they don't design the spec's for the tractors. They are there to lookup and get parts for you. For the specfic information you need to visit the store and hopefully a knowledgeable sales person will be on hand to answer your question and not some moonlighter looking for quick sales and commissions.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 10:15PM
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Similar to my experience. When shopping recently I asked the Sears guy which models used Hydro-gear transaxles. He was quick to point out that most of his tractors use hydrostatic transaxles, not Hydro-gear. Dumbfounded, I left without buying anything.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 10:39PM
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Swimjim, he was absolutely right! Most of his tractors have hydrostatic transmissions, and they are not Hyro-gear. Since early in the 07 season, Husqvarna/Craftsman have used Tuff-Torq exclusively. There was a period last year when you could find the same model tractor with either the Hydro-Gear or the Tuff-Torq tranny, often sitting side by side in the same store, but the newer tractors all have TT trannies. K66 in the GTs and K46 in everything else.

To the original poster, the Husqvarna will also have a K46 unless it is a GLS series which will have the K66. The only Husqvarna that I am not sure of is the new 2346XLS with the Vanguard engine and the locking differential.It may have a K57, I just don't know. It could also be another K46, as Tuff-Torq lists a locking diff as an option on either tranny.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 11:22PM
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This guy did not know what he was talking about. His brow furrowed when I further explained Hydro-gear is a brand of hydrostatic transaxle as is Tuff Torq. Of course he was right saying most of his tractors are hydrostatic but that wasn't the point of my post at all. Eh, dumbfounded I'll just walk away from this discussion.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 11:46PM
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I think he was saying the Sears guy didn't know what hydrogear was and was thinking he was correcting him by telling him they were hydro"static" not hydro"gear".

That aside, my Craftsman has run great and I'm glad I didn't get roped into spending more than I needed to. As with any big retail store it's hit or miss on who you draw as a sales clerk.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 12:07AM
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Once you get as far as a showroom full of can kneel down and look. There are several stickers on the hydros, one always seems to have the manufacturer and the model number on it. A flashlight helps as does an old pair of pants.

All things being Equal, you see a lot of disdain for this rather commonly used Hydro unit. I've never seen a recall. The problem most have here is that the unit is not easily serviceable (nor intended to be). It is what it is.

If you can "hear" the Hydro unit over the engine when its running at full throttle, it is possible that you are taxing it unnecessarily. Keep dirt and debris of the unit and avoid damaging the plastic cooling fan and IMHO...I think they usually last quite well.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 5:13AM
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jfm nbpt,
Your belief and statement that the Tuff-Torq K46 transaxle is the standard for sub $2,000 LT is a little off mark, it is the standard for "all LT's" including the select series Deere, some LT's use the 1500 series Hydrogear which is the direct competition to the Tuff-Torq K46.
An interesting note is Tuff-Torq is owned by Kanzai (a Japanese owned Company - Hydrogear is American owned Company.
Of course there are other companys that supply transaxles but the 2 biggest players are the ones I mentioned.
As far as part availability from Sears compared to John Deere I have personally had good luck dealing with both.
I was alittle disappointed with John Deere this year in charging me for the shipping of parts from the warehouse to the dealer, never use to, but that's the rest of the story.
From your discription of tractor use, either the K46 or 1500 series will work for your application. But I personally buy extra HP, you may want to buy extra transaxle, I guess its a personal choice we have that makes us feel good.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 6:34AM
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Thanks for all the info. This board is pretty much the only (electronic) place to go for real information regarding these devices, which is remarkable given the price point. Shop for a $1000 set of speakers and you can pretty much learn about the forest where they obtained the wood for the cabinets; shop for a $3000 mower and you can't even discern the designations lawn vs. yard vs. garden.

Sears definitely has the largest selection & best prices, and I've always had good luck purchasing parts through them. As a business they are suffering tremendously right now (as evidenced by my experience outlined above) so if I decide to go that route I'll just need to keep my service expectations in check.

I was impressed with the LS Series at my local Husky dealer. Larger wheels, beefier deck w/welded tubing around the edge, 4 gauge wheels plus nose roller, wash port, pressurized V-twin. If -- as people have commented -- the K46 won't have too much problem with my hill then this will likely be what I buy.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 8:25AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

steve2ski - any idea what tranny is in the 2005 GT5000 24/48?? Never have known.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 10:26AM
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An easy way to know what Transaxle is being used is get down low to the ground and look. It will be clearly marked.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 10:33AM
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to Swimjim if your still out there. I understood completely the point you were trying to make, I just thought it was funny that the guy didn't have a clue, but he right about what he said.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 3:00PM
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Go to a Chevy dealership (any other make for that matter) and ask the sales guy/gal who manufactures the tranny on any given vehicle. I bet you will get the same blank stare.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 3:37PM
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I never asked or was concerned with the name of the manufacturer of the transmission. Rather, I was trying to understand the duty-cycle of the transmission in the particular tractor I was interested in.

Unlike most cars, the grade of the transaxle is one of the few meaningful differentiating factors among similarly priced models and brands of lawn tractors. "Craftsman PROFESSSIONAL GARDEN Tractor" would imply a heavier duty transaxle, similar to their Monster or GT series, but further investigation proved not. Glad I asked.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 6:10PM
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As far as I know, there are only 2 makers of tractors with a hydro transmission better than a K46 for less than $4000. That's the Craftman/Husqvarna GT/GLS series with a K66, and the Cub Cadet GT25** series. OK, I know the X320 has a K58 but it lists at $3999. The Simplicity Broadmoors have K57s in them but they start at $4120.

The easiest approach may be to buy what you want, run it until it quits and then replace the tranny with something better.

I have an X304, I intend to run it as long as possible, then find a K62 tranny to replace it. I know the 4 wheel steer complicates things, but I still think you can get the K62 from a LX277AWS and make it fit.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 6:36PM
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Post the model number of that GT5000 - I may be able to help you.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 6:39PM
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"Unlike most cars, the grade of the transaxle is one of the few meaningful differentiating factors among similarly priced models and brands of lawn tractors. "Craftsman PROFESSSIONAL GARDEN Tractor" would imply a heavier duty transaxle, similar to their Monster or GT series,"

Actually the Monster series also has a K46 tranny too. To repeat, all lawn tractors that Husqvarna/Craftsmen make have K46s, only the GT/GLS series has the K66. The only possible exeption is the new 2346XLS, I am not sure what is in that tractor.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 6:49PM
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jerryo(z4 in SE MN)

The sears GT5000 had a hydrogear -3000 with the lever on the fender.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 6:58PM
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I do like the "run it 'til it quits" concept. If I paid someone to mow, it would be $100 minimum (Boston MA prices)per visit. 16 week season, plus the extra services they'd sell me, and I am looking at $2K easy.

I can buy a tractor, run it for two seasons and sell it on craiglist (giving it the first wash & oil change right before the sale) and be way ahead of the game. I can even use the old "always properly maintained, love the tractor, but we're moving" line!

Seriously, I think the K46 will be fine, whatever the exterior paint color I choose.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 7:36PM
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For those of us that need a gear drive tractor the Craftsman 6500 series offers the Peerless 820 6 speed which puts out 450 ft/lbs of torque more that the TT K71. An example of how ignorant dealers can also be-I picked up a cub cadet 2165 about a year ago and called the local cub cadet dealer and asked what transaxle was in it. They were unable to tell me.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 8:06PM
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bill7(NW MN)

For what it is worth:
When I was shopping for a tractor last year, someone on this forum told me to look under the seat on the Sears, and I would find the tranny info. They were correct. Not sure if this still applies, though. The sales kid at the time did not know this.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 8:25PM
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The few of you guys who are OBSESSED with which tranny is in what model seem like geeks who know all the stats but cant play the sports to save your hides.

I am not talking about a guy like the OP who just wants to know to try to compare things accurately.

Maintenance, and repair costs are influenced more by prudent operation and proactive maintenance than what tranny is in what LAWN TRACTOR. If you need to work it more than a little bit, get a GT not an LT.

Or go slow and be careful and even a POJ like my 86 LT 12/38 will do just fine.

The clerks are tought to steer ground engagers to GTs, as they should be. Would it be better if they could rap with you all about what tranny is in what model? OF COURSE!! Did all you all know even more than what they taught you about the stuff for your first job?

I have stood inside the lawn and garden dept at Sears 1438 for several hours several times over the last couple of decades, and while an occasional commnet is so glaring in its inaccuracy I MUST intervene, most of the clerks (all the careerists)get almost all of what they say RIGHT.

Just MHO but the smug tone a few here use to describe these clerks shows the critics to be impertinent prissy, nitpicky, condescending snobs.

Retail may induce vacuum, and Sears may induce bigger vacuum, but no need to Lord it over retail clerks! If they are not lowly, the criticism is unjustified. If the clerk is lowly, what does it prove to get off criticizinf them. Save that smack for private chats with your homeboys you hosers.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 10:58PM
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