Garden tractor purchasing advice.

dooley(Alberta,Canada)September 4, 2010

Currently running an older MTD 18HP 42" deck c/w tiller attachment.

This damn thing (the tiller) is handy but a real sob to put on/take off and our mowing area is about to double. Two paddocks where we once kept horses are coming up to weeds/grass etc. and we want to keep these mowed just to keep the place tidy and it doesn't look deserted.

Intention is to keep the MTD strictly as a tiller and purchase something to handle the mowing , picking up/mulching leaves and possibly snow removal.

I've read conflicting advice in these forums but the general consensus seems to be Craftsman are great little units while JD seem to be over priced and in general not up to snuff. Does this still hold true (about Craftsman).

I've looked around and am thinking of settling on a Craftsman 27 HP (this one : About $1,500 cheaper than a comparable JD.

Total mowing area will be then about 3 acres of wild ex-horse pasture. A little rough and ant hills crop up every once in a while but so far our little 18 HP MTD has handled the job.

Does this seem like a reasonable buy for what we want??

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From my experience in the lawn and garden forums, and from seeing and sometimes using, most of those light duty tractors, and repairing same, might i suggest buying a heavier duty machine and its attachments. That would possibly save you some money in the long run!
What you are suggesting is "sending a boy out to do a man's job"! Read the messages in this forum and others, to gain some insight into what would be best for your application. And also look at the various attachments available for that equipment.
Buying a Craftsman, or one of the other light duty machines will only end up in frustration on your part! Yes, a lot of folks do use Craftsman and others, and they are good for lawn mowing, plowing out a 40' foot driveway, and they will handle a snow-blower, but for anything else--well--like i said above-----HTH: Rusty Jones, The Mower Man

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 10:19AM
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With respect to the Craftsman owners you get what you pay for... no more and often less. There are many areas on Craftsman tractors that are cheaped down to make them apprealing to buyers and it isn't till after a while the owner sees what they got.

Engines that are stripped down to meet a price point with no pre-filter and inertia starters instead of Bendix drive. The worst steering gear ever put on a L&G tractor and non-adjustable steering links.

There's a new Sears GT built by Simplicity that's for real and over $5k but why buy a Simplicity from Sears?

Keep the MTD for tilling and shop for a tractor to do everything else you need. When you decide on the perfect GT buy the next one up the line and grin for a long time.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 11:24AM
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I'd be looking at Ingersoll or Kubota in that price range, both quality machines where I think you really do get what you pay for.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 7:02PM
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Dooley - About the Crafstman reputation: For some years Craftsman lawn tractors have been manufactured by Roper/AYP/Electrolux/Husqvarna (all the same company, just changed hands a number of times.) Most of the Craftsman reputation is based on machines from this manufacturer. However, starting with 2010 models, MTD now manufactures SOME Craftsman lawn tractors. You can tell who made it by lifting the seat and looking at the three-digit number that precedes the serial number: 247 identifies MTD, and 917 marks the Husqvarna products. For the past 3 years, I have used a Husqvarna lawn tractor to take care of three acres (formerly horse pasture, except for the lawn areas) and it has been reliable and met my needs. True, it's no Kubota, but it's a solid machine that sells for just over $2,000. My FIL has a 4-year-old Sears garden tractor that he mows a 12-acre cemetery with, in addition to a 2-acre church yard, and his own lawn; he also uses a Sears front mounted bucket on it. Over 500 hours, with only routine maintenance, replaced blades and belts. Good service.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 11:00PM
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Reading.... txs

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 11:41PM
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The solid reputation that Sears/Craftsman riding mowers and garden tractors proudly proclaim was earned by a company that pioneered customer service, quick parts availability, and prompt service at a modest price. Those days are gone and now Sears sells garden tractors with frames that bend and crack and service (whether warranty or pay) that takes weeks to arrive and then orders parts for a repair that will happen in a few more weeks when the parts arrive,

Sadly, and not singling out Sears, the market has eliminated lots of the competitors in the GT market and we're left with Sears (AYP/Husqvarna/MTD), Cub Cadet (MTD), Simplicity, and JD with Kubota a minor player at a premium price. With less competition we have less choice and with the economy being the way it is, the most bang for the buck is more important than ever to most of us.

With a Sears GT it's really a matter of how much less one is willing to accept for a lower price but... the bitterness of poor (or less) quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is gone

If you're looking for a riding mower then consider a Sears but if you're looking for a GT that you'll buy once and have for a long time and be able to get parts for 20 years or so, if it needs them, look at a JD X5xx... I hate to say that because JD corporate and JD dealers can be jerks (but some dealers are great) but they make the best product and they know it.

Get the right tool for the job. A hammer can drive a nail just fine... professional roofers use nail guns... roof after roof after roof after roof after roof

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 12:46PM
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Justalurker, If only I could put it in those words, well done.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 8:03PM
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Well I'm going to chime in on the OP's statement that John Deere's are overpriced and not up to snuff. How not true!! Now if you listen to those who purchased an LA series at a box store and expected it to do the work of a true garden tractor then maybe you are right. The LA series is built to mow flat ground only - nothing more. No plows, no snowblowers and the like!

I have an JD X540 that can handle anything my property can throw at it - hills, former horse land, 1,100 foot drive to move snow from, towing and hauling. It's a true garden tractor made to do the heavy work. And yes I paid a pretty penny (over $6,500.00) but you do get what you pay for. Plus I have an excellent dealer. I have no regrets especially after having A Simplicity Conquest (supposedly very good) blow the tranny at 96 hours!!!!!!

Getting anything less than a true garden tractor and you will be sorry and have a big case of buyer's remorse. Sears garden tractors can not hold a candle to John Deere, Kubota and some others. Their power tools like circular saws, routers and the like are great and I have workshop full of them, many over 25 years old. But not their tractors.

Spend the money wisely. Look for a good used garden tractor if you don't want to spend over $6,000.00 for a new one. And buy more than you think you need.

Enjoy the journey.
eal51 in western CT

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 8:16PM
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My decision:
Our little MTD handles almost everything I've thrown at it so far..grass , young Willow clumps , wild rose bushes , even ant hills. Only seems to struggle when I get into really heavy Quack grass but if I go slowly , mows it down.

The primary reason for looking for a new mower is because I'm retired and the thought of hoisting that damn tiller onto the tractor twice a year is discouraging. Intent was to put it on and leave it on. It's really handy.

After reading reviews of Craftsman (the newest ones) , the models in our price range seem to have a few problems I'm not about to try and rectify such as the transmission tearing off , frame breaking etc. on rough terrain , which we have. They probably work great on acreages with manicured lawns but I'm talking mowing an ex horse pasture and walking trails through the bush.

Since we have until next spring to find something (unless I can find an easier way to mount the tiller rather than trying to hoist it on manually) I've decided to keep a look out for a decent used brand name GT from a local dealership , which limits my choices to JD and Kubota.

We only plan on being out here maybe another 5 years or so (depending on our health) so longevity of a new tractor isn't really a consideration though resale value might be.

But thanks for all the input.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2010 at 10:29AM
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Ant hills? Dooley you got fire ants up there? We got fire ant hills here that will clog a brush hog!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2010 at 9:30AM
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