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Lawn tractor Horse-power!

Posted by rustyj14 W/PA (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 13, 07 at 16:17

I was given a Simplicity lawn tractor, a Broadmoor 14 h.p. model. It has the extra blower on the side and a grass catcher in back The engine was blown, so i had a 12 h.p. briggs here which i installed. I can not see any appreciable difference in operation, even with 2 less h.p.!
I had driven the machine once when my neighbor owned it. And later, it came to me when the engine went BANG!
It still mows and fills the grass bagger, and it makes me wonder about all the palaver about Horse-power. I realise 2 hp isn't a big difference.
I was at Home Despot one day about a month ago. They had all of their different makes and models sitting out front with the prices clearly marked, as well as the discounts. I couldn't see much difference in the models, except the higher priced one had 2 more h.p.! Otherwise they all looked the same!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

What makes it even more confusing is that manufacturers are permitted to underrate horsepower. A 12 hp engine from one manufacturer may have the same actual hp as a 14 hp engine from another.

-Deerslayer


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

  • Posted by mith South England (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 13, 07 at 17:38

2 reasons I see to add HP, to make tractors sell, and to make up for poor design.
As you have found, you dont need alot of HP to cut grass!


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

Tractors & HP, back in old days when deere had the 210, 212, 214 & 216 the difference between those models was 2 HP and the price.
Going back farther the 140, 160, 170 & 180 models same-o same-o, except 1 HP difference between top 3.
So what's changed other than the way SAE says the HP is to be checked - that standard has changed a couple of times over past 20 years.


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

You can still buy cast iron 12 hp Kohler engines that have the same bore, stroke, and carb as the ones built over 20 years ago.

-Deerslayer


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

People understand HP. You rate your car in it, your truck in it.

What people don't understand are transmission.
What people NEED to know for lawn/garden mowers is transmission.

I got one brand 20.5hp machine.
Ran great, until the trans blew.

Now my new (to me) 17hp does everything my 20.5hp machine did, except it doesn't; whine with a cart of dirt behind it, or a full grass sweeper, or hauling my roller up the lawn incline.


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

You now understand what many people have found out over the years. Horsepower ratings have little to do with what a garden tractor--or lawn tractor--can do. My Wheelhorse has "only" 15 horsepower-- but can do a huge amount of work. That is precisely why I paid the extra money to acquire it. The extra $ bought an extremely robust frame and gear transmission that allows the "paltry" 15 horsepower to go to work.

Enjoy the ride.

WHEELHORSE!!


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

I also have an MTD lawn tractor, a Poulan lawn tractor, 2 Snapper Hi-vac RERs, of various HP, and they all cut grass!
So, why the big deal about buying a $4000 lawn tractor? Are people just trying to impress us others? Or, have they been coerced into spending much moola for something that might be just as good as a Craftsman, or my Poulan (which is, basically, a Craftsman in sheeps clothing!)
I do the maintenance on my neighbor's lawn tractor, which ain't a Craftsman, but it is very similar under the tin cowlings. And, it mows grass very well!


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

Seems to me that HP is a factor more in mowing than in doing work that makes use of the transmission gearing. The mowing deck drive on most lawn and garden tractors comes directly off the engine PTO and does not go through the transmission. It might on some models, I know it does on my little Gravely convertible, or at least it seems to, but it doesn't on my GT225.

Now you could get the GT 225 with up to a 48" mowing deck but not with a 54" deck. For that deck you had to step up to the GT235 which had 3 more HP than the 225. Yet all the other attachments that worked on one would work on the other. I conclude the John deere engineers thought the 15 HP 225 would not handle the 54" deck very well.

So I can see that if you are mowing a big lush yard with a thick stand of grass, and you wanted a 60" deck, and you wanted to motor right along doing it, more than 15 HP might be needed.


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To get a 60" deck in the Wheel Horse line, you had to step up to a 520 which had a twin cylinder 20hp Onan engine.

Another reason more hp is needed in today's tractors is that the average deck size has grown larger. 42" is a small deck by today's standards.

-Deerslayer


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

  • Posted by mith South England (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 14, 07 at 6:12

I have a 10HP engine running a 56" mower that is used to cut tall weeds. No power problems.


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

For some of us there is also ground speed which you need both HP and good transmission to achieve. I like buzzing over this lawn pretty fast since it has over 300 foot straight aways. I would like to get a ZTR with even more giddy-up one day. Given the option of size vs. speed, I would rather go faster with a 42" deck than slower with a 60" deck. A large machine would take out a garage space in my situation and I prefer two blade decks better than three since I sharpen my own blades.
As far as trannys, I hate the whine of the transaxle when hauling things. The Hydrogear I have has sounded like it is on its last leg since it was new. It has served up a lot of whine before its time which I kind of hope, is not too far off.


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

Mith,

"I have a 10HP engine running a 56" mower that is used to cut tall weeds. No power problems."

Is that a diesel?

Cheers

JDFANATIC


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My 1995 Toro Wheel Horse has 12.5 HP and a 5-speed gear transmission and 38" deck. I haven't found anything yet that it isn't up to. I don't use a grass catcher, as I have my deck set up for mulching, but towing a plug aerator with two concrete blocks on it up and down our hill is no problem. I probably don't put enough demand on this tractor to test its limits.

John


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

  • Posted by mith South England (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 14, 07 at 11:42

JD, its a Briggs cast iron I/C, petrol.


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"I haven't found anything yet that it isn't up to."

Then you aren't trying hard enough : )


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Sorry for the blatent analogy, but computers follow the same exact model. Is there a big difference between a 2.6 GHz and a 2.8 GHz machine? Not really, but you'll pay more. Like tractors, it is the balance and quality of the whole product. The weakest link determines its usefulness. Try using a fast computer with a lousy graphics card or hard disk.

Like a previous poster said, HP (horse power) like GHz can make up some for bad design (tractors or software). And marketing milks the living crap out of the difference. How many times have we seen the words

"unleash the power of your system" pull-eze... It should be more "unfold your wallet"...

-gh


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

"I have a 10HP engine running a 56" mower that is used to cut tall weeds."

Mith, I've seen pictures of your tow behind mower. BTW, nice job! However, your tow behind mower has a dedicated 10hp engine...correct? We're talking about tractor engines that run mower decks.

-Deerslayer


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

  • Posted by mith South England (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 14, 07 at 13:48

The HP needed for drive wont be much more than say 4HP. It gets used for much tougher stuff than cutting a lawn too :-D
Not apples to apples, but I'm sure it shows that you dont need 20HP for a 60" deck to cut the lawn.


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Another variable is ground speed. You could probably power a 60" deck with a 3hp engine if your ground speed is a slow creep.

BTW, the desire for faster ground speeds is another reason for higher hp in today's engines.

-Deerslayer


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One more variable is the hydro. Low end hydros are very inefficient. This is why there is very little hp difference between small low end tractors and large high end tractors. The high end tractors have much more efficient hydros and therefore have significantly more usable hp.

-Deerslayer


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"...People understand HP..."

Nope... actually most people don't understand HP at all.
All they understand is that a higher number is better than a lower number. It could be HP, or it could be the intake throttle plate diameter. 99% of the people have no clue.

HP rating of motors is the "maximum work" that the engine can perform, typically at a specific RPM.

If your lawn mower tranny and deck only consumes 8HP when mowing your lawn, simply because of the speed you travel at, and the size of the mowing deck... then you will not notice any difference between a 12HP and a 14HP engine. Why?.... because you are not asking your motor to work at 100%.

It's similar to comparing cars, by the absolute maximum speed they can attain on the highway. My vette can do 186MPH, meanwhile my neighbour's k-car can do 90. If the speed limit is 55, both cars can easily cruise at that speed, and therefore a typical driver would think that there is no difference between them.

Again, another comparison is using a pentium-2 computer, or a multiprocessor super-computer, when doing 2+2=4 arithmetic. NO difference in performance.

Don't confuse "capacity" with "demand". 2 different concepts.


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  • Posted by cjsm 5 NYS (My Page) on
    Fri, Sep 14, 07 at 20:54

If I recall from speaking with my JD dealer a few years ago, the actual horse power used from a small lawn tractor to power a 42" deck is only about 1 or 2 HP (normal conditions of course). So, do the math. It cant be much more HP needed to power the larger decks.


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I have agree that two hp isn't much and I mow each week with a 16hp Kohler K motor, it handles the 48"mmm great but it didn't handle the brush hog very well that my 18hp Onan twin does fine with. More torque difference than hp difference between the two motors I'd imagine. The hp on lawn tractors is for bragging rights more than any thing else, guess they do have larger decks but the trannys and frames limit what you can do with one or what attachments it'll handle. On the older MF garden tractors there were several different hp tractors biult on the same frame,same tranny, and used the same mower.


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* Posted by wally2q L40, Ontario (My Page) on
Fri, Sep 14, 07 at 20:51

"...People understand HP..."

Nope... actually most people don't understand HP at all.
------------------------

Your response shows you are educated about the subject.
Most people are not. Whether it is perception or reality, people understand the comparison of HP. More HP = stronger and/or faster. Larger numbers are better (again, from their perspective).

Tell someone that the JD LX277 has a K62 transaxle compared to a [insert model number here] on Craftsman [insert model here] and they have no way to compare the two.

Efficiencies, gear ratios, etc.... are not part of the average buyers lexicon when they are looking through the classifieds or visiting a box store (where most lawn mowers are sold) while trying to decide on the tractor to buy.



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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

I don't have any hard evidence but I can't help but think that manufacturers have increased horsepower for more than bragging rights or marketing. My theory is that building a tractor with a larger engine is less expensive than building one with a smaller engine with a more efficient hydro and mower deck. 42" mower decks were 3 bladed in the past. Now they are 2 bladed. A 2 bladed deck costs less to manufacture because it requires one less pulley, spindle, and blade. However, they require more hp when mowing. Overall, it's cheaper to pay for the additional hp.

The same thing can be said about an inefficient hydro. It would cost more to use a more efficient hydro than the cost of a few more hp.

I've been around "bean counters" my entire career. That's how they think. Their focus is minimizing total cost while meeting overall requirements.

-Deerslayer


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

I'm going to have to rely on memory here, but I think there is a place/way where a HP power rating can be very misleading to a consumer. I worked in construction, and if construction people are anything they are tool users. I learned there is a big difference between a tool rated for commercial use and a tool rated for home-owner use, though the HP rating alone could make them look about the same. But one tool could be made for maxium performance use, say 80% of the time, and the other for 40% of the time. That's why you see those little notes on some power tools "Not for commercial use", or " warranty does not apply for commercial use", or words to that effect. So you have on the low end a very cheaply built 3HP tool, and on the high end a very heavy duty 3HP tool. Then you have all the 3HP tools in between these two extremes, sort of like on a ladder, with each one making steps towards the quality of the commercial tool while never quite getting there, but the closer you get the more it will cost.

I think it was John Ruskin who said (and I can't quote exactly) You cannot get more than what you pay for. The laws of economics will not permit it".

That's why I think the term "more bang for the buck" (when buying new), cannot be a realistic statement. You can of course, from time to time, find a real good deal, but most of the time you get what you pay for because the maker cannot afford to give you more then what you pay for. They can, however, make you believe they are doing that, but the fine print tells you they are not.

The trouble is most people cannot see why this tool should cost twice as much as that one, and the people who make the cheaper tools know that all too well.


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

The problem I have with the marketing theory is that the relatively high hp is found only in the lower end tractors. The more capable tractors that have more efficient components have nearly the same hp as the low end units.

For example, the JD X700 has a 23 hp gas engine and lists for $9,899 (62" deck). It has a hydro and can power a 62" mower deck. I think 23 hp is reasonable for a tractor in this price class.

On the other hand, the JD LA130 has a 23 hp gas engine and lists for $2,299. It also has a hydro and can power a 48" mower deck.

If higher hp was just marketing, why is hp inflation only found at the low end where the profit is much less? If the reason is simply marketing, wouldn't it make sense to spend a few extra dollars and put a 30 hp engine in the X700?

-Deerslayer


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  • Posted by colm 6PA (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 20, 07 at 0:17

my 1968 Sears suburban has a 12HP Tecumseh, solid state ignition. cast iron engine with ball bearings and a solid frame and axles with wheels running on ball bearings; the same for my 1976 JDeere model 210, 10HP Kohler, cast iron ball bearing engine and ball bearings on wheels both have 42", 3 blade decks and both are used with push blade, snowblower, brinley plow, tiller and other garden tractor attachments. HP is more than adequate as these old tractors don't roll on bushings.

Mantra today, maximize profits, minimize quality (built-in obsolesence) market hype.


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(( My vette can do 186MPH, meanwhile my neighbour's k-car can do 90. If the speed limit is 55, both cars can easily cruise at that speed, and therefore a typical driver would think that there is no difference between them.))
""typical driver""????
Me thinks you need to reword that to " a blind/deaf driver or something, or maybe the dumbest driver that has ever been !!!
Yea, just making a joke out of your statement LOL :)
Of course with the mentality of some of todays drivers, you may may be right..


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

when I said "typical driver".... I meant: "ignorant, unaware, and generally dumb" driver... .

since probably 90% of the people out there are in my opinion not smart enough to be allowed to have a drivers license - yet they have one, my statement just makes more and more sense.

when you said "...a blind/deaf driver or something..." all I can say is that most blind and deaf people are WAY smarter than their fully capable neighbours (why? because their handicaps cause them to be generally more aware, and more thought oriented -it's basic survival).

and when you said "...or maybe the dumbest driver that has ever been...": that's basically the same thing as what I said before: 90% of the people out there are "really really dumb"

So - you park one of these dumb people in a vette or a k-car, and all they will comment on, is how they "..can't see clearly over the hood of the vette - making it difficult to park..."


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<"I haven't found anything yet that it isn't up to."
Then you aren't trying hard enough : )>

Could be, though it does well what I bought it for, i.e., mow grass, pull a plug aerator, and pull a rotary spreader. I'm sure it would pull a wagon too, but I'm happy with my wheelbarrow. I doubt it would do well as a garden tractor, but since I already had a real Troy-Bilt tiller (not MTD) before I got the mower, I don't need a GT.

John


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

Rusty-See what you started.


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Never saw a LT/GT with to much HP, then I like HP. My LT 22hp on 656cc engine, my Car 200hp on a 3.0 liter v6, my PU truck 345hp on a 5.7 liter v8 love that hemi, my MH has a 454 ci gm engine hp not listed.
HP sells the american way, like it or not. Although some people buy as small as they can I have no idea why.


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The reason that lower end tractors have the larger engines is because the customer at that price point does not have the knowledge needed to compare tractors based on anything but hp and $'s. On larger tractors you have a more sophisticated buyer that has probably owned tractors in the past and can understand that there is more involved in tractor performance that hp and understands that $'s spent today are different than cost of usage over the lifetime of the unit.


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

I agree that more first time buyers buy smaller equipment than larger equipment. However, many repeat buyers, like Steve above, believe that you can't have too much hp regardless of the size or type of equipment.

It seems to me that if marketing was the primary reason for the high hp in low end tractors, we would see high hp in larger tractors, too. The cost of a few additional hp would be a much smaller percentage of profit on the larger tractors.

I believe that the less capable and less efficient components in the low end tractors, especially the hydros, are the primary reason for the additional hp.

-Deerslayer


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

Here's an example of how quality components affect the efficiency of another vehicle.

Have you ever compared a $2,000 bicycle to a $100 bicycle? The $2,000 bicycle is lighter overall but also has much higher quality bearings. Everything spins with much less effort. Spin a $300 front wheel assembly and it seems to spin forever. It's also silky smooth. Spin a $10 wheel assembly and it doesn't spin for long. You can feel the bearings rolling.

The $2,000 bicycle takes much less effort to pedal. The rider can pedal faster and farther as a result. The better components make the $2,000 bicycle much more efficient. Better components in a tractor make it more efficient, too. As a result, less hp is needed to power the more efficient, higher-end tractors.

-Deerslayer


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A similar comparison can be made with home audio equipment. To the novice buyer Wattage is everything. So you see very cheap equipment putting out 150 watts per channel. A high end piece of equipment from "Sunfire or Adcom" with the same wattage sound much louder and cleaner. The novice buyer thinks he is getting a great deal just like the novice tractor buyer who may have a piece of equipment that on the surface specs out well but does not have great actual performance.


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nycjsw, most kids just want volume...they don't care much about clarity. After all, they don't listen to the Boston Symphony play Beethoven's 5th. They simply want to rattle the windows.

However, I understand your point.

The problem I have with the unsophisticated buyer theory is that those tractor buyers typically shop at box stores. They don't have the higher end units available for comparison. They don't know that a $10,000 tractor has the same hp as a $2,000 tractor. They compare the $2,000 tractors to the $2,300 and $1,700 tractors.

More power can compensate for poor engineering and low quality components. I think it's the cheapest way to build a low end tractor.

I agree that the higher hp may fool some folks into thinking that they are getting a more capable tractor than they really are. Those are the folks that ask how to connect a sleeve hitch to their LT so they can pull a plow or how to install a 2" ball on their LT so they can move their boat.

-Deerslayer


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

Deerslayer asked,
"If higher hp was just marketing, why is hp inflation only found at the low end where the profit is much less?"

There are two tractor markets. Each one targets an entirely different group of buyers. The bargain priced market targets
millions of new home owners who sweated through a summer or
two trying to mow an acre walking behind a cheap 21" lawn mower. They need a riding mower. A big cheap riding mower. The bigger the deck, the higher the horsepower and all at the lowest possible price, makes the sale.

The higher priced tractor market has a much smaller number of buyers. Some of them owned a bargain tractor long enough to grow tired of repairs and breakdowns. Some are women who
are not good at diagnosing and replacing parts and are tired of waiting for the repairman to take it to his shop. These
buyers want the best quality available and they are willing
to pay for it. They are not comparing numbers at a boxstore, so horsepower and price do not trigger the sale. These buyers rely on recommendations of friends to find the models
with a reputation for quality construction.


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I agree that larger decks require more hp. I wouldn't be surprised if the deck spindle bearings are much less efficient on the low end models than the premium models. The result is that more hp is needed to power the mower deck. Couple that inefficient large deck with an inefficient hydro and you have a tractor that needs much more hp than the old manual premium tractors. It's not just marketing.

-Deerslayer


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

HP isn't over rated. The problem is that we perceive more HP means better.

I've got a 25HP DTY4000 and it runs fine at 1/2 throttle. It also uses way less gas. And after using it this way for over a year, I've been wondering why they put a 25HP engine in such a small lawn tractor.... It's gotta be marketing because perception is everything and most assume more is better.

I'm now looking at a CUT or a SCUT. The few I have narrowed down to all have 22 or 23 HP. They also weigh in from 1500 to 2100 lbs. They run loaders, backhoes and pretty much anything else you hook to them. Now tell me how less HP in a CUT will do more then more HP in a lawn tractor? It's gotta be marketing because adding a few HP isn't hard.

BTW, in a lawn tractor (riding mower), there's no way one would need 20hp. Even with a crappy hydo tranny because there's no way it's going to rob 6, 4 or even 2 hp compared to a better engineered tranny.

Bottom line is that adding a few HP is cheap and makes a great selling point, so why not do it? It might now cost anything extra to the maker, but it might cause more fuel usage to the user.


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

Crabjoe, I don't know what kind of grass you have but the people I know can't mow their lawns at half throttle and get a very good cut.

I bet that there are a number of people out there with LTs that have less than 20hp that can bog them down in tall, heavy grass...especially if they mulch mow. The larger decks, plus the desire to mulch mow, plus a hydro tranny equals the need for more hp.

-Deerslayer


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IMO usuable hp is the amount of weight being thrown. A johnnypopper is a good example. two relative small cylinders throwing a large about of weight (the BIG flywheel) alows the machine to do alot of work. another example is a 265 SBC. less weight at higher RPM equals alow of work or another term torque which equals Hp when weight is being thrown around at a high pace.


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

People:

Listen to Deerslayer, because he's right.


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

Deerslayer,
I like the bicycle analogy. I bought a road bike this last summer. I didn't buy it at MallWart. I bought it at a dealer and they provide excellent service. Of course they service the el-cheapo MallWart specials, but complain that they will never be "right". My bike is fast, reliable and fits me properly.

I assure you that I am on the low HP end of the cyclist scale, and I tend to overheat quickly. I am stuck with my engine, but it gets better with use. :)

Buy quality equipment. It is worth the price.

Fullmetal


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

It would be interesting to take a low hp (15-17hp) engine off a premium tractor and put it on a Craftsman (that comes with a 23hp+ engine) and see how it performed.


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

Metal,that's an interesting idea. However, in the JD line only the X300 and X304 meet your criteria. Both have 17hp engines and can power 42" mower decks. If you want a 48" deck, you need to move up to an X320 that has a 22hp engine. If you want a 54" deck, you're up to the X340 ($4,649 list) that has a 25 hp engine. X500s have 25hp and 26hp engines. They also can power 54" decks.

-Deerslayer


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

Or you could take a Kaw. 15hp off an older LX178 that was sold with 48" deck (I have one, but with the optional 38" deck).


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Gee, fellers, i'm sorry i started this thread! In fact, i think it has turned into a "bull rope", or a hawswer from a Navy ship! But it has been interesting!
RJ


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RE: Lawn tractor Horse-power!

well i personaly think that it is the type of transaxle that you have. i have a 27 hp dgt6000 with a hydro and ag lug tires for more traction. anyways i tried to move my pickup to mow under it and it wouldnt pull it yes it was in nuetral... this is why i hate hydros... i am investing in a 5 speed low-high gear transaxle. i think that this would help alot...


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