Getting small, best lawn tractor.

Bellcrank

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Just look at all different rider options with a 42" deck. With that and your 45 years of mow'n experience you will soon see whats what. If your do'n your own repair work stay away from MTD or any box store brand made by MTD. Not mechanic friendly.Cast iron front axle is a must. Do agree that 80-90"s riders are a good bet. American Yard Products or AYP are worth a look . Mechanic friendly. Oil filter is a must. New mowers have to much useless bullshit on them. It's a lawn mower, not a rocket ship and your mow'n one acre. Ya could do that with an old fashion push mower. :)
 

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RLB2

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I have a 2010 X720 with the 54" gearbox driven belly deck and have been very happy with it mowing everything from less than 1/2 acre up to a few acres, but to be certain these X3xx, X5xx, and X7xx mowers are exactly that: mowers. If you want to put a bucket on the front you'll have to go aftermarket. If you want to put ground engagement (tiller, box blade, scarifier, etc) off the back you'll need to get the rear PTO and 3-point since these are not standard on these, and those add-ons are well north of $1k. For an acre I would not go smaller than the 54" deck but that's just me. The X7xx decks are very rugged compared to the big box mowers, and, having had (have ...) many older JD 2xx & 3xx lawn tractors as well, I agree with many posters to avoid the big box throw-away mowers that are sold today assuming it's a long term buy. Having said all this would I pay the $11k that my X720 tractor cost new? Nope, sure wouldn't, but I got mine from a private estate sale years ago for $4,500. It's been a great buy and I have worked it hard with only basic maintenance. For an acre in a more suburban setting I would think about the big box mowers and just flip it every 2-3 years before the aforementioned failures begin to happen. The big green big box mowers sell for about 40%-50% of new after a couple of years use so you could be riding a new mower every 2-3 yrs and still be doing OK financially. But if you want a front blade / bucket and/or rear ground engagement step up to the sub-compact tractors. $20k for a sub-compact buys a tractor-loader-backhoe with belly mower at any of the green, orange, and red dealers if you're OK with pushing hard on price. This year might be different because of the short supply issues so maybe a big box mower this year as a stop-gap and a TLB next year ??? Good luck!
 

MowManMow

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Yes
Most people have no idea how to assess the quality & value of anything now days .
The EU recognised this a long while ago so they require a service life expectancy to be included in the POS material .
The USA has spent a fortune in advertising to convince the population that modern manufacturing & good old US ingunity will make everything more affordable so the consumer can have everything they could possibly want, a consumers paradise.
The reality is totally different and to fulfil the lie, big manufacturers make rubbish that is barely able to outlast warranty/
Computers have made it possible to downgrade each & every part so they all fail around the same time thus you will go out & buy another one rather than have multiple expensive repairs done to your existing mower. ( Fooled you again )
To facilitate this all service points have been removed & replaced with non servicable parts like plastic bushes replacing greased metal ones .
Computers have made it possible to work out exactly how thin metal parts can be without breaking within the warranty period.
Husqvarna got this very wrong a few years back with a whole season of GT's that cracked & bent frames if any ground engaging tools were used .
Walmart kept demanding cheaper & cheaper mowers to the point they drove Noma then Murray broke plus hundreds of other USA companies .

So now you have trash in the under $ 3000 range, just pick the colour you like most .
A 50:50 chance of a good one in the $ 3000 to $ 5000 range and mostly quality above that .

Every mower car & just about all consumer durable manufacturers are run by accountants and to a person they have sent all public companies down the high volume low margin route which means high volume low quality but paint it nice colours & spend big on advertising and you can fool 90% of the population .
It is only companies that are privately controlled like Grasshopper, Walker etc where their good name is worth more than 1% extra sales and bigger companies like J D & Toro where executives are not paid outragous bonuses for every 0.05% sales increase that make quality mowers.
Even then JD tested the waters with the Scotts & Sabre brands and to finally launch the 100 & 200 series .
They are a bit better than the Husqvarnas & MTD's but not much better but cheap enough to be sold at the junk merchants like Lowes so people at least see them .

Honda got out of the ride on market completely when faced with the reality of having to reduce the quality of their mowers to the price point demanded bu the retail market.
A few years latter they abandoned the ride on mower engine market for the same reason.
Eaton did the same with their transmissions.
Bingo!
Over 12yrs ago I sold my 5yr old crapsman rider before its cheap hydro failed and then its engine too. I bought a 1976 Wheel Horse that was well cared for, the owner had passed away.
The WH still operates perfect today and all its ever needed while mowing over 2 acres is basic maintenence. It has the cast iron side shaft Kohler K series. I've since bought a couple more Wheel Horses I found dirt cheap on craigs for future use & parts so my mower buying days are long behind me. The way our old true Garden Tractors were built vs a lawnmower is simply night & day. The best thing to buy is a true garden tractor, just beware of lawnmowers just having GT stickers that cant actually run implements like a tiller, generator, snow thrower etc.. lots of mowers disguised as tractors around.
Main problem is today's units are designed with "Planned Obsolescence" in mind so you constantly replace the units in a very short time frame. They are no longer built with any pride like this country once made products so they'd actually last us many decades like Wheel Horse, JD & Cub did yrs ago. Just a fair warning here!
The old iron is still out there running strong if you look around you... WH parts are easy to find online and not high, be sure to stick with the old Iron Kohler side shaft. Onan is very pricey today.
Good luck!
 

blip

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Had serious acreage for 45 years. Mowed with Kubota diesels for most of that time. Now have one acre with home on it and I’m looking at a lawn tractor
to do the job. Have no experience with small gas units since the early 1980s. Inventory is short at most dealers. Two neighbors have JD units, a 100 and a 200 series. The local dealer has only 300 series and up in limited numbers. What can any of you recommend, Zero turn would work but wife doesn’t like them at all, demoed a Kubota diesel years back and it did not go well. So Tractor it is. Looking at 42 in(?)deck. All input appreciated.
I mow a couple acres I guess & have used zero turn for more than 20 years. First was a Grasshopper 42" out front & really like it. Then an Exmark, then two more. Now have Toro 60" Myride. The promise of a smooth ride sold me. It cuts great & I went from a full bagger to a mulching system. I like the mulching, works great on grass & leaves.
The ride is not what I thought it would be. Actually very unhappy with ride.
 

Jayrh

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My daughter has a JD 135. Biggest piece of junk. The deck has only wheels on the front. The pretty yellow paint is flaking off and leaving rust underneath. The "system" to hold the belt on the pulleys when the deck clutch is plastic protrusions on the deck pulley plastic covers. These wore through in less than 5 years. I have added pieces of steel strapping to ride against the belts. The Briggs 2 cylinder and hydro drive are very good. My 13 year old Craftsman is a much better machine. It actually has steel rods for the mower belt to contact. The deck has 4 wheels and not two. The paint is nearly as good as new. Of course this is a Lowe's JD and not a "real" JD. Her JD is on my driveway again for repairs.
 

Henry47

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Last year I bought a 42 " X350 JD from a dealership...../what a wonderful machine......no comparison to the Home Depot JD's.
Has standard oil filter and very easy drain, in fact all service is very easy. I cut a few acre's and its far superior to the Craftsman I had been using....it has an extremely tight turning radius.
 

gamma_ray

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Had serious acreage for 45 years. Mowed with Kubota diesels for most of that time. Now have one acre with home on it and I’m looking at a lawn tractor
to do the job. Have no experience with small gas units since the early 1980s. Inventory is short at most dealers. Two neighbors have JD units, a 100 and a 200 series. The local dealer has only 300 series and up in limited numbers. What can any of you recommend, Zero turn would work but wife doesn’t like them at all, demoed a Kubota diesel years back and it did not go well. So Tractor it is. Looking at 42 in(?)deck. All input appreciated.
Hello,

With that amount of lawn to mow, I think you should revisit ZTRs. We have a Hustler Fastrak that we purchased in 2003 with a Honda GXV620 and other than the usual maintenance items and fixes expected with a machine, we've been really happy with it. The engine runs as well as it did new.

A ZTR will cut acreage much quicker than a tractor, because it's much more maneuverable. Once you're used to the two drive control levers, it becomes second nature.

Oh, whatever you purchase, I recommend that you find a supply of non-ethanol gasoline to feed it. The gallon cans are pricey in the big-box stores, but a local gas station may have it. It's $/gallon is higher (about .30 higher per gallon where I live), but you will save that and save headaches in time with fewer fuel system problems associated with the 10% E mix. I've never had to do anything to my fuel system other than replace the fuel filter and fuel hose that got too brittle from years in the sun.
 

jsk2man

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Had serious acreage for 45 years. Mowed with Kubota diesels for most of that time. Now have one acre with home on it and I’m looking at a lawn tractor
to do the job. Have no experience with small gas units since the early 1980s. Inventory is short at most dealers. Two neighbors have JD units, a 100 and a 200 series. The local dealer has only 300 series and up in limited numbers. What can any of you recommend, Zero turn would work but wife doesn’t like them at all, demoed a Kubota diesel years back and it did not go well. So Tractor it is. Looking at 42 in(?)deck. All input appreciated.
We have an JD X304 for maybe 10 years. That engine runs well, starts well. Good on gas. The all wheel steer is almost like power steering. Turns nice and sharp. We mow about 3-6 acres but also use other equipment. Our terrain is flat and rolling hill parts. Traction is great! Power for pulling aux mower is ok but not something you want to do every day. We have the 42" deck which mows nice, easy to take off and doesn't build too much thatch on the underside. The height adjustment has always worked well. The drive belt is another story to change out but the first one lasted many years. We have the same tires still. The only downside to ours is I'd like to have a drive on deck. Good luck and enjoy your 1 acre.
 

bkeller500

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JD X354 with All Wheel Steer. 42" deck and great maneuverability for those flower beds and trees.
 

GDHS

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Had serious acreage for 45 years. Mowed with Kubota diesels for most of that time. Now have one acre with home on it and I’m looking at a lawn tractor
to do the job. Have no experience with small gas units since the early 1980s. Inventory is short at most dealers. Two neighbors have JD units, a 100 and a 200 series. The local dealer has only 300 series and up in limited numbers. What can any of you recommend, Zero turn would work but wife doesn’t like them at all, demoed a Kubota diesel years back and it did not go well. So Tractor it is. Looking at 42 in(?)deck. All input appreciated.
Don't have a recommendation for one to buy, but do have a recommendation for one to avoid - depending on your particular situation. I have Kubota ZG-143S ZTR, 48" deck and a 23 (or so) HP Kohler gasoline engine. It's really fun to drive, but the starter invariably acts up if it gets the least bit of moisture on it, and the three short blades that are used to make up the 48" cut simply won't cut tall, tough Pensacola Bahia Grass on one pass no matter if the blades are new and no matter what speed you run the engine or mower. It performs well on standard lawn grass such as St. Augustine or Centipede.
 
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