My first lawn tractor(one for the hill!): Cub Cadet XT3 GSX

dudgeonator

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Hello. Two and a half years ago we moved into the first home we'd ever owned which had more than a postage stamp yard. On top of that, the entire back yard is one long hill, and steep in places. The yard had been untended for what looked like an entire season, and, since we moved in at the end of 2018, I had to wait until the following spring to mow it. I had no mower(having lived in an apt for the previous 6 years), and very little mower experience, so I hired a friend who had a lawn business to come mow it with his stand-behind 36" commercial mower, in order to get it to a manageable condition.

I first bought an old walk-behind commercial mower (Fee?) with a 24" deck, and self-assist, which I used for one season. The self-assist was weak, using little friction gears to turn against the bicycle tires. Once they got damp, from the fresh cut grass, they would just spin mostly as I went uphill. That thing weighed 200 lbs, so it was a bit much to push uphill. The following season I bought a Lowe's Kobalt 80v Lithium battery-powered push mower, with a better self-assist. It weighed only 80 lbs, and was much lighter to handle, but had a 20" deck and such small wheels. My terrain is quite rough in places, so it ended up having its own handling issues.

The time it takes to mow my entire yard (front & back) has been approx 2.5 to 3 hours. The hill, plus uneven terrain, has been the greatest challenge. As it gets hotter, I would have to break it up into multiple sessions, and generally more than one day. By the end of last summer, I was really despising the task of mowing my lawn, compared to the excitement I had that first spring. This year, I decided to upgrade to something more capable of handling that hill, which would cut my time down significantly, and not leave me drenched in sweat, my eyes stinging, and having to collapse into a chair in front of a fan for 20 minutes. I made many observations and analyses of my back yard, in order to determine if even a lawn tractor would suffice, or if I was doomed to stay on foot. What helped, in the end, was my father-in-law loaning me his Kubota BX1500, a sub-compact tractor, which I used for clearing bramble from the edges of our woods. Seeing that I could safely make it up and down the yard gave me confidence that a lawn tractor would make the grade. 😄 After a good deal of research, and visiting some dealers, I settled on the Cub Cadet XT3 GSX, mostly because of its locking rear differential. If I could have gotten by with just a riding mower I would've, but that hill is a monster. Thing is, I was reluctant to go with anything I would sit down on, because of the steepness and odd angles, and felt much safer to be on my feet, but I'm about to hit 50, and am feeling my body's limitations.

The closest local Cub Cadet dealer, 18 miles away (all others are too far) just got one in last Thursday, but they didn't have it assembled and out on the showroom floor until yesterday. I drove down after work to haul it home, and after sunset I tested it out on the circuit I had devised, since they said I could return it if it wasn't going to work out. I got some butterflies the first few times I cut down that slope, but it did the job. I might still get the add-on weights for the rear, or put beet juice in the tires, as the dealer suggested, just to ensure low cog. Well, here it is!
 

Scrubcadet10

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Good looking rig! hope it serves you well for years to come.
 

bertsmobile1

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The BIG problem with all vertical shaft engines on hills is oil starvation.
At around the same slope that the mower feels like it will tip over the oil pump is pumping air not oil.
That situation will go for about 2 minutes then the engine will go BANG .
For your property you really need a mower with a horizontal shaft engine.
Down side is horizontal shaft engines are made 10 times better than vertical shaft engines so cost 2 times as much.
Thus you only find them on quality mowers , not mowers built down to a price point.
The other alternative would be a 2 stroke mower where oil starvation is not a problem.
MTD ( includes Cub Cadet ) do not make quality mowers.


If you can not afford a quality mower then go with a stander.
They still have oil starvation problems but because the engine is lower to the ground it is not as bad as a rider
And of course, your weight is also lower to the ground so less chance of roll over.

Thinking outside the square, if you are thinking about landscaping then look at a Dingo, or similar device with an out front deck,
Thus you will have a loader, grader, post hole digger & mower .
Used ones seem to be very cheap in the USA
You can buy them as a stand alone alone power unit then add tools to it as needed and a flail mower will work a lot better on your yard than a rotary one will .
Long term that whole yard needs to be landscaped into gardens & paths with almost no grass.
Trying to make that a lawn and then keeping it in a nice state is going to kill you & eat up all of your time .
 

dudgeonator

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The BIG problem with all vertical shaft engines on hills is oil starvation.
At around the same slope that the mower feels like it will tip over the oil pump is pumping air not oil.
That situation will go for about 2 minutes then the engine will go BANG .
For your property you really need a mower with a horizontal shaft engine.
Down side is horizontal shaft engines are made 10 times better than vertical shaft engines so cost 2 times as much.
Thus you only find them on quality mowers , not mowers built down to a price point.
The other alternative would be a 2 stroke mower where oil starvation is not a problem.
MTD ( includes Cub Cadet ) do not make quality mowers.


If you can not afford a quality mower then go with a stander.
They still have oil starvation problems but because the engine is lower to the ground it is not as bad as a rider
And of course, your weight is also lower to the ground so less chance of roll over.

Thinking outside the square, if you are thinking about landscaping then look at a Dingo, or similar device with an out front deck,
Thus you will have a loader, grader, post hole digger & mower .
Used ones seem to be very cheap in the USA
You can buy them as a stand alone alone power unit then add tools to it as needed and a flail mower will work a lot better on your yard than a rotary one will .
Long term that whole yard needs to be landscaped into gardens & paths with almost no grass.
Trying to make that a lawn and then keeping it in a nice state is going to kill you & eat up all of your time .
Phew! You had me worried for a moment, but I believe you may have seen "Cub Cadet" and jumped to the conclusion that I was speaking of one of the lower end riding mowers. The XT3 GSX has a commercial engine, with a horizontal shaft. This model can only be purchased through a dealer. I believe it's not an MTD model, but one of the few actually made by Cub Cadet.

You did make some valid points, though, about that yard killing me, trying to keep it as a standard grass yard. Thing is, I have little children still, and having that big green hill is nice for them to run up/down on. If we had no children I would be amenable to landscaping and making tiered terraces and whatnot. ✌️
 

bertsmobile1

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Well you did not mention the model number so you have bought well .
As for the yard, kids also like hiding in the bushes , particularly if they are berry bushes ( yum ) and exploring gardens with kid friendly lay outs , pools with fish & frogs or rocks with lizards. Start them early with their own little gardens, looks like some nice adjoining forest you have there too .
Lots of different things growing to stimulate their senses , smells , sight & feels , extremely important in the age of screen zombies with 10 second attention spans .
When they get a bit bigger some bike paths with jumps & splashes will keep them in the garden for hours so in the ultimate plan there should be steps and slopes.
If you get reasonable rail fall & not much in the way of snow then that gully screams for a merandering series of ponds with a solar pump to recirculate the water to the top again .
Grass is fun to run on but becomes really boring very quickly .
And you can always cheat a bit like paying them a dollar when they show you the first daffodil ( or any bulb of choice ) in spring .
With a little imagination that yard could very quickly turn into a child's wonderland, full of nooks & crannies and liberate you from endless mowing .
A garden can go a month or more without looking terrible and if it is a cottage garden then of course you don't look after it you just keep putting more plants in .
Right now for instance, a quick sowing with wildflower seeds will turn at least one side into a flower meadow and a place to be explored , making daisy chains and all the sorts of stuff we did before we had to spend 50 hours week texting each other with rubbish .,

It is your yard but have a really good think about things other than grass which is the highest maintenance most expensive thing you can have in your back yard .
My workshop is a friends old farm house on the rural fringe of Sydney.
About 2/3 of my customers are ex-city dwellers trying to "live the country dream" .
Almost to the family, those who go down the acres of grass path end up selling after being sick of being a slave to their yards, and it happens without you noticing.
Kids are great, but only for a short time. you go from being the hero to an embarassment in no time flat.
So better to spend time wwith them while you can than banishing them to the house for 3 or more hours every weekend while you cut the grass , fertalize the lawn, apply weed killer, airate , etc etc etc
 
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