How to pick a lawn tractor

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  #1  
Old 05-21-13, 05:25 AM
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How to pick a lawn tractor

A wise man once told me, " Never get your wife or girlfriend an appliance as a gift". Well... I'm getting a lawn tractor for fatherís day.
The wife and I have an understanding that if we are going to get the other person tools or what not, that we consult so we get the right product.

Anyway... The wife mentioned I was going to be getting a lawn tractor for father's day. Although it's been on my list of items to get, it's been low on the list as my trusty 200cc (slightly modified) push mower works like a champ, just takes me 3-4 hours, 1 1/2 to 2 tanks of fuel, and doesn't have a beer holder.

Ok, to the point, never seriously looked into a lawn tractor, so I have no idea what I should look for, what to avoid and what should be considered a nice to have, but not needed.
The two models my wife was looking at where both Craftsman ('m going to look at other brands as well). They appear to be very similar but one was a 20hp B&S (single cylinder) and the other was a 22hp (twin cylinder) B&S. Both have cup holders

The lawn is ~3/4 ache and relatively flat.

Any suggestions as to what to look for and or what to avoid?
 
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  #2  
Old 05-21-13, 05:49 AM
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Well, I think this has possiblities, Mike :

V8 Lawn Mower, The Amputator built by Scottie - YouTube
 
  #3  
Old 05-21-13, 05:55 AM
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With that small a lawn just about any small mower will be good enough.
Is there a lot of trees or shrubs you have to go around?

Just a personal opion I would pass on anything made by MTD, the decks are just to thin and even simple maintaince items like removing the deck changing the oil or getting to the spark plugs on some models can be a PITA.
I've owned nothing but John Deeres for the last 15 years. (I own 3 of them)
I mow at least 8 lawns a week, 99% with my Z Turn. All I've had to do is change blades, air filters oil, one fuel pump and one belt in 15 years.
I can remove all the whole mowing deck is about 2 min. with no tools.

One thing I would suggest is an automatic trans. so nice to not have to keep stopping and pushing the clutch and shifting all the time.
Buy one from a dealer and you can get it fixed and there going to stock parts. If you buy one from someplace like a box store or Sears good luck trying to get it fixed.
I've had my dealer even pull a part off of a mower on the show room floor to help me get going again because it was a non stocked part.

I giggled when you said it took you that long to mow that small lawn. My own property is one acre and has a ton of things I have to mow around and some steep hills. I can mow the whole thing in 1/2 hour with Z turn and almost no trimming to do because I can get so close to everything.
 
  #4  
Old 05-21-13, 06:05 AM
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I do not have a strong enough opinion regarding brands, other than to choose something for which the manufacturer has a good representation of parts and service in your area, but do suggest that anyone first choose whether a lawn tractor or lawn mower will best fit their needs. A lawn tractor is just that, a smaller tractor, suitable for handling various attachments, such as a mower, but also of things like tillers, rollers, spreaders, snowblowers, etc., and they are geared accordingly. Lawn mowers are designed for just that, mowing, so, because they do not need the power to pull or operate attachments, they are typically geared differently, and can provide a faster and often better quality of cut. Lawn mowers also typically have a much tighter turning radius, making them more maneuverable, generally resulting in less time, less scuffing around trees, etc., but, again, they also have a much lower towing capacity. I mow something in the vicinity of 3 acres, and when I went from a lawn tractor to a mower, about 18 years ago, I cut my mowing time from about 8 hours to just over 2 hours; most of that being the speed at which I could mow and still maintain the same quality results, but part of it also was that because it was more maneuverable, I elminated the need to go back and trim with a push mower, and most of the need to use the weed whacker. The other thing that I noticed, which I cannot quantify, but know for certain, is that my annual gas consumption for mowing dropped almost in half.
 
  #5  
Old 05-21-13, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by the_tow_guy
Well, I think this has possiblities, Mike :

V8 Lawn Mower, The Amputator built by Scottie - YouTube
Nice video. The turn radius does kind of suck though with such a long tractor.
The wife already warned me about going overboard on mods for the new tractor. She specifically mentioned, "NO turbo".
My current mower has been port and polished, with a larger carb, rechargeable air filter, and a few other small details. Was bored one winter before I got my car (and didn't have kids yet).

Originally Posted by joecaption1
With that small a lawn just about any small mower will be good enough.
Is there a lot of trees or shrubs you have to go around?

Just a personal opion I would pass on anything made by MTD, the decks are just to thin and even simple maintaince items like removing the deck changing the oil or getting to the spark plugs on some models can be a PITA.
I've owned nothing but John Deeres for the last 15 years. (I own 3 of them)
I mow at least 8 lawns a week, 99% with my Z Turn. All I've had to do is change blades, air filters oil, one fuel pump and one belt in 15 years.
I can remove all the whole mowing deck is about 2 min. with no tools.

One thing I would suggest is an automatic trans. so nice to not have to keep stopping and pushing the clutch and shifting all the time.
Buy one from a dealer and you can get it fixed and there going to stock parts. If you buy one from someplace like a box store or Sears good luck trying to get it fixed.
I've had my dealer even pull a part off of a mower on the show room floor to help me get going again because it was a non stocked part.

I giggled when you said it took you that long to mow that small lawn. My own property is one acre and has a ton of things I have to mow around and some steep hills. I can mow the whole thing in 1/2 hour with Z turn and almost no trimming to do because I can get so close to everything.
I have a few items to mow around (couple small cedar trees in the front and along the back yard). Other then that, it's not too bad. The kids new play set will add to the obsticals though.

You definitely have some good info of what to avoid. I'm not worried about getting service, but parts as you mentioned can be important.

Originally Posted by aka pedro
I do not have a strong enough opinion regarding brands, other than to choose something for which the manufacturer has a good representation of parts and service in your area, but do suggest that anyone first choose whether a lawn tractor or lawn mower will best fit their needs. A lawn tractor is just that, a smaller tractor, suitable for handling various attachments, such as a mower, but also of things like tillers, rollers, spreaders, snowblowers, etc., and they are geared accordingly. Lawn mowers are designed for just that, mowing, so, because they do not need the power to pull or operate attachments, they are typically geared differently, and can provide a faster and often better quality of cut. Lawn mowers also typically have a much tighter turning radius, making them more maneuverable, generally resulting in less time, less scuffing around trees, etc., but, again, they also have a much lower towing capacity. I mow something in the vicinity of 3 acres, and when I went from a lawn tractor to a mower, about 18 years ago, I cut my mowing time from about 8 hours to just over 2 hours; most of that being the speed at which I could mow and still maintain the same quality results, but part of it also was that because it was more maneuverable, I elminated the need to go back and trim with a push mower, and most of the need to use the weed whacker. The other thing that I noticed, which I cannot quantify, but know for certain, is that my annual gas consumption for mowing dropped almost in half.
My fuel consumption is my own fault (see reply to The Tow Guy). When I did what I did, I had a postage stamp for a lawn.

The tractor vs. mower is a good point. Being that my yard is mostly flat, I'm sure a mower might be the better direction. I don't have a quad, so I would want to tow a small trailer occationally for yard waste and what not, but nothing huge. I'm also not planning on using it for snow removal.
The two models the wife had looked at claim to have a 6" turning radius. From what I can tell, this is good.
 
  #6  
Old 05-21-13, 07:34 AM
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If the budget isn't a problem you might want to look at a quality walk behind mower.

If you go with a tractor, the deck is the most important thing. I have a Cub Cadet with a 50" deck, it mows a wide swath that makes short work of my yard and it has a tight turning radius. The problem is that that poorly desined dolly wheels on the deck will dig into the turf on tight turns. It takes a couple of hours for me to remove and reinstall my deck. Some of that is due to my lazy and stiff joints, but some is also due to poor design. I no longer remove the mower deck to sharpen blades. I found it easier to lift the tractor with a chain fall.
 
  #7  
Old 05-21-13, 07:42 AM
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Budget is always a factor, but not a huge factor.
We're willing to spend a few extra dollars for quality, but I don't need/want an overkill unit.

I've noticed else where people mentioning MTD is a brand to avoid. On a second look, the Craftsman units my wife was looking at are MTD. My dad has a Yardworks tractor and he's had some issues with it (remember him cursing trying to remove the blades).
 
  #8  
Old 05-21-13, 09:00 AM
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Mike - I misread the size of your lawn as 1/4 acre. A walk behind is still a good option but if I were buying a new mower for a lawn your size I would probably go with a zero turn rider. I think Larry has one, maybe he can offer some insight.

Here's the Cub Cadet version LINK.
 
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Old 05-21-13, 04:22 PM
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Kubota diesel ZD21 with welded steel 60" cut deck. I cut about 4 1/2 acres in a little over an hour. Your quarter acre will almost heat the radiator to operating temperature Although it may be over kill for a smaller yard, it has a contoured cup holder with a stepped bottom, not just a hole poked in a piece of plastic. That way if you have something with a handle, it fits just fine. And you don't have to be in a hurry to cut the grass.

No way I would look at a regular mower again. Oh, cutting time also includes trimming around 53 blueberry bushes, 40 fruit trees, and 2 grape arbors....with precision. I have to lean further over the larger deck to spit, but that's the only drawback.
 
  #10  
Old 05-22-13, 04:15 AM
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Ztr

I have to lean further over the larger deck to spit, but that's the only drawback.
This should be high on the priority list.
 
  #11  
Old 05-22-13, 05:36 AM
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Larry, I'm cutting 3/4 acres, but ya, still way overkill.
 
  #12  
Old 05-22-13, 05:46 AM
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I have to lean further over the larger deck to spit, but that's the only drawback.


I thought that was what the cup and fancy holder was for.
 
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