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Garden Tractor Info Requested


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04-21-04, 06:32 PM   #1  
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Garden Tractor Info Requested

Who is the "actual" manufacturer of this model for Sears? Is it a reasonably reliable and value-added garden tractor? Is $1900 a relatively decent price dor one?

 
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04-21-04, 10:51 PM   #2  
Hello BrettD!

AYP (American Yard Products) makes the lawn tractors for sears. In my opinion, they are a good value. AYP also makes husqvarna mowers, poulan, and several others. Most of the craftsmans and husqvarnas are built to higher standards than ayp's other lines.


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04-22-04, 03:54 AM   #3  
Value

I agree with cheese on the value of these units. But if I were spending $1900 on a mower, I'd look at good name brand equipment instead. For this price at Sears you are likely looking at a machine that has an engine that is unnecessary (20 horsepower, probably). If you are buying a mower for mowing purposes only, with a couple acres or less of lawn, I'd look at Deere, Toro or Simplicity. With these you will find a lower horsepower, but all that you likely will need. There is no need to buy a 42" or 46" mower with a 20 horse engine, it's just overkill, so long as your only going to mow with it. Post back and let us know for what specifics of needs a new machine will be used.

 
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04-22-04, 02:39 PM   #4  
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Post back about Lawn/garden tractor profile

Guys: The scenario for my tractor needs is as follows; I will be mowing about 1.5-2 acres of grass and will occasionally pull a lawn trailer full of firewood, dirt, rocks, etc. I visited the local John Deere implement dealer and was checking out the LT series. I sat on and fired up a K-series powered LT180 (costs about $3,050). I bit more than I have budgeted.

 
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04-22-04, 03:43 PM   #5  
Choices we make

Your close to apples to oranges, but closer to McIntosh to Red Delicious. The "L" series Deere is more closely related to Craftsman than the "LT." Based on your needs, you'd better budget more than $1900. Easy for me to say when it's not my economy, but believe me when I say that you'll be much more satisfied with the LT Deere. If your wife makes you stick to your budget, look at the L-series Deere. Don't compare horses between the two, for a 15hp Deere is everything a 20hp Sears is and then some. Good luck and let us know your choice.

 
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04-22-04, 09:48 PM   #6  
BrettD:
I know I'll be starting something here but here it goes. I'll agree that most Deeres are heavier then a lot of the other brand tractors. Thats why they are twice as expensive as the other brands.
Horse Power is horse power, there is know way the green paint is going to make up for 5 hp in a engine. Deere is putting a lot of the same engines in there tractors as the other brands do. There is no way round it that a 22 hp Sears garden tractor will pull your wagon load of cargo better then a 15 hp lawn tractor.
For $1900.00 you should be able to get a 22 hp, 6 speed, 50" cut, garden tractor at Sears that a lot of people are very satisfied with.
This is not saying that Deere doesn't make a lot of people happy too.
Good luck on your choice.

Rogerh

 
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04-23-04, 12:53 AM   #7  
Good advice so far. Both brands make machines that will suit your needs. I'd say go with something 15hp or better. I think I would personally choose the craftsman over a comparable L series deere, but not over the LT series. Shop for the features you want/need/like, and make your decision on that. I don't think you'll be disappointed with either brand, provided you choose a tractor suited to your needs.


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04-23-04, 05:22 AM   #8  
don't be swayed by hp.

40 years ago my dad used a 12hp john deere to mow AND garden. That 12hp would plow our big garden (40'x150') very easily. We also had a snow blade and had no problems with any amount of snow.

 
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04-23-04, 03:59 PM   #9  
Thanks BobF

You made a great point, as is my point exactly. Power is not only defined as horses, but also in the implementation of them. Torque also is a big factor. You door slammers out there know there is a difference between crankshaft horsepower/torque and rear wheel HP/torque. It is this rear wheel stuff that matters greatly. How you apply this all to the final drive is what counts. So, you see, it is not necessary to have a 22 horse engine to achieve the results you are looking for.

 
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04-23-04, 10:54 PM   #10  
Correct. The reason that ol' 12 horse engine was so strong was because it was probably geared lower (new tractors are geared up for speed...nobody wants to putt-putt around anymore), and the engine was probably rated differently (methods of calculating engine HP have changed over the years), and it was probably rated at a lower RPM (which means it had more torque). The old 8 hp john deere 110 could drag a 20 hp craftsman around the yard at half throttle. It's not that 8 hp is enough by itself. It's the gearing, power loss in the drivetrain, weight of the unit, torque, etc... that makes that 8hp do so much. You can pull a semi with a 4 hp engine, but it's gonna have to do it a lot slower than a 15 hp engine could. Either one would require LOTS of gearing down . It's not ALL about HP, but HP is a major part of the equation. It has to be taken into consideration. I am not saying, by any means, that there is a practical use for 25 hp in a lawn tractor.


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04-23-04, 11:55 PM   #11  
HP is a funny thing. There's a time component involved. It puts a number on the amount of work that might be expended over a particular time. If you need to move a particular heavy load from point A to point B, you might be able to calculate just how much total work you need to accomplish the job. The only difference between a 1 HP engine and a 20 HP engine is the fact that the 20 HP engine should be capable of completing the same amount of work in one twentyith of the time. That doesn't mean that the 1 HP engine can't do the job, only that it will take longer.

If you are mowing grass and your tractor only uses say 12 HP to spin the blade and move the machine forward at a reasonable speed, than that's all you really need. You might indeed have 20 HP available, but aren't using 8 of it. The value of a larger HP machine may be in it's reserve power available. Few engines can maintain rated HP over it's entire life span. After 300 to 500 hours I'll bet that the average Briggs engine wouldn't make rated HP, especially if it's abused like the average one tends to be. Now if you start out with that 12 HP engine and use & abuse it for a couple of years it just won't mow the lawn like it used to. The fins are probably caked with oil & grass clipping, choking off cooling air flow. Rings have worn down due to the elevated temperatures. Valve guides are worn due to the grit in the oil that didn't get changed. Valves are pitted, plugs are corroded, ect. ect.

My guess is that you can get by with a lower HP tractor if you are willing to do the maintenance necessary to keep the rated HP of the engine intact. If you are a typical user then you will need the higher HP tractor so you can continue to mow and not put any time & money into your machine. It's a pay me now or pay me later kind of thing.

I once knew a farmer who was real cheap. He used a old plow horse to do the work around his farm. Because the farmer was so tight with the buck he fed his horse a little less hay every week. One day he came into town and was complaining...."Just when I got ole Nelly to the point where I didn't need to feed her any hay, she up & died."

 
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04-25-04, 06:38 PM   #12  
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Reserve HP

Jughead, you think a lot like me! My philosophy is to buy plenty of horsepower (practical to the task at hand) and use a lower throttle settting to accomplish the task, which in turn, can mean more reliability in the long run from a given machine. All of this is limited by the premise that the "additional horsepower" doesn't come at a too-high initial cost.

 
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04-25-04, 08:14 PM   #13  
The point I was trying to make was this: Either you can buy a lower powered piece of equipment at a lower price (assuming that it will do the intended work) and spend additional money (over the equipment's life time) OR buy a higher powered unit at a higher price and save money on maintenance.

Personally, I've never been in the use it & abuse it camp. The last vehicle I bought was in 1990 and that's the NEWEST vehicle I own. I don't tend to buy new lawn & gardern equipment either. Everyone's situation is different, however. Many people are just 'equipment operators' and don't, and can't do any maintenance themselves. They must load up their equipment, take it somewhere, and pay for every little thing that goes wrong. Since I don't do that sort of thing myself I have no concept of how much time & money that takes. For some people it may, indeed, be cheaper to travel the use it & abuse it route.

Any tools and test equipment I've bought has been paid for many times over by preventing service calls from the pros. I'm always amazed that more people don't try to do more things for themselves.

 
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04-25-04, 09:55 PM   #14  
BrettD,

I wanted to mention that most small engines on lawn equipment should be operated at full throttle. If operated at less than that, the cooling system is not moving the required amount of air, the charging system may not be maintaining proper voltage/amperage, and the oiling system is not functioning at full capacity. The owners manual will reccomend this.


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04-26-04, 05:35 PM   #15  
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Posted By: cheese BrettD,

I wanted to mention that most small engines on lawn equipment should be operated at full throttle. If operated at less than that, the cooling system is not moving the required amount of air, the charging system may not be maintaining proper voltage/amperage, and the oiling system is not functioning at full capacity. The owners manual will reccomend this.
Cheese: I did not know this. It just seems to me that a medium-high throttle setting would get the job done and still reduce the stresses on the entire engine. Kind of like having a small V-8 engine that cruises along but kicks it up a few notches when passing other cars is necessary! But I guess the OPE engineers figure otherwise.

 
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04-26-04, 09:08 PM   #16  
Operating a small air cooled engine at full throttle makes some sense. Consider this: you don't actually have a throttle control on a lawn mower or small garden tractor, you have a speed control only. It's the GOVERNOR that actually operates the throttle. All the operator can do is tell the GOVERNOR which speed to maintain. Higher speeds means more cooling air flow, more oil being splashed up on the crank shaft & components attached to it, ect. ect. The actual throttle is only advanced by the governor when increased load demands make that necessary to maintain the speed set by the operator. It's certainly a fine technical point, and one that's been cussed & discussed here, and is most certainly NOT well understood by most.

If you didn't run your lawn mower or small lawn tractor at the optimum speed when the load increases (when you try mowing a patch of tall grass) that forces the engine to run at close to it's rated HP without optimum cooling air flow or oil circulation around the moving parts. That may be the reason that the manufacturers recommend turning the engine up in speed when mowing. The other reason could be the band of speeds surrounding the rated HP spec. You may be shorting yourself engine power by not setting the engine at the speed where it makes maximum HP. Either reason makes perfect sense. Keep in mind that your lawn mower is different from your car. Your car engine does not have a governor so the user directly controls the throttle. On a mower you only have indirect control through the governor.

Like someone famous once said "the devil is in the details."


Last edited by jughead; 04-27-04 at 12:43 AM.
 
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04-27-04, 05:32 PM   #17  
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Speed Control Operation

That DOES make sense, now that it's been explained! In tall, thick, moisture-laden grass, would it then be safe to say that a slower ground speed per a lower transaxle gear selection would be prudent, as long as the speed control was left at FULL THROTTLE?

 
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04-27-04, 07:29 PM   #18  
I think that ground speed selection could be a tricky thing because the normal mower doesn't really have the necessary instrumentation to correctly tell you what your true engine load or actual throttle setting might be. Let's say you start up your small lawn tractor and run the engine speed up to 3200 rpm. If you are out of gear and the blade is not engaged the actual throttle setting is minimal because the only load on the engine is the friction inside the motor itself. A 12 HP motor might actually be generating about 1 HP with 11 HP left available but unused. Now assume you engage the blade. If you were actually watching that part of the governor that is connected to the carburator linkage you would see a momentary sharp increase in motor load and a corresponding increase in throttle as your engine accelerated the blade. With the blade running up to speed your engine load is again close to minimum but would be just slightly higher because now the engine is loaded by the motor friction and the air resistance of the moving blade. Your motor might actually be generating, say, 1.5 HP with 10.5 left unused. You can make simular arguments as you put the mower in gear. Now assume that you are going up hill AND cutting some thick wet grass. The governor, in order to maintain the operator's set speed, might actually increase the throttle to full forcing the engine to generate all 12 HP in an effort to maintain the desired speed.

What the operator never quite knows is the actual throttle setting or even just what percentage of throttle is being used at any given time. You can get an idea by listening to your engine's speed. If you hear it bog down you can assume that the throttle has reached full. It would be perfectly normal for the engine speed to droop a percent or two anyway with an increase in load. This is because few 'el cheap o' governors are perfect speed regulators.

Small engines typically have cooling fins on the cylinders and a set of air baffles to direct the air through the engine in an orderly manner. The air is moved by the action of fan blade usually attached to the engine flywheel. This means that you could start out with a speed setting of, say, 2500 rpms instead of the optimum 3200 rpm on some hypothetical engine. When you hit the tall grass the governor is still going to attempt to hold that 2500 but might actually have to use full throttle to do so. Now your engine is burning a bunch of fuel and trying to reject a near maximum amount of heat all with a fan that's running 22% slow. The laws of physics say that your cylinder's temperature will rise above the normal levels. Cylinder temperatures will also sharply rise if all the cooling air channels are clogged with oil soaked grass that's typical of lawn mowers.

The bottom line is, yes, reduce your forward speed when mowing through a long stretch of tall, wet grass. Make sure that the engine itself is turnig up to the factory recommended speed. Doing so will prevent you from overloading your engine and extend it's life a little longer.

 
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