Is an older John Deere a good idea


Old 11-24-05, 09:01 PM
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Is an older John Deere a good idea

I am considering buying a 1976 John Deer 300 Garden Tractor. It only has 193 hours. The engine (a 16 HP Kohler) doesn't seem to burn oil. The mower deck , which is not mounted at this time , does not turn freely. The seller has offered to discount the price by the cost to rebuild the mower deck. For the past 20 years it has only been used to plow the snow off a long driveway (which is pretty seldom in Seattle) and move some dirt around the yard using a hydraulically controlled front blade.

Am I getting into a can of worms or is this a good solid piece of equipement that I can keep running for a long time?

I am pretty good about fixing things. In High School I used to cut fields with a ancient Sears Bradley that I maintained myself

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 11-25-05, 12:19 AM
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Most of the old Deere stuff is very strong and solid. The older stuff can take a bit of tinkering from time to time, but if you're a little mechanically inclined, or if you're ok with having it in the shop probably once a year for a regular tune-up and once over, you'll probably be very happy with it.
Old 11-25-05, 06:52 AM
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There are two kinds of tractors - those you fix and those you dispose of when they break. An old JD is one you fix. My best friend has an old JD that has been in the family for years and years (not sure how old, but old enough that it's red and white, not green and yellow) and still works great.
Old 11-25-05, 03:23 PM
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Both the tractor and engine are excellent for both reliability and parts availability. By all means grab ahold of this machine.
Old 11-27-05, 12:31 AM
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Hey J.M.C.,

If that red and white deere is a 110 mower, it is a "patio" edition....worth a good bit. They offered those mowers in some different paint schemes for a short time, and they are sought after by collectors.
Old 11-27-05, 01:50 PM
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They don't build 'em like they used to.

I'm not any kind of an expert, but I just bought a brand new Deere LT160, and I'd prefer a model such as what you've found. Nobody builds lawn/garden tractors nearly as strong as they did 30 years ago. As long as parts are available, it'll likely be a much better machine than an equivalently-priced (even with repairs) new model. Head over to and use the "look up parts by model" option to see if parts are available. I'd be most concerned with the transmission, but again, they built 'em much better 30 years ago than today. 193 hours on a Deere garden tractor is nothing.
Old 11-28-05, 08:38 AM
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The Deere 300 was the model that replaced the legenday 140. It was Deere's top of the line garden tractor in the mid 1970's. It has a cast iron block "K" series Kohler 16 HP engine, double front hydraulics (lift AND angle on a front blade) and could be equipped with a rear PTO for a tiller up to 48" wide, other options included a rear integral or sleeve hitch hydraulically operated, or a catagory "0" 3 point hitch also hyd. operated. I own a 1978 Deere 316 that is essentially identical to the tractor you have, only the numbering was changed to reflect the introduction of the 312 (12 HP). I have WELL over 2000 hours on mine and it's been repainted once by me, and probably had less than $200 spent on the tractor itself other than normal maintenance items. In other words, VERY little has broken over the years, although I did wear out a mower deck when I ran a small lawn maintenance business for 6 years. Because almost all front attachments for the 120, 140, 300, 312, 314, 316, 317, 318, 322, 330, and 332 are interchangeable between models, there is a world of used goodies out there that fit. Rear attachments would have to be from the 120, 140,300, 312, 314, Kohler 316, and 317 as the rear frame changed with the introduction of the 318 and Onan powered 316.

At less than 200 hours you found a treasure! I'd be all over that in a minute. Deere still supoports these with most parts, and the Kohlers are EXTREMELY reliable, just keep in mind that they are internally splash lubricated, and so don't like to idle for long periods of time or become starved for oil. In other words run the engine at or near full throttle for maximum air flow, and oil distribution for long life.

If you get this tractor, change the oil, air filter, tranny fluid and it's filter to start off with a known value of all your lubricants and filters.

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