Tire chains AND mowing deck on Craftsman riding mower?

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  #1  
Old 07-25-13, 07:02 AM
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Tire chains AND mowing deck on Craftsman riding mower?

Hi, all;

I bought a fine old gear-drive Craftsman tractor, Model 917.251510, Serial# 111695C 001287, with a 20.5 Kohler engine, turf tires size 23 x 10.5 X 12. It runs like a Cadillac, but has no mower deck.

I never wanted a mowing deck. I used the tractor for several years to go out on my hilly 15 acres and harvest firewood and haul it home for our wood furnace. There being no level ground anywhere on the property other than the kitchen (and I'm not entirely sure about that), it is not even remotely possible to drive this tractor anywhere around here without tire chains. Under the layer of oak leaves that covers the ground is a fine, red clay that the turf tires just dig into and spin on. Chains are mandatory.

We've cleared a good bit of ground for a huge garden and orchard over the years, so I bought a brand new 42" mowing deck from Sears for this tractor, and took everything over to my local dealer to have it put together.

I located the closest thing to an Owner's Manual for this tractor that I could, the same model but with a 14.5 HP engine. It has the same tractor frame and 42" mowing deck. I figured I should read up on the fine points of using and maintaining the deck before I got it home.

And right there in black and white, on page 14, I found this sentence: "Tire chains cannot be used when the mower housing is attached to tractor."

Well, shoot. That makes the notion of mowing anything on this hilly ground a joke. Without chains it'll take about three minutes to go out and get stuck on a slope. Less than that if it's rained recently.

Being a natural born anarchist, at first I figured I'll just cut a little notch in the mowing deck where it might touch the tire chains. But on second thought, those little notches would be about a foot wide, each. And there's a spinning blade in there that throws things. And if the blades touch the chains or tire, well . . .

So now I'm wondering if ribbed tires or snow tires are the answer. Are ribbed tires a bigger diameter than turf tires? Do snow tires actually work as well as chains?

Can I get tires that are slightly smaller in diameter, and still add chains?

I really hope to avoid weights because of the hills this tractor has to climb constantly. The transmission won't last as long. My experience hauling wood around here for years tells me that added weight on turf tires just makes them dig in and spin a deep rut all the faster. I suspect snow tires will do the same even with weights. Chains work best.

Has anyone had any experience with this issue?

Thanks for any advice.

Antifa
 
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  #2  
Old 07-25-13, 07:11 AM
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Correction

It's actually a 46" mowing deck on this tractor. Here's a link to the exact model I have:

Craftsman 20.5 HP / 46 cut Heavy Duty Garden Tractor [917.251510] - $800.00 : , Lawn Mower Grave Yard Equipment Used Tractor Parts Salvage

Antifa
 
  #3  
Old 07-25-13, 07:51 AM
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Chains and grass cutting can't go nice together. Chains could tear the grass up pretty badly.
I would think a more aggressive lawn tractor tire should work.
The older gentlemen that lives beside my parents uses his quad (atv) to cut the grass in the parking field he has. It worked pretty good until he got aggressive quad tires (probably can't get near to this aggressive on a lawn tractor). The quad tires would tear up the grass. He switched back to a milder tread and no more issues. A mild tread on a quad would be probably close to an agressive tread on a tractor tire.
Keep in mind, I'm assuming you are cutting grass in a field or similar, and not a Home & Garden cover page lawn.

I would think something like the following would possible do (random google picture).


This one may be a bit much. If you get stuck with these, you probably shouldn't be driving the lawn tractor there. (random google picture).


Disclaimer: I refuse to give up my perfectly working push mower for a lawn tractor which is better suited for me.
 
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Old 07-25-13, 07:55 AM
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Local advice . . .

My local dealer says he's never heard of a riding mower that can't have chains on the rear while the mowing deck is attached. He suggests it might only occur when the deck is in maximum raised position, if at all. He suggests Sears is just 'covering their hind end' by saying chains and mower decks don't mix.
 
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Old 07-25-13, 08:01 AM
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I agree with the dealer. I can just imagine a chain coming off and getting in to the blades. Turn it in to a monster weedwhacker in a heartbeat.
 
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Old 07-25-13, 08:05 AM
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My local dealer says he's never heard of a riding mower that can't have chains on the rear while the mowing deck is attached. He suggests it might only occur when the deck is in maximum raised position, if at all. He suggests Sears is just 'covering their hind end' by saying chains and mower decks don't mix.
This is very possible. We do live in a society where if the coffee cup doesn't say "Caution, contains hot fluids", someone may sue.

The one issue however with chains is they tend to be a bit sloppy, so if the clearance is tight, this could be a valid source of concern.

Chains have their place, but for cases like this, I'd look at alternate tires.
 
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Old 07-25-13, 09:55 AM
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I agree that it is likely a safety issue with the manufacturer mostly. If you have the clearance and the chains fit tight and are secured well, they probably won't interfere with the deck. If it does, it will only be in one small spot, not across the whole width of the tire. I would think Ag tires would be good in this application, but if I were in your shoes, I'd probably see how much clearance there is and if I can use the chains without too much trouble.
 
  #8  
Old 07-25-13, 10:28 AM
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Chains on sloping pasture

Thanks to everyone for the responses thus far.

I do feel some confidence that the chains will not rip up the grass for two reasons:

1. I've always mowed this ground in the past by hand dragging my 6 HP push mower behind me on the tractor. The chains on the thick grass did no harm. That 6 HP mower is now dead and gone.

2. I don't plan to mow a neat suburban lawn, just mow high once a month to keep weeds from going to seed. I dump a lot of free horse manure around up there, and it's full of weed seeds. And there's always blackberries sprouting everywhere from birds dropping seeds.

I could actually get some goats, and trade the tractor in for a lawn chair, beach umbrella, ice chest and padded Adirondack chair. It's tempting. But I've had goats before. I know I'd have to put a 12' fence around every dwarf fruit tree and every raised garden bed -- and around the damn chair as well.

I'll keep those chains on tight, and see how it goes.
 
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Old 07-25-13, 10:53 AM
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I could actually get some goats, and trade the tractor in for a lawn chair, beach umbrella, ice chest and padded Adirondack chair. It's tempting. But I've had goats before. I know I'd have to put a 12' fence around every dwarf fruit tree and every raised garden bed -- and around the damn chair as well.
Had to laugh, this thought crosses my mind every week I'm put pushing the mower.
2 and a bit tanks of fuel later... a couple walking hamburgers doesn't sound like a bad idea... until I account for the fence and the rest.
 
  #10  
Old 07-25-13, 02:07 PM
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I've got a goat ...... he's more apt to eat what you don't want him too than what you want him to eat But he does keep the steep hillside under the power line clear.
 
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