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A favorite for discussion--riding lawnmowers
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Post A favorite for discussion--riding lawnmowers 
After 10 years of having a lawn service, my lawn looks crappier than ever. Seems like it's been getting worse year after year, while the lawn service gets more and more expensive. I didn't renew their contract. I've put out my own fertilizer, and in the next couple of weeks I will have to mow. But, I gave my lawn mower away 8 years ago. I went to the John Deere dealer here yesterday. Geez, Louise, I can buy a full sized used tractor for what Deere is asking for an X585! Even the small L130 with a bagger is near $3,000.00. I could cut my grass with a regular gas mower in about an hour, maybe less. But, since the wife seems agreeable to the idea of me cutting the lawn again, and she's also agreeable on a rider.... what should I be looking at? Cut grass, most often mulching, bagging lots of leaves in the fall, snow plow blade for winter. Budget target < $2,800.00. Good suggestions for new or used welcome.

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Post Depends... 
Depends on how much you mow and how often you do it. I do know that a larger investment in a "tractor" now will pay off for you in the long run. Personally, I mow about 3 acres once a week in early summer. (July and August tends to dry out here in SD so frequency goes way down then). I own a 20 year old John Deere 185 tractor that has been the most reliable piece of equipment that I've ever owned. Change the oil and filters (oil, fuel, air) and sharpen the blades once a year and you're set.

Sure, you can spend the $600 for a rider at Wally-Mart but I'll guarentee, you'll be looking for a replacement in 3 years or less. The cheapies simply will not last with any use whatsoever.

I love my John Deere (even though I hate the mowing) and would never recommend anything less.

Todd

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I can't necessarily knock the John Deere Corp. for setting prices and sticking to them. I just have a bad case of sticker shock right now. I think that for the house lawn, roughly 3/4 acre, cutting once a week May thru Sept/Oct, then "leaf mowing" into November, doing some driveway plowing thru the winter, well... I am gonna be better off swallowing hard and buying a good tractor. I don't think I'm being too cheap looking at the Deere L130. This seems like a pretty solid machine. I can get most maintenance parts right a Home Depot, and the Deere dealer is only 10 miles from my house. So, Deere seems to make good sense. But, new? Or used? If used, should I be upping to another model? I think White350 got a new mower last year. Not sure on that.

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forgot to sign in first.

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I LOVE my riding mower. I have always liked them, even as a kid. I asked this same question to our forum last year before buying mine. The usual mix of opinions and experiences were posted, and many were very helpful. Shopping around shows that they all have their merits. The cheap ones are, well inexpensive and they will cut the grass. The more you spend in general the better you get. One feature I liked was on some mowers at lowes. They had a fitting on the deck you could attach a garden hose to and flush the debris out. Many mowers had briggs engines, which are fine. Fewer had Tecumseh, which I personally prefer over briggs, and honda has gained some ground but at a much higher price level both for initial purchase and parts. I hate hondas and wouldn't own one anyways, and they haven't proven anything special in my eyes to warrant the sort of money they cost. From what I saw at sears they cost about $500 more for the honda motors. I looked at the cheaper line of john deere that home depot sells, and my father owns one of those also. They just didn't float my boat. Sears carries several grades of mowers and garden tractors, and in spite of past experience I went with sears on the riding mower. I got a red one, which is one of the higher line models. I stayed with a regular manual gearbox instead of hydro for cost and reliability. This mower came with a Kohler 20 HP 2cyl. I don't beleive sears carries kohler powered mowers anymore. It mows in reverse, has an external fuel fill with sight glass, and a step through design. The kohler has been flawless, and the mower has only suffered 2 broken cotter pins from hanging the deck up on tree roots. I got a 2 bin bagger for it, which is a mixed blessing. Its nice to bag, but a PITA sometimes, particularly with leaves and such that like to clog the discharge chute quickly. I have to remove the bagger to get the mower through the gate opening to the front yard, reinstall it, mow and the repeat to park it in back. Its down to a 2 minute procedure, but annoying nontheless. Good luck with your search and let us know what you settle on! I really liked the kohler engine on mine, which gave it a huge advantage over everything else in its price range.

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Thanks, that is an important consideration about the leaves plugging the chute... I have dozens of trees in my yard, and each Fall's raking amounts to more than 70 giant lawn leaf bags---twice!! A mower that will chop these up, suck em up, and is easier to bag will be a major plus for me. The L130 Deere does not allow for the "powered" bagger. That's what I think I might need, and it means spending more on the Deere line to move up to the G100 or G110.

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I worked in the green industry a few years in college. Kohler's were good and reliable on the stuff I used. When I was working for the county, the walk behinds we used had Kawasaki's, and my 48" Lesco walker has a 15hp Kawa now. It works well for me. I thought about a tractor, but felt like I'd do better getting my exercise and also leave less ruts with probably less weight with the walker. So far it's treated me pretty well, and I know with my past use, I can do ok on the maintenance myself. There definitely are a lot of options out there. Get yourself some literature and read up. As the others have indicated, I'll agree that you get what you pay for. I worked at a Sears Hardware when they first opened up...I always thought their walk behind mowers were tanks and heavy as hell for regular use, so I stuck with Lawnboys. I felt the same way with most of their other power equipment, but I can't really vote on their tractors/riders having not tested one out.

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Post My only experience 
with mowers is that the cheapos at Wal-Mart aren't that bad provided the yard is fairly level. I bought one for 600-700 bucks on sale, and bought one for my mother. I sold mine 2 years later when I sold my house, Mom still uses hers. She has a 110+ acre farm, with a yard, driveway, and highway ditchrow to mow. Takes her about 2 hours, maybe three to mow this area, in total we are talking about 5 acres or so. Mine did a great job, took only about 30 minutes to mow my yard which was a fair sized city lot plus a second lot that was too small for a house due to a city easement with a ditch running through it. My brother, on the other hand, went through three Sears mowers in the same amount of time. His yard had about the same obstacles mine did, but he kept bending the output shafts on the motors. No idea how he managed it so I just assumed the Sears riders were crap.

In the end though, you are the one who will be using it and know what you have to spend. I've never heard bad about John Deere, but whatever you get I suggest getting a good bagger from the leaf situation you described. I didn't have any trees worth mentioning, and Mom only has a couple of trees in her yard, so a bagger never was a concern.

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A friend of mine had a JD that he bought from the dealer. Throttle plate screws came loose and went through the motor, basically ruining it. Dealer would not fix it or give credit. He is mowing with A simplicity now and has cost JD a boatload of sales so far.

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If price were no object....eXmark! They are simply the best. Your best bet if you want a Deere is to buy an older used one. They are built a lot stronger than the new ones and personally, I like the REAL transmission, none of that hydra crap. Problem is, some of them (at least around here) are worth almost as much as a brand new one so its basically your call. Ive had an '81 Deere 215 bought new in 1981, have only replaced the belt and battery twice since then, and I mow 2 acres once to twice a week. Definitly more reliable than my 02 gmc.........Wink

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Post Got a new mower 
Well, I went back and forth on lawn tractor size, accessories, and what I need here at home vs. what I would like to have up north at the tree farm. I was scouting eBay, and visiting different mower Dealers here in metro Detroit. I saw a used 2004 Deere L130 that I could have gotten for $1500, but it just didn't look loved very much, and I backed away from that one. I ended up purchasing a Honda HR217HMA ($759.00) from the same shop that I've bought my Stihl chain saws. I feel pretty good about making a purchase from a local business, and they gave me a great deal too. The salesman even bought me an ice cream when the ice cream truck pulled up in front of the store! I cut the back yard with the new mower tonight. It's smooth and quiet and has electric start and power drive. The only coordination problem is that there are two squeeze bars at the handle. One bar is for the blade activation, and the other bar is for the power drive activation. You have to remember to just release the power drive when you're turning, or going around a tree. Otherwise, if you release both levers, the blades stop. Then, when you go to re-engage the blades, the motor bogs/lugs a bit. But, after a few minutes I had the hang of it. It's a real nice mower, and this should be the last small power mower that I will ever need (cause I'm already so darn old... the salesman was a little worried the ice cream would outlast me). I got just a little sweaty cutting the grass, but that's probably better for me than riding around with a beer holder at my side.

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well, me again... forgot to log in on above

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Post Simplicity 
I've got a 1967 Simplicity Broadmoor 717 (8hp Briggs) lawn tractor. It's on it's second deck and it's second motor, but the thing is built solid as a rock- full frame, dual-gear rear, 3-speed, etc. Back in the day, Simplicity was a division of Allis-Chalmers (later known as AGCO), so they were built like little tractors - just like JD.

We had a snow blade and wheel weights & chains for it, back when I was 18 or so, that I used to grade the driveway. My parents driveway is about 120 feet long, of which half of it is dual-wide, and it's all gravel. We had 20 tons of new rock dropped-off one morning and I spent the day on this little lawn tractor with the snow blade slowly (but surely) grading the rock flat. Quite a little trooper.

My father doesn't use it any more, so I'm getting it this summer when I drive back to IL. I'll have to find a new snow blade, since he gave that to a relative, but it's completely rebuilt (my uncle refurbs antique tractors) and freshly painted and looks new. Can't beat the price, either.

I guess what I'm saying is: don't be afraid to buy an older J-D or Simplicity. They last a LONG time and are built VERY well ... and they're less expensive than the new ones.

CJ

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Post My Fun Mower 
A Birggs 18 HP Intek V-Twin, ZTR 48" Cut CubCadet Z-Force. I have replaced the usless storage box with another gas tank for even weight distribution. A Low profile unit that is very good on off camber situations. The Lowes here has the new bigger better unit out now.



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http://www.big-boys.com/pictures/picture0914.html
Now theres a honda for ya. Pwnt.

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