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A swamp dude
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My home doesn't have a huge lawn, but it is hilly. I have lots of mature maples and other trees that cover the landscape with leaves in the fall. I want to stop paying to have the grass cut and the leaves gathered and hauled away. I want a riding mower/tractor that will allow me and my bad knees to do the work. I also want a utility trailer to haul yard waste, mulch, tools and equipment, house paint and other maintenance gear from my garage to project locations all around the homestead.

Money saved will pay for the equipment in a couple of years. The calories I burn working instead of I-padding, will help me live longer. With the new toys [I meant tools], the projects will also have a fun element.

I'm trying to figure out whether to buy John Deere, Toro or some other brand.

I'm thinking a 42" mower will be plenty big, and I want a mower deck that can be removed from the tractor (by me, alone) fairly easily.

I want ample power for my hilly yard, but I don't plan to enter any pulling contests. Pulling a trailer partially loaded with bricks or gravel would be my heaviest load. I won't be pulling a plow or mounting a snow blade.

Any thoughts on brand, size or other considerations for my search? I am partial to Deere and Toro, but thats based on advertising more than experience. Can I buy a tractor/mower, a nice trailer and a bagging setup for $2,000 or so? Is one brand a standout in terms of engine and tranny durability and/or ease of operation?
 

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JAFO
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May seem like a odd suggestion but I would look for a clean used John Deere. The lower end JDs, and most of the others, you see in the big box stores are made in China by MTD. I would take my 20 year old JD over any of them.
 

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Many people will say only get the higher priced mowers. I kept my last Craftsman 11 years with no repairs. Have an 06 model now and no repairs on it either. I pull my 4 x 8 utility trailer around to haul stuff. Used to cut 3 yards with it, then only 2, now only one. Runs the same today as day 1. Other neighbors have Toros and Troy Bilts and they seem to do fine also. Had a Murray years ago and the deck metal on it was too thin. If you hit a root it would cave the deck into the blade. Not so with the Craftsman.
If I was having durability problems I would sure get a higher end mower. It is just that the regular ones seem to do fine for me. Plowing etc with it would be a different story.
 

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May seem like a odd suggestion but I would look for a clean used John Deere.
That's exactly what I did. A friend of mine fixes up and sells old tractors and lawnmowers. I got a John Deere 160 from him for $300. New blades, new belts, new battery, even a new paint job and a free trailer thrown in. The current version of the 160 sells for something like $2500 new.
 

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My dad has 2 mowers, a mid 90's craftsman garden tractor 19hp 46", and a new craftsman yard tractor 21 hp 42".

We plow snow with the old one, which it does very good, other than burning up a drive belt every winter. I would never try plowing with the new one. It is so soft you can feel the whole thing flex going over weird angles.

The new one, with tight turn and hydrostatic transmission will mow a yard with a lot of obstacles in probably 1/2 the time as the old one.
 

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You know you want this


 

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Get off my lawn
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How often are you removing this deck???

My lawnmowner is a 42" Husky. 3 seasons, less than 40 hours. Time to change the oil. My lawn is about 18000sf or so. I can do the whole thing in 30 min or less. Then 5 min of weed thwacking every other mow. My WW has about 2 hours on it after 2 years. Maybe 3 hours.
 

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Say what you want about MTD, but, I'm on year 22 with a 16 hp (B&S engine) MTD w/ a 42" deck, sold through Montgomery Wards.

In those 22 years, I've replaced one front tire; put a tube in the left rear tire (3 times!) and 4 batteries and every 4 years, I put new blades on it. (Blades are sharpened every second mowing.)
At year 3, I had to replace the "Magnatron". I have to replace the "Magnatron" again. This old mower died a month ago.

I replaced the front axle last year, also.
The mower is still 'sporting' the original transmission belts and the original deck belt!!

I mounted bumper style trailer hitch to the lawn tractor a few years ago.
It makes a MUCH better towing point than the thin mower (stamped) metal.

I hate to get rid of this old mower. I'd like to get 25 years of service out of it.


ETA: The transaxle is a single-speed "Peerless" made unit that is sealed. Not one thing has been done to this transaxle.
 

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I'm not up on the current crop of mowers. I know JD has two levels now. The entry level marketed at the box stores, and the higher level marketed at the dealers. Both likely benefit from good engineering and functionality.

Anyway, just take note that on hilly uneven ground, the bigger the deck the more likely the cut will be uneven.

I have a 52" deck under my 10yr old JD. It is one heavy sturdy deck, too big for you :)

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Transmissions, transmissions, transmissions.....big box stores SUCK home depot, lowes, sears ect if you cannot service the transmission don't buy it especially with hills, buy the next grade up that they sell at the dealer even if used it will may cost more but, it will last. Example we had a Toro lx460 and a John Deere LA 130 both were insufficient in design the toro ate deck drive belts every 20 hours and the John Deere I replaced the transmission around 250 hours because it lost power I replaced it for the cost of the transmission around 500.00 the dealer wanted 1000.00 heat kills the transmissions fast when they are sealed and not able to be serviced.
 

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I bought a $1500 Ariens 46" cut 22HP Briggs at Home Depot today. It only took 10 minutes for it to break. Somehow the deck belt came off the pulley (deck not engaged) and started smoking and got all frayed. I hadn't even engaged the deck yet. I put the frayed belt back on the pulleys and engaged the blades and I thought that thing was gonna vibrate itself apart. I loaded it back on the trailer and back to HD for my money back. I have 2 Cub Cadets from the late 80's that were $3000 tractors back in the day. I got them both on Craigslist. One for $750 and the other $300. They both need a little repair but IMO they are both worth saving because the new tractors, and especially the decks are absolute junk! The older tractors (pick a brand) are built so much better. They are still somewhat easy to find parts for and easy to work on. Everything is greaseable and built more sturdy. That Ariens had plastic rear axle housings and plastic differential covers. Are you kidding me? Go on Craigslist and find an older one that looks like it was well cared for.
 

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Say what you want about MTD, but, I'm on year 22 with a 16 hp (B&S engine) MTD w/ a 42" deck, sold through Montgomery Wards.
He's not buying a 22 year old tractor. It doesn't matter how good MTD was because they're junk now. I sold these at Sears a couple years ago and did everything possible to not sell an MTD made Craftsman because so many came back with problems and the only thing I'd have to show for it was having to deal with a pissed off customer. The Husqvarna made Craftsman tractors are good. They had a few problems, namely the deck height being set really low, but nothing like the MTD's.
 

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I bought a $1500 Ariens 46" cut 22HP Briggs at Home Depot today. ..I have 2 Cub Cadets from the late 80's that were $3000 tractors back in the day....they are both worth saving because the new tractors, and especially the decks are absolute junk! The older tractors (pick a brand) are built so much better.
Adjusted for inflation those late 80's tractors would cost over $6K today. You're comparing a tractor that cost 4x as much. The good news is you can go buy a really nice tractor for $6000. Really, new tractors are built better when you compare apples to apples.
 

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It ain't over
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I agree with the 'look for used' crowd. I make a hobby of rescuing used lawn mowers. I have 4 mowers now - it has been much higher. But, I'm trying to manage my habit. Like used guns, there are some great deals on used mowers.

I'm not as young as I used to be - who is? I was thinking of a Snapper rear-engine mower for some of my yard. Last June I bought a 28" Snapper rear-engine rider with at 12.5 Briggs electric start for $500. It is like new - the rear tires still have all the 'mold hair' from the tire molding process. The retail is probably around $1400-$1500.

Look around and try to find a used mower. As for a trailer, $100-$150 should get you a good yard trailer. I have a poly trailer that seems to work for me. I don't remember what I paid for it - but it was in the above range.

Good luck :wavey: - while you're trying to lose a pound or two, learn to work on your mower. It isn't difficult and can be rewarding in many ways - including MONEY!!!
 

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Get a Scag FreedomZ zero turning radius mower. You can get a hitch and pull a wagon behind it. No need to use your legs at all. Makes mowing a fun fast job. Save your money and get some cheap financing. Tractors are slow and rough around trees/flower beds and walls.
 

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Kubota makes some miniature compact tractors,,they are in the BX model series. Mower deck is easy to remove,,,strong enuf to pull a yard type trailer,,,,with the terrain you are on 4wd is pretty important, turf type tires get little traction on grass where there is a slope,,I say this because of my yard and 4wd is a must for me. They run on Diesel and are easy to maintain and off road diesel is a good buy and you use less fuel compared to gas. The unit will last you your life time. But again,,,I suggest you consider 4wd if the ground has a lot of slope,,wet grass will make a 2wd tractor useless.

I have a B2400 Kubota compact tractor,, I mow 8 acres and use it with my yard trailer for hauling fire wood and yard waste. I also blade my driveway with it during the winter,,,I could not maintain my home without it.
 

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They are expensive,,,, I think the BX series are not quite that bad,,,mine was 11 or 12 K if I remember right. But if the OP just buys a large lawn mower,,,I do not think he will be happy with it for what he has implied to what he wants from it and the slopey ground he has. Depending on his description what he calls a slope. I have a terrace that I need 4wd to mow it,,,turf type tires don't get much traction.
 

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What does a Kubota with mower start at? 15k?

I'd like one too :)

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Like one? H*ll, you'd be d****d happy if you had one. Yeah, they're pricey, especially if you get a front end loader; but worth every penny. My B7610 mows all summer, moves snow all winter and, after 7 years, is barely broken in. When it comes to firewood, it's my strong right arm. Barring accident, that thing will be going long after I'm dead.

My old JD 210 and 214 were junk compared to that Kubota. Just hit the zerk fittings with the grease gun regularly and you might never have to rebuild the deck or the FEL.
 
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