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  #1  
Old August 4th, 2014, 11:30 PM
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Garden Tractor vs. Lawn Tractor long story

o.k. since I am in a motor mouth mood I thought I might share frustration and glee with my latest purchase.

Ha here goes - just bought 1.2 acres in N. Raleigh, NC. Sold the boat anchor of a house is So Cal and made the best financial move ever for our family as we cut off the bleeding appendage and decided to do without the So Cal weather.

So most of my new property is wooded and it is on a slope. Old owner sold us a push mower - well I mowed with that one time - screw a push mower daddy needs something he can ride.

Well hmmm let me start down that path of researching a riding lawn mower/lawn tractor - after countless hours I get a sweet deal on a 24 HP 42 inch deck craftsman new with an extended warranty for about $1,800 and change. Seems like a great deal.

2nd time mowing the hills and through the woods,(it has the hydrostatic tranny) so I press the reverse and it sounds like the plastic gears in the plastic rear end are making noise. Well holy crap let me call the home repair warranty. No problem they will be out to look at it before the 30 day return policy is up. A Day before showing up they called to reschedule the appointment to 3 weeks later meaning beyond the 30 days. I took the lawn tractor back on got my money back.

Here I was a newbie to the tractor scene and just spent countless hours reviewing craigslist/lowes/home depot/amazon/northern tool etc for the best lawn tractor and thought I had it nailed. NOT

Big mistake and best mistake - went and visited a cub cadet dealer. Hmmmm why does that riding lawn tractor have a hump in the middle I ask the salesman...."well that is a garden tractor not a lawn tractor".

Ah FU*k! "what is the difference" (as I hear the countless hours of research going down the tubes). "Well a garden tractor can take attachments, and those have a drive shaft from the vertical resting twin Kohler command engine to the hydrostatic cast iron rear end"

Whaaaatttt! Now the world is out of balance - I should have been looking at Garden Tractors this whole time due to the slope of my yard and the many years of abuse I tend to put on it.

"Garden Tractor huh!" what's that run? I ask. "o they start around $2.5K for an itty bitty one and go on up from there?"

Never going to get the chief finance officer of the household to appropriate funds for a Garden Tractor that will last for many years. What to do?

Search craigslist
wait hold the phone a Cub Cadet 2004 GT3204 tractor (GT stands for Garden Tractor boo haahaa), 54 inch deck, power steering, PTO, 23HP Kohler Command Twin. for $1,800
Cha ching.

I got me a Garden Tractor.

Moral of the story - if you new to land ownership that is bigger than what a push mower can handle make sure you understand the difference between a lawn tractor which is a riding mower and a Garden Tractor which can do a lot more then just mow and will last you for several years.

If you own a GT3000 series please post as I would love to hear about it.
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  #2  
Old August 4th, 2014, 11:36 PM
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Any cub cadet made before 1987 or so will outlast you. I don't know much about the new ones, but the old ones are bullet proof. For slopes, a single is better (at least than my KT17). My family has them dating back to the 1960s, still running fine and cutting grass (my dad's is an 84, grandfather's is a 60s my uncle uses). There is an ugly 1712 (ugly compared to my red 682) in Delaware with a 50in deck for $500. I am thinking about getting it as a spare so I can mow on slopes without worrying about the motor. think of new v. Old as series truck v new defender. Oh and on the hydro, when cub first introduced it, they had a traveling troop of guys on them who would do stunts and slam them full forward to full reverse to show how tough they were.

Attached is me leveling my lawn with my cub cadet.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 12:19 AM
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I've had them all (lawn tractors, garden tractors). Once you go diesel, you never go back.
I wouldn't trade my Deere 455 for anything, maybe not even a new one.

The snow blower fires snow 30'. The more snow you feed it, the further it goes! Barely notice there's a load, just a little more diesel exhaust is the only indication it's working a bit harder in 2' of snow.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 12:21 AM
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Way more tractor than you need for your land. As for slopes, off road training comes in handy, but be aware most manufacturers max out at 15 degrees. I go to 30 on mine. For that you need electric fuel pump to keep rolling. I cut about 1.5 acres with a 48 inch.
Just wait until fall arrives and all the heaves fall off...
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Old August 5th, 2014, 12:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackie Treehorn View Post
I've had them all (lawn tractors, garden tractors). Once you go diesel, you never go back. I wouldn't trade my Deere 455 for anything, maybe not even a new one. The snow blower fires snow 30'. The more snow you feed it, the further it goes! Barely notice there's a load, just a little more diesel exhaust is the only indication it's working a bit harder in 2' of snow.
You have a blower and a blade. . BTW I have .2 acre.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 07:35 AM
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A lesson learned Clay. Being raised on a beef farm, and having been doing some sort of "farming" most of my life,, I swore by JD. We where never without a green and yellow machine somewhere around. After my last experiance with the local dealer....I now have a Kubota 2200bx mower with attachments, and a brand new L3880 for the heavier stuff.
As Jackie said....once you go diesel..........
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Old August 5th, 2014, 07:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilfij View Post
You have a blower and a blade. . BTW I have .2 acre.
And no slope
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Old August 5th, 2014, 07:55 AM
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I went through the Craftsman mower purchase as well. If you are mowing a 2'X4' plot its fine. I have 4 acres to mow. I bought a John Deere X475. 4 wheel drive and 4 wheel steering. I have a mower deck and snow blade.

When you look at the construction of the Deere versus others you can see the difference. Its built better than a Land Rover!
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Old August 5th, 2014, 08:49 AM
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I've got 1.25-Acre and 50% is flat, the other sloped. 200' driveway.
I know there's a "chart" I've seen that gives you tractor recommendations based on acreage/slope etc., but that's useless to me because I use my tractor for everything.


About 2 years after I first bought my 455, I stumbled across a beat up, non-running 455 on CL for $800. I came with a shaft-driven sweeper attachment for the front and a 54" deck and extra 54" blade. The attachments alone were worth over $1,000 so I bought it thinking I was going to sell the extra deck and make a "Zamboni" out of the spare 455 for when I turned the tennis court into a ice-rink in the winter. Well, that turned out to be an over-ambitious project and I ended up selling the deck for $500, tractor for $500 and the hitch adapter for $400. I kept the sweeper attachment which turns out to be perfect for sweeping p the "dead" tennis court topping material in the fall.
  • snow removal of a 200' sloped driveway, plus 2500sf paver drive "courtyard" and turning circle;
  • hauling material in the polycart (loam, gravel etc.);
  • moving a boat trailer around with a 2" ball attachment;
  • annual opening and closing of a clay tennis court (that is about 10 heavy tasks right there);
  • dragging a 54" plug aerator with 150lbs of weight on top;
  • gravel access driveway scraping/grading (with blade);
  • cutting grass (mulching blades vs. power bagger seems to be the best in my situation)


FWIW the snow removal is by far the single most abusive task. I abused my old JD 318 until the Onan 2-cyl just became so tired it just wouldn't cut it, then two big-box garden tractors before that (I think both were made by MTD). Maybe grading the gravel access driveway is a bit tough on the tractor, but the snow removal is definitely the most abusive. The brutal temperatures, heavy loads and sand/ice/melt is just a hostile environment.


If I were to make a recommendation to anyone with a shorter driveway (say less than 100') and whether it is sloped or not, it would be to buy a dedicated walk-behind snow blower fo snow removal. For roughly $1,000 you get a dedicated machine that turns on a dime. Heck, the JD shaft-driven attachment for the 455 was $1,500 (reconditioned). The tractor/blower is great for long driveways, but the turning radius sucks and it takes up a shitload of room when that blower attachment is on the front. Granted, I'd rather have the blower attachment with my driveway, but it just doesn't make any sense to have it with most driveways.


As you can see, the machine suits my needs. After breaking lots of lesser equipment, this one has been bullet proof for over 5 years so far. The other really nice thing is fuel consumption. I go nearly all summer on one tank of diesel compared to constantly checking/filling fuel in the old 318.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 08:56 AM
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within the whole tractor thing there is a whole 'nother aspect in the John Deer world. The box store tractors and the dealership tractors. The lowes and home depot rebranded crap are quickly pointed out as being inferior by the dealership or @ least that was the deal a couple years ago. You couldn't even compare pricing as the tractors had completely different model no's.

I think we did this in another thread but I'm running a 30hp diesel (yanmar engine) selectable four wheel drive with locking center diff, with three blade 60 inch deck, power steering, incredible brakes, hydrostatic trans, hydraulics,rear steer, front mounted mower, "Commercial grade" John Deere F1145. The rig weighs over 3000 lbs but you can let your lawn get 14inches tall and it doesn't even bog down. It will mow as fast as you can go and still stay in the seat, which can be a challenge @ my place. I regularly mow 40 plus degree road side grades where I am having to hold on to the side of the tractor to stay in the seat and keep pressure on that switch (yes it has rops- ie a rollbar). Damn thing is incredible.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 08:58 AM
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Attachment truly make life easier. I have just under 28 acres to maintain. You cant beat a 6 ft bush hog for summer....and a 6 ft sno blower for the winter stuff. I still think the best attachment to date is the fork lift tines for the loader. Don't know how I lived with out them.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 09:06 AM
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With that slope he needs a 9560R.

Actually get a set of tire chains on it and just leave 'em year round. Really helps.
My only complaint with the Gravely is the engine sticks out the back so it's easy to dig it into the earth. Hangs up a lot and I end up using the big tractor to lift it out of trouble, although I guess since I have that option I tend to be less careful.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 09:36 AM
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Nevermind
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Old August 5th, 2014, 09:49 AM
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In 2010, I made the similar YT vs. GT choice... and if GT, big box crap vs. real McKoy (the uncle is correct, bigbox JB, Case, etc. are crap) and diesel vs. gas. Then used if going the full monty (real McKoy GT w/ diesel) vs. new something inferior quality to get the price points closer in line.
Requirements = cutting essentially flat yard 1 acre of grass and various pulling attachments. Goal = cut the lawn as fast as I possibly could without dropping > $7k on a quality ZT.
After reading the MyTractorForms (those guys are 10x more passionate than us here), I quickly ruled out the YT and settled on the Sears GT w/ the 26hp Kohler, hydrostatic, and 54" deck for $2500 after the various discounts/coupons. It is essentially the same as the Husqvarna GT (same assembly line and drivetrain, etc.). IMO, better than the bigbox GTs but clearly inferior to the real McKoys. Happy with the choice. It goes 7.7 mph which is slightly faster than my neighbor's $8k commercial quality Kubota ZT, but being a ZT, he can cut at least 20% faster where I am killed by the 20 some odd trees and various gardens my wife has planted. But I am okay taking that extra 15 minutes or 5 hrs per year to save $5.5k. Bonus is I can haul stuff (500 lbs trees, aerator, loaded trailer, where the ZT can not). Another neighbor took my plan B. He picked up a clean Kubota diesel GT off CL for $4500. Probably 20-25 years old and built like a tank. That thing is probably good for another 30 years and sips fuel, but it is slow as dirt, it would take me an additional 15 minutes per cut. I understand if I get another 10 years, I'll be on borrowed time after that. Gator blades from Amazon make a difference. The bad, that Kohler burns so much gas it makes my D seem like a Prius in comparison.

And for the big jobs, I call yet another neighbor.
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  #15  
Old August 5th, 2014, 09:52 AM
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Ha ha! It is nice to see I am not the only one that gets a little excited about tractors . Bill I like your idea of getting the snow chains for year round as I do have some muddy spots and loose traction. My version didn't come with the a locking diff and I did hear there a problematic because people don't fully stop to engage them.

Jackie, a guy here locally has a parts one and I am thinking of picking it up so I can have spares. O....its like rovers all over again.
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Old August 5th, 2014, 10:37 PM
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I bought the biggest box store JD they had in '08 when we moved out here (1ac) and have beat the everloving piss out of it. I push cars with it, I do rev-fwd wheelies, I've had it buried so fucking deep in the yard that the deck (54") was suction cupped to the mud and the Land Rover wouldn't even pull it out.
I havent even changed the filters in a couple years and I put serious hours on this bitch. Currently there are no upcoming oil changes on the schedule, ever. There is an oil leak that is "keeping it fresh"- I think I cracked the block pushing a truck up a hill when the plastic hood gave way. The push bumper sits to low, go figure. Still cuts great (I do change blades) but the battery is flat.

Best thing I ever did was real mini tractor tires. With what I paid, and what Ive spent on it, I figure I am at about $500/yr. If it makes it to November, I am planning on dragging it to the big boys toys auction and picking up something with a bagger.
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Old August 6th, 2014, 12:35 PM
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My wife decided to help me out by taking over the lawn mowing of which I object because it is my "therapy". We have just under 2 acres and I have a Craftsman 22hp tractor with a 52" deck. I bought it used and use it for mowing, snowplowing and at one time moved 15 tons of decorative rock around in a little trailer.

Anyway my wife runs over the horseshoe pit and hits the stake that was concreted in, pulling it out of the ground. She comes around to the front and parks it in the driveway. Later that afternoon I go to put it in the garage and the transmission is stuck and there is a burning smell. I find out the transmission belt is frayed and broken. No problem, order a new one and wait for it to come. Time to change it out and find because the belt is frayed it is wrapped around and between a pulley on the axle.

It is stuck and to get access to it and get it out I have to remove the mower deck, seat, rear fender skirt, and gas tank.

Long story short, by my wife trying to save me two hours of mowing, cost me 4 hours of repair time. We have a saying around my house now. Don't touch my stuff!!!!
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Old August 6th, 2014, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crown14 View Post
I bought the biggest box store JD they had in '08 when we moved out here (1ac) and have beat the everloving piss out of it. I push cars with it, I do rev-fwd wheelies, I've had it buried so fucking deep in the yard that the deck (54") was suction cupped to the mud and the Land Rover wouldn't even pull it out.
I havent even changed the filters in a couple years and I put serious hours on this bitch. Currently there are no upcoming oil changes on the schedule, ever. There is an oil leak that is "keeping it fresh"- I think I cracked the block pushing a truck up a hill when the plastic hood gave way. The push bumper sits to low, go figure. Still cuts great (I do change blades) but the battery is flat.

Best thing I ever did was real mini tractor tires. With what I paid, and what Ive spent on it, I figure I am at about $500/yr. If it makes it to November, I am planning on dragging it to the big boys toys auction and picking up something with a bagger.
As usual your post cracked me up. lol
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Old August 6th, 2014, 01:17 PM
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This is either Clay's fault for starting this thread or it's an example of Karma. I looked at a couple of tractor websites last night thinking what if I had to replace mine today.
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A friend of mine runs a land rover / range rover specialty repair shop. Based on his experience, they are capable of stopping anywhere, anytime, at any cost.

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Old August 6th, 2014, 08:03 PM
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Try a gravely 2 wheel tractor....Swiss army knife of tractors.
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