View Full Version : Lawn Tractors - which is best?

A1 Grass
06-27-2003, 01:06 AM
I am looking to purchase a 42-48" lawn tractor for a couple of fields that I occasionally mow. I will be looking for used, so I was wondering what brand is reliable while being reasonably priced. My budget will most likely be about $1000.

I am NOT looking for advice on why not to buy a lawn tractor, I have my reasons. That in mind, any recommendations?

06-27-2003, 01:12 AM
now when you say fields are you talking about athletic fields, or are you talking about huge acreage lawns?

A1 Grass
06-27-2003, 01:13 AM
1/2 - 1 acre field. In the country. some grass - some weeds - a few holes!

06-27-2003, 01:15 AM
ok next questions..how often are you going to mow it, is appearance a major issue, how much are you looking to spend? Do you just want a mower to mow?

A1 Grass
06-27-2003, 01:19 AM
I mow them 1-2 times a month. I am not looking for yard-quality mowing. I am tired of jarring my kidneys on my 32" SCAG w/velke!

I want something that cuts and that might pull a small loaded cart or aerator.

My budget for a used one would be $1000-1300.

06-27-2003, 01:21 AM
I know a lot of LCO's will laugh at this, but why not get a Craftsman.

06-27-2003, 01:25 AM
buy a murray with an automatic transmission. I started my business with one of these machines then another and fianlly a commercial walkbehind then a Z.

Get a 42" it only has 2 blades instead of 3 and will cut better in tall grass. Theyre pretty quick too. Those 2 mowers made me alot of money and new are under 1000.

A1 Grass
06-27-2003, 01:25 AM
I have thought of that and I couldn't care less who laughs.

I have managed to get by just fine on a lot of equipment that "LCO's" laughed at.

I just wanted to know if anyone has had any experience with the usuals - Craftsman, Cub Cadet, John Deere, etc.

06-27-2003, 01:28 AM
Liquid cooled Kubota all the way
A bit pricey but it pays to pay

06-27-2003, 01:29 AM
My father has used craftmans for over 8 years now and they do a wonderful cut. The only down side to them is that they are not built TOUGH. We had to do a lot of welds on them.

06-27-2003, 01:37 AM
I have a JD LT155, I used it for my first accounts 5 or so per week, worked well until I got more. The 15 HP Kohler is a little under powered, but I mulch.

06-27-2003, 02:09 AM
Get a GOOD USED one. I bought a monkey terds used for $550 and got a trimmer and blower. A o.k. puchace and made lots of $$ till I sold it 3 months later.

06-27-2003, 02:27 AM
Originally posted by lawncare3
Get a GOOD USED one. I bought a monkey terds used for $550 and got a trimmer and blower. A o.k. puchace and made lots of $$ till I sold it 3 months later.

WTF is a monkey terds ?:rolleyes:

06-27-2003, 02:36 AM
Montgomery Wards???????

06-27-2003, 02:47 AM
Yup ;)

Envy Lawn Service
06-27-2003, 03:46 AM
Dollar for dollar, you just can't beat a Murray hydro. I did the "so called" upgrade to Kubota's and Deere's. As you can see below, I still have a Murray. Sold the Kubota's and Deere's.

Now if you want a "name brand" you should search the classifieds for the older model hydro's. If not, you can get a new Murray within your budget.

However, you may want to allow yourself a bit more money to spend. If I were going to buy new for your uses I'd get either a Stanley (Murray) 52" cut or a 48" Sears DLT 2000 w/ 20 hp Kohler Pro. That is "if" you can scratch around and find either of these.

Whatever you do, please avoid Troy Built (MTD). My father-in-law is on his 3rd new one in 2 weeks already. #1 failed tranny #2 bad electrical problem #3 he has now. The engine RPM's need adjusting up. He asked me to help on that one. So I'm going to go start a thread and see if anyone can help me help him.

Personally I would have demanded a refund after #2 :dizzy:

Richard Martin
06-27-2003, 04:49 AM
A friend of mine used Scots mowers commercially for years. While the plastic body work seemed to take a beating in the hands of his employees the mowers held up very well mechanically. BTW, the Scots mowers were built by JD.

06-27-2003, 07:32 AM
Check the classifieds or garage sales.
I had a Toro 42" Hydro when I started and I bought it new. It was a tough mower and did pretty well but it wasn't for commercial mowing. The wear parts went at an accellerated rate commercially.

If you can find a used lawn and garden Toro for that price it will give you a good cut and it will pull what you want. I have found that it was easy to get and replace parts when needed and overall maintenance was easier on this type of tractor than on a big box special.

You still might do better in price with a cheepie but if you can find a Toro for a deal I'd say go for it. Good Luck.

06-27-2003, 10:29 AM
I gotta add something about that Murray that was mentioned. I started with a Murray 42" I/C ( industrial/Commercial) and it is STILL going. Can't kill it. For the money, haven't seen a better lawn tractor. I"ve only had to replace battery and chain the deck.

06-27-2003, 10:56 AM
Wheel Horse would treat you good, so would Cub Cadet or John Deere....
The cheaper two bladed machines generally have a higher blade speed and the two blades do seem to handle taller growth better... Start looking and report back to us what you find then we can make a recommendation on whats available. A larger heavier one with larger wheels is best like a Wheel Horse, Cub or JD because the heavier weight keeps the tractor planted on the ground better over bumps and the larger tires found on garden tractors (lawn tractors have smaller tires) and the longer wheelbase on garden tractors both help smooth things out on bumps.
This here is a nice hydro drive garden tractor with large, bouncy tires and a spring seat thats deeply padded, this is good on rough ground (have a 48" deck for it not shown). Could pick one of these up for the high end of your price range if you look hard. They'll last forever and take zillions of attachments. Very reliable and hardworking. This particular model is a 520H with a 20hp twin Onan engine and hand hydro control (better on bumps than foot) but I prefer foot for normal usage because it's quicker turning around.

06-27-2003, 11:06 AM
It's gonna be slow going in deep grass with a residential (cheap) garden tractor. You will have to go very slow in tall grass. You better get one with at least 18 hp, more would be better. I'd recommend looking for a used Yanmar or equivalent compact tractor. I've seen used 20 h.p. in the $3,000 range. If you're not worried too much about quality these can fly through tall grass with a small bushog or belly mower. Plus there are applications for these that can't be done or can't be done well with a cheapo garden tractor.

If you can find a garden tractor that runs well from the late seventies or earlier, like a Allis Chalmers, Cub Cadet, John Deere they are very sturdy, and will be in your price range. You may need to do a little fixin on them to get them right, but it will be time well spent without blowing a mint. My dad hasn't bought a Garden Tractor since he bought his J.D. 110 in the mid seventies. He's had the (11hp kohler) motor rebuilt twice, 2 new mower decks but it is still solid as a rock. He has a 7 acre property with some areas like the areas you're describing, the tractor is pushing 30 years old. I'm sure my dad will never buy another garden tractor (he has no reason to).

06-27-2003, 11:08 AM
Lots of ways to go..... a good used one like a Wheel Horse or older Cub or a new, Craftsman grade and just beat the hel* out of it and buy another one down the road.

Personally, for that little money I would stay away from Hydro. I love hydro mowers but if you want to spend $1k or so, you will be paying extra to get hydro, the hydro will rob some of your HP and you will have potential maintenance on the hydro if you are using it for more than it's intended duty.

06-27-2003, 11:19 AM
I think this would suit your needs.


A1 Grass
06-27-2003, 05:28 PM
Who sells Murray?

06-27-2003, 05:51 PM
Originally posted by A1 Grass
Who sells Murray?


06-27-2003, 07:11 PM
Huskee-made by MTD,sold at tractor supply

bought a 20hp,42" for 850.00 brand new last nov.its not solid axle model.solid axle model is better,but more exp.I've seen the 23/46 in sale paper for 1399.---I don't think it will cure your jarrin kidney problems,my walk-behind seems easier on me than tractor,your knees take part of jarrin on sulky.Mabey a different sulky could be your answer?:)

06-28-2003, 05:45 PM
I'll cast my vote for a Murray if you are looking to spend around a grand. I've mowed with Murrays for nearly 20 years and the only problems they ever gave me or my parents were the spindle bearings. In the last 6 years or so, Murray started to put zerks on the mandrel housings, and since then we never had anymore problems with them failing. I just sold a Murray 14hp/40" after I bought my Toro WB, and I really hated to let it go. I would have kept it for a backup mower, but storage space for me is kind of limited. Murrays held up for me just fine, because I didn't do stupid things with them, kept them in the shed or garage, and I always followed the maintenance schedule very closely. If I was going to buy another one today, I would go for the 17hp Briggs/42" cut w/the peerless 6spd trans. Murray installs gage wheels on 42" decks and up, so I would definitely go with a 42". Walmart sells this model for $949 here in Tennessee. You can also find Murrays at Home Depot stores. One of them should last you a good while providing you take care of it maintenance-wise and don't beat the tar out of it. I also recommend Sears Craftsman mowers. They are decently built for the money. However, I do not like the MTD mowers sold at lowes. Well hope this helps you out. Best of luck.

A1 Grass
06-28-2003, 06:34 PM
Sounds like - so far - that Murray is in 1st place with Craftsman in second.

Has anybody had any experience with the Snapper RER 42"? (I know, I know... "Run, Forest, run!")

Thanks for all the info!

06-28-2003, 08:44 PM
I understand you have a budget and all but what if you then decide to take on lawns that are about 1acre in size about and you get a Murray which is the cheapo of homeowner mowers around and you start using it more and more down the road as your business grows and things on it break on it even before its a year or two old.
Id recommend looking in the classifieds of your local newspaper or head over to a John Deere dealer, and look for a mower from the mid 80's to early 90's, these tractors have the frames and were built like tanks compared to the new JD's they build these days. I know they hold their value very well and hold up over the years, personally knowing from experiance because we own a '82 JD 314 that I started out with back in '94 with and was used alot till 99 with minor breakdowns but still is a workhorse.
My suggestion would be to keep in mind on where your business will go to in a few years if you plan on growing and need a decent lawn tractor before making the big jump to a ZTR.
Deere in my opinion

Envy Lawn Service
06-28-2003, 11:35 PM
Home Depot sells Murray Select. That's where I bought mine.

Originally posted by hboyd_com
Personally, for that little money I would stay away from Hydro. I love hydro mowers but if you want to spend $1k or so, you will be paying extra to get hydro, the hydro will rob some of your HP and you will have potential maintenance on the hydro if you are using it for more than it's intended duty.

As for that statement, that's one of the craziest things I've seen said on lawnsite.

Take it from me. Those little Peerless hydro transaxles can't be killed. I've used them commercially for years with no problems at all. Trust me I have used and abused them badly too.

There is no maintenance as they are a totally sealed unit. Sealed for the life of the transaxle I might add. You just drive them until they fall apart, then get a new one. They are sealed for life because the MFG found there were more failures due contamination getting in during fluid changes. They now live longer lives completely sealed.

As for the power robbing, you'll never notice it at all. These hydros do not take the power to run that the ones on commercial mowers do. Plus they put plenty of horse power on the mowers anyways.

06-28-2003, 11:37 PM
Originally posted by rvsuperintendant
I think this would suit your needs.


what is on the back wall of that garage??? just curious