Buying my first riding mower, need help

Discussion in 'Homeowner Assistance Forum' started by Ebenezer, Jun 24, 2002.

  1. Ebenezer

    Ebenezer LawnSite Member
    from 8
    Messages: 4

    I'm new to this forum and would like some help in
    buying my first riding mower. I've got 3/4 acre, mostly flat with few trees. I'm looking at buying a craftsman 42 inch cut and reading all of the product descriptions has raised a number of questions. Which is better, a Kohler 1 cylinder with hydraulic valve lifters, or a Briggs&Stratton Intek V twin 2 cylinder with pressurized lubrication, if they both have the same horse power. Which one is more powerful, will last longer, have less vibration and noise, and be easier to service?
    Thanks for your help
  2. JJOHN22042

    JJOHN22042 LawnSite Member
    from MA
    Messages: 159

    Why do you need a Tractor? Are you just going to use it for cutting the Grass? If you are Buy a nice Scag or Exmark Walkbehind they will give you a much better cut for around the same price of the Tractor.
    If you do buy the Sears Tractor make sure you get the Bagger its give the Lawn a better Look for some reason.

    Good Luck..
  3. Ebenezer

    Ebenezer LawnSite Member
    from 8
    Messages: 4

    Thank you for your response. You're the only person out of 71, who took the time to offer me some help. For that I'm grateful.
    I'm a senior citizen with bad knees, that is why I'd rather have a riding mower. Do you know anything about the two different engines?
  4. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Messages: 1,540

    Hello Ebenezer!

    Are you entirely 'sold' on getting a Craftsman?

    I know of two people just in my neighborhood who bought Craftsman riders this spring only to call me to mow their lawns while theirs were in the repair shop. Both had failed transmissions. One of them has gone in twice for the same problem. They got so fed up that they wound up getting a refund and bought another brand instead.

    If I may offer you a suggestion:

    Go to Home depot and look at the Scotts line of lawn tractors. The ones that have Kohler engines are made at the John Deere factory in Greenville, TN. and carry a 2-year warrenty. The service contract is through you local John Deere dealer.

    I bought a Scotts 1642 (16 hp Kohler w/42" deck) 3 years ago and used it to start my lawn business. At the time they were about $1400 but I think they are closer to $1800 now. I put over 800 hours on that little tractor before I bought a commercial ZTR. That tractor is sweet. Hydro-drive transmission, nice cut, good ride. NO PROBLEMS at all with mine. The ignition switch was starting to get a little loose so I replaced it (at no charge) right before the warrenty expired. I would buy another one in a heartbeat if I needed to...but the one I have still performs flawlessly. Another plus is that Home Depot has all of the blades, belts, and even a pre-packaged seasonal maintanance kit (Oil, oil filter, air filter, fuel filter, and spark plug) for it. Around $20.

    Consider this:

    If you are only mowing 3/4 of an acre roughly once a week then it would take MANY YEARS to come close to racking up 800 hours....I was mowing over 15 acres a week with that little rascal my first season...and it never let me down...not once.

    The few extra hundred dollars would be very well spent for a great homeowner riding tractor.

    I cannot recommend this mower enough. Mine has served me especially well.

    Be sure, if you do look at them, to check out the Kohler/John Deere series. The offer another series that are equiped with Briggs & Stratton engines but they are not warrentied (or built by) John Deere.

    I guess the only problem with mine is deciding which family member is going to inherit it when I'm gone. Now that I have 2 commercial units my wife is after me to sell it...NO WAY! She'd have to pack her bags before I'd part with it now. That machine helped me start my own business.... I LOVE THAT TRACTOR. ;)

    Good luck!
  5. Ebenezer

    Ebenezer LawnSite Member
    from 8
    Messages: 4

    Thank you for reply. No, I'm not sold on a
    craftsman by any means. I went to Home Depot and saw the Scotts and was very impressed.One thing I
    noticed was that all of the Scotts were securely wrapped in plastic to protect them from the rain, while all of the other mowers were exposed to the weather. Some of them even had rust on parts of the deck. I noticed this same thing on all of the
    mowers at Walmart, some of which had severe areas
    of rust on the decks. Do they think people are going to buy brand new riding mowers that are rusted?
    Although the Scotts was a nice mower, and your endorsement was very formidable, it's a little too
    expensive for my budget. HD did have a Murray 42"
    with a Briggs & Stratton 17 HP 1 cynlinder over head valve engine with pressurized lubrication,
    automatic transmission, and a factory installed mulching kit for $1198. It was inside of the store
    and had no rust. Would this be a good buy?
    Thanks again.
  6. DLS1

    DLS1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,619

    SLS, I just started this year part-time and I am using a Sears 18hp Kohler I/C engine 44" cut for acreage mowing which I had before starting the business. We live on 5 acres.

    I mow small lawns to a few acres. I'm curious, how much faster time wise per acre did you gain using the commerical mower over the Scotts mower? How much more comfortable is the ride with the commercial? I'm preparing myself to upgrade to a newer/better mower which probably will not be commercial since I don't mow alot of big acreages.

    It wouldn't be worth the money to buy commerical for part-time work and the few big acreage jobs I have. Although, I am intrigued with the Hustler Fastrak which is close to commercial but not as expensive the cost of commercial. Any comments about the comparison would be much appreciated.

    Does anyone use the Fastrak? How do you like it.
  7. SLS

    SLS LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mars
    Messages: 1,540


    I know that I would not want to buy a brand-new mower (or anything else) that was showing rust spots. Thats one of the nice things about the Scotts...the hood, bumper, and grill are constructed of a heavy-duty plastic material. Very durable, scratch resistant, and rustproof.

    Maybe someone who has a Murray will respond. I do know that I would choose a Kohler over a Briggs though. Kohlers (and Kawasaki) have been very good (strong and reliable) for me.


    How much faster? I can only say that lawns that used to take me 2.5 to 3 hours to complete now are done in roughly 1 hour. A have a couple of 'easy' 1 acre lawns (not many trees, flat, no lawn **** in the way...) and the riding portion of the job is over in about 15 to 20 minutes!

    Consider this:

    The Scotts I praised above has a top (rated) forward groundspeed of 3.5 mph and a 42" mowing deck...while my Exmark Lazer Z has a top (rated) groundspeed of 10 mph AND a 60" mowing deck. PLUS the Lazer is a ZTR (Zero Turn Radius) mower...maneuvers much quicker than a steering wheel type mower. The twin 'sticks' (hydro-steering) are a whole lot easier to work than the brute arm-muscle that a manual steering wheel system requires.

    The bigger tires, heavier weight, cushy seat (w/padded armrests!), and hydraulic steering all add up to a much smoother, more comfortable mowing experience. Way smoother......

    With the tractor after 4 or 5 lawns (1 acre type) is was tiring out (sore butt) and running out of daylight. On the other hand, with the ZTR I can crank out 10 to 12 in a day...all by myself...and could still do more if it were not for running out of daylight.

    My tailbone and arms are MUCH happier with the ZTR! :D

    Go and demo one to see what i mean...the difference is like daylight and dark.
  8. Sonnie Parker

    Sonnie Parker LawnSite Member
    Messages: 167

    I've owned 2 Craftsmen riding mowers. The first one I had for 5 years and was sold with the house. It had a Kohler 16 or 17hp engine (can't remember exactly) and was a 42" cut. I had probably about an acre to cut then and it was all Zoyzia. It did a fine job and I never had any problems with the mower.

    The last Craftsmen I purchased in 1999, it had a 19hp B&S Twin V with a 42" cut and I was cutting between 5-6 acres of mostly bahia and mixed bermuda. While it cut fine, it was deathly slow for cutting that much area. I have a small amount of 419 bermuda around the house and I would cut it more often than the rest. It cut it quick and fine but there was no bahia.

    Both had hydro transmissions.

    However, on that last Craftsmen I purchased, I got the mower home (an hour from Sears) and the transmission failed. Of course I drove back to Sears and picked up another unit. Within a year I had the belt broke. Fortunately I purchased the maintenance contract and they fixed it. In less than 2 years I had to have the steering column replaced. Still it was fixed under the contract. And lastly, just a little over 2 months ago I had 2 tires go flat and again, under contract, they were repaired.

    My father owned a Craftsman rider for umpteen years and never had more than a flat tire or two. He claimed it was the greatest mower he ever owned. After moving he now has a push mower because his lawn is tiny.

    I've heard some horry story's on Murray's so I'd be very cautious about them.

    I've heard nothing but good about John Deere riders but they are more expensive.

    As far as Craftsmen goes, my experience on the first one was great while the second was so-so. For the money, I feel they are pretty good. I'd make sure to get the maintenance contract though. I believe it would be worth the extra $.
  9. Ebenezer

    Ebenezer LawnSite Member
    from 8
    Messages: 4

    Tractor Supply has a Huskee 42" 17.5 HP B&S OHV engine with pressurized lubrication, hydrostatic transmission for $1280. Is this a good brand and is Tractor Supply a good dealer?
    Thanks Again

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