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  1. #1
    Elite Member woodlandfarms's Avatar
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    Los Angeles / SW Washington
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    PowerTrac 1850

    Default Help with riding lawn mowers, trying to buy used.

    So the wife hates the cut we get from my 96" rough cut mower. She wants a riding mower. I am OK with this but I am hoping to buy used.

    Here are my questions. When I compare a new riding mower (in the $1500 range) we see 42 to 46" decks and 18 to 22 HP. When I look at used mowers I am seeing 38" decks and 12.5HP (A John Deer 160 has caught my eye at $450).

    I am not a slim guy, and our property has slopes. I read somewhere that the thought was a 12.5 HP engine from the late 80's has more torque than a new machine making the older machines a stronger.

    I see old craftsmans as well.

    Can you guys give me some advice as to what to look for. Oh, we have .5 acre that I think is up for grabs with this mower.

    All the best
    Power-Trac 1850, grapple, hoe, 90" mower, 72" box blade

  2. #2
    Veteran Member
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    Default Re: Help with riding lawn mowers, trying to buy used.

    If your thinking used you need to be looking pretty quick. As soon as things start getting green everybody wants what they should have bought when snow was on the ground. At least that is how it works in Ohio. Are you going to be doing the cutting or is your wife? If you had more then .5 acre I would suggest a zero turn. Most new mowers are made by one company now. It would not seem possible but it is pretty much the case. The older John Deeres, Snappers,Simplicities, and others were powered by 10 HP. Before you buy a used mower check on parts availability.

  3. #3
    Veteran Member LarryD's Avatar
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    Whidbey Island, WA.
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    TC33D

    Default Re: Help with riding lawn mowers, trying to buy used.

    Here in W. WA. the grass can get pretty thick pretty quick in the spring. If the weather doesn't cooperate it can be 10 days before I get a chance to mow and heavy grass areas force me to slow down. I've got 26HP on a 54" mower and I wouldn't want any less. JMHO.
    Make welfare as hard to get as a building permit

  4. #4
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    Johndeere3720's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
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    6,369
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    NW Oregon
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    Deere 317 & L118

    Default Re: Help with riding lawn mowers, trying to buy used.

    I have had 7 riding mowers that I can remember, still have 3. I did it as a project, fixing up lawn tractors and selling them ready to work again. Which place are you getting the lawn tractor for? The place in WA or CA? Since I have taken apart so many lawn tractors I was able to figure out where things wear out.

    First off is the steering gears:
    Steering gears in newer lawn tractors are routed directly from the steering shaft to another gear. Craftsman uses a system which uses two angled gears that mesh to turn teh wheels left and right. The steering shaft sits in a plastic boot that over time wears and eventually due to the way the gears mesh the lawn tractor will only turn left (like nascar ) It is a cheap system and it poorly designed, at least it is located within the lawn tractor, fairly protected from the elements. mower.

    John Deere's L and LA series is no better. They use gears that mesh in awkward angles between the mower deck and the frame. Over time being exposed to moisture, dirt, small rocks, and lawn debris these gears will no longer meet and the only way you will be able to move the lawn mower is by pulling up on the steering wheel (happened to me on my L118 ). It is not easy to get to the gears either, deck must be partially removed and the front of the tractor must be lifted off the ground to provide decent access to the gears.

    Also make sure the ball joints on the steering rods are in good shape, when they wear out since the rod is upside down it will fall off the worn ball and the front tires will suddenly turn in opposite directions. It is not easy to move when this happens. Fortunately it is fairly easy to fix.

    Also check the bearings in the deck, you will know if they are bad because the mower will be very loud when the PTO is engaged.

    As far as a good used lawn tractor, I would look at the 300 series John Deere's. They cost a little more but are designed to last and have had few failures. Also look at the LX and GX lawn tractors, they are also made to last, not be "disposable within 5-7 years". The bigger 90's era craftsman's are also pretty decent too as well as the 90's era Simplicity broadmoor tractors, I would stay away from anything older as far as Simplicity goes because parts are hard to get and they are difficult to work on. The most likely problem with a hydrostatic lawn tractor will be a weak transmission, test it by backing up to a tree and get the tires to spin. Or try backing up a hill. If it is slow I would avoid it, that means the tranny is getting weak. Hope this helps.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Help with riding lawn mowers, trying to buy used.-img_0131-jpg   Help with riding lawn mowers, trying to buy used.-img_0136-jpg  
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  5. #5
    Elite Member woodlandfarms's Avatar
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    Los Angeles / SW Washington
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    Default Re: Help with riding lawn mowers, trying to buy used.

    Your guys advice is really helpful. this is for our washington house. Just outside of Portland to be specific. Yeah, grass and rain, what a mix.

    keep the advice coming, I am passing it on to the wife and letting her craigslist this one.

    Carl
    Power-Trac 1850, grapple, hoe, 90" mower, 72" box blade

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Help with riding lawn mowers, trying to buy used.

    Quote Originally Posted by woodlandfarms View Post
    I am passing it on to the wife and letting her craigslist this one.
    Do you have any local trader papers or something to that effect? I've found that with rare exceptions that sell quick, most of the stuff on Craigslist tends to be overpriced junk.

  7. #7
    Elite Member
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    Grayson County, TX
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    Kubota B2710

    Default Re: Help with riding lawn mowers, trying to buy used.

    Rethink you budget and get a ZTR unless the lawn if very small.
    Alan L., TX
    South of Bugtussle
    North of Mustang
    On the banks of Buck Creek
    We don't rent pigs.

  8. #8
    Elite Member
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    Grayson County, TX
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    Kubota B2710

    Default Re: Help with riding lawn mowers, trying to buy used.

    Rethink yous budget and get a ZTR unless the lawn is very small.
    Alan L., TX
    South of Bugtussle
    North of Mustang
    On the banks of Buck Creek
    We don't rent pigs.

  9. #9
    New Member
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    Sep 2011
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    john deere LX255

    Default Re: Help with riding lawn mowers, trying to buy used.

    i used a 1989 wheel horse 212-5 for 20 years on 3 acres of hilly lawn...i bought it used in 93 for 500 dollars, that mower served me well with few breakdowns ,i still have the mower but now use a john deere that i bought used..the wheel horse is a 12.5 hp with a 38 inch cut...it did the job , hauled my 200 pound butt around with no problem...only thing while i used the wheel horse is i wish it had a bigger deck as it took me a while to mow...if you could find a used mower that was well maintained thats what i would go for,,,like the above posts said , now it the time before mowing season starts as the prices usually go up

  10. #10
    Platinum Member
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    mountain valley near Tahoe
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    Michigan 55A, Foton 254

    Default Re: Help with riding lawn mowers, trying to buy used.

    We just bought a couple, both used, for use on the new ranch. One is a craftsman 18hp, the other I have no idea what it is, it's very old and has a 7hp briggs on ie. They are wonderful out there, we have a trailer we have used to: haul feed, mucking, carry wood and wire for 2000ft of fencing.
    We had a Viking in Australia that I cut two acres with, I bought it used, had to put a new bearing in the mower deck.
    I think most will do your job and unless the guys post information saying:" keep away from this one" pick one, most are good, some are made by the same company with different names on them.

    Good luck finding the one you want.

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