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calling all mower gurus


philpom
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My circa 1990's Craftsman GT5000 is giving fits.  (perfect timing with the move right?).  I want to get the right tractor to replace it.  Thoughts?  I need some ground engagement ability and it should be durable.  I have whittled it down to two  options.
 

Craftsman 54" Fast Auto 24 HP Briggs & Stratton V-Twin Turn Tight® Garden Tractor

 

or

 

Husqvarna NEW GTH52Xls 24-HP V-Twin Dual Hydrostatic 52-in Garden Tractor

 

Killing me, which should I pick?  Any opinions are welcome.  

 

I must be able to tow and use on uneven terrain.

 

 

My price range is ~3K so outside of these options opinions are welcome.

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i'm working at a university. There is a large athletic field. They have some speedy mowers. No steering wheel, just steering levers. John Deere on 3 wheels. 

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I am no mechanical guru on any level... But in my experience, I'm not a fan of the Husqvarna. My wife's family are long time farmers and have tons of huge equipment. Several years ago, wife and MIL went to a Husqvarna dealer and bought a pair of pretty big, really expensive mowers. They were zero-turn with the two lever control like so many other companies make. Both households had nothing but trouble with the mowers. If it could go wrong, it went wrong. We babied ours for a few years, fixing every thing that went wrong along the way, until it literally caught fire and burned completely. The belts would never stay on. It would get stuck in any minor mole hole. It didn't cut evenly. Complete POS.

I picked out our current mower. Got a Ferris, not sure what size or model. It's a tank. Has three blade mowing deck that is suspended/floating on chains somehow. Gives a good even cut that way and is great for our rough hilly uneven rural "yard" and whatever field I want to clear. It's 18.5HP and I think cost me about four grand a couple Summers back. I try to research decent sized purchases like this, and at the time this seemed to be the best choice for me. Good balance of value, features, durability, highly rated, best bang-for-buck I could find. MIL went with a Bad Boy mower about a year after our Husqvarna shot craps. They seem to like it well enough, but I'm really happy with our Ferris.

Take all of this with a grain of salt (and squeeze of lemon and shot of tequila). We could have gotten a really crappy model from Husqvarna. It seemed like the problems we had were in line with the problems MIL had too, but I hated that mower the whole time we had it.

One thing that seems to stick in memory though, when doing my shopping... Some of these will have different motors for the same model of mower. Like Kawasaki vs Kohler for the same model of Ferris or Bad Boy or whatever. Almost universally, the feedback was to spend the extra three or four hundred bucks to get the more expensive motor, usually the Kawasaki?

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I am no mechanical guru on any level... But in my experience, I'm not a fan of the Husqvarna. My wife's family are long time farmers and have tons of huge equipment. Several years ago, wife and MIL went to a Husqvarna dealer and bought a pair of pretty big, really expensive mowers. They were zero-turn with the two lever control like so many other companies make. Both households had nothing but trouble with the mowers. If it could go wrong, it went wrong. We babied ours for a few years, fixing every thing that went wrong along the way, until it literally caught fire and burned completely. The belts would never stay on. It would get stuck in any minor mole hole. It didn't cut evenly. Complete POS.

I picked out our current mower. Got a Ferris, not sure what size or model. It's a tank. Has three blade mowing deck that is suspended/floating on chains somehow. Gives a good even cut that way and is great for our rough hilly uneven rural "yard" and whatever field I want to clear. It's 18.5HP and I think cost me about four grand a couple Summers back. I try to research decent sized purchases like this, and at the time this seemed to be the best choice for me. Good balance of value, features, durability, highly rated, best bang-for-buck I could find. MIL went with a Bad Boy mower about a year after our Husqvarna shot craps. They seem to like it well enough, but I'm really happy with our Ferris.

Take all of this with a grain of salt (and squeeze of lemon and shot of tequila). We could have gotten a really crappy model from Husqvarna. It seemed like the problems we had were in line with the problems MIL had too, but I hated that mower the whole time we had it.

One thing that seems to stick in memory though, when doing my shopping... Some of these will have different motors for the same model of mower. Like Kawasaki vs Kohler for the same model of Ferris or Bad Boy or whatever. Almost universally, the feedback was to spend the extra three or four hundred bucks to get the more expensive motor, usually the Kawasaki?

Thanks for filling me in on the Huskie. That's one mower I have no experience with. The big thing is if you buy a mower, I don't care who's name is on it, from a big box store you get consumer junk all made by the same company. The lure of these mowers is price. Example: Buy a John Deere from say Home Depot and try to get warranted service from JD. Ain't gunna happen. Buy the same looking mower from a JD dealer and it will cost more because it's a real John Deere.

Koehler was bought out by Briggs. You don't see them around much any more. Bottom line here is buy from a big box and expect to buy another one in a year or two. Local garden shops do most of the warranty work on those machines. Go around back and look at their junk pile and write down some names. Good luck with your new mower.

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thanks for the input, some was valuable and some was funny!

I have been doing a ton of research because I am replacing a 12 year old Craftsman GT5000 - it has been great but has reached the point where something breaks every year, this time the blades won't run.  Consumer junk is what I want to avoid, I want another 12-15 years out of my new one.

Here are a few things I have learned along the way.

There are riding mowers and there are garden tractors.  The main difference is strength and power.  Look for a tuff torque K66 or hydra-gear g730 transmission or better,  These model transmission are heavy duty and meant to power ground engagement attachments (dozer blades, snow blowers, blades, plows etc) and can tow a lot.  Nothing sub $3000 dollars is more than a light duty mower.  

Zero Turn mowers are just mowers, they can't double as a work force multiplier so they are out for me.  I need more than a mower.

 

I looked long and hard at John Deere, I love the brand however the D100 series are not so good. You need to get in to the X300 series before they get good.

 

I am leaning hard right now towards the Craftsman GT5600,  It's a garden tractor class machine with a hydra gear transaxle and can handle ground engagement attachments.  It is powered by a B&S Platinum OHV 24 HP extended life engine.

Keys:

look for garden tractor, not lawn mower.
Look for the heavy duty transaxle (k66 or G730) <-- most important factor and manufacturers don't always want to share what theirs has.

Heavy gauge frame

Expect to spend ~$3500 (the next jump in quality happens at about $5000, less than that and you really just get more bells.

If you don't start shopping here then just get the cheapest thing you can find.  

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I am no mechanical guru on any level... But in my experience, I'm not a fan of the Husqvarna. My wife's family are long time farmers and have tons of huge equipment. Several years ago, wife and MIL went to a Husqvarna dealer and bought a pair of pretty big, really expensive mowers. They were zero-turn with the two lever control like so many other companies make. Both households had nothing but trouble with the mowers. If it could go wrong, it went wrong. We babied ours for a few years, fixing every thing that went wrong along the way, until it literally caught fire and burned completely. The belts would never stay on. It would get stuck in any minor mole hole. It didn't cut evenly. Complete POS.

I picked out our current mower. Got a Ferris, not sure what size or model. It's a tank. Has three blade mowing deck that is suspended/floating on chains somehow. Gives a good even cut that way and is great for our rough hilly uneven rural "yard" and whatever field I want to clear. It's 18.5HP and I think cost me about four grand a couple Summers back. I try to research decent sized purchases like this, and at the time this seemed to be the best choice for me. Good balance of value, features, durability, highly rated, best bang-for-buck I could find. MIL went with a Bad Boy mower about a year after our Husqvarna shot craps. They seem to like it well enough, but I'm really happy with our Ferris.

Take all of this with a grain of salt (and squeeze of lemon and shot of tequila). We could have gotten a really crappy model from Husqvarna. It seemed like the problems we had were in line with the problems MIL had too, but I hated that mower the whole time we had it.

One thing that seems to stick in memory though, when doing my shopping... Some of these will have different motors for the same model of mower. Like Kawasaki vs Kohler for the same model of Ferris or Bad Boy or whatever. Almost universally, the feedback was to spend the extra three or four hundred bucks to get the more expensive motor, usually the Kawasaki?

Thanks for filling me in on the Huskie. That's one mower I have no experience with. The big thing is if you buy a mower, I don't care who's name is on it, from a big box store you get consumer junk all made by the same company. The lure of these mowers is price. Example: Buy a John Deere from say Home Depot and try to get warranted service from JD. Ain't gunna happen. Buy the same looking mower from a JD dealer and it will cost more because it's a real John Deere.

Koehler was bought out by Briggs. You don't see them around much any more. Bottom line here is buy from a big box and expect to buy another one in a year or two. Local garden shops do most of the warranty work on those machines. Go around back and look at their junk pile and write down some names. Good luck with your new mower.

 

Regarding John Deere, I wanted to add....

I have owned a JD hydrostatic push mower for almost 10 years (rebranded Snapper).  It has been great!  Through my research I noticed that at least at our local Lowes if you buy a John Deere riding mower you get "White Glove" delivery from a local John Deere dealer plus service and maintenance is handled by the same local John Deere dealer, not lowes.

That being said, John Deere doesn't make anything rated residential themselves, it's all made by someone else.  (see my green snapper above).

 

One thing I really like about John Deere - they won't license their name for a product that isn't made in the U.S.A.  Example - go to Walmart, over near the bikes look for those little electric kids care...  Barbie vette, Ford truck and John Deere Gator as an example.  Note that all of them are made in China and cost around $220 (not a knock, just a fact).  Now look at the John Deere Gator, it's made in the U.S.A.  but costs $330.  They are all the same manufacturer.

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Look at Cub Cadet XT2 or XT3 series. I did a lot of research last year and was considering Craftsman, Husqvarna and CC. Narrowed it down to Craftsman and CC. After further investigation with motor dependability I went with the CC XT2, XT3 was too pricy for me. Why CC XT2 the ability to get the Kawasaki engine that is highly rated for dependability even with comercial lawn companies.

Also lots of good information here:

http://todaysmower.com/the-best-lawn-yard-garden-tractor-buyers-guide/

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Get some cows and sheep. They'll eat the grass for you and then when they are done you can chop them up and cook them on the Kamado!

That's what I keep telling my folks to do with their 6 acres of grass. Goats and lambs. A cow too. Home made brisket.

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I have had two Sears mowers. Both were made by Husqavarna. The first was an automatic and the second is a standard shift that I still have.

 

The automatic was much better because I could change speed on the move. With the standard I have to come to a complete stop.to change speed setting.

 

I can't say that I love either of them. The automatic just quit moving one day after about ten years of use.

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I am no mechanical guru on any level... But in my experience, I'm not a fan of the Husqvarna. My wife's family are long time farmers and have tons of huge equipment. Several years ago, wife and MIL went to a Husqvarna dealer and bought a pair of pretty big, really expensive mowers. They were zero-turn with the two lever control like so many other companies make. Both households had nothing but trouble with the mowers. If it could go wrong, it went wrong. We babied ours for a few years, fixing every thing that went wrong along the way, until it literally caught fire and burned completely. The belts would never stay on. It would get stuck in any minor mole hole. It didn't cut evenly. Complete POS.

I picked out our current mower. Got a Ferris, not sure what size or model. It's a tank. Has three blade mowing deck that is suspended/floating on chains somehow. Gives a good even cut that way and is great for our rough hilly uneven rural "yard" and whatever field I want to clear. It's 18.5HP and I think cost me about four grand a couple Summers back. I try to research decent sized purchases like this, and at the time this seemed to be the best choice for me. Good balance of value, features, durability, highly rated, best bang-for-buck I could find. MIL went with a Bad Boy mower about a year after our Husqvarna shot craps. They seem to like it well enough, but I'm really happy with our Ferris.

Take all of this with a grain of salt (and squeeze of lemon and shot of tequila). We could have gotten a really crappy model from Husqvarna. It seemed like the problems we had were in line with the problems MIL had too, but I hated that mower the whole time we had it.

One thing that seems to stick in memory though, when doing my shopping... Some of these will have different motors for the same model of mower. Like Kawasaki vs Kohler for the same model of Ferris or Bad Boy or whatever. Almost universally, the feedback was to spend the extra three or four hundred bucks to get the more expensive motor, usually the Kawasaki?

Thanks for filling me in on the Huskie. That's one mower I have no experience with. The big thing is if you buy a mower, I don't care who's name is on it, from a big box store you get consumer junk all made by the same company. The lure of these mowers is price. Example: Buy a John Deere from say Home Depot and try to get warranted service from JD. Ain't gunna happen. Buy the same looking mower from a JD dealer and it will cost more because it's a real John Deere.

Koehler was bought out by Briggs. You don't see them around much any more. Bottom line here is buy from a big box and expect to buy another one in a year or two. Local garden shops do most of the warranty work on those machines. Go around back and look at their junk pile and write down some names. Good luck with your new mower.

 

This is the 100% truth about the transmissions. Anything less are throw away after they break. The very top Husqvarna mowers are well equipped engine and transmission wise, but they are 3500.00 or more.

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