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post #1 of 16 Old 03-14-2019, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

Greetings! An age-old question I know, but I'm a bit confused as to which lawn mower/garden tractor would be best for our 2 acres of rolling hillside (without breaking the bank). I don't know the slope angle of my hill unfortunately, but I can tell you it makes a great hill for sledding in the snow! I am currently using a Sabre by John Deere (model 1848 -- originally a 18HP V-twin with 48" cutting deck), and it has served me well but is nearing retirement. My needs are simple: just mow the grass in the shortest amount of time without tearing up the yard, the equipment, or the owner and keeping it affordable. I mention garden tractors only due to their reputation of being better built than a standard lawn tractor; however they are also more expensive and come with features I would not necessarily need.

I've read several threads about possible K46 Tuff Torq transmission problems from the entry-level, big-box store lawn tractors (John Deere E-series, etc.) after continued use on hillsides. I think the 1848 Sabre (according to TractorData.com) has the K62 transmission and is considered to be belt-driven hydrostatic. (I don't know how the K62 compares to the current Tuff Torq transmissions.)

I've also read where most residential zero-turn mowers do not perform well on hilly terrain. There may be some out there in the professional grade category, but from what I've read I'm wanting to steer clear of ZTR's.

As manufacturers constantly change the names of their equipment, I am having a difficult time following a few older threads that might cover a similar topic and answer my question. So, here's the question... what do you use or would you recommend and why?

Any help you can provide is appreciated!
Thanks a bunch!

Declaring the good news that Jesus saves!

Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Acts 3:19, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..."
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
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post #2 of 16 Old 03-14-2019, 01:14 PM
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

What's your budget? If you want a comparable K62 or better transaxle you're looking at a $3500.00+ machine; for example Cub Cadet XT2 GX54D, XT3 GS/GSX, John Deere X390 or X5** series. You said you wanted to steer clear of a ztr, however the heavy duty residential & commercial steering wheel model Cub cadets are stated to do well on slopes & hills. Good luck.
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post #3 of 16 Old 03-14-2019, 01:23 PM
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

DavisWV,

MYSELF, I would recommend a Manual Transmission (Transaxle) Model.

I have owned my 1987 Craftsman GT6000 for about 15 years now with NO problems.

I do all the recommended Maintenance and then some with mine.

I purchased it USED from a friend of mine for $100 since the Starter Solenoid was bad and it needed a New Crankshaft Output Seal.

Attached are two pictures of my Worker Bee! The first one is how it looked when I bought it. And the second, shows a couple accessories have been added just because...

The parts where cheap & easy "for me" to install.

Given that it is an older, but much more durable machine, I bought this, rather than buying a Brand New Riding Lawnmower that would have cost me about $1,500!

This is just my recommendation! There are TONS of good Riding Lawnmowers/Garden Tractors out there. It's all about RESEARCH and what your Mechanicaly WILLING to have/want to do.

Take care,
-Thomas (12)
Port Orchard, Washington

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
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post #4 of 16 Old 03-14-2019, 01:35 PM
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

I was completely lost trying to keep track of all the JD model numbers and what they meant when shopping used this past Fall. This thread was incredibly helpful for sorting it out:

https://www.mytractorforum.com/12-jo...ly-tree-4.html

JD x595 62c 54" blade with extensions

Soon to be former:
JD x300 42"
JD F1145 72" deck 47" blower Cozy Cab
JD 4410 420 Loader 59" blower Curtis Cab tiller box blade rake

Former:
JD F910 60" deck
Ford 1910 4WD Loader Backhoe
Kubota L245 2WD 72" finish mower 5' front blade
Jacobsen GT14
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post #5 of 16 Old 03-14-2019, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

Thanks all for your help so far.

cnymowinplowinsailin - Really appreciate the link to the thread! That does help put all things John Deere into a better perspective. Helps also do somewhat of a "quick" comparison when looking through used equipment listings.

tkskagen - Looks like a workhorse! I wouldn't be opposed to finding a good used machine, but I'm not much of a mechanic. What should I look for as far as number of hours on a used machine? For instance, not far from me is a GT235 with 1500 hours on it selling for $2k. Not a manual transmission though. By the way, do you know which of the currently-produced tractors have manual transmissions?

rudedawg - My budget is probably somewhere between $1500 - $2500 realistically. I saw some nice looking Cub Cadets online, and the XT1 GT54 looks like it has a K62 transaxle as well. Is there anything else (besides the transaxle) that I should consider for hillsides? tkskagen mentioned he prefers a manual transmission.

Thanks again for the help!

Declaring the good news that Jesus saves!

Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Acts 3:19, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..."
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
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post #6 of 16 Old 03-14-2019, 06:58 PM
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavisWV View Post
Thanks all for your help so far.

rudedawg - My budget is probably somewhere between $1500 - $2500 realistically. I saw some nice looking Cub Cadets online, and the XT1 GT54 looks like it has a K62 transaxle as well. Is there anything else (besides the transaxle) that I should consider for hillsides? tkskagen mentioned he prefers a manual transmission.

Thanks again for the help!
As stated above a gear drive would be a good unit for you also. The XT1 is the entry level lawn tractor but may last you several years of mowing with meticulous maintenance. Just to mention my brother lives in VA with a sloping yard and when his Craftsman LT bit the dust he bought a Cub Cadet rtz s w/42" deck, steering wheel and ezt non serviceable transaxle which he has had for several years now. He says he still uses and likes it but I do not think they even offer that one anymore though. Good luck.
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post #7 of 16 Old 03-15-2019, 11:31 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

Thank you rudedawg. Really appreciate the input. I'm thinking a new tractor of either type might be out of the budget, and I'm just not super comfortable with a zero-turn on our slope.

I don't necessarily need anything more than just a mower although I do like the idea of being able to pull a small utility cart behind on an occasional (1-2x per year) basis. If it weren't for our yard sloping, I wouldn't mind looking into the entry-level mowers (with the K46 transaxle), but the K46 is non-serviceable, correct? Would it make a difference if the K46 would have been serviceable, or is it just not built to handle the heat generated when mowing hillsides?

Does anyone know if the Tuff-Torque K62 transaxle on the 1848 Sabre is serviceable? I'm thinking if it is, maybe I can get a few more years out of my current mower, while I try to better understand what I need in a newer one to handle the hills on a regular basis. The Sabre (an entry level tractor from years gone by) has done well until recently and is now starting to become a little sluggish.

Declaring the good news that Jesus saves!

Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Acts 3:19, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..."
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
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post #8 of 16 Old 03-15-2019, 12:09 PM
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

I'd run the saber until you either couldn't keep up with the service or it dies.

I'd also look at used JD mowers. Something with a differential lock would be nice for the hills. Even an old 318 in good shape would easily fit your needs. There are tons of options.

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post #9 of 16 Old 03-15-2019, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

Didn't see any used 318's nearby, but I did see a 1998 JD 425 with 900 hours for $1950. That's a 20+ year old tractor... what would you all think about getting that old of a tractor?

Declaring the good news that Jesus saves!

Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Acts 3:19, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..."
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
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post #10 of 16 Old 03-15-2019, 03:01 PM
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

take a look at tractordata site. If it was maintained well it should still be good with the liquid cooled engine
TractorData.com John Deere 425 tractor information
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post #11 of 16 Old 03-15-2019, 04:34 PM
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavisWV View Post
Thanks all for your help so far.

cnymowinplowinsailin - Really appreciate the link to the thread! That does help put all things John Deere into a better perspective. Helps also do somewhat of a "quick" comparison when looking through used equipment listings.

tkskagen - Looks like a workhorse! I wouldn't be opposed to finding a good used machine, but I'm not much of a mechanic. What should I look for as far as number of hours on a used machine? For instance, not far from me is a GT235 with 1500 hours on it selling for $2k. Not a manual transmission though. By the way, do you know which of the currently-produced tractors have manual transmissions?

rudedawg - My budget is probably somewhere between $1500 - $2500 realistically. I saw some nice looking Cub Cadets online, and the XT1 GT54 looks like it has a K62 transaxle as well. Is there anything else (besides the transaxle) that I should consider for hillsides? tkskagen mentioned he prefers a manual transmission.

Thanks again for the help!
Hills/Slopes can be an issue. It may even put you out of your price range.
- Some engines do not have pressurized oil systems which can lead to engine failure working on slopes.
- Tractor weight can help. Lighter tractors will slide down hills and may not have enough traction going up a hill if the grass is even damp.

I found my 2010 Husqvarna GTH27V52LS at a local farm implement dealer for $1750 plus tax. I straightened the bumper, repaired steering, replaced battery after two years, and replaced a front wheel that broke. Other than that, just oil, oil filter, gas. Husqvarna is a lower end product, but this is one of their heavier duty machines and I love mowing with it. It cuts fast and clean. I’ve used it 3 or 4 years to help a widow mow 1-3 acres of flat lawn. She constantly gets comments on how nice her lawn looks. It is manual steering, so it steers harder, but not so hard that the 84 year old small widow can’t run it.

I bought a John Deere X360 (old version of X390) on Craigslist. It steers amazingly easy and most of the newer Deere mowers turn very tight allowing you to get into tight places.

I also bought my X738 off Craigslist. The reason I got my X738 was to have a shaft drive snowblower rather than a belt. We get a lot of snow. The weight of the tractor allowed me to mow places I couldn’t before and it wouldn’t slip sideways with the Cyclone Rake filled with damp/wet leaves. I get everything done quicker with it which has allowed me to help elderly neighbors that can’t do for themselves any longer.

Whatever you do, drive/mow with as many as you can. Some are easier to get on and off, some have features that make them much more usable (like the drive over deck makes switching to a blade or tiller or ....). Consider everyone that will use it, even if they don’t now. Find one that is comfortable. Much like me, you may find your budget is too low. You also need to consider how long it needs to work for you. At 70 now, my needs are different and the length of use is diminishing. It’s one of the reasons I opted to spend more last year than I had in the past.

JD 2014 X738; 25.5 hp; HDAP tires; 54” deck auto-connect; hyd. angle quick hitch;
adapted to Cyclone Rake Commander Pro; 54” snowblower; front PTO kit; LP41114 Enclosure; LED lighting; 54” blade; 125# mounted spreader; 10P cart

JD Ztrac 757 60”
Scotts 2002 L17.542 17.5 hp; 42" w/bagger
Sold Husqvarna 2010 GTH27V52LS w/52" fab deck
Craftsman DLT2000, 48”
SIL JD 2009 X360; 22 hp; 48" deck; w/mulch kit; 2015 44" Snowblower & Soft cab; 2x 42# weights,chains; cab mounted LED lighting
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post #12 of 16 Old 03-15-2019, 05:13 PM
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavisWV View Post
Didn't see any used 318's nearby, but I did see a 1998 JD 425 with 900 hours for $1950. That's a 20+ year old tractor... what would you all think about getting that old of a tractor?
It would be worth considering. My brother in law and sister still run a 425 as their main mower on an acre+ of lawn.

I guess it would depend on how good of an eye you think you have and how mechanically inclined you are. I grew up on a farm and have access to a shop that have about any tool you would need for a garden tractor (My dad's farm shop).

If you normally have someone else do all your service work on everything mechanical and you just have some screw drivers and a hammer out in the garage you may want to think twice about purchasing an older tractor.

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post #13 of 16 Old 03-15-2019, 11:59 PM Thread Starter
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Very sound advice from both! Thank you.

Declaring the good news that Jesus saves!

Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Acts 3:19, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..."
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
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post #14 of 16 Old 03-16-2019, 01:44 AM
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavisWV View Post
Very sound advice from both! Thank you.
I missed your signature before. Thanks for being bold and committed.

JD 2014 X738; 25.5 hp; HDAP tires; 54” deck auto-connect; hyd. angle quick hitch;
adapted to Cyclone Rake Commander Pro; 54” snowblower; front PTO kit; LP41114 Enclosure; LED lighting; 54” blade; 125# mounted spreader; 10P cart

JD Ztrac 757 60”
Scotts 2002 L17.542 17.5 hp; 42" w/bagger
Sold Husqvarna 2010 GTH27V52LS w/52" fab deck
Craftsman DLT2000, 48”
SIL JD 2009 X360; 22 hp; 48" deck; w/mulch kit; 2015 44" Snowblower & Soft cab; 2x 42# weights,chains; cab mounted LED lighting
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post #15 of 16 Old 03-18-2019, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Best mower/tractor for hills on a budget?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RT3360 View Post
I missed your signature before. Thanks for being bold and committed.
Yes sir, thankful for the grace of God!

Declaring the good news that Jesus saves!

Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Acts 3:19, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..."
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
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