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post #1 of 14 Old 09-20-2019, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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New to L & G Tractors with Questions

Last year the wife and I purchased a home in Southern Oregon on 3-1/2 acres. We will be making the move in a few years after our kids are out of college. The home is currently rented and we make trips there 3-4 times a year to work on the property.

The previous owner left us a JD yellow deck STX38 riding mower. This is the first riding mower we have had. Mechanically it seems sound. I still need to go through and service it. The seat is heavily cracked and some of the hood attachment points have failed. Certainly not the prettiest thing but it works for now.

While it seems to be a solid little mower I'm concerned with it's age and size, it will not be able to handle the demands we need. The property is a mix of irrigated lawn, about 1/2 acre, field grass which is another 1/2 acre and the rest a wooded mix of pines, firs, cedars, some madrone and a few oaks.

My needs are:
Regular mowing of the irrigated lawn
Mowing the field grass 1-2 times a year
Towing a small yard cart for leaves, needles, branches, dirt & gravel
Dragging a pine needle & leaf rake. We have no shortage of needles & leaves.
Dragging a gravel driveway grader a few time a year. We have about 500' of gravel drive.

The property is gently sloped.

My budget is about $3,500. When we make the move my income takes a big hit, at least for a time while we transition so I need to be mindful of costs. My whole goal by moving is to work less than the rat race I am in now.

I am very mechanical and have the skills and tools to work on, build or fabricate equipment so finding an older used machine isn't out of the question.

My questions:

If going new, what would be an appropriate machine for our needs?

If used, what year, make and model to look for? What to watch out for? Price point?
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post #2 of 14 Old 09-20-2019, 01:55 PM
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

With 3 1/2 acres I'd be looking at a Garden Tractor for your needs. And with time yet to go before you move there I'd be tempted to go for '90s model John Deere. (But how "handy" at wrenching are you?)
If you're uncertain about moving to acreage you might want to look at a small Zero Turn for the lawn and get a local to mow/bush-hog the rest.
In the 90s for a retirement home we had 6 acres, mostly wooded, with a double wide and I loved it, but after 3 yrs, a miserable old lady neighbor and Florida hurricanes caused my wife to throw in the towel.
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post #3 of 14 Old 09-20-2019, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

That is too bad about having to leave your place. I hear you about neighbors. My mom always had terrible luck with them. I have only one close neighbor in Oregon and so far we get along well. Where we currently are we live under the threat of earthquakes. In southern Oregon it will be wildfire so I guess there is always something.

I am "handy" to the point of being cursed sometimes. I have a hard time justifying paying some to do something I am capable of doing myself.

I have no uncertainty about having acreage, can't wait to get there full time, just looking for the best fit for equipment. I would love to have a proper small tractor but just can't justify the need or cost plus the ride on size machines get around the property better than something bigger. I plan on keeping the STX38 if nothing else for backup mowing.
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post #4 of 14 Old 09-23-2019, 09:37 PM
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

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Originally Posted by jbolt View Post
I am "handy" to the point of being cursed sometimes. I have a hard time justifying paying some to do something I am capable of doing myself.
Same here... The older I get, I am finding less and less time to do the handy stuff myself. I thought I'd get estimates for things here and there, but I always find the time to get the task done once I see how much! When I have paid, I'm always disappointed because it's never up to my standards, so I end up going and "fixing" it anyway. Most recent is a kitchen remodel that was quoted $26k in labor. I really didn't want to have my hand in any of it, but the contractor starts in a few weeks for $12k. Moments like this are when my wife is reminded why she keeps me around, lol

Anyway... I don't think that a new tractor will be in the cards for a $3500 budget. That will get you a nice lawn mower, but not a garden tractor. It'd be a different story if all you planned was a maintained 1/2 acre of mowing, but the field mowing, wooded clean up, driveway work, and the inevitable larger chores you'll end up doing on that property... I'm a JD guy, so that's really all I can suggest as for specific models, but I'd be looking at the least a 300/GX300-series (not to be confused with the "late model" X300-series) which you should be able to find a clean one within your budget (or one that doesn't need much elbow grease, anyway). Stepping up to a 400-series would probably be right-sized, though (or the newer X400 (rwd)/X500 (4wd) HDGT's), but they might be difficult to find in your budget, and their attachments (which are shaft-driven) are pricier as well.

2004 John Deere GX345
48” Edge Mower & Blowout Kit, Predtor2’s|42” Thrower
Front Bumper|Halogen Kit|Carlisle HDFT & Xtrac

FOR SALE: 48" Blade/Angle Kit for 200/300/GT/GX
Mulch Kit for 54C/54D/54X

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post #5 of 14 Old 09-23-2019, 11:50 PM
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

I think demonspeed is on the money with a GX series, from early 2000's Nice garden tractors, plenty of power, the decks do a nice job of finish mowing and are tough enough to do field mowing, although I wouldn't cut brush any tougher than blackberry vines. Power deck lifts and power steering; you can mount a sleeve hitch. New enough that you can find them with fairly low time, parts readily available, but old enough the prices can be very reasonable.

The most basic version would be a GT235; no power steering, manual lift, a bit less (18) horsepower air cooled B&S or Kawasaki engine. Top of the line in the series would be a GX355; 18 hp 2-cyl Yanmar diesel, power lift and power steering. If you don't want diesel, then the GX345 is the same, but with a 20 hp liquid-cooled Kawasaki engine. These all weigh in the 600-700 pound range, and prices would be close to your budget target. I have a GT235, bought it new in 2002 and it hasn't failed once. All these models have the same K71 transmission, a proven design and very strong.

TractorData.com John Deere GX345 tractor information

'09 JD 2520, CX200 loader and 62D deck
LP RTR0550 rototiller
?? 60" box blade
Simplicity 10" plow adapted to 3-pt hitch
3-point PTO DR wood chipper

'02 JD GT235, 48C deck

'84 JD 318, 50" deck

'86 JD 214, 46" deck

'86 JD 212, 38" deck

'08 X748SE, gone but not forgotten
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post #6 of 14 Old 09-24-2019, 08:58 AM
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

Note that the 04/05 GX has diff-lock K71C hydro.

Also keep in mind the GT235/245 and GX255 share hydros, the GT is on the LT frame. This isn’t a slight on the GT, but worth noting.

2004 John Deere GX345
48” Edge Mower & Blowout Kit, Predtor2’s|42” Thrower
Front Bumper|Halogen Kit|Carlisle HDFT & Xtrac

FOR SALE: 48" Blade/Angle Kit for 200/300/GT/GX
Mulch Kit for 54C/54D/54X

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post #7 of 14 Old 09-24-2019, 11:19 AM Thread Starter
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

What is the difference between the GX frame vs the LT frame?
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post #8 of 14 Old 09-24-2019, 11:45 AM
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

Sorry, I meant to say LX, not LT (LT was the entry-level box store type mower but with more premium features like the current E & S series). Anyway...

To put it into perspective, the LX/GT is like today’s X300/X500 Select Series. LX/X300 is a lawn tractor, whereas the GT/X500 uses the lawn tractor frame but receives heavier Garden Tractor drivetrain.

The X4/X5 is like today’s X700 Signature Series - a Heavy Duty GT with hydraulics for implements and shaft drive on a much larger frame.

The GX300-series fell between the LX/GT and X4/X5 - and was the last of the dedicated frame, “Premium” GT line.

Note that the GX255 is the LX/GT frame but with GX335 engine, steering, and transmission.

So, to answer your question specifically about the frame... not sure if it’s thicker steel, more steel, or what; however, from the attached brochure I scanned, the GX335 is about 50 pounds heavier than the GX255 - much of that is in the frame.
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2004 John Deere GX345
48” Edge Mower & Blowout Kit, Predtor2’s|42” Thrower
Front Bumper|Halogen Kit|Carlisle HDFT & Xtrac

FOR SALE: 48" Blade/Angle Kit for 200/300/GT/GX
Mulch Kit for 54C/54D/54X


Last edited by demonspeed; 09-24-2019 at 12:13 PM.
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post #9 of 14 Old 09-27-2019, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

Thanks for the information. I have been reading as much as I can about older GT's and have a much better understanding of what to look for. Next trick will be finding something within a reasonable driving distance. Where we currently live isn't a hot bed for riding mowers or garden tractors.

I did get the side eye from the wife when I mentioned looking for a used machine.
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post #10 of 14 Old 09-27-2019, 01:50 PM
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by jbolt View Post
Thanks for the information. I have been reading as much as I can about older GT's and have a much better understanding of what to look for. Next trick will be finding something within a reasonable driving distance. Where we currently live isn't a hot bed for riding mowers or garden tractors.

I did get the side eye from the wife when I mentioned looking for a used machine.
You’re likely to get more than that after you’ve bought a tractor with mower deck, a box blade, a cart, a lawn vac, a front blade, a fertilizer spreader, and maybe a trailer. Then when you talk about a plug aerator or dethatcher or ..... you get the eruption and the “You’ve spent enough!” comment, but when she sees how much work it saves, then you can think about bringing up the loader. I didn’t mention the snowblower or cab since you probably won’t need those.

I’m sure I’ve missed some things, but you get the idea. Lots of labor saving tools. Oh yeah, tools, to work on everything.

A machine that can do all you mentioned is more than a lawn mower (tractor) and will be tough to find no matter where you live, but keep looking. I’ve seen on a local dealer’s sight an X475 with 62” deck and a MC519 MCS for $4800. Without the MCS it would be about your range. Best thing about it is it’s in pristine condition with 180 hrs on it. Hard to believe someone would have traded it in.

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

Scotts 2002 L17.542 17.5 hp; 42" w/bagger
Sold Husqvarna 2010 GTH27V52LS w/52" fab deck
Craftsman DLT2000, 48”
Ariens ST824 snowblower
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 #11 of 14 Old 09-27-2019, 02:15 PM
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

My wife thought I was nuts wanting to buy a 12 year old (at the time) tractor for $3500 when I could just got to Lowe’s and buy a new one for $2000.

I just told her to make me a sandwich and to have it ready when I got back with my used GX345.

Ok, that last part didn’t happen, but she she got over it. She was more annoyed when I bought the thrower and blade. Remember, it’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission.

2004 John Deere GX345
48” Edge Mower & Blowout Kit, Predtor2’s|42” Thrower
Front Bumper|Halogen Kit|Carlisle HDFT & Xtrac

FOR SALE: 48" Blade/Angle Kit for 200/300/GT/GX
Mulch Kit for 54C/54D/54X

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post #12 of 14 Old 09-27-2019, 03:39 PM
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

We've currently got a CC XT3 GSX and our older Husky 42" with the Kawa motor. The Husky was good for our previous 1 acre+ lot, and I went for the GSX when we bought this 1.5 acre retirement home.
If I had more acreage I'd go for a good 80s/90s GT. Maybe a JD 455?
What I'd be looking for is a Diesel engine (Yanmar) with a 3 point and hydraulics. Ideally with a Front Loader.
I have no ideas about snow blowers, don't really need them in Florida.
And as to plows and such the only implement I have used is a boxblade. So someone will argue that a Sleeve Hitch is sufficient. Having had both I'd cry BS.
Another thing you maybe want to consider is fences. A mower deck, finish or brush cut, does tend to be clumsy and they are best suited to long runs and fewer corners. On the true GTs a belly mower minimizes this but getting it on and off can be a chore. The run-over decks supposedly address this but when I asked I didn't get a straight answer on what you do to keep from pressing one into the sod!
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post #13 of 14 Old 09-27-2019, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

I'm pretty sure the side eye from the wife was "Do you really need ANOTHER project?". (Guilty as charged)

I married a good woman that puts up with me and doesn't need much but she is not very mechanically inclined and explaining why a 20 year old GT is better than a new LT can be difficult.

I set the budget for this so I have enough $$$ left to add a small garage and office onto the work shop so I don't have to park the yard equipment inside it.
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post #14 of 14 Old 09-27-2019, 05:33 PM
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Re: New to L & G Tractors with Questions

I get the same. Learned to ignore most. Wifie thinks she's a construction expert, can't even drive a nail. I noticed early that if I buy her a dupe of my tools ...
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