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Discussion Starter #1
I have been looking to replace an engine on my tractor mower (Craftsman YS4500) with a Kohler Command. In searching around for engines, I came across a Cub Cadet 2185 shaft drive tractor mower on the local craigslist for $950. Reported to run well, and looks to be in good shape from the photos. Guessing a 2005 model or thereabouts from the looks, so post MTD. Will have to call on hours if I decide to pursue it.

Any opinions on the shaft drive 2185? I have read that it is a good stout little tractor, and I like the idea of a shaft drive. I need to upgrade the engine on my current mower at least (no problems with it other than the engine), but the used 2185 may be a good alternative solution if it is a good stout mower.

I have 4+ acres of grass to mow here, and need reliability above all. I am looking at replacing an engine after 400 hours, which I do not find acceptable. I am old enough to remember when tractors and engines were built to last decades, so I guess I may be spoiled in my old age. I still have a push mower from when I was a kid in the early 70's that never lets me down. Probably will outlive me with the original engine.

Thanks to all. Great forum.
 

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If the 2185 is in good shape and has been maintained, I'd go for it without trepidation.

I recently bought a 2186, almost identical to the 2185. It's a 2001, and for a ten year old tractor it was in good shape. Previous owner was not mechanically inclined, but he did the basic maintenance to it and garage kept it. These units have a stout hydro, rearend, and engine. The Kohler Command 18HP is a beast, a commercial engine, and will last 2000+ if maintained well. I've put 70hours on mine in the last month or so and it has treated me very well. Bought it with 169 hours, so it was just broken in.

I mow, pull, haul, and use it as an all-around workhorse as well as the primary machine for my lawn care business. They are reliable too. Have done basic maintenance with mine (fluids, filters, grease, cleaning) and it is a turn-key tractor. Jump on, fire it up, and go to work!

 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks jsoluna. Very helpful info! Gonna call tomorrow and get hours and any other info I can. Being sold by a CC sales/service business, so if I am lucky I may get details on how well maintained it has been, and results of any diagnostics run on it to prep for sale.

I can get a new 22 hp Command CV22 from OEP now for $900, so that's one option. Will certainly give serious thought to the CC based on your knowledge and experience. I actually can get a free CV22 Kohler from my next door neighbor. Runs, but many hard hours on it. I might opt to pick up the CC, then transplant the the CV22 onto my Craftsman at my own pace. Have a spare tractor on hand for use by me and my neighbor. Where I live, grass mowing is basically a sport. Machines run hard.

Any problems with deck or belts? Only negs I have read pertain to these.

If it turns out the machine is in good shape and has 169 hours on it, I may break my wrist trying to write a check too fast.
 

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To answer your specific questions:

PTOs:
They had a bad batch of them for a while. Mid-late 90's seem to be the worst. Mine is still on original PTO, and that's surprising if you ask me, since the invention of the no-mow-in-reverse switch which puts the PTO through TONS of cycling and hard work. It shuts it off when the reverse pedal is depressed, then you have to re-activate it every time that happens. However, mine is still original, and I know the previous owner never messed with the switch so he put it through its paces. I opted to give the PTO some help though. :) For purposes of this thread, let's just say I no longer cringe when i hit the reverse pedal.

Belts:
PTO belts, mainly. Not near as many deck belt issues. Many factors come into play here, but I've seen several issues arise from owners not quite understanding how to route mule drive belts. They're a cakewalk, really, once you get used to how the setup works. You ever owned a mule-drive, horizontal shaft tractor? Personally, I love em. Wouldn't have it any other way. Some owners have had problems with this Series 2000/2500 tractors throwing PTO belts because of a misaligned double-stacked pulley, or a severely un-level deck. These units also accumulate grass clipping quickly on top of the deck, and in my opinion, you have to keep up on that debris. I use a leaf blower after every use and have never had a belt issue, spindle issue, etc.

Decks:
I have the 44" deck on mine, and I love it. There were some decks that owner's weren't happy with, for various reasons. Clogging from the deck design being too shallow being one of the complaints. My 44" self cleans well, cuts beautifully, and hasn't needed any adjustment. The deck hanger system is decent, with thicker gauge steel arms and decent hangers. Not the stoutest in the world, but decent. Key to keeping the lift/deck system in good shape is to have your gauge wheels set correctly so the deck doesn't "float" on the ground. This will eventually damage the gauge wheels and the lift support system (bent hangers, broken brackets, broken wheels). Also keep up on lubrication of the various contact points. I've heard a few complaints of the lift rod that connects to the lift handle breaking at the welds, but that's less common. In my opinion, you can be a little rough on these decks and be just fine. Do a little maintenance and don't completely beat the crap out of them and you'll be fine.

Also, one thing I really like about this model of tractor is that it has a plethora of grease fittings. Every spindle, the large double pulley, the idler arms on the deck, two places on the steering shaft, axle pivot, etc.

I paid 1200 for mine with a pull behind cart in August, just to give you an idea. I went out and mowed knee high grass in a "field" (if you can call it that, basically a patch of cleared woods) last week to test out the 2186 with a neighbor who owns a Dixie Chopper. The 2186 had a better cut and almost kept up with him in speed. It even had better traction that the Chopper. We both were amazed.

Like anything, you've gotta keep up on the maintenance. If mine was in such good shape for just having the basic maintenance over the ten year span, I'm sure it will last me three times that :)
 

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I think if the Cub is nice and you buy it, you'll end up scraping the Craftsman. The Cub is a much better built tractor.

AJ
 

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595 hours isn't much if it's been maintained. On the other hand it could be real rough if it wasn't maintained! Just gonna have to take a closer look. I got your PM, just replied. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Checked out the tractor today. All looked good, and I bought it. I think it will be a fine addition to my "fleet." I am having an issue now, though, reattaching the 48" deck. I had to remove to fit it all in my pick-up for the ride home.

When we pulled the deck for loading, after removing belts and pulling the two spring loaded pins that hold the deck to the height adjustment arms, we removed two approx. 6 inch long springs, each of which extended between a hole in the deck frame next to the spring-loaded pin, upward where it slid onto a rod on the tractor frame and held in place with a cotter pin. Both were under considerable tension when removed, and served to counter the weight of the deck making it easier to lift during adjustment.

When reattaching the deck back at home, all went well. Positioned the deck with the front hooks across the horizontal bar, slid deck into place, and aligned and set the spring loaded pins. Put belt back on. So far so good. The rods on the tractor frame that the large counterweight springs slip onto, I now notice, are not fixed but rather are on the front ends of v-shaped rods that pivot on bolts attached to the tractor near the rear end. Bottom line, no tension on the springs. Just attached to pivoting arms, with no counterweight to the mower deck.

The only way to tension the springs I see is to pull the back ends of the pivoting rods down (opposite ends from where the springs attach) and hook them under the frame just in front of the back plate. Doesn't seem right, but maybe that is the design so the tension can be eased during deck removal. Seems weird though. Realize now I should have paid closer attention when we were removing the deck. Maybe the opposite ends of the rods were hooked under the frame in the back of the mower at the time, accounting for the tension.

Anyway, I downloaded a manual for the 2185 to see what's what. (Seller says he's sure he has the manual that came with the mower around somewhere, but could not put his hands on it at the time, so I asked him to mail it when it turns up. I can call him tomorrow, but thought it would be a simple matter to figure out from the manual.) The mower deck (mounting or anything else about it) is not covered in the manual I downloaded, however, so I am presently at a loss.

With PTO engaged, deck seems to work fine.

If you can decipher what I am asking, any input on what I need to do here? All else is well. Meanwhile I will search for a deck schematic that may yield answers.

Thanks to all.
 

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Runnin out to the garage to snap some pics. From what you said though, I think you're on the right track, you just need to know what's "normal" on this setup. There are two lift assist springs. One stays stationary, the other is removed when removing the deck. You'll see what I mean when I post back.
 

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...and maybe since yours is older, you have two identical assist springs, and if so, it's just as simple. Be right back with pics.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
To clarify a bit, the rods I refered to are "lift assist rods", shown as part no 65 on the schematic here:

http://www.partstree.com/parts/?lc=cub_cadet&mn=301+48"+Mower&dn=0047100001

Tried to post pics of the mower, but I see have to first upload to an image hosting site. I have an Imageshack account, but that page will not load for me tonight some reason, so no photos for now I guess!
 

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Ok, yeah, yours has a slightly different setup than mine. The basic setup is the same, however. That rod that has the two springs connected to it as in #65 in the diagram is designed to allow you to relieve tension easily when removing the deck. If you've never removed it before, I can see how you'd get confused as to where it goes. It attaches back under the frame. In my pic the lift assist spring is on the opposite side as yours (because on mine the assist spring on the opposite side is adjustable), but the setup is the same.



Just attach the springs in their relative locations on the deck and on the rod. Attach the pin. Grab the lift assist rod and pry it down and under the rear frame rail, letting it rest with the lip of the rod against the backside of the frame. Looks a bit funky, but that's how it works. I thought it was weird until I realized how easy it makes it to relieve deck tension, and to reinstall. Nice setup, actually.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Alright! I had it right. Sure seems a strange design, but functional. Thought it might be wrong, as the springs rub against the rod. As indicated in your photo, the end of the rod is not vertically aligned with the attachment on the mower deck.

The deck is significantly tilted to the left side when the springs are engaged. Guess I need to see if my rods are adjustable also, or see if the lifting rod adjustment will fix it. Shouldn't be too hard to fathom in any case. All else appears nominal.

Thanks again. Been a big help to me on this one. Photos soon I hope.
 

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You're quite welcome. :)

On your 2185, are there lift assist rods/mechanism of any sort on the opposite side? Didn't look like it in the parts lookup. On my 2186, theres the lift rod and spring on that side in the picture, and on the other side there's an adjustable spring, a MUCH larger one, that attaches to the lifting mechanism of the tractor, not to the deck.
 

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Wow, your picture makes that tractor look much nicer than the ads you showed me! Not bad at all man.

Two things:

1. I made an error. The 48" deck is a ground-following deck, meaning that the deck wheels are designed (theoretically) to be able to follow the contours of the ground for an even cut.





My 44" is not like this. Even though your 48" is "designed" for that type of use, I think that's why a lot of those decks I've seen have broken castors, mounts, pins, brackets, etc. If it were me (after you get this deck leveled out and functional) I'd still adjust cutting height with the lift handle and use the wheels as gauge wheels instead of ground-following wheels. It will be a lot easier on the equipment.

2. You say that the deck is sitting up way too high on that one side? Was it like that before you removed/reinstalled the deck? One thing I noticed when installing my deck last time was that when I attempted to get the J-hooks into the lift arms, occasionally the lift link would bind up and stick up top where it rides on the shoulder bolt that's fastened to the lift arm. I'd have to yank on it to get it to drop back down and slide into the bracket on the deck. I doubt yours would be doing that after installation, with the weight of the deck pulling it down, but I'd double check the linkages there for sure and make sure nothing's binding up just in case.

Here's the pic in the manual for my adjustable lift assist on the LH side:



And in real life:



And RH side (in its disconnected state):



And again from another angle:

 

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Hey SGINSC

Just looked at the picture of your new tractor - looks like you did well, that is a great looking tractor! Hope it's a good one for you.
 

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Those Cub's are well built units, I had an old 2000 series from 1995 that I sold a friend before stepping up to the JD X7 unit. You will be amazed at how strong that tractor really is, esp if you need to move snow with a blade or blower. Just change the fluids every year and it will last you your lifetime.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
js,

Springs are not riding on bolts. Checked that first thing. Will have to snoop around. Should have a chance later today. If there is an adjustment mechanism, it is not on either of the lift assist springs. Maybe because the deck is intended to float, it was determined that no adjustment would be necessary. I'm with you though, I would prefer that it not. Easier on the mower, and I want it in most cases to mow at highest possible setting.

There is an adjustment bolt on the right side lifting arm, but the substantial strength of the lift assist springs effectively override the lift mechanism. That is to say, the full weight of the backside of the deck is supported by the springs. I'll have to snoop around some more to see what's what. Certainly not something that will be difficult to modify as appropriate. If that's all I am up against on this one, I will be in very good shape indeed. :fing32:
 
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